Some great surfing books

While I’m not a surfer, I’ve always had a fascination with the sport. The mystical side of being in the ocean, the raw physicality of the sport, and the counter-culture and sub-culture of people who surf.

Here’s a list of some of my favorite books about surfing.

Tapping the Source is the classic surfer novel. Kem Nunn more or less invented the genre.

Tapping the Source: A Novel

NATIONAL BOOK AWARD FINALIST A reissue of the classic novel that inspired the movie Point Break and pioneered a genre. People go to Huntington Beach in search of the endless parties, the ultimate highs, and the perfect waves. Ike Tucker has come to look for his missing sister and for the three men who may have murdered her.

The Dogs of Winter might be my favorite. Kem Nunn does surfer noir like nobody’s business.

The Dogs of Winter

Jack Fletcher is hired to take pictures of a dangerous, premier mysto surf spot off the Pacific Northwest. But disaster soon strikes when an Indian boy drowns–and the men from his reservation seek vengeance …. Jack Fletcher is hired to take pictures of a dangerous, premier mysto surf spot off the Pacific Northwest.

Here’s a look at the dark underbelly of surfer culture, set in Hawaii’s North Shore.

Welcome to Paradise, Now Go to Hell: A True Story of Violence, Corruption, and the Soul of Surfing

Welcome to Paradise, Now Go to Hell, is surfer and former war reporter Chas Smith’s wild and unflinching look at the high-stakes world of surfing on Oahu’s North Shore-a riveting, often humorous, account of beauty, greed, danger, and crime.

Here’s a more positive view — the story of Eddie Aikau, Hawaiian hero.

Eddie Would Go: The Story of Eddie Aikau, Hawaiian Hero and Pioneer of Big Wave Surfing

In the 1970s, a decade before bumper stickers and T-shirts bearing the phrase Eddie Would Go began popping up all over the Hawaiian islands and throughout the surfing world, Eddie Aikau was proving what it meant to be a “waterman.”

Here’s some other ideas:

Barbarian Days: A Surfing Life

A deeply rendered self-portrait of a lifelong surfer by the acclaimed New Yorker writer Barbarian Days is William Finnegan’s memoir of an obsession, a complex enchantment. Surfing only looks like a sport. To initiates, it is something else entirely: a beautiful addiction, a demanding course of study, a morally dangerous pastime, a way of life.

Becoming Westerly

In the sixties and seventies, Australian Peter Drouyn was one of the world’s greatest surfers. He pioneered an aggressive approach called “power surfing,” introduced the man-on-man competition format, and charged giant waves in Hawaii. A Zelig figure, he took on many roles―method actor, surf resort owner, modeling school founder, and lawyer to name but a few.

The Wave: In Pursuit of the Rogues, Freaks and Giants of the Ocean

From Susan Casey, bestselling author of The Devil’s Teeth , an astonishing book about colossal, ship-swallowing rogue waves and the surfers who seek them out. For centuries, mariners have spun tales of gargantuan waves, 100-feet high or taller. Until recently scientists dis­missed these stories-waves that high would seem to violate the laws of physics.

Raw Blue

Award-winning novelby Kirsty Eagar, author of Saltwater Vampires and Night Beach. Raw Blue was awardedthe 2010 Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards Young Adult Fiction prize. Readersof Tim Winton’s Breathwill be drawn to Raw Blue, an achingly beautiful young adult novel set in Sydney’s northern beaches.Winner of the 2010 Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards, it is a haunting storyabout finding your passion in life.

Kilometer 99: A Novel

Malia needs to leave El Salvador. A surfer and aspiring engineer, she came to Central America as a Peace Corps volunteer and fell in love with Ben. Malia’s past year has been perfect: her weeks spent building a much-needed aqueduct in the countryside, and her weekends spent with Ben, surfing point-breaks in the nearby port city of La Libertad.

The Surf Guru: Stories

From the author of Alive in Necropolis “a brazen, roiling, confident collection.” ( Los Angeles Times ). This is a book of brilliant, adventurous stories from award-winning author Doug Dorst, widely celebrated as one of the most creative, original literary voices of his generation-an heir to T.C.

Breath: A Novel

Breath is a story of risk, of learning one’s limits by challenging death. On the wild, lonely coast of Western Australia, two thrill-seeking teenage boys fall under the spell of a veteran big-wave surfer named Sando. Their mentor urges them into a regiment of danger and challenge, and the boys test themselves and each other on storm swells and over shark-haunted reefs.


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