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Good reads for mechanics?

What are some good titles for aspiring automotive technicians? I teach English skills in a high school automotive technology class. We are required to read at least one longer selection. Any suggestions?

Are you looking for technical descriptions for how things work (like parts of a car)? Or are you looking for what’s happening in the automotive industry? Or, are you looking for readings on career outlook for those in the auto mechanics trade?

When you say “good titles”, are you specifically looking for books, or will good articles on the net also suffice?

Great questions! I need all of those. However, right now I am looking specifically for novels, plays, or short stories. I am required to do at least one piece of fiction. I do however also have students read articles (online is ok) and technical descriptions. The more reading on topic, the better!

How about “How to Keep Your Volkswagen Alive” by the late John Muir.

It was a good read when I had a 67 Bug. Part repair manual, part philosophy lesson.

Ed B.

I’m kind of curious why they’re trying to teach English in autoshop.

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance might fit the bill.

English in Auto Tech is definitely a tall order to fill. However, it has been implemented for good reasons: 1-Students wouldn’t be able to attend our Tech Center if they can’t get all of their newly required MI academic credits. 2-Auto techs in today’s industry tend to do a lot of research on the cars they are repairing, so reading skills are a must. 3-Most work orders need to be written clearly and effectively, so writing skills are also important.4-Many of our high school juniors & seniors show up lacking GOOD English skills. Given those reasons, I work diligently with my Auto Tech classes on their English skills.

Hot Rod Magazine, though a magazine, has tech articles, history, and current auto news.

Go around to all the tire/battery/oil change/etc shops, explain your need for all car related mags, regardless of date, see what they’ll give you. Folks learn a lot quicker when the topic’s something they’re interested in.

I support Writing Across Curriculum. The ability to artticulate ones thoughts, while it won’t fix the car, will help get the job. It will also help enable an understandble justification for the work performed, and happy customers benefit all parties concerned. Who was it that said “a rising tide floats all boats”?

You may want to check your school’s library. Books on the history of automobiles may be on interest to them without adding even more technical reading than they’re already subjected to.

There is a book by John Jerome titled “Truck: On Rebuilding a Wornout Pickup and Other Post Technological Adventures”. The story revolves around a person who moves to the country and needs a pick-up truck. He purchases a 1950 Dodge pick-up and proceeds to rebuild it. The story is interesting and humorous and is technically correct.

Best of the bunch is “Motor” magazine. I get it both e-version and printed. Officials gave me the OK to forward e-version,post some type of e-mail address and I will.

Or are you asking for a work of fiction with an auto mechanic as the main character? I knew a Dealership employee that wrote one of these.

The Excalibur Alternative by David Weber. Starship Troopers by Robert Heinlein. Nova by Samuel Delany. Any Darkover book by Marion Zimmer Bradley. Dune by Frank Herbert. Lord Foul’s Bane by Stephen R Donaldson. Any Lensman book by E E Smith. Spacehounds of I P C by Smith. It’s Science Fiction that fixes cars.

Both suggestions-any and all suggestions-would be great! You can email me at


Scroll down on right to book club and read his articles, his videos of his car are real good also

I’ve never been one to read books. So when my mother-in-law gave me the book titled “Don’t Get Taken Every Time” by Remar Sutton, I thought for sure I’d never read it.

Boy was I wrong. I started reading the first couple of pages and found I could not put the book down. It was fascinating.

The book is all about the car buying experience and all the ways dealerships get their money from you (and still have you leaving with a smile). The author had previously owned three dealerships and wrote a book on all the tricks they used.

I suspect it’s not a first choice for your students. But in case there’s ever an opportunity to read it, it’s very interesting reading and it exposes many parts of our human nature as we play the games competing for the almighty dollar.

I did tell my mother-in-law how I first felt about the book and then how I could not put it down. It made her day.

How about “The Car” by Gary Paulson. It’s about a boy who builds a kit car then travels across the country in it. We read it in our class last year.

Fiction tiles to consider: “The Last Open Road”

“The Art of Racing in the Rain”

Good reads with automotive, sports car racing, and general life experience themes. I would give both have a “R” rating so I am not sure how appropriate they are for high school readers. (Nothing more that cable TV!)

Anything by Peter Egan:

Edit: Let me add There’s got to be something here for the kids…

Well I sent it to you let me know if the process works.

Traffic by Tom Vanderbilt

Take a look at “My Years with General Motors” by Alfred P. Sloan Jr. It can provide some insight regarding the early years in the car business. Possibly your students draw a blank if they wonder about the history of cars in the US and this can fill in some of that gap. There should be enough references to the mechanical aspects of a car to keep your students happy; it did that for me.

I also enjoyed “Iacocca”, an autobiography by Lee Iacocca, an easy read as is Mr. Sloan’s book.