Motorcycle Holiday Gift Guide: Books

December 1, 2010
By Motorcycle USA Staff
Shop Class as Soulcraft
Are motorcycles your true calling? Shop Class as Soulcraft examines the nature of work in our society and how the manual trade of motorcycle repair can be uplifting.

Books make ideal gifts and there are plenty of good reads out there for the gearhead in your life. Our editors deliver their picks for page-turning tomes in the Motorcycle Gift Guide Books:

Shop Class as Soulcraft: An Inquiry into the Value of Work
By Matthew B. Crawford

There’s a reason you’ll find Shop Class as Soulcraft filed in the Philosophy section at your local bookstore. Matthew B. Crawford’s 246-page work is a well-argued treatise on work. As the modern world shifts ever more into abstractions, here is a clarion call heralding the value of maintenance and repair work. As the book jacket hails: “For those who felt hustled off to college, then to the cubicle, Shop Class as Soulcraft seeks to restore the honor of the manual trades as a life work choosing.” A philosopher mechanic in his own right (he owns a Ph.D. in Philosophy from the University of Chicago), Crawford speaks from experience, having left unsatisfying and sometimes high-paying desk jobs for his current gig running an independent motorcycle repair shop. This is a book worthy of examination. Crawford delves deep, delivering big ideas in bite-sized morsels. – Bart

Penguin Books
ISBN: 9780143117469
MSRP: $15

Top Dead Center
Top Dead Center contains a collection of essays which focus on Cameron’s personal experiences with racing.

Top Dead Center
By Kevin Cameron

Fans of motorcycle journalism are already familiar with Kevin Cameron. For decades a stalwart of Cycle World Magazine, Cameron’s best work has been collected in the Top Dead Center volumes (Top Dead Center and Top Dead Center 2). TDC features content culled primarily from Cameron’s encyclopedic knowledge of and personal history with motorcycle racing. A collection of essays, each TDC entry is a welcome mental repast focusing on various topics – the best being honest character studies of motorcycle giants. Some entries are quite personal too, with some of the more insightful nuggets found in the Cameron’s article introductions as the writer recalls the story behind the stories. Having been honored to share a dinner table at press events with Cameron, we can say his prose reads much like his speech – thoughtful, honest and concise. There’s a lot of meat in the pages of TDC. Zero fluff. And in this digital age of ours, sorting through the fluff is near impossible. Get these books. – Bart 

TDC ISBN: 9780760327272
TDC 2 ISBN: 9780760336083
TDC MSRP: $26.95
Indian Larry Chopper Shaman
Indian Larry Chopper Shaman is filled with photographs, and is quite the visual treat for any motorcycle enthusiast.

TDC 2 MSRP: $27

Indian Larry Chopper Shaman
By Dave Nichols
There will never be another Indian Larry. Enigmatic, charismatic, a larger-than-life visionary who used motorcycles as a medium, to this day enthusiasts still marvel at the depth of his artistry. Unfortunately, he passed in his prime, but there’s still an excellent way to get to know the man courtesy of Dave Nichols’ compelling biography Indian Larry Chopper Shaman. What separates Nichols’ work from the standard bio are the parallels he draws between Indian Larry and the life of a mythological hero. The book immortalizes his life by painting a realistic picture of the man without glossing over the fact that, like every man, Indian Larry fought his own demons. Small editorials provided by other custom motorcycle builders like Billy Lane and Paul Yaffe provide deeper insight into the Chopper Shaman. The book is filled with photographs shot by Michael Lichter and contributed by Indian Larry’s muse, Bambi, and can be enjoyed without reading a word. But you’ll want to read it for the depth of Nichols’ prose. – Bryan 
Read more about the book in our Indian Larry Chopper Shaman Review.

Modern Motorcycle Technology
For all those looking to improve their technical skills, Clarke’s book lays out the intricacies of a motorcycle in an easy to understand fashion.

ISBN: 9780760338278
MSRP: $19.99 
Modern Motorcycle Technology
By Massimo Clarke

The engineering behind a modern motorcycle is a thing of beauty. Simple in its purpose, a motorcycle operates thanks to a series of systems, the complexity of which befuddles the average rider. Enter Modern Motorcycle Technology by Italian motojournalist Massimo Clarke, which lays out the nuts and bolts in easy-to-understand jargon. This book is for the How-Things-Work crowd, with each motorcycle system laid out in a straightforward, piecemeal manner. Visual learners, like myself, will appreciate the ample photos and illustrations, particularly the well-executed cut-away drawings. The subject matter can get dry, so riders apathetic to the internal machinations of their rides and gearhead know-it-alls need not apply. But for curious enthusiasts wanting a firmer technical grounding – this is your book. – Bart

ISBN: 9780760338193
MSRP: $24.99

The Devil Can Ride – The World’s Best Motorcycle Writing
Edited by Lee Klancher

The Devil Can Ride - The Worlds Best Motorcycle Writing
Lee Klancher compiles some of the most important literary pieces in the two-wheeled world, including Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance and Grease Under the Angel’s Wings.


The Devil Can Ride – The World’s Best Motorcycle Writing proves that all motorcyclists aren’t leather vest and chap wearing boobs with a Jethro Bodine education. Contrarily, the stories in the compilation are ripped straight off the pages of respected publications like The New Yorker, McSweeney’s and the metaphysical novel Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. It includes a variety of works, like Hunter S. Thompson’s humorous recollection Song of the Sausage Creature where he test rides a Ducati 900 Campione del Mundo Desmodue Supersport for Cycle World magazine and almost kills himself. Then there’s Brian Catterson’s Rockin’ and Rollin’… Rollin’… Rollin’, where Catterson’s knowledge of Rush’s body of work as an ardent fan is apparent as he shares his story of riding with Rush’s legendary drummer, Neil Peart, from concert to concert during the band’s Vapor Trails tour. Grease Under the Angel’s Wings by Adele Kubin is short but poignant. It is a coming of age story from a girl who was taken in by the Hells Angels at only 11. In her piece, Kubin also challenges Hunter’s depiction of women associated with the Hells Angels and refutes the story about his fallout with the Angels and the ensuing beat down he received. With 28 stories from a diverse cross section of writers, The Devil Can Ride – The World’s Best Motorcycle Writing lives up to its bold claim. – Bryan 

ISBN: 9780760334775
MSRP: $26.00

Husqvarna Success
By Gunnar Lindstrom

Husqvarna is one of the iconic brands in off-road motorcycle history. With the first bikes produced in 1903, the company has risen to greatness on a world scale and then suffered a series of setbacks that saw it fall into disarray. The rollercoaster story of the Swedish brand (now Italian) is multilayered and complex – just like the people who were involved. One of those men was Gunnar Lindstrom, who worked as a professional racer and engineer during some of Husky’s most glorious years. Using his network of connections, Lindstrom sorts through Husqvarna’s cloudy history with detail and personal insight unlike any publication to date. Two of Husqvarna’s most recognized racers, Malcolm Smith and Torsten Hallman, provide forewords that lend another personal touch. Even if you aren’t a die-hard loyalist, Husqvarna Success is easy to read and enjoyable for any motorcycle fan. – JC

Parker House Publishing
ISBN-13: 9781935350149
MSRP: $50

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