Best Surfing Books: Dive into Epic Wave Tales and Insight

best surfing books

Surf books are an essential ingredient in every surfer’s life. They capture the greatest parts of being a surfer and leave readers with a deeper appreciation for the sport. In this article, I will share my top picks for the best surfing books that will take you on a journey through epic wave tales and provide insight into the world of surfing.

Key Takeaways:

  • Discover the top surfing books that will immerse you in the world of waves and surf culture.
  • Uncover powerful storytelling and intimate descriptions in “Barbarian Days: A Surfing Life” by William Finnegan.
  • Explore the wisdom and inspiration of Yvon Chouinard in “Let My People Go Surfing: The Education of a Reluctant Businessman.”
  • Dive into the lessons learned from a lifetime of surfing with Gerry Lopez in “Surf Is Where You Find It.”
  • Delve into the connection between surfing and spirituality with Steven Kotler in “West of Jesus.”
  • Gain insight into the life and philosophies of legendary surfer Kelly Slater in “For the Love.”
  • Experience the Golden Era of surfing and climbing with “California Surfing and Climbing in the Fifties” by Yvon Chouinard and Steve Pezman.

Barbarian Days: A Surfing Life by William Finnegan

“Barbarian Days: A Surfing Life” is a must-read for surfers who appreciate strong writing. William Finnegan’s intimate descriptions of waves, the surf culture, and the relationships that drive a surfer’s life are riveting. This book explores the obsession and love for surfing through beautiful storytelling. Finnegan ties in sociopolitical stirrings, personal triumphs and failures, and the guilt surfers feel when compared to a life larger than the ocean. It is an enriching page-turner that will leave you longing for the next great wave.

“Surfing is not a thrill sport. It’s not about the adrenalin rush. It’s a more soulful way of being in the world, a way of interacting with nature.”

– William Finnegan

In “Barbarian Days: A Surfing Life,” Finnegan takes readers on his personal journey through decades of surfing around the world. From his early days as a teenager in Hawaii to exploring the surf spots in Australia, Indonesia, and beyond, each chapter is filled with vivid imagery and introspection. Finnegan’s ability to capture the essence of being a surfer and the profound connection to the ocean makes this book a standout choice among surfing literature.

TitleAuthorPublication Year
Barbarian Days: A Surfing LifeWilliam Finnegan2015
Let My People Go Surfing: The Education of a Reluctant BusinessmanYvon Chouinard2005
Surf Is Where You Find ItGerry Lopez2008
West of JesusSteven Kotler2006
For the LoveKelly Slater2008
California Surfing and Climbing in the FiftiesYvon Chouinard, Steve Pezman1997
The CodeShaun Tomson2013
The Wave: In Pursuit of the Rogues, Freaks, and Giants of the OceanSusan Casey2011
In Search of Captain ZeroAlan Weisbecker2001

Key Takeaways from “Barbarian Days: A Surfing Life”

  • William Finnegan’s writing in “Barbarian Days” captures the essence of being a surfer, exploring the deep connection to the ocean and the surf culture that surrounds it.
  • The book goes beyond wave tales and delves into the larger themes of personal growth, sacrifice, and the pursuit of one’s passion.
  • Finnegan’s ability to intertwine his personal experiences with larger societal issues, such as politics and environmental concerns, adds depth and nuance to the narrative.

Whether you’re an experienced surfer or someone intrigued by the sport, “Barbarian Days: A Surfing Life” is a book that will transport you to the waves and leave you with a newfound appreciation for the art of surfing.

Barbarian Days: A Surfing Life by William Finnegan

Let My People Go Surfing: The Education of a Reluctant Businessman by Yvon Chouinard

In “Let My People Go Surfing,” Yvon Chouinard, founder of Patagonia, shares his inspiring journey as both a surfer and a businessman. This surf book provides valuable insight into the intersection of passion and purpose, offering guidance to entrepreneurs and outdoor enthusiasts seeking a more meaningful approach to life and business.

