If you’re looking for a gift to give a surfer, or want to expand your own library, here’s a few surfing themed books I can personally recommend:
Barbarian Days by William FinneganWilliam Finnegan’s descriptions of surfing and waves are the best I’ve ever read. Long, detailed and emotional, Finnegan captures the essence of what it means to be a surfer.
For an international journalist and New Yorker writer, Finnegan is surprisingly open about his own feelings and friendships. His honesty, wordsmanship and obsession with waves will take you on a ride across every wave imaginable, from Pacific Island perfection to brutal monsters on the cold San Francisco coast.
If you want to know what it’s like to ride big waves and travel the world before it was cool, read this.
Breath by Tim WintonIf you’ve never read it, buy it now. It’s my favourite surf book by far, and in my top 5 books of any genre. Breath is a coming of age story about a boy called ‘Pikelet’. He lives in a small village in Western Australia with all the unusual adventures that entails. But when he discovers surfing he encounters some extraordinary thrills.
Magically crafted by one of Australia’s most celebrated authors, who also happens to be a surfer from W.A. As the title suggests, the book contains a ‘breath’ theme including childhood river antics, heavy wipeouts, bedroom adventures and a bit of digeridoo.
Read more about Breath here.
Rocketbar Amicus by Stephen M ShawCrammed with red moons, dark suns and showers of fire from interstellar space. Rocketbar Amicus has plenty to satisfy a sci-fi thirst. It’s also set in a future where surfing leads all other sports and pastimes.
The main man Martin Quince is an ace pilot, demolition expert, politician, combat veteran and a surfer. He’s in need of redemption, fortunately there’s a dystopia to dispel.
• For him
Dogs of Winter by Kem NunnKem Nunn writes surf fiction with dark secrets. If you like that sort of thing, Dogs of Winter will not disappoint. Disturbing deaths, forbidden waves, local legends, insane surfers and a washed out photographer, all thrown together in a remote Californian Indian reservation.
I rarely read books twice, but I’ve read this one three times. Kem Nunn’s Tijuana Straits and Tapping the Source, are also well worth a read.
Psycho Tropics by Dorian BoxDanny is your classic antihero. In public he’s a laid back surfer, who’s generous with time and money. In private he’s tortured, guarded and sinful. But you just can’t help liking the guy.
Unlike the ‘cheerful psychopath’ who’s mission it is to ruin Danny’s life and the lives of his friends. This is a roller coaster thriller, with grisly deaths and intrigue literally from page 1.
Read my full review of Psycho Tropics here.
• For her
Surf Mama by Wilma JohnsonThis true story by a real surf mama will inspire any surf reluctant woman to take the plunge. Wilma is an artist and mother of two who really wanted to surf like her husband. However, instead of taking a few surf lessons in the chilly waters of West Ireland, she and her family upped and moved to the warmer waters of the Basque region.
Wilma’s adventure to become a surfing beach babe in Biarritz is inspirational, heart breaking and a joy to read.
The Sun and the Moon by Leslie McAdamWithin the first few pages you’ll uncover a six pack, a sexy surfer, lust and law. If you like 50 shades of grey, surfing and a bit of legal drama, then your planets have aligned with The Sun and the Moon.
Ryan Fielding is a surfer, barista and charmer. Amelia Crowley is an attorney, depressed, orderly and organised. He is the yang to her yin, but can they exist together in harmony?
• For children
Pigs might surf – by Ollie Miles and Anna LouiseBailie the piglet lived by the sea
in a pig hut made of wood.
He dreamed of the waves and the surfer he’d be,
Not the mud (like a good pig should)!
Bailie is a Cornish pig in search of adventure. He dreams of swimming in the sea and surfing the beautiful blue waves, that he watches everyday from his humble pig hut.
But how will he escape and what will he surf on?
I’ve reviewed lots more children’s surf books here.
• For girls
Blue by Lisa GlassIris is sweet sixteen, set for an amazing summer of love, friendship, loss and adventure. When a fit and talented Zeke walks into her life, surfing soon becomes her passion.
But is Zeke hiding a secret? What lurks beneath his glamorous and mysterious past? When Iris aims for surfing success of her own, her ex-boyfriend appears on the scene. Her surfing skills and feelings for Zeke will be truly tested.
• For boys
Pier Rats by Bruce GreifWhilst suitable for a YA audience, it’s not candy coated for kids. So beware, this book contains physical, social and criminal hazards.
There’s fights with ‘southers’, criminal acts to fund new surf gear and ‘yogi bearing’ for surf trip sustenance. It’s full of surfing insights including saving for your first surfboard, surf gang initiations and adrenaline addiction. There’s also plenty of historical snapshots, from beavertail wetsuits to losing your leashless board on wipeouts. Pier Rats really does do its best to delight every surfer.
For my full review of Pier Rats click here.
Check out my top 10 surf fiction and non-fiction books for more recommendations.