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Best Reads for Engine Lovers

Hello! I am a high school English teacher. I have a student who is very interested (borderline obsessed :wink: with Diesel Engines. I am desperate to find something for this student to read that will interest him!
I have always prided myself on being able to find the perfect book for my students… but this kid has me stumped.

Any book lovers out there who might have a suggestion? Fiction or Non-Fiction? Magazine, Book, WHATEVER!!! has about 20,000 hits for “diesel engines,” so your choice of books is quite broad.

One possibility is a biography of Rudolph Diesel and the early history of his invention. The book is quite technical, which would likely appeal to your student, and not just a typical biography, so he might find it interesting:

And here’s another story about the Cummins Engine Company and the birth of the diesel truck industry in the U.S.:

A website for a school that offers a diesel engine program might have on their website in their current semester schedule titles, authors, and ISBN numbers for textbooks. And it should be easy to find.

I know, I know, never start a sentence with a conjunction. But hey, I didn’t do well in English me.

Not about diesel engines, but there’s a pretty good general-interest book about the very first automobile trip across America. They start in San Francisco an drive to NYC I think. It’s a fun read, even more so for car enthusiasts. The problems of driving back then were a lot different than now. For example, they had to pre-plan to have their gasoline shipped to them by rail.

Here’s one about Coventry Climax engine history. They werer popular racing engines in the '50s and '60s that powered many winning race cars.

Once you’re finshed looking at that one, go to the site’s home page. It’s a cornucopia of transportation literature. Just type in diesel in the search engine and you’ll see what I mean.

Here’s another one for aircraft engines.

Here’s one about diesel engine and gas turbine history.

And personally, I think that’s a pretty good price.

Hopefully, that will be a good start for you.

I like that kid!! :slight_smile:

You might also want to direct the student toward a curricula strong in physics, math, and sciences. A good foundation in these subjects can go a long way in understanding how engines work.

By the way, it sure feels good to hear from a teacher who actually cares about the students. I tip my hat to you.

Here’s another one on Offenhauser racing engines, a legendary racing engine that powered many many successful race cars.

I echo TSMBs sentiments! Salute!

@poorteacher; I commend you for taking the time to find something of interest for one lone student.
I was one of those student that hated reading. I’m still that way today. Give me a book and I couldn’t tell you what was on the preceding page that I just finished. It all just went in one eyeball and out the other.
Give me a volume of the encylopedia and I can find something of interest on every few pages.

This has nothing to do with Diesel engines, but the only complete book I ever read was “The Raft”. about some fliers, shot down in the Pacific in WWII and how they survived.


This isn’t about cars, but how is it that you can assigned text based on student interest? When I took the ap English in my junior year, our curriculum had us read the Scarlet letter, the great Gatsby, the grapes of wrath. Much of those texts had obscure imageries and symbols, so I was told, that I just couldn’t grasp. I would have taken ap English again if we could read Wittgenstein, Marxism, and Machiavelli, but I watched movies about Macbeth in regular strength English instead. After ap English, I thought I would never be a liberal arts major in college. However, I finished with degrees in philosophy and mechanical engineering

Another idea for a teenager interested in engines but not so much in English class, perhaps turn the focus to the importance of clearly stated technical writing. For those of us who repair our own cars, one the biggest frustrations is ambiguity in language used in the service manuals. One of the most common errors is the technical writer attempts to tell us step-by-step what to do, but fails to explain why that sequence is the best method; i.e. the writer fails to present an overview of the process first, with pros and cons of doing the task in different ways.

The English instructor could read a chapter from the teenager’s favorite technical manual, for example if the teenager had a manual for servicing VW diesel engines. Then ask the student to re-write a section that you didn’t understand, or had ambiguous wording, so that it was more clearly stated. What’s more, learning technical writing skills would be a good way for a student to find an actual good paying job in the industry, either as a technical writer, or as a scientist/design engineer/manufacturing engineer .

When I was a kid I hated reading Edgar Allen Poe, and Machiavelli, and all the other “classics” we had to read. Yet I used to sit at home for entire evenings reading science books about the universe, physics, the human body, etc. Even today my bookshelves are filled with books on science and technology. There’s only one novel, an old leather-bound copy of “A Christmas Carol”.

17 years at a college taught me how abysmal the writing and reading comprehension skills are in far too many high school graduates. There are far too many teachers who simply follow the program blindly. And far too many administrators focused on teaching students what to think rather than how to think. I cannot tell you how great it is to hear from a teacher who actually cares and is looking for something that will motivate the student.

To this day I cannot tell you how little I care about dangling a participle (whatever that is). And I routinely start sentences with conjunctions. But I think I’m fairly articulate and able to communicate a point better than many. And my reading comprehension ain’t bad either. I got these skills largely by deeply studying the stuff that I loved, not from “The Pit and The Pendulum”. No disrespect to those who love novels. Reading skills can be honed by many different types of writing. English Lit majors probably would all be marginally literate if they were forced to read only technical books, much as I probably not be literate if I’d been forced to read only the “classics”.

Just an aside; during my last years in academia I kept a copy of “The Price” prominently displayed on my desk, just as a private joke/comment on the unadulterated politics in the college administration. Very, very few people actually noticed. I suspect that very few actually knew what the subject of the book was.

++1 for GeorgeSanJose!!!

" …I kept a copy of “The Price” prominently displayed…"

Possibly, The Prince?

@Yosemite … have you ever tried talking books on CD? I never liked to read fiction books, it seemed time consuming and tedious. Then one day I tried listening to a fiction book with the audio CD version of the book. It’s a heck of a lot easier and way more entertaining. Just sit back and let someone else read the story to you. I just finished a non-fiction biography titled “Unbroken” that way. I’d have never read it as a printed book. But as a talking book it is a great story about an Olympic-level long distance runner who enters WWII in the Air Force and has a really bad string of luck.

I used to pick up Cycle World just to read Kevin Cameron’s “TDC” columns. His collected stories are now available in a book. He has a lot to say about engine design and theory and stories about the people who did the development.

Kevin also writes about turbo diesel engines.

Oops. Nice catch insightful. Yup, it should have read “The Prince”.

Others have covered the bases on this but one thing does come to my mind anyway. The student is described as having an obsession with diesel engines and this is a high school English class.

What I wonder about is how this student stands academically with their grades. If they’re in a HS English class and having to struggle with the course then how is shifting the focus to diesels going to help anything unless that student is going to become a diesel wrench?
My assumption is that the student is fine and I’m just pointing out a what-if.

Lord, I hated HS English and English Literature even though I’m a lifelong bookworm and absorb printed words like a sponge.