Surfers may not seem like the most literary-inclined demographic, but we constantly find ourselves on the beach, on a plane, or on a boat, twiddling our thumbs waiting for the swell to appear or the wind to change. So, naturally, some of us find ourselves with books in our hands in these scenarios. Nothing makes for better reading material during a surf trip than a first-hand account of a surreal surf adventure, lessons from watermen legends, and tales of epic waves near and far. If you’ve got a surf trip on your calendar, make sure to pack these books along with your favorite boards to ensure you make the most of your hammock, travel, and beach time. Continue reading below for The Ultimate Surfer Reading List: The JOB Surf Experience Guide to the Best Surf Books of All Time.
Barbarian Days: A Surfing Life – William Finnegan
Barbarian Days: A Surfing Life is the Pulitzer Prize-winning memoir of renowned New Yorker journalist William Finnegan. Finnegan writes about surfing the way Hemmingway wrote about bullfighting. Finnegan’s romantic and artful depictions of waves and riding them appeals to all audiences, not just surfers. Additionally, William Finnegan’s life will inspire surfers of all levels to seek out adventure. After growing up between Hawaii and California, Finnegan set out on a 4-year adventure across the South Pacific, Indonesia, Australia, and South Africa. During his travels, Finnegan discovered and rode waves we now consider the best on the planet.
In Search of Captain Zero: A Surfer’s Road Trip Beyond the End of the Road – Alan Weisbecker
Alan Weisbecker, a surfer and drug smuggler turned Hollywood writer, details his search for his childhood surfing buddy who vanished south of the border. This epic tale weaves in and out of Weisbecker’s travel narrative with stories of his past life of crime. Weisbecker takes the ultimate road trip in search of his best friend, from New York to Costa Rica and back again. This memoir reads like a classic road novel reminiscent of Kerouac and is full of adventure and heartbreak.
Swell: A Sailing Surfers Voyage of Awakening – Liz Clark
Environmentalist, surfer, and writer Liz Clark set sail from San Diego with her cat and spent twelve harrowing years at sea exploring the ends of the earth in search of waves. In her uplifting memoir, Swell: A Sailing Surfers Voyage of Awakening, Clark details the challenges of living life at sea and highlights some of the most important environmental issues we face today.
Let My People Go Surfing: The Education of a Reluctant Businessman – Yvon Chouinard
Let My People Go Surfing is not actually about surfing. The book details Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard’s life and business philosophies that promote things like surfing when there’s surf and working when it’s flat. The book chronicles the adventures of Chouinard, which are plenty, alongside the growth and development of the outdoor retailer giant Patagonia. Let My People Go Surfing beats the hell out of whatever MBA program recommended business book is currently sitting on the NY Times Best Seller list, and it promotes employee happiness, community, and the outdoors.
Surf is Where You Find It – Gerry Lopez
Gerry Lopez, AKA Mr. Pipeline, needs no introduction on this blog. Lopez is hands down one of the greatest to ever do it at Pipe and one of surfing’s more interesting and charismatic personalities. If you’re remotely interested in surfing, when Gerry talks, you listen. Surf is Where You Find It details Lopez’s life of surf adventure, from growing up in Hawaii to pioneering waves in Indonesia and beyond.
To live your own surf adventure, book a lesson with the best surf school on the island, Jamie O’Brien Surf Experience. Our North Shore Surf School will teach you the ins and outs of surfing and help you progress towards your surfing goals. To stay close to the action on the North Shore, book your stay at Turtle Bay Resort.