AoM Book Club October 2013: Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

by Jeremy Anderberg on September 26, 2013 · 20 comments

in Book Club, Travel & Leisure


For the month of October, we’re delving back into non-fiction with Robert Pirsig’s Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance (it’s only $2.99 this month on Kindle…bonus!).

It’s part memoir and part philosophy, and dubiously holds the Guinness World Record for being rejected by 121 publishers before being published and becoming a perennial bestseller.

Published in 1974, it chronicles a 17-day motorcycle journey from Minnesota to California. In the midst of this journey, our narrator (along with his son) explore several philosophical questions, with the main theme being that of quality, and what quality work really means and looks like.


The first discussion will be posted on Monday, October 7th, and every Monday following for the month. In the final week, we’ll also feature an interview with philosophy professor and Pirsig expert, Dr. Anthony McWatt.

How to Join the Book Club

We make announcements about the book club here on the main site, while housing the book’s discussion over on the AoM Community in a private group called “The Official Art of Manliness Book Club.” In addition to online discussion in the group forums, the club offers other great features including video chats and Q&As with some literary experts on the subjects of our discussions.

To join the AoM Book Club you pay a one-time $1 membership fee (the aim of this nominal fee is to simply keep out trolls and hopefully increase your commitment). If you’ve already joined the book club group and paid, you don’t have to do so again. You’ll have access to all our discussions, notes, video chats, and expert Q&As from here on out.

{ 20 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Justin Tessier September 26, 2013 at 4:53 pm

Is there any sort of schedule mapped out?

2 David September 26, 2013 at 5:52 pm

Just read this last year and loved it!

3 HudZo September 27, 2013 at 8:35 am

This is a tremendous book, and one that I think gets largely overlooked. The best teacher I ever had included this on his list of required reading for class: changed my life.

4 JT September 27, 2013 at 6:23 pm

This book should be reread every two years or so. The approaches to life and problem-solving are eminently applicable to any man anywhere.

5 Trevvor September 28, 2013 at 12:59 pm

“Zen..” is a title that has come up in conversation multiple times with a good friend of mine, and he’s heartily recommended the read. It’s been on my list and I look forward to getting into it next month!

6 Jay September 28, 2013 at 11:08 pm

Absolutely love this book! Highly recommended to me by my design prof. and I read it later for a class.

7 Jim Weston September 29, 2013 at 7:18 pm

I’ve heard really good things about this book, I’ll have to read it this month!

8 FRRibs September 30, 2013 at 4:53 am

It is an excellent book, but very meaty! Do not try to power you way through it.

It’s a great lunch break book…in parts you may read a paragraph or even a few sentences, then have to put it down and think about it before resuming.

As a biker who’s always wanted to take a long roadtrip, it’s amazing to think how different touring is these days. For those who are interested in this sort of thing I would recommend going to and reading some of the trip reports…great stuff!

Favorites include a two month Texas-Alaska and back ride, and anything with with Cack and his rider in it.

9 ez September 30, 2013 at 9:22 pm

Great book. Well worth reading several times. It is something to take slowly and with great thought. Personally every read reveals a new insight for me.

10 DSWADESON October 2, 2013 at 11:52 am

This is such a beautiful book. Along with Catch-22 I can honestly say it helped change my life. Fantastic choice.

11 Foggymountain October 2, 2013 at 9:08 pm

I read this book when it was published. Twice. Didn’t find anything memorable, of value. Nice story though. But at a few hundred miles a day, Pirsig wasn’t much of a motorcyclist. Mostly a talker.

12 mike casey October 3, 2013 at 8:46 am

Life changer(if you are ready for that), read for philosophy not motorcycles, it’s a metaphor dude!

13 Josh October 4, 2013 at 4:23 pm

Excellent choice. I’ve read this one before but will definitely dive in again.

14 Matthew October 10, 2013 at 9:21 pm

May I also suggest “Shop Class As Soul Craft”.

15 Brian October 11, 2013 at 10:35 am

well crap, now i have to join the book club, i started reading this on my own a few weeks ago… but i now i also have to read faster.

16 JL October 11, 2013 at 12:33 pm

Just finished this book a few weeks ago! Now it’s one of my all-time favorites. It should be on everyone’s list!

17 Matt October 11, 2013 at 10:15 pm

I love this book. It was a favorite of my fathers, but I never read it till I was injured in the Marine. My Ssgt gave it to me, since it was also a favorite of his.

18 Willem October 13, 2013 at 9:07 am

This has been up to now the most impressive book I have read. Sometimes you have to read a line a second time, but when you grasp the meaning behind it, it teaches you alot. This book has taught me things I still use every day and has fundamentally changed my way of thinking.

19 Meh October 13, 2013 at 12:44 pm

Good book. I also recommend motorcycling (take a MSF course, riding is NOT intuitive and motorcycling makes examples of those who don’t make friends with the laws of physics!) as a great way to get your head straight.
There is a variety of two-wheeled experience for everyone, and sidehacks or trikes for amputees, so have at it and RIDE enough to develop dat muscle memory.

20 Ben November 30, 2013 at 10:01 am

I just finished this book last month. Too bad I was slacking on keeping up on AoM.

Truly an interesting and thought provoking book that causes one to view things from a different perspective, if only for a few minutes. My hat’s off to anyone who can finish it in a month; took me three!!

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