Best nonfiction book: “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance” by Robert Pirsig

I’m ignoring the stuff you don’t want to read, and focusing only on the stuff you do. The stuff that makes you want to change something, tweak something, do something.

The stuff, in short, that inspires.

Here, notes on one of my all-time favorite nonfiction finds.

This month’s best nonfiction book: 

Is this really one of the best nonfiction books out there? Why?

What will I get out of this best nonfiction book that will make it worth my time?

Where can I further investigate this best nonfiction book?


You’re not an overeater. You mostly keep it healthy. Maybe it’s time to give dieting a chance.

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More Reading Choices:

Top 500 Nonfiction Books

Top 35 Books for Mystics

Top 20 Spiritual Memoirs

Best Meditation Books

The Ordinary Mystic Blog Posts

Best Books for Mystics Blog Posts

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

Robert M. Pirsig

Okay, so this one’s kind of a cheat. I don’t actually think this book is one of the best nonfiction books out there. It’s super long-winded, and the narrator sort of annoyingly makes his past self into a heroic figure that he refers to constantly with awe. However, the author is intelligent with legitimate insight to pass on, which he does in a creative way. The trip is meant to teach his son patience and a Zen mentality, which he hopes will prevent him from becoming depressed or insane like he did at one point in life. Either way, the philosophy is strong, particularly in the second half of the book.

Book recounts a father-son motorcycle road trip as the narrative backdrop to an in-depth philosophical treatise on the nature of quality and how to reconcile the artistic or spiritual with the classic or rational or scientific way of thinking.

Author says that people who concern themselves first and foremost with doing and discovering quality – an undefinable idea that he likens to the Buddha, the Tao, dharma, etc. – find no contradiction between the scientific approach to their topic (such as the workings of a motorcycle) and the artistic approach (such as understanding the larger purpose of the motorcycle).

When focusing on quality, there is no subject – object duality either. Mechanic becomes “one” with his motorcycle. He performs his duties in a peaceful, Zen state. But this only happens if he truly cares about quality.

Aristotle and the ancient Greeks taught that the forms of the world are real but quality is unreal, and since then our culture has been missing the point, not gothing what many Eastern cultures get about reality.

The willingness to do quality work is “gumption.” If you seek quality, you must have this trait.

Author surveys a few hindrances to gumption.


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