Required Reading: Zen And The Art Of Motorcycle Maintenance

by Randy Murray on March 27, 2012

Today’s Required Reading recommendation was written by my friend and editor, Penny Mattern. Penny is one of the few people I trust when she says, “you really have to read this.” Her first RR pick is just such a book.



Required Reading: Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: an inquiry into values, by Robert Pirsig takes us on a journey, a grand journey on several levels, and if we are willing to go along with him, as literally millions have done over the years with this modern classic, the journey is a fine and unforgettable one.

On the surface, it is the story of a motorcycle trip: the narrator and his son Chris on one machine, and friends, a married couple, on another. He takes us through the upper Midwest, from Minneapolis, through North Dakota and into Montana, with a stop there to see friends and revisit the college where he once taught, then travel on to the West Coast.

On that journey, we follow him on what he calls a Chautauqua, learning about his way of looking at the world, exemplified in part through his ways of thinking about and caring for his machine as they travel, in part through his sometimes-difficult relationship with his son Chris, through his ideas on teaching and learning, on, of all things, quality.

It is also a journey through the narrator’s past, where both he and we learn who he is, who he was, what has happened to him, and why this journey is more than just a father-son trip on a motorcycle one summer.

The book is sui generis, one of a kind, not ‘merely’ a novel, not a philosophy text in disguise. It is the story of one man trying to find, to recover, parts of his lost life. What he lost, how he lost it, how he finds it and recovers it, and why that matters, is the real story we’re being told.

It’s not only important, it’s interesting, fascinating, even riveting — and unforgettable.

If you haven’t read it, go read it now. If you have, it’s time to read it again.

There is a 25th Anniversary edition that contains a new introduction — for that edition — by the author, one worth finding and reading.

25th Anniversary Edition Amazon Link: Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry into Values

It’s also available in its original form, that is, without the 25th anniversary introduction, in print form, as an audio book, or via Kindle.

Other Editions: Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry into Values


The Required Reading: Zen And The Art Of Motorcycle Maintenance by Randy Murray, unless otherwise expressly stated, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

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