Motorcycle Reads

I’m among the people who love listening to a good book while I ride. It’s inspiring and it also makes the long stretches of flat nothingness go by a little easier. Here is a list of some of my favorite books I’ve listened to on Audible.

Full Disclosure: If you click any of the links and purchase any of the books I’ve listed through those links I do get a small percentage of those sales through Amazon Affiliate Links.

JUPITER’S TRAVELS by Ted Simon

16 hrs and 51 mins, Narrated by Rupert Degas and Ted Simon

Arguably one of the most iconic adventure motorcycling novels that has inspired thousands of people to follow in his shoes to travel the world by motorcycle. If you choose not to listen to anything else on this list, I highly encourage you to take the time to listen to this book on your commute.

“On October 6, 1973, Ted Simon knew there was no going back. He loaded up his 500cc Triumph Tiger in the pouring rain and said good-bye to London.

Over four years he rode 64,000 miles round the world. Breakdowns, revolutions, war, a spell in prison, and a Californian commune were all part of his experience, which was colored variously by utter despair and unimaginable joy. He was treated as a spy, a god, a welcome stranger, and a curiosity. The extraordinary trip became a journey into his own soul, and for many others - including the bikers Charley Boorman and Ewan McGregor - it is a pure inspiration. Rupert Degas, "the most versatile of narrators" (The Times), captures all the thrills and spills of Simon's experience and the timeless charm”


THE MAN WHO WOULD STOP AT NOTHING, Long-Distance Motorcycling’s Endless Road

by Melissa Holbrook Pierson

6 Hrs and 29 mins, Narrated by Julie Roundtree

If you’ve never thought of doing an Iron Butt Run (1,000 miles in one day), you’ll want to after you listen to this book.

Long-distance motorcycling is not a pastime but an obsession. In this candid, eloquent, sharply observed book, Melissa Holbrook Pierson introduces us to this strange endeavor and the men and women who live to ride impossibly long distances, eating up road, almost without cease. And who find it nothing but fun.

Perhaps the most determined of them is John Ryan, a magnetic, enigmatic man who loves nothing better than breaking records of amazing distance - at no small risk to himself and his health. But why? Pierson, who rediscovered the joys of motorcycling in the midst of a personal crisis, puts on her helmet and joins Ryan in his element in order to understand his singular desire and discipline, his passion and his obsession.

The Man Who Would Stop at Nothing offers an intimate glimpse of an unusually independent yet supportive community as well as a revealing, unforgettable portrait of its most daring member. In electric, pitch-perfect prose, Pierson gives us rare insights into not only a subculture but also the deeply human craving for something more that drives it.


LONE RIDER, The First British Woman to Motorcycle Around the World

By Elspeth Beard

11 hrs and 16 mins, Narrated by Wendy Wolfson

A must listen for any female motorcyclist who enjoys long trips. I identified so many times with the experiences Elspeth describes in this amazing novel of her pioneering spirit. From being written off by major brands because she was female, to doing the thing anyway in-spite of all of the naysayers. A truly inspiring book for anyone to listen to.

In 1982, at the age of just 23 and halfway through her architecture studies, Elspeth Beard left her family and friends in London and set off on a 35,000-mile solo adventure around the world on her 1974 BMW R60/6. 

Reeling from a recent breakup and with only limited savings from her pub job, a tent, a few clothes, and some tools, all packed on the back of her bike, she was determined to prove herself. She had ridden bikes since her teens and was well-traveled. But nothing could prepare her for what lay ahead. 

When she returned to London nearly two-and-a-half years later she was stones lighter and decades wiser. She'd ridden through unforgiving landscapes and countries ravaged by war, witnessed civil uprisings that forced her to fake documents, and fended off sexual attacks, biker gangs, and corrupt police convinced she was trafficking drugs. She'd survived life-threatening illnesses, personal loss, and brutal accidents that had left permanent scars and a black hole in her memory. And she'd fallen in love with two very different men. 

In an age before email, the internet, mobile phones, satnavs, and, in some parts of the world, readily available and reliable maps, Elspeth achieved something that would still seem remarkable today. Told with honesty and wit, this is the extraordinary and moving story of a unique and life-changing adventure.


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EVERY DAY AN ADVENTURE SERIES

by Sam Manicom

If you post on social media asking for everyone’s favorite moto books, “Anything written by Sam Manicom” is a very popular answer. It’s not unfounded either, his descriptive style of storytelling really takes you along on his trips through parts of the world some of us would feel lost in.

