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"The River Why" vs. "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance"

paul wheaton
Trailboss

Joined: Dec 14, 1998
Posts: 20542
    ∞

I tried "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance" about six years ago. I really liked the first 30 pages or so as it built the foundation: as people that ride motorcycles a lot, you choose to either learn how to be your own mechanic (risky) or to find somebody else to be your mechanic (a different flavor of risk).

But about a third of the way through the book, it started getting too.... weird ... for me. I thought it might just be a bump in the book, so I started skipping pages and then dropped the whole thing.

A week ago I finished "The River Why". A gift from a friend. I was telling my friend a couple of years ago about a book I was reading about a fisherman - and how the book seemed to have a sort of spiritual edge. She said "Oh, 'The River Why'" ... nope. (I really wish I could remember the name of the other book about a fisherman)

I read "why" all the way to the end. No problem. Pretty amazing. The book takes place in oregon, starting with a woman from eastern oregon (where I'm from) that seems normal and a man from portland oregon that seems powerfully stuffy. They are both keen on fishing, but she fishes only with bait and he fishes only with a fly. The fight all the time. But when they get within two feet of each other, a powerful chemistry takes over.

Then the book follows their son.

The book is loaded with humor and is a fun, easy read. At the same time, the boy explores spirituality as it relates to his passion for fishing. And there is, of course, a love interest. And a lot of interesting characters with a lot of interesting stories.

Over all, I thought the book was extremely good. And I'm finding I'm having a really hard time explaining why.

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Pat Farrell
Rancher

Joined: Aug 11, 2007
Posts: 4646
    
    5

I've read "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance" three or so times. The first time I tried, I could not get through it. Its both a philosophy book, and a story of a smart guy who rides motorcycles who goes crazy. Since I considered myself a smart guy who rode (and raced) motorcycles, that second part hit too close to home.

The second time I started it, and the first time I finished it, it took me a fairly long time to read it. Several weeks, maybe a month. But I loved it.

It was assigned in a class when I was in Grad School, and I re-read it in just a few days.
Richard Golebiowski
Ranch Hand

Joined: May 05, 2010
Posts: 213

I read "Zen" with no problem, but the philosophical parts do get a bit heavy. Another book I enjoyed along the same line that deals with philosophy and relationships is "The Starship and The Canoe"
Peter Rooke
Ranch Hand

Joined: Oct 21, 2004
Posts: 802

I'm no expert - but *maybe* working in software (science) conditions us - so we then find it difficult to understand books like these!
Never read "Zen", and maybe I should! I do own a Ducati so I'm just never going to service it myself - its too complex!


Regards Pete
 
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