Book Love: Zen and the Art of Talking Rubbish

This my first audiobook review (fanfare please)!  It’s the start of a bit of an audiobook theme, as I somehow managed to get five for free in a very short space of time – thank you to The Guardian and their “inspiring self-help audiobooks”, and free downloads from whatever Amazon’s audiobook thing is called.

Compared to my last mammoth of a post, this one should be short and sweet, mainly because I didn’t like the book, so have pushed most of it out of my memory.

My first (unfortunate) audiobook experience was Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert M. Pirsig, read by Michael Kramer.  I’ve been feeling quite contemplative recently, so I started this book with an open mind, genuinely expecting to get something out of it.  But instead I thought that, for the most part, the narrator was speaking either common sense or complete rubbish.  I found myself zoning out a lot and forcing myself to tune back in to what he was saying.

I didn’t really look forward to the next installment either.  I listened to this on my commute to and from work each day and forced myself to carry on with it – I don’t like to criticise something unless I’ve heard it out first, and have at least some understanding of it.  So I finished the book, constantly willing it to grow on me, but it never did.

I’m wondering whether all this is just because it’s an audiobook.  Maybe I find them more difficult to concentrate on, no matter what the content.  Well there are more to come, so all will soon be revealed…

I think a big problem was that I really didn’t like the main guy.  He sounded like a bit of an idiot and a crappy father, pretty full of himself and condescending.  I find it hard to relate to the philosophies of someone like that.  The only parts I did find vaguely interesting were the parts discussing what education should be, probably because it relates to my stage of life.  I get the feeling that I interpreted it wrong though – I was probably supposed to put it into a broader context and apply it to the universe (blah blah blah…).  Needless to say, I took it at face value instead.

I kind of respected Phaedrus (even if I didn’t necessarily like or agree with him), but he was painted as the villain, so that was a bust.

And apart from anything else, the narrator’s voice kept reminding me of Skipper from The Penguins of Madagascar.  (This is my new favourite cartoon, I’m a bit obsessed.  If you haven’t seen either the film Madagascar or the spin of TV series, you should – it brings back the glory days of kids cartoons.)

I definitely feel like I was missing something with this book, and a bit of me wants to read it in written form at a slower pace to see whether I can find whatever I missed.  But then the rest of me cannot put myself through that again.  With so many great books on my to-read list, it seems like a waste of time.  Maybe I could fully appreciate it if I properly studied it, but unfortunately I can’t see that happening.

Hmm, maybe that wasn’t quite as short as I hoped.  Or sweet.  To try and make up for that I leave you with this, simply because it gave me an excuse to spend an hour on YouTube watching Penguins of Madagascar videos.   I hope it cheers you up as much as it did me after a pretty bleak review!