Slideshow: Automotive books to read during lockdown
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24th Mar 2020 6:39 pm
Which automotive books should you read during this lockdown? Autocar India team members give their book recommendations.
With a lockdown in force across much of the country to curtail the spread of coronavirus, now would be a good time to catch up on some reading. How about a few titles from the automotive genre? Here's what Autocar India recommends you read in these strangest of times. The titles are available for purchase and download on mobile phone apps like Kindle and Google Play Books. Swipe to know our picks.
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Electric and Hybrid Vehicles by Tom Denton
Like most of the world, I’m in work-from-home mode too, so my reading is a bit work related – brushing up on my EV fundamentals with Tom Denton’s concise ‘Electric and Hybrid Vehicles’ book. It’s not very in-depth, but gives a nice overview on the tech that goes into EVs, like batteries, motors, chargers and the lot. You can skip the section on EV maintenance (unless you own an EV, of course). Great to read are all the tables and graphics which make this 200-page book easy to understand. Self-isolating might just make a bit of an EV expert!
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Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX and the Quest
Men who change the world don’t come around every day. And it isn’t every day that you get a businessman, entrepreneur, scientist, technician, and engineer like Elon Musk. So it was with great eagerness that I got to this book.
Written in a style that is analytical at times, it moves along at a good pace, and the author also paints a fair picture, often not portraying Elon Musk in the best light. There are, in fact, plenty of parallels with Steve Jobs. Elon, however, has something extra – the X factor that allows him to take seemingly impossible ideas and push them through all the way to fruition. Think Steve Jobs with a supercharger strapped on. The book takes a fascinating ride, diving deep into how his character was developed, how he grew up in South Africa, what fascinates him, what his goals are, how he accrues knowledge for himself by in-depth self-study of a subject. Along the way, you also learn about how he started SpaceX – the first private company to go up against NASA – and PayPal one of the earliest payment gateways to the digital economy. An absolutely brilliant insight, a must read.
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The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein
This is a book worth reading for anyone who loves cars and animals. The story is told through the voice of the dog Enzo. Enzo’s owner is an aspiring Formula 1 driver, and Enzo shares his owner’s passion of watching races. The dog is quite philosophical and completely committed to his owner, having a blast, until his master falls in love and his life turns upside down.
Dramatic twists and turns keep you entertained right to the end, and keep tissues handy because it’s a real tear-jerker too. Lots of racing, some romance, and plenty of poignant moments will ensure you flip through this novel in one go.
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I Know You Got Soul by Jeremy Clarkson
I’d recommend ‘I Know You Got Soul’ by Jeremy Clarkson. You won’t find him at his wittiest best, it isn’t dripping with sarcasm and neither is it entirely about cars. But it’s still worth a read thanks to the interesting angle. We often go on about how some cars have real soul, we’ll this one’s about cars, machines, and heck, even that (in Clarkson’s opinion) they all have a real personality. The GT40, the Concorde supersonic passenger jet, as well as the fictitious Millennium Falcon – Clarkson makes a pretty convincing case for them all. Definitely an enjoyable read.
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Hot Tea Across India by Rishad Saam Mehta
Given the times we’re in, I think a light read would work best. And the book that comes to mind is Rishad Saam Mehta’s ‘Hot Tea Across India’. Cooped up at home, it’ll be easy to get lost in the travel writer’s amusing road adventures across India that culminate in, or are broken by, a cup of tea. Mehta puts a funny spin to everything, from his lonesome bike ride in Kashmir to facing mob fury in Kerala, and expertly captures all that makes road travel in India such a colourful experience. The book is best enjoyed with, you guessed it, a soothing cup of chai.
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Stealing Speed by Mat Oxley
Mat Oxley writes some of the greatest MotoGP articles you will ever read. Aside from having a riveting way with words, what makes Oxley's writing so insightful is that he used to race at a very high level himself, and even held a TT record at one point. Beyond his scope as a motorsport journalist, Oxley has also written a few books, and this one is my favourite. I won't reveal much, except that it tells an incredible story of industrial espionage that changed the racing scene for ever. Read it for a fascinating story you've probably never heard, and also for an insight into just how crazy the racing scene was in the middle of the last century.
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That Near-Death Thing by Rick Broadbent
Just a glance at the cover of this one will be enough to reel most people in; a snap of a motorcycle blitzing past a convenience store on the Isle of Man, and then there’s the title – ‘That Near-Death Thing – Inside The TT: The World’s Most Dangerous Race’.
Sports journalist Rick Broadbent – who has also penned a book on MotoGP icon Valentino Rossi – delves into just what goes on in the life of four incredible motorcycle racers: John McGuiness, Guy Martin, Michael Dunlop and Conor Cummins, who return to the Isle of Man TT year after year, putting on a spectacle for the rest of the world, while putting their lives on the line. The great thing about ‘That Near-Death Thing’ is that it focuses on the elements that make these four enigmatic riders human, and is a great read even for someone who isn’t a hardcore motorsport fan.
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Valentino Rossi: Life of a Legend by Michael Scott
Think MotoGP and the one name that springs to your mind instantly is Valentino Rossi. The legendary Italian motorcycle racer is renowned for his incredible battles on track, his charming wit off the track, and his unending quest of winning world titles. The book chronicles Rossi's journey from winning races in the 125cc class, all the way up to the premier class MotoGP.
The visual biography also talks about Rossi's famous battles with arch rivals such as Max Biaggi and Sete Gibernau. This book is a must read for those who'd like to know more about MotoGP's most famous personalities of all times.
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A Short History of the Motorcycle- Richard Hammond
An excellent book on motorcycles from one of the most famous ‘car guys’ in the world. Richard Hammond goes from talking about horses to steam-powered motorcycles from 1867, to the BMW S1000RR HP4 Carbon, all within the 208 humour-filled pages. There’s a lot to learn about the history of motorcycles, and very few things will teach you as well as this book.
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When You Dead, You Dead by Guy Martin
This short, fast read takes you through what Guy Martin calls the "maddest 12 months of his life"; a year that saw him race the Isle of Man TT and finish on the podium, ride through India, break a go-kart speed record down a French mountain, and attempt to break the motorcycle land-speed record at the Bonneville Salt Flats. All of this around his day job as a truck mechanic.
Guy Martin is a daredevil looking for his next adventure, making the most of the time he's got. Apart from inspiring you to make the most of yours, the book also shines light onto the life of a celebrity from an angle that's not often seen.
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How to Build a Car by Adrian Newey
Adrian Newey happens to be one of the most prolific designers in motorsport with 10 Formula 1 constructors’ titles to his credit. As the title suggests, this autobiography touches upon all the work that went into some of Newey’s most famed creations – complete with hand-drawn sketches. But it goes a step further, providing remarkable insight into his career with Williams, McLaren and Red Bull. In what is a standout moment in the book, Newey even provides a detailed breakdown of the flaws in the design of the Williams FW16 – the very car in which Formula 1 legend Ayrton Senna lost his life in an accident at the 1994 San Marino GP. Putting it simply, ‘How to Build a Car’ is essential reading for any motorsport fan.
What automotive titles do you recommend we read? Let us know in the comments section below.
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