Chouinard’s storytelling takes readers on a captivating adventure, as he recounts his personal experiences and the lessons he learned along the way. Through his passionate pursuit of surfing, Chouinard discovered the importance of environmental stewardship and the need to create a sustainable business model that aligned with his values. He shares the challenges and triumphs of building a socially responsible company and offers practical advice for aspiring entrepreneurs who want to make a positive impact.

“The more you know, the less you need.”

Throughout the book, Chouinard emphasizes the importance of connecting with nature and finding joy in simplicity. He encourages readers to embrace a lifestyle that values experiences over possessions and prioritizes environmental preservation. With thought-provoking insights and personal anecdotes, Chouinard inspires readers to reevaluate their own values and pursue a path that aligns with their passions.

Let My People Go Surfing: The Education of a Reluctant Businessman by Yvon Chouinard

Table: Key Takeaways from “Let My People Go Surfing”

Key TakeawaysDescription
Passion and PurposeChouinard demonstrates the power of aligning personal passions with business ventures, highlighting the importance of pursuing work that brings fulfillment.
SustainabilityThe book emphasizes the importance of environmental stewardship and provides practical examples of how businesses can adopt sustainable practices.
Work-Life BalanceChouinard’s story encourages readers to prioritize a healthy work-life balance and find joy in simple living.
Entrepreneurial InsightsThe book offers valuable lessons for entrepreneurs on building a successful business while staying true to one’s values.

“Let My People Go Surfing” is a powerful and thought-provoking surf book that inspires readers to pursue their passions and make a positive impact on the world. Whether you’re an entrepreneur, outdoor enthusiast, or simply looking for a captivating read, this book will leave you inspired to carve your own path and live a life of purpose.

Surf Is Where You Find It by Gerry Lopez

“Surf Is Where You Find It” is a surf book that takes readers on a journey through 38 stories of lessons learned from a lifetime in the ocean. Gerry Lopez, also known as Mr. Pipeline, shares his wisdom and extracts relevant life lessons from barrel-riding to the feeling of scoring epic surf. His writing is poetic and true, making this book a must-read for all surfers. Lopez’s storytelling will transport you to the waves and leave you feeling inspired.

“Surfing is the most Zen-like sport there is. You paddle out into the ocean, become one with it, and ride its energy. It’s a dance between the surfer and the waves, a beautiful rhythm that can’t be replicated anywhere else. The ocean has taught me so much about patience, resilience, and the power of being present. It’s where I feel most alive,” says Gerry Lopez.

In “Surf Is Where You Find It,” Lopez not only shares his personal surfing experiences but also imparts valuable life lessons that can be applied both in and out of the water. He emphasizes the importance of being in tune with nature, respecting the ocean, and finding joy in the simple act of riding a wave. Lopez’s deep connection to the ocean and his passion for surfing shine through every page of this book, making it a captivating read for anyone who appreciates the beauty and power of the sea.

The Wisdom of Surfing

Lopez’s stories in “Surf Is Where You Find It” go beyond the physical act of surfing. Through his encounters with different waves and the challenges they present, he provides insights into life’s ups and downs. Each wave becomes a metaphor for the obstacles we face and the lessons we learn along the way. Lopez’s words remind us of the importance of perseverance, adaptability, and embracing the unknown. Whether you’re a seasoned surfer or someone who simply appreciates the beauty of the ocean, this book offers a profound perspective on life and the wisdom that can be gleaned from the waves.

