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3.87  ·  Rating details ·  18,186 ratings  ·  1,469 reviews
Tim Winton is Australia’s best-loved novelist. Breath is an extraordinary evocation of an adolescence spent resisting complacency, testing one’s limits against nature, finding like-minded souls, and discovering just how far one breath will take you. It’s a story of extremes—extreme sports and extreme emotions.

On the wild, lonely coast of Western Australia, two thrillseeki
Hardcover, 218 pages
Published May 27th 2008 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux
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Graham Bullen I had to think about this a little, purely because his other books are all so very good too. But yes, if you gauge the quality of a novel by impact it…moreI had to think about this a little, purely because his other books are all so very good too. But yes, if you gauge the quality of a novel by impact it has on you as you read it, and the durability of those feelings it generated over the years that followed, I would say yes, it is his best book. The emotional impact is enormous; the scenes, one then the next, are all memorable; and not a word is wasted. Thank you for posing the question, it has really caused me to visit the book again in my head.(less)
Left Coast Justin It has a great deal of sexual content that is anything but sexy. Also a few references to drug use. But this is definitely intended for mature readers…moreIt has a great deal of sexual content that is anything but sexy. Also a few references to drug use. But this is definitely intended for mature readers.(less)

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Average rating 3.87  · 
Rating details
 ·  18,186 ratings  ·  1,469 reviews

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I have to be honest in full disclosure to state outright that my vain celebrity interest in a certain Aussie actor happened me upon this book. And I’m so glad I did. It looks like I have a lot of great reading ahead of me, as this is my first Tim Winton novel. I think I need to hang my head low on admitting this one!

I listened to the audio version, narrated by a very capable and very smooth voiced Australian actor Dan Wyllie. This smoothness was the perfect pairing to the book.

This particular b
Kylie D
A poignant coming of age tale. Beautifully written, Tim Winton sets the bar high for other authors.
D. Pow
Jul 26, 2010 rated it really liked it

Breath continues Tim Winton’s string of strong novels and story collections. While it isn’t quite as good as The Riders or Dirt Music or the incomparable Cloudstreet, it is a worthwhile read, full of dark impulses and sudden flashes of grace and light. Like Riders and Music, Breath deals with a middle-aged protagonist whose life has turned to ashes and bone shards, unlike those two novels the primary concern is this man’s coming of age told in retrospective.

The bulk of the novel concerns Bruce(P
Nov 13, 2017 rated it really liked it
3.5 stars

Set in Western Australia, Breath is about a man, Bruce who is a paramedic who is looking back on his life - specifically when he was a teenager and he and his friend, Loonie used to dare each other to do dangerous things. First their stunts take place in a river near where they live then they take to surfing. There they meet and older surfer, named Sandor who also likes taking risks. Sandor grudgingly at first takes them under his wing and soon the boys and Sandor are a trio hitting the
✨    jamieson   ✨
jesus yikes.
winton is hit and miss for me and this wasn't it chief
Jun 08, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Paramedic, Bruce Pike (Pikelet) and his partner have been called out to an emergency involving a teenager. Whilst attending to the teenager, Bruce now aged in his fifties thinks back to his own teenage years.

Pikelet grew up in the 1970's in a mill town in Western Australia it is here that he becomes friends with Ivan Loon (Loonie).
The pair spend their days surfing which is when they meet, Sando (Bill Sanderson) and his wife Eva. Sando takes them under his wing and teaches them more extreme surfi
Mar 29, 2014 rated it really liked it
Tim Winton’s ‘Breath’ is like a long powerful wave building slowly, then breaking and crashing down to cause chaos in it's wake. It is the story of two adolescent surfers taken in tow by a veteran surfer and gradually introduced to extreme surfing and how this eventually impacts on and shapes their future lives.

Pikelet (Bruce Pike) and Loonie (Ivan Loon) are both lonely misfits in a small timber town near the coast who befriend each other one summer swimming at the river and dare each other to m
Nov 20, 2008 rated it it was ok
Ugh. I thought this was about a teen boy surfing in Australia. I wanted it to be about a teen boy surfing in Australia. And it was, for about 150 pages, then it goes off into a weird and extreme area that I will not mention here. I feel ripped off because I enjoyed the first 3/4 of the book, but then to have to be subjected to…blech.

Pikelet and Loonie are two teenage boys obsessed with surfing. They meet up with Sando, a guy in his mid 30’s who coaches them in the sport and sometimes encourages
Alex Cantone
Being afraid, said Sando. Proves you’re alive and awake.

Tim Winton’s modern classic of coming-of-age in the seventies in Western Australia, is almost lyrical in its imagery of seascapes and landscapes, and emotional turmoil. The story follows teenager Bruce Pike (Pikelet) from adolescent bravado through to middle-age, risk-averse melancholy. With his best friend Loonie, the teenage Pike falls in with enigmatic adrenaline junkies Sando, riding the illusive wave, and his American wife Eva.

The firs
Nov 02, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

Tim Winton has beguiled me into loving a novel which deals with two subjects that don't interest me at all: teenage male angst and surfing as an extreme sport. The subject matter is why I didn't read the novel when it was first published and it probably would have remained forever unread had I not embarked on a Tim Winton kick after reading The Turning: Stories and his latest novel Eyrie. I listened to the audiobook edition, which was very capably narrated by Australian actor Dan Wyllie.

While t
Oct 04, 2020 rated it really liked it
This piece on South Australia's 'wild west surf wars' made me realise how true Breath is.


