Surfing is more lifestyle than hobby, infiltrating much of your life. And the surfer’s library is no exception. While I have yet to come across a proper fiction book that aptly depicts the surfer lifestyle, there are a few books that are must haves for the non-couch surfing surfer.
The History of Surfing
The ultimate coffee table book for the surfer, The History of Surfing [$50; Chronicle Books] is a detailed reliving of the sport, from its early South Pacific days to contemporary wave ripping. Written by Matt Warshaw, the former editor of Surfer magazine, The History of Surfing is his opus. At nearly 500 pages and brimming with 250,000 words, there is a lot to unpack in this definitive history of the sport. From stories of legends like Eddie Aikau and Duke Kahanamoku to breathtaking images of faraway breaks and unforgettable rides, this tome is engaging, informative, and awe-inspiring for surfers and land dwellers alike.
We all know that South Florida surf is hit or miss, but do you know why? The world’s oceans are complex mechanisms, and waves the work of countless forces of energy pushing and pulling on the water. While a baseline explanation to be sure, for a more studied approach to the world of waves—and the science behind them—grab a copy of Surf Science: An Introduction to Waves for Surfing [$35; University of Hawaii]. Written by Tony Butt, a PhD in Physical Oceanography, the book was penned with the surfer in mind. Surf Science breaks down the how, why, and what makes the waves you covet, while making it incredibly accessible, even if you slept through those Oceanography 101 classes. This book will set you on your way to becoming a mini-forecaster, reading buoy data and weather charts with confidence, and impressing your friends with some rather scientific verbiage while sitting in the lineup waiting on the next set.
While the sport of surfing may have taken its cues from far off islands of Polynesia, Florida has a pretty impressive, albeit much condensed, history with board riding. Documenting the Sunshine State’s love for water dancing is Surfing Florida: A Photographic History [$31.95; University Press of Florida]. Written by Paul Aho, the same cat who was behind the traveling art/history exhibition that cruised around Florida through 2012, the book is a culmination of that exhibit, collecting the history of Florida’s surf culture and compiling it in book form. The book chronicles those heady days of the 1930s and the pioneering Whitman brothers, through the 1960s surfing boom, and on to today and the seemingly everlasting dominance of Florida born-and-raised surfing emperor, Kelly Slater—consequently the most decorated and epic surfer around (11-time world champ, need I say more). With a unique collection of photographs—both archival and contemporary, essays and stories from noted historians, and interviews with salty locals and surfing legends, the book is a must for anyone that has Florida surfing roots.
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