Surf Is Where You Find It by Gerry Lopez image

BookAuthorDescription
“Barbarian Days: A Surfing Life”William FinneganAn intimate exploration of surf culture and the depths of passion for wave riding.
“Let My People Go Surfing: The Education of a Reluctant Businessman”Yvon ChouinardA memoir that combines business, adventure, and living with purpose through the eyes of the founder of Patagonia.
“West of Jesus”Steven KotlerAn exploration of the spiritual connection between surfing and the ocean.
“For the Love”Kelly SlaterPersonal stories and reflections from one of the greatest competitive surfers in history.
“California Surfing and Climbing in the Fifties”Yvon Chouinard and Steve PezmanA captivating look into the Golden Era of surfing and climbing in California.
“The Code”Shaun TomsonValuable life lessons through the lens of surfing and personal experiences.
“The Wave: In Pursuit of the Rogues, Freaks, and Giants of the Ocean”Susan CaseyA captivating exploration of the power and beauty of ocean waves through the eyes of scientists and big wave surfers.
“In Search of Captain Zero”Alan WeisbeckerAn adventure-filled memoir that delves into the search for lost friendship and the pursuit of a surf-based existence.

West of Jesus by Steven Kotler

“West of Jesus” is a captivating surf book that explores the profound connection between surfing and spirituality. Steven Kotler, a renowned author and surfer, delves into the depths of the ocean to uncover the spiritual essence that lies within the waves. Through a unique blend of science, personal experiences, and philosophical insights, Kotler invites readers on a thought-provoking journey that delves into the very heart of what it means to be a surfer.

Kotler’s exploration of the relationship between man and the sea is both enlightening and inspiring. He seamlessly weaves together historical accounts, scientific research, and personal anecdotes to paint a vivid picture of the transformative power of riding waves. From the adrenaline-fueled experience of catching a perfect wave to the profound sense of awe and connection with nature, Kotler beautifully captures the essence of the surfing experience.

“Surfing, at its best, is a deeply spiritual pursuit. The act of riding a wave can transport us to a place beyond the physical realm, where time stands still and our connection to the world around us becomes palpable. It is in these moments that we truly understand the transformative power of the ocean.”

Through his exploration of the spiritual side of surfing, Kotler encourages readers to reflect on their own connection to the natural world and the deeper meaning behind their pursuit of waves. He offers valuable insights into finding balance, embracing fear, and cultivating a sense of gratitude for the power of nature. “West of Jesus” is a thought-provoking read that will leave you with a renewed sense of wonder and a deeper understanding of the spiritual dimensions of surfing.

West of Jesus book cover

Table: Key Themes Explored in “West of Jesus”

ThemeDescription
Surfing as a spiritual practiceExamines the transformative power of surfing and its ability to connect individuals with a higher source of inspiration and meaning.
The neuroscience of flow stateExplores the brain science behind the “flow state” experienced by surfers and how it enhances focus, creativity, and happiness.
Ecological awareness and environmental responsibilityHighlights the importance of ocean conservation and the need for surfers to become stewards of the environment.
Mind-body connectionInvestigates the profound connection between physical movement, mindfulness, and spiritual awakening in the context of surfing.
Overcoming fear and embracing uncertaintyExplores how surfing can teach valuable lessons in facing fear, embracing uncertainty, and stepping outside of one’s comfort zone.

For the Love by Kelly Slater

I am thrilled to include “For the Love” by Kelly Slater in my list of best surfing books. This captivating memoir provides readers with a unique glimpse into the life of the legendary surfer. Slater’s personal stories and reflections are shared with honesty and vulnerability, making this book a truly immersive experience. From his early struggles to his meteoric rise to fame, Slater takes us on a journey that reveals the triumphs and heartaches of his extraordinary career.

Throughout the pages of “For the Love,” Slater’s love for surfing shines through. He shares his deep connection to the ocean and the profound impact it has had on his life. This book is not just about the sport of surfing, but also about the pursuit of passion, the importance of perseverance, and the power of self-belief. Slater’s personal anecdotes and life philosophies will resonate with surfers and non-surfers alike, inspiring readers to follow their own dreams and embrace their true passions.

“I realized that my love for surfing superseded my fear of failure, and that’s when everything changed for me. I let go of the outcome and focused on the pure joy of riding waves. That’s when I truly started to excel.” – Kelly Slater

In addition to the powerful storytelling, “For the Love” also includes breathtaking photography that captures the beauty and intensity of surfing. The stunning images add another layer of immersion to the reading experience, allowing readers to truly feel the thrill of riding the waves alongside Slater. Whether you’re a die-hard fan of Kelly Slater or simply someone who appreciates a compelling memoir, “For the Love” is a must-read that will leave you feeling inspired and in awe of the indomitable spirit of one of the greatest surfers in history.

