Reader reviews for Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

One of the few books I keep going back to read again....underlining passages. I, too, have looked at people passing by in their cars and wonder why most of them never smile.
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the book that put the word Chatauqua into my active vocabulary
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Arguably one of the most profoundly important essays ever written on the nature and significance of "quality" and definitely a necessary anodyne to the consequences of a modern world pathologically obsessed with quantity. Although set as a story of a cross-country trip on a motorcycle by a father and son, it is more nearly a journey through 2,000 years of Western philosophy. For some people, this has been a truly life-changing book
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I was a latecomer to this classic, just read it at the age of 43. I was quite impressed by its subtle analysis of the eternal conflict of materialism vs. idealism, as well as its touching insights into the limits of discourse and the importance of feeling, and how one might be able to balance the two viewpoints without discarding the concept of "quality" or excellence, as Pirsig puts it; a kind of value judgment that carries weight across ideologies and epochs.
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First time 'round I wasn't ready for Zen, giving it away by page 90. A few years ago I took to it again - it's a book you take notes on as you go, not a relaxing read, but a life-changing one. An exploration of beauty, changeand terror - experiences all should seek.
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An enjoyable read. I think I may need to go back and read this again in the next year. The details of Persig's philosophy of "Quality" are kind of strange. He begins talking about quality as it relates to writing, but he ends up using it to refer to something else -- something bigger -- like Plato's " Form of the Good". That being said, I actually was interested in the relationship between the narrator and his son, Chris. OK, enough blabbering. Enjoyed.
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The most important part of this book, for me, was that it made me consider what sanity really is. Mr. Pirsig roughly defines sanity as living within the mythos of one's own culture, not necessarily the religious norm, but the philosophical norm. This can be quite an interesting point to ponder when one chooses to live outside the norm. Are they really insane, or just questing onto the "road less wandered"? Like Phaedras, the Platonic character from which the author takes his alter-ego's name, the question of Quality is also examined in depth. He traces the meaning of this word back to the Ancient Greek idea of arete, or the duty to one's self to always perform in and honorable and exemplary way. This book considers the idea that we no longer value arete or Quality as part of our philosophical norm.As a narrative, this book is about a father reconnecting with his son after having a breakdown. However, at its core, this book is about an inner journey. It is one of those books that can be read over and over again throughout a person's life and you will always find something new of value in it- something that you are receptive to in that moment. Not only do I recommend the book, but I recommend reading it more than once.
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I found this to be an incredible book. An attempt to objectively understand and implement values and the balance between those values and what is acceptable in society. There are many philosophical arguments, including the use of language, metaphysics and epistemology all wrapped into a motorcycle journey that mirrors the journey of life. Simply a fantastic book.
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This experience is like scuppering your boat after shooting yourself in the foot and putting it into your mouth, all the while contemplating why is that your foot that rests in your mouth hurts while you are drowning?

The moral is simple: One should just take his medication and shut up. If he is still adamant to do something, he should go and do fishing or write a book about how to improve the efficacy of the internal combustion engine, if thats too boring go find the holy grail or something.
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I read this book for the first time probably 30 years ago, and the concept of "quality" is an idea I have pondered ever since. In navigating the various twists and turns of my life, that idea has been a guiding force, and an immense help.
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