Book review: Built for speed by John McGuinness

By | February 3, 2018

How do you review the story of a 23 time Isle of Man TT winner?

I have read a lot of books the past year, I have reviewed a few of them on this website. When I review a book, it’s usually not from the point of view of the story or the writing or the narration, my review is meant to tell you that this book exists, and you should read it. I can’t review a book like a critic, I have no right to.

Linguini can’t review Gusteau’s dishes. Pippin can’t review Gandalf’s fights. Hodor can’t review Arya’s murders.

When Sam Manicom travels the world and allows us a look inside his mind with his books, he’s doing us a favor. When Michele Harrison sent her ebook to me for a review, all I could tell her was that the book is awesome and so is she. When I listened to Guy Martin’s autobiography, it was from the point of view of a kid listening to God.

When I went to the Isle of Man TT last year, I was lucky enough to meet John McGuinness and get a signed copy of his autobiography. I finished the book a few days after I returned. It has been many months since I read it, and I’ll try to describe how it felt.

When I’d listened to Guy Martin’s autobiography, I was impressed with the honesty. McGuinness takes that honesty to a whole different level. His story is not just about the struggle and the failures before the rain of success, it’s a story about culture, relationships, and an extraordinary life.

John talks about his childhood, the love for motorcycles, and how it grew. He talks about his girlfriend, and how he ended up living in her parent’s house. He talks about his own mom and dad, how they influenced him over the years, and he talks about the path he had to take on the way to become a legend.

The best part about the book are the photographs that show up from time to time, they really give you a whole different perspective on the story. The language is extremely simple, the presentation is even simpler. It’s an easy book to read.

It is rare for a book to openly name people, this one does that too. This is not a book just meant for bikers, there are no technical sections, it’s all about the feel.

The way John met me, the way he was speaking with his fans, and the way the whole Isle of Man TT culture is gets reflected in this book, they are a bunch of blokes who not only don’t realize how awesome they are, they choose to ignore it. That same attitude flows through the book as well. 

I know I’m known for writing articles that take centuries to read, but I am purposely keeping it short here to avoid any major spoilers. I read a lot of books, not everyone reads as much as I do, but if there was one book about motorcycling that I would recommend, this would be it.

If you are in India, the cheapest way to get this book would be on Audible. Buying a physical book might end up being costly, but you can try on Amazon. I have a signed copy from John, if you’d like to borrow it please let me know, I live in Milton Keynes.