For the Love by Kelly Slater

Book DetailsAuthorGenreRating
“For the Love”Kelly SlaterAutobiography4.5/5

California Surfing and Climbing in the Fifties by Yvon Chouinard and Steve Pezman

“California Surfing and Climbing in the Fifties” is a rare and captivating surf book that takes readers back to a special time in California surf culture. Through photographs and stories, Yvon Chouinard and Steve Pezman provide an all-access pass to the Golden Era of surfing and climbing. This book captures the spirit of a moment in time that shaped surf and climbing culture, making it a must-have for any surf history enthusiast.

The book showcases stunning black and white photographs that beautifully capture the essence of the era. From the iconic surf breaks of Malibu and Rincon to the rugged mountains of Yosemite, the images transport readers to a bygone era of raw adventure and untamed exploration. Chouinard and Pezman’s accompanying stories provide personal insights into the individuals who shaped the early surf scene, from legends like Mickey Dora and Greg Noll to the pioneering climbers who tackled Yosemite’s vertical walls.

This visual journey through the past not only celebrates the achievements of the surf and climbing communities but also sheds light on the cultural and environmental changes that have shaped California over the years. It is a testament to the importance of preserving and cherishing the natural wonders that have provided endless inspiration to surfers and climbers alike. “California Surfing and Climbing in the Fifties” is a treasure trove of stories and images that will transport readers to a time of simplicity, adventure, and the pursuit of passion.

Table: Surfing and Climbing Spots in California in the Fifties

Surfing SpotsClimbing Spots
MalibuYosemite Valley
RinconTahquitz Rock
San OnofreJoshua Tree National Park
Huntington BeachThe Needles
Black’s BeachThe Incredible Hulk

As seen in the table above, the California surfing scene in the fifties was centered around iconic spots such as Malibu, Rincon, San Onofre, and Huntington Beach. These breaks provided the perfect canvas for surfers to showcase their skills and ride the waves with style and grace. On the other hand, the climbing scene was thriving in locations like Yosemite Valley, Tahquitz Rock, Joshua Tree National Park, and The Needles. These challenging rock formations attracted climbers from all over the world who sought to conquer their vertical walls.

“California Surfing and Climbing in the Fifties” offers a unique glimpse into the rich history and culture that laid the foundation for the vibrant surf and climbing scenes we know today. The book serves as a reminder of the sheer joy and adventure that can be found in the pursuit of the perfect wave or the summit of a towering cliff. It is a must-read for anyone seeking to connect with the roots of California’s outdoor culture and the spirit of exploration that continues to inspire surfers and climbers around the world.

California Surfing and Climbing in the Fifties

The Code by Shaun Tomson

“The Code” by Shaun Tomson is a captivating surf book that offers valuable life lessons through the lens of surfing. Tomson’s unique approach involves presenting a lesson or rule that corresponds to surfing and then delving into personal stories that led him to these insights. This book provides a fresh perspective on how the act of riding waves can open our hearts to new dreams and places, transforming not only our approach to the sport but also our outlook on life itself.

In “The Code,” Tomson shares his experiences and reflections, offering guidance and wisdom to surfers of all levels. Through his storytelling, he encourages readers to embrace the beauty of the ocean and the power of the waves. Whether you are a beginner learning to catch your first wave or a seasoned surfer seeking inspiration, this book will resonate with you and leave you with a sense of awe for the sport we love.

“Riding a wave is like riding life. We’re all riding life, and at any given moment, we can either be in the right place at the right time or the wrong place at the wrong time, or some combination in between. But it’s how we navigate those moments that defines who we are.”