Into Africa : Africa by Motorcycle - Every Day an Adventure

10 hrs and 47 mins, Narrated by Sam Manicom

A liberating motorcycle journey through Africa with descriptions of the amazing people and places, the joy of big skies and the open road, and the sometimes harrowing events that would shape destiny.

Into Africa tells the story of a novice motorcyclist who takes on the challenge of riding the length of the continent just because, 'it seemed like a great idea’. Sam Manicom had only planned to take a temporary break from his successful retail career, but the one-year ride was so life-changing that he continued adventuring around the world for another seven years, covering 55 countries and 200,000 miles. Sam had no idea how liberating motorcycle travel would be. Revelling in a new-found freedom without timetables or routines, he became fascinated by his ability to explore side roads at a whim and reach remote parts of the continent that many travellers never find. Though Africa is just 5,000 miles from top to toe, Sam explored over 22,000 miles on every kind of road imaginable.

UNDER ASIAN SKIES: Australia to Europe by Motorcycle -an Enthralling Journey Through One of the World’s Most Colourful and Diverse Regions

11 hrs and 40 mins, Narrated by Sam Manicom

Sam Manicom set off from the UK aiming to spend a year riding the length of Africa on a motorcycle; as told in his first book, Into Africa. This challenging first year was such fun that, in spite of a 17-bone fracture accident, being arrested, and being shot at, he decided not to head for home as planned. He finds passage on a container ship from South Africa to Australia, and a new adventure begins.

In Sam’s second book, Under Asian Skies, you'll find yourself immersed in an enchanting mix of drama, majesty, laughter, mystery, love, and his usual disasters. Sometimes a traveller's plans simply don't work out as intended, but for Sam every mishap is the beginning of a unique adventure; silver linings do exist. You'll travel on a journey across the vastness of Australia, through the twists and turns of New Zealand, and on up into the exotic lands of Southeast Asia. You'll ride dusty back roads, ease along rugged dramatic coastlines, and through history and cultures. Work with fruit pickers, sit under the desert stars with a blond-haired aborigine, and cross paths with a runaway from the police. How is Sam's life saved by a Thai prostitute? And smugglers? Did he really find relatives in the steamy Sumatran jungle? Soak up the magical scents and sounds as the journey continues on through India, Nepal, Pakistan, and Iran. This heartwarming tale will take you on Himalayan mountain roads and paddling through the orange glow of the dawn on the River Ganges. Meet the people who live in villages little changed since the Middle Ages, and share chai with strangers. You'll explore the dramatic organised chaos of the grand cites of India, and ride the historic Grand Trunk Road. This is a two-year journey where every day really is an adventure.

DISTANT SUNS: Every Day an Adventure, Book 3

13 hrs and 11 mins, Narrated by Sam Manicom

Sam Manicom's dynamic third book transports you to Southern Africa, South and Central America. Sam has a gift for describing the vibrancy of people and places, and you are led effortlessly through three very different parts of the world by his enthusiasm and his acute observations. Human behavior, drama, passion, disaster, humor, and the pure adrenaline buzz of overlanding such far-flung, wild and exotic places are all here.

Unlike his two previous books, Sam travels with a companion, Birgit, who you'll have met during the course of his previous book Under Asian Skies. Distant Suns is the story of how boy meets girl, both endowed with a mile-wide streak of wanderlust, and both fiercely independent, but learning to live together on the road, and saving each other's lives on occasion. Birgit catches your attention right away with her incredible initiative and capability with her bike. Yet, she'd only been riding a bike for 600 miles when they arrived in Kenya at the beginning of this journey.

TORTILLAS TO TOTEMS, Sidetracked by the Unexpected: Every Day an Adventure Book 4

11 hrs and 39 mins, Narrated by Sam Manicom

Sam Manicom's dynamic fourth book is an enticing yet frequently challenging motorcycle journey across the dramatic landscapes of Mexico, the United States and Canada. Sam's partner Birgit is no longer a novice motorcyclist - riding through southern Africa and South America turned her into a rider capable of facing any challenge. But Sam was worried.

As they arrived into North America they had been travelling around the world by motorcycle for six years and he was beginning to think that North America was going to be easy; too easy in fact. Were all the challenges of travel in the developing world countries going to be missing? Sam couldn't have been more wrong.

This true-life story has more twists and turns than a Rocky Mountain Pass, and more surprises than anyone could expect. As it did them, at times it could challenge you too. Woven into this surprising story are canyons, cowboys, idyllic beaches, bears, mountains, Californian Vineyards, gun-toting policemen with grudges, glaciers, exploding volcanoes, dodgy border crossings, and some of the most stunning open roads that a traveler could ever wish to see.


