Scooter books for the holidays
December 11, 2008
Sorry for the lack of posts, we’ve had an eventful couple weeks, both good and bad, and we’ll catch up soon, but in the meantime, here’s a post from last year about great scooter book gifts. I’ll write a new post about books that came out this year, but this should give you a headstart on your Christmas shopping:
Back in the ’90s there was only a handful of decentscooter-related books out there, but these days there are tons of ’em. Most are pretty decent, but my big complaint is that they’re all way too general, and try to cover too much, plus a lot of the “current model” and rally/scene info changes so much, it’s out of date before the book goes to press. The best of the general-interest scooter-culture-related books, even though it suffers from being too broad and a bit out of date, is Colin Shattuck’s great book, Scooters: Red Eyes, Whitewalls, and Blue Smoke. On the other hand, The Scooter Book was already out of date when it was published a couple years ago, contained a few comical errors, and is way too general.
The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Scooters was written by Bryce and Bev of Scooter World magazine, I haven’t checked it out yet but I’ve heard good things.
Some good books about the history of scooters and related subcultures are The Scooter Bible, Lambretta: An Illustrated History, Lambretta: The Definitive History, Mod: A Very British Phenomenon, and the Motorscooters Illustrated Buyer’s Guide.
If you’re looking for a book for someone who loves scooters but doesn’t care about history or maintenance, there are some great books about personal experiences. Peter Moore’s Vroom with a View is fantastic, but I like I See by My Outfit even better, it’s a recently-republished Peter Beagle story about a cross-country trip on Heinkel Tourists in the 60s, it’s very Kerouac-y.
Another option is Veloce Publishing’s many books, which are mostly photo-oriented, though some also delve into history and personal experience. I’ve reviewed their A-Z of Popular Scooters and Microcars and Lambretta LI series Scooters here on 2sb.
And then there’s always the magazines, a subscription to Scoot! is always great, and a year membership in the Vespa Club of America gets you four issues (though it’s not exactly quarterly, ha) of American Scooterist. I’m the art director, so I’m biased, but it’s a great magazine. Another great new-ish ‘zine that deserves more attention is The Oregon Scooter Club’s Kickstart. It’s not quite as cool as 2strokebuzz in the old days, but it’s as close as you’ll find today.
Last year, there were a ton of scooter-girl calendars coming out around now, if you’re into that, check all the girl-club sites.
If you’ve taken a year’s worth of great photos at rallies and events, or you have a series of glamor shots of a favorite scooter, you can design and order your own book(s) with Shutterfly or iPhoto or whatever photo service you prefer.
One of my favorite tech-oriented books is Motorcycle Electrics without Pain, It’s the pits design-wise, and it’s Harley-centric, but it really helped me make sense of old Vespa wiring, I wish someone would write a similar book targeted towards vintage scooters. It wouldn’t top the bestsellers’ list, but it’d be essential for a niche market.
Scooterhelp.com has a good summary of the various scooter-tuning books available.
One somewhat disappointing “tech” book is How to Restore and Maintain Your Vespa Motorscooter. It contains lots of great tips and it’s worth a read, but it just tries to cover way too much in too little space. A newer version is out now, but I’m not sure if/how the content was changed.
A lot of these books (and more) are available at Scooterworks USA. They also have reproductions of vintage Vespa parts books and service manuals. If you’re the Lammy type, West Coast Lambretta Works has all the parts and service manuals for vintage Lambrettas.
One of my favorite novels is Absolute Beginners by Colin MacInnes. It’s only marginally scooter-related, but it’s a great novel that’s sort of been forgotten, probably because of the loveable-but-weird musical film from the eighties. Here’s a review I wrote for Coudal.com’s Field-Tested Books.
If you’re looking for other great scooter gifts, the absolute final word is Scooter Swag. I don’t hype their site nearly enough. They don’t sell anything, but they catch just about everything scooter-related that comes along and blog about it, so it’s great for shopping ideas.