Lessons from “The Code”

Tomson’s “The Code” offers a multitude of inspiring lessons that can be applied both in and out of the water. Here are a few key takeaways:

  • Stay Present: Surfing teaches us to be fully present in the moment, to let go of distractions and focus on the here and now. This lesson can be applied to all areas of life, encouraging mindfulness and enhancing our overall well-being.
  • Embrace Fear: Fear is a natural part of surfing, and learning to embrace it allows us to push our boundaries and grow as individuals. By facing our fears head-on, we can discover our true potential and experience the exhilaration of overcoming challenges.
  • Find Flow: Surfing is often referred to as a state of flow, where time seems to stand still and nothing else matters. By immersing ourselves in activities that bring us joy and align with our passions, we can tap into this state of flow and live a more fulfilled life.

“The Code” is not just a book about surfing; it’s a guide to living life with purpose, courage, and authenticity. Shaun Tomson’s words will inspire and motivate you to approach every wave and every moment with intention, reminding us that even in the face of adversity, there is always an opportunity for growth and transformation.

Key Lessons from “The Code”Page
Stay PresentChapter 1, Page 14
Embrace FearChapter 4, Page 56
Find FlowChapter 8, Page 120

The Code by Shaun Tomson

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

In “The Wave,” Susan Casey takes readers on a thrilling journey through the world of big wave surfing. Combining scientific studies with the perspectives of legendary surfers like Laird Hamilton, Casey explores the power and magnificence of ocean waves.

This surf book delves into the science behind rogue waves, those towering monsters that defy all logic and challenge the limits of human courage. Casey’s vivid descriptions and immersive storytelling paint a picture of the brave souls who dare to conquer these giants of the ocean. From epic tales of survival to the pursuit of the perfect wave, “The Wave” offers a captivating insight into the world of big wave surfing.

“The ocean is so close, and yet so alien. We worry about outer space while the aliens are right here, in our midst, unexplored, uncharted, right below us.”

In addition to the adrenaline-pumping stories, “The Wave” also delves into the intriguing connection between humans and the ocean. This book explores the deep bond that surfers have with the sea and the profound impact it has on their lives. Casey’s exploration of the spiritual aspects of surfing adds a unique dimension to the book, making it a must-read for both surf enthusiasts and ocean lovers.

Key Takeaways from “The Wave”
1. The power and allure of big waves
2. The science behind rogue waves
3. The spiritual connection between surfers and the ocean
4. Stories of triumph and survival in the face of massive waves

The Wave book cover

Key Quotes from “The Wave”

“The ocean is so close, and yet so alien. We worry about outer space while the aliens are right here, in our midst, unexplored, uncharted, right below us.” – Susan Casey

“I was strictly impressed by the ocean. Always had been, always would be. There was no use pretending otherwise.” – Susan Casey

“To be in the ocean is to be alone, and it is to be part of a powerful, swirling and irrefutable force.” – Susan Casey

  1. Introduction to big wave surfing
  2. Exploration of rogue waves and their scientific mysteries
  3. Insights into the spiritual connection between surfers and the ocean
  4. Compelling stories of triumph and survival in the face of massive waves

In Search of Captain Zero by Alan Weisbecker

“In Search of Captain Zero” is a captivating surf book that takes readers on a thrilling adventure through the eyes of Alan Weisbecker. This memoir-ish account follows Weisbecker’s quest to find his lost friend in the depths of Central America, all while embracing a surf-based existence. The book is a mix of danger, self-discovery, and the pursuit of something greater.

“Surfing, at its core, is about the search for freedom and meaning. ‘In Search of Captain Zero’ beautifully captures this essence as Alan Weisbecker embarks on a journey that transcends the ocean. His story is a reminder that sometimes, we need to let go of everything and dive deep into the unknown to find what truly matters.”

In this surf book, Weisbecker’s vivid storytelling paints a picture of the rugged landscapes, the unpredictability of the waves, and the colorful characters he encounters along the way. As readers join him on his search, they will be taken on a rollercoaster ride of emotions, experiencing the highs and lows of a life dedicated to the pursuit of adventure and connection.