ONE MORE DAY EVERYWHERE: Crossing Fifty Borders on the Road to Global Understanding

by Glen Heggstad

15 hrs and 52 mins, Narrated by John Morgan

In 2001, martial arts-trained biker Glen Heggstad began a journey from California to the tip of South America on his motorcycle and made it as far as Colombia, where he was kidnapped by local rebels and held captive. Undeterred by more than a month of traumatic incarceration, the 'Striking Viking' finished his trip after being released. Three years later he set out into the world on his bike again, this time searching for truth on his own terms in a world that had become strangled by a climate of fear.

Starting his trip in Japan, he traveled through Siberia, Mongolia, Europe, the Middle East, South East Asia, and Africa, stopping in more than 30 countries to deliver his message of the real United States, as he knew it. Unique stories and gritty adventure fill this quest for new sights and insights amongst extreme temperatures, knee-deep mud, bureaucratic roadblocks, health problems, and loneliness.


BLIND CURVES, A Woman, a Motorcycle, and a Journey to Reinvent Herself by Linda Crill

8 hrs and 45 mins, Narrated by Tamara Marston

After months of following one-size-fits-all advice for a 57-year-old widow, Linda Crill is still miserable, until she makes a rebellious spur-of-the-moment decision: she trades her corporate suits for motorcycle leathers and commits herself to a 2,500-mile road trip down America’s Pacific Northwest coast on a Harley. The problem: she doesn’t know how to ride and has only 30 days to learn. 

Four short weeks later, Linda joins two men and a woman for a white-knuckled, exhilarating road trip along the west coast from Vancouver, Canada, to the wine country of Mendocino, California. Along the way she encounters washed-out mountain roads, small-town hospitality, humming redwoods, and acceptance from gentle souls who happen to have tattoos and piercings. 

By heading into the unknown - the blind curve - she faces her fears, tests old beliefs, and discovers not only a broader horizon of possibilities to use in building the next phase of her life, but also the fuel to make it happen. 

Funny, irreverent, and extraordinarily honest, it’s the perfect listen for people looking for ways to reinvent themselves, and anyone asking: "What now?"


IN SEARCH OF GREENER GRASS, Riding from Reality towards Dreams and Finding Fulfillment

by Graham Field

15 hrs and 24 mins, Narrated by Graham Field

A little different than your usual polished novel about adventure, Graham offers a different budget minded adventure on the road.

“Well, now I’m committed,” he thought to himself after telling a national TV game show audience that he wanted to ride a motorcycle to Mongolia with his winnings. He felt the fear that commitment always induced in him; he was hoping they might have edited that bit out. Commitments are something he tried to get as far away from as possible, the only other constants in his life being twenty-five years of financial prudence, travel and motorcycle obsession.So there he was, committed to going very, very far on a motorcycle with his meager prize money. Consequently, he spent a winter on eBay and a spring in the garage preparing his $1000 KLR 650 for an uncertain life on the road. Armed with a cynical humor, a strong sense of direction, a vague sense of balance, and no sense of proportion, he embarked on a 15,000-mile solo motorcycle ride to see what would break first; bike, body, or budget. Leaving an indifferent existence in England behind he headed east, looking for purpose, a new life, and a new location to live it. He was in search of greener grass.


EUREKA: FINDING THE LINE BETWEEN DESIRE AND CONTENTMENT, THEN RIDING IT

by Graham Field

15 hrs and 52 mins, Narrated by Graham Field

Who tries to ride deep into Iraq just to see if the news reports are accurate, ends up joining a street demonstration against someone else's government, or sticks their arm between the jaws of a wild mountain wolf-dog?

After the success of his first book, In Search of Greener Grass, Graham Field hits the road again with his bargain-basement KLR650, recording his experiences in his inimitable and revealingly honest diary style. The Caucasus region is often overlooked by travelers, but Graham may inadvertently be about to change all that.

A single pivotal event can transform any journey, and accepting rather than fighting that moment can have glorious consequences for the traveler. In this instant the result ensures a fantastic exploration of eastern Europe and beyond, the discovery of a hidden gem in Georgia, and meanderings that leave us all much richer.

Ultimately, Eureka is an almost accidental realization that we cannot control our mood on the road, but merely embracing it can be the most enlightening travel experience of all. 


