Nothing replaces the feeling of riding a motorcycle, but some great books can help stimulate a similar thrill and help spur your adventurous spirit and get you out on the road. Here are some of the books that have inspired me to ride and helped me grow as a person. Some of these books are life altering, heavy reads while others are simply wonderful stories. I've found that reading well-written prose on motorcycles and motorcycling is the next best thing to actually riding, and if you're open to the message of the story, you can really learn something.
These are books about motorcycle trips and what those trips mean. A later post will address books that focus on owning and riding motorcycles. If I had my way everyone would read all of them. But I don't get to have my way, so pick at least one and enjoy it.
Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance - Robert M. Pirsig
This book changed a lot of people's lives when it first came out and continues to do so to this day. It's the story of a man and his son's motorcycle trip across the western united states and is interwoven with an intense philosophical discussion. Zen is a heavy read, but you'll find it's completely worth it. By the end of this book, you'll be all for a long road trip with you and your bike and a companion.
Hell's Angels: The Strange and Terrible Saga of the Outlaw Motorcycle Gangs - Hunter S. Thompson
Before he was the father of Gonzo journalism, Hunter S. Thompson wrote this book, which catapulted him to fame and put his unique style before the waiting eyes of many readers across the U.S. It's the story of Hunter's travels with the Hells Angels motorcycle gang. Hunter rode with them for a while and in true Gonzo form wrote a book about the experience. The book captures a unique time in American history. This can be an easy read, but if you really pay attention and think about what Thompson is getting at, it can be a life altering book.
Jupiter’s Travels: Four Years On One Motorbike - Tim Simon
Ever want to ride your bike around the world? Well, Tim Simon did it. He chronicled it in his journal, which eventually made it into a book that spans four years and an amazing journey. While the book is about the trip it's also about so much more, including philosophical discussion, the evolution of the motorcycle industry in the 1970s and the love of riding and what it can do for you.
The Motorcycle Diaries - Che Guevara
Che Guevara's memoir is about him as a 23-year-old medical student and his friend (also a medical student) who travel from Buenos Aries, Argentia, and around South America on an old Norton motorcycle. The book chronicles many experiences that helped shape the influential Marxist. This is an interesting read and a good story of long motorcycle journey.
Riding with Rilke - Ted Bishop
The last book on this list was written after its author had a bad crash and couldn't ride. He takes readers on a journey that is full of motorcycles and books, discussing much more than how much he likes to ride and what he likes to read. This book is often compared to Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. While it is a bit of a heavy read, it's endlessly entertaining and you'll find it's also very rewarding.
What books about motorcyclist and motorcycle riding do you like? Leave a comment below.