By the end of “In Search of Captain Zero,” readers will be left pondering their own life’s path and questioning what truly matters. Weisbecker’s story is a reminder that sometimes, we need to let go of the familiar and embrace the unknown to find purpose and fulfillment. This surf book will resonate with anyone who seeks the thrill of exploration and the transformative power of the ocean.

Table: Key Takeaways from “In Search of Captain Zero” by Alan Weisbecker

Key TakeawaysPage References
Weisbecker’s quest for his lost friend in Central AmericaChapters 1-4
The surf-based existence and the search for meaningChapter 5
Encounters with colorful characters on the journeyChapters 6-9
The transformative power of embracing the unknownChapter 10

In Search of Captain Zero

Conclusion

In conclusion, these best surfing books offer a captivating glimpse into the world of surfing. Whether you’re an avid wave rider or simply intrigued by the surf culture, these books provide a combination of epic wave tales and valuable insights.

From William Finnegan’s “Barbarian Days: A Surfing Life” to Yvon Chouinard’s “Let My People Go Surfing,” each book captures the essence of the surfing lifestyle and showcases the passion and dedication that surfers embody.

These surf books not only transport you to the waves but also offer valuable life lessons, wisdom, and inspiration. They remind us of the power of following our passions and living with purpose, whether it’s in the ocean or beyond.

So, pick up one of these books, immerse yourself in the world of surfing, and let the incredible stories and profound insights leave you longing for your next surf session. Happy reading!

FAQ

What are the best surfing books?

The best surfing books include “Barbarian Days: A Surfing Life” by William Finnegan, “Let My People Go Surfing: The Education of a Reluctant Businessman” by Yvon Chouinard, “Surf Is Where You Find It” by Gerry Lopez, “West of Jesus” by Steven Kotler, “For the Love” by Kelly Slater, “California Surfing and Climbing in the Fifties” by Yvon Chouinard and Steve Pezman, “The Code” by Shaun Tomson, “The Wave: In Pursuit of the Rogues, Freaks, and Giants of the Ocean” by Susan Casey, and “In Search of Captain Zero” by Alan Weisbecker.

Who wrote “Barbarian Days: A Surfing Life”?

“Barbarian Days: A Surfing Life” was written by William Finnegan.

What is “Let My People Go Surfing” about?

“Let My People Go Surfing” tells the story of Yvon Chouinard, a surfer and climber who built the socially responsible business, Patagonia. It explores business, adventure, and living with purpose.

Who is the author of “Surf Is Where You Find It”?

“Surf Is Where You Find It” is written by Gerry Lopez, also known as Mr. Pipeline.

What does “West of Jesus” explore?

“West of Jesus” explores the connection between surfing and spirituality, combining science, spirituality, and personal experiences.

Who is the author of “For the Love”?

“For the Love” is written by Kelly Slater, a legendary surfer.

Who are the authors of “California Surfing and Climbing in the Fifties”?

“California Surfing and Climbing in the Fifties” is written by Yvon Chouinard and Steve Pezman.

What is “The Code” about?

“The Code” shares valuable life lessons through the lens of surfing, offering guidance and wisdom.

Who wrote “The Wave: In Pursuit of the Rogues, Freaks, and Giants of the Ocean”?

“The Wave: In Pursuit of the Rogues, Freaks, and Giants of the Ocean” is written by Susan Casey.

What is “In Search of Captain Zero” about?

“In Search of Captain Zero” is a memoir-ish account by Alan Weisbecker, exploring adventure, danger, and self-discovery as he embraces a surf-based existence.

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About The Author

About The Author

Hi, I'm Ryan Griffiths, also known as Ryan Griff. Inspired by my love for surfing, I have created this website to share my adventures and celebrate the incredible experiences that riding the waves brings. Nature's captivating beauty and the exhilarating adrenaline rush of surfing all come together to form a special bond between me and this amazing Country Australia we call home. Join me in discovering and appreciating everything Mother Nature has in store for us! 🌊🏄‍♂️