TOUCHING THE WORLD: A Blind Woman, Two Wheels, 25000 Miles

by Cathy Birchall and Bernard Smith

19 hrs and 6 mins, Narrated by Sherry Baines and Philip Bretherton

Touching the World is the extraordinary story of Cathy Birchall, a blind woman, who set off with her companion Bernard Smith, to become the first blind person ever to circle the world on a motorbike, an 18 year old BMW R100. What transpired has become an inspirational worldwide story that challenges people to question their own self-imposed boundaries. From desolate and dangerous mountain roads, difficult border crossings and numerous mechanical breakdowns, to climbing Wayna Picchu (first ever blind woman to do so) and riding an elephant mounted from the front (via its trunk!) - not to mention a poignant visit to the Centre for Blind Women in Delhi where they talked to women abandoned by their husbands, and an (inadvertent) overnight stay in a Kosovan brothel - this book has it all, travel, adventure, triumph over adversity, and through it comes a real sense of just what it means to be blind. Their heart-warming writing reflects a vivid account of the world, often hilarious and always positive.


DREAMING OF JUPITER By Ted Simon

16 hrs and 30 mins, Narrated by Rupert Degas

When Ted Simon rode 64,000 miles round the world on his 500c Triumph Tiger, he inspired thousands of motorcyclists to begin their own adventures, including Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman, who chronicled their travels in Long Way Round. Nearly 30 years later, Ted Simon took to the road again to retrace the epic journey he made in his 40s. He meets up with old friends and acquaintances, revisits old landmarks and locations, and rediscovers himself, as well as the world, along the way. Dreaming of Jupiter is a remarkable achievement and a fitting sequel to Jupiter’s Travels, the groundbreaking classic of motorcycle adventure.


GHOST RIDER, Travels on the Healing Road

by Neil Peart

15 hrs and 54 mins, Narrated by Brian Sutherland

In less than a year, Neil Peart lost both his 19-year-old daughter, Selena, and his wife, Jackie. Faced with overwhelming sadness and isolated from the world in his home on the lake, Peart was left without direction. That lack of direction lead him on a 55,000 mile journey by motorcycle across much of North America, down through Mexico to Belize, and back again. He had needed to get away, but he had not really needed a destination. His personal odyssey is chronicled with his travel adventures, meeting up with friends and family, and the grieving, thinking, crying, and storytelling of life as he rides. Along the way, he plays music from his internal jukebox, yet nothing seems to let him find peace. And without peace, all he could do was keep riding until he found it.


TO DAKAR AND BACK, 21 Days Across North Africa by Motorcycle

by Lawrence Hacking, Wil De Clercq

11 hrs and 39 mins, Narrated by Mike Chamberlain

Recounting the three weeks of blood, sweat, and tearsthat make up a 7,000 mile journey from the glitzy streets of Paris to the hinterland of northwestern Africa, this incredible tale highlights the most arduous and notorious off-road motorsports event on the planet, the Paris-Dakar Rally. Since its inception in 1979, the rally has attracted more than 3,000 participants from all walks of life. Fully detailing what is considered by many to be one of the world's top five adventures, this book reveals amazing true tales of danger, from blinding sandstorms to endless vistas of towering dunes. Enduring these incredible hardships with perseverance, tenacity, ingenuity, and sometimes tragedy, the adventurers profiled here truly embody the triumphs of the human spirit.


And because I know I’ll get comments if I don’t include it:

ZEN AND THE ART OF MOTORCYCLE MAINTENANCE

by Robert M. Pirsig

15 hrs and 52 mins, Narrated by Michael Kramer

This book seems to be one of the most polarizing books I’ve ever come across. You’ll either love it or you’ll hate it.

This lyrical, evocative, thought-provoking journal of a man's quest for truth - and for himself - has touched and changed an entire generation, and is ready to reach out to a new one. At its heart, the story is all too simple: a man and his son take a motorcycle trip across America. But this is not a simple trip at all, for around every corner, through mountain and desert, wind and rain, and searing heat and biting cold, their pilgrimage leads them to new vistas of self-discovery and renewal.

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance is an elemental work that has helped to shape and define the past 25-years of American culture. This special audio edition presents this adventure in an exciting new way - for the millions who have already taken this journey and want to travel these roads again, and for the many more who will discover for the first time the wonders and challenges of a story that will change the way they think and feel about their lives. Unique to audio, this edition features a new introduction by the author.


I’m always looking for the next good moto book I can listen to in my helmet, let me know your recommendations in the comments!