Six Surf Book Recommendations

With summer beach days here, we all tend to grab the same old weathered book on our shelf that we've read five too many times. When the waves are too big or too small, or you just want to grab a beer and have some peace and quiet, here are six epic surf book recommendations to help you pass the time. 

  1. Barbarian Days by William Finnegan: The Winner of the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for Autobiography, Barbarian Days is a must read for surfers and non-surfers alike. The problem with most surf memoirs is balance. Waves, pursuit, lust, and bad decisions that lead to good tales are components of all surf memoirs worth their salt, but few do nearly as good of a job as Finnegan in presenting a polished picture of a surfer’s total living experience. Recalling stories and relaying visceral emotion certainly requires some literary skill, but Finnegan clarifies and articulates the murky waters of internal experience in a manner that only the most skilled authors can accomplish.

  2. Breath by Tim Winton: Tim Winton is the well-known in Australia for his 13 previous books, but his 2009 novel, Breath, is regarded as some of his best work. Set far away from cosmopolitan distractions in Western Australia, Winton explores the pursuit of surf in conjunction with thrills, pleasure, sex, and status through the eyes of two adventurous teenage boys and a troubled mentor.

  3. Caught Inside by Daniel Duane: Fed up with an unfulfilling retail job in Berkeley, CA, Duane moved to Santa Cruz in pursuit of a more authentic and meaningful experience. Caught Inside is the culmination of a year of riding waves, exploring the coastline and ocean, studying surfing history, and befriending local riders whose lives revolve around a singular pursuit: riding the perfect wave. Duane provides a vantage point to explore the innards of the hardcore surfing world, including the appreciation of nature that often conflicts with and takes precedence over personal, professional, and familial responsibility.

  4. Pipe Dreams: A Surfer's Journey by Kelly Slater:  A six-time world surfing champion, musician, actor, environmentalist, and now the founder of a clothing line, Kelly Slater is a household name for surfers and non-surfers alike. In this autobiography, Kelly takes a chronological approach, taking the reader back in time with him as he reflects on success, tribulations, and all manners of surf contests, which allows the reader to explore how the results affected his ever-changing strategies and general outlook. If you like Kelly Slater, you’re going to love this book.

  5. Force of Nature: Mind, Body, Soul, And, of Course, Surfing by Laird Hamilton: Perhaps the only surfer that draws more name recognition is Laird Hamilton. I met him on a flight when I was about fourteen, so you could say we are close. In Force of Nature, Laird Hamilton provides a guide to surfing, but more importantly to peak physical, mental, and spiritual fitness. He calls on his inner circle of athletes, chefs, and fitness experts in order to supply advice only from those at the forefront of their respective fields in sports, training, nutrition, and more.

  6. Kook: What Surfing Taught Me About Love, Life, and Catching the Perfect Wave by Peter Heller: Kook, by Peter Heller, is a memoir of finding the value of life through surf. Forty eight years-old and unhappy with the monotony of the corporate world, Heller follows a whim and takes six months to “become a surfer.” Heller begins his transformation from kook [a beginner surfer who violates every rule of surfing etiquette] in California, and travels down the Pacific Coastline in baja and Mexico in pursuit of waves while steadily progressing on the surfboard. Peter’s “addiction to surfing” is what makes this piece so relatable to all surfers and his experiences of self-discovery along his journey will make you want to give your two weeks notice and hope on the next flight (that doesn’t charge you a $250 fee for your boards) to the Baja California.

Sea's the Day!

Written by: Clark Perkins