If only 'easy to read' were not a deprecating statement in the world of the literary canon. I very much doubt that this book was easy to write. It's a book where surfing looms large and yet it isn't boring, or trite, or trivial. That in itself seems an achievement.

But it isn't a book about surfing. Nor is it a book about adolescence. Sorry, Th
Mar 09, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I've just finished this book in one sitting ... I woke up and in an attempt to get back to sleep I picked this up ... I'll be paying for that decision today - but not regretting it for a second ...

Put aside for minute that I'm probably biased - Tim Winton is a Perth boy and he's set this story in a place that feels familiar and that is well loved by this chick ... but I'm lying here in bed in the city & I can smell the beach ... my shoulders are tingling with sunburn from an age ago and my eyes
★ Jess
Jan 17, 2010 rated it really liked it
I am lost for words. I have absolutely no idea what to think right now.
Was the plot intriguing or painfully realistic? Was the writing lyrical or stupid? Was the ending disgusting or heartbreaking?
I think that I will 'like it'. It was, after all, the most unique book Ive read in ages, probably ever.
It is certainly not what I expected, though still enjoyable. The four lead characters are amazing, proving to easily be the strength of this book. Each is unique. Each is exciting and un-predictabl
May 28, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: adult-books
I really, really loved this novel of two Australian teenage boys and their obsession with a has-been 70's surfing guru and his angry, bitter young wife. The surfing descriptions made my heart pound, and the narrative builds and breaks just like a wave, from a slow, thoughtful beginning to a tension filled climax that crashes down into a boiling, foaming conclusion. I loved what Winton had to say about the nature of obsession, of what it means to be a man, and the fragility of relationships based ...more
Oct 23, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
At the heart of this brilliant coming of age story sits the destructive conflict between pure exaltation and asphyxiating defilement. The young mind should not, cannot deal with these two extremes when they are tied to the same time, place, practice and personalities. The result can only be an utter wreckage. Winton’s prose evokes this tension between light and darkness to chilling effect. A wonderful, very disturbing novel.
Nov 02, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Breath by Tim Winton is a deceptively complex novel wrapped in an apparently simple tale. On one level it might be a story about surfing. It isn’t. On another level, it’s a straightforward coming-of-age novel, where an adolescent lad is introduced to the tingling realities of maturity. But it is more than this. Breath might also be about small town lives, the limits of friendship, or our ability to seek gratification by selfishly exploiting circumstance. Equally, it might be about the relentless ...more
Feb 16, 2009 rated it it was ok
It makes me so sad to give this book only two stars. Winton is one of my favorite Australian writers. The first 3/4 of this book is brilliant - two young teenage boys learning to surf in Western Australia in the early 70's, pushing their limits in increasingly extreme ways in a time before extreme sports was part of the vernacular. The writing is so brilliant, so evocative and descriptive, that I wish I had tried to learn to surf. It's almost better than being there - I can see the waves, feel t ...more
Tom Mooney
Dec 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Man, this hit me like a tonne of bricks. A spare, poetic and dark coming-of-age tale, depicting two teenagers as the innocence of their youth is ripped away by exposure to the world of adults.

The writing about surfing is absolutely exhilarating. Winton captures those moments where excitement tips over to sheer fear so, so perfectly. I read all those passages with my heart beating out of my chest.

Left Coast Justin
Nov 08, 2020 rated it it was amazing

I think this is the most personally-relevant book I've ever read. The narrator and I understand each other perfectly, having had so many shared experiences.

But before I get into all that, there's the writing style, which is astonishing in its skill.

He'd seen the calluses and divots in my hands. He knew I'd earned that surfboard with a bent back and once again, after the longest time, I felt the distant glow of his respect.

Whoever she was, she held my hand and spoke for a long time. But
Colleen Fauchelle
May 31, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018-books
review to come.
Oct 13, 2017 rated it it was ok
*Full disclosure: I am NOT a TW fan, and only read this because it is this month's choice for my book club*
Didn't much like this book but I didn't dislike it enough to chuck it after my self-imposed "50 pages or it's gone" rule, hence the 2 stars. Some of the surfing description I found a bit boring and repetitive, and I really hated the "twist" which seemed to be shoved in there along with a few later comments in order to link back to the story's beginning. This book is not for me, but I manag
Nov 16, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Only my second novel by Winton - I didn't love it as much as I did The Shepherd's Hut, but it was still really impressive and I teetered between a solid four stars or going a bit higher. It was excellent. My plan is to keep on reading all the Winton novels that I missed when first published, something well worth pursuing. ...more
Jan 11, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Breath is a masterfully written tale of what it means to live in extremes; and since most of us, in our own ways, do, it’s a tale about what it means to be alive.

I’m ashamed to say that I only heard of Tim Winton when a blogger recently wrote that Saltwater Buddha: a surfer's quest to find Zen on the sea reminded him of Winton’s surf literature. I am now very honored to be mentioned in his company.

A novelist with a voice no one could copy, Winton’s ability to be colloquial while employing phras
Shawn Mooney (Shawn The Book Maniac)
This was my first by Winton, and did I ever love the writing! In sentences that spark and burst, he tells the story of two Australian teen boys' enmeshment with an older hippie couple. I'd have thought the surfing scenes would bore me to tears: in fact, they were exquisite. The sharp turn near the end of the story was jarring, and a little disappointing. But still a rich, rewarding 4-star read. I am eager to read a lot more by him. ...more
Deborah Ideiosepius
Brilliant! I loved every page of this book.

We start with Bruce Pike, an older paramedic in WA, called out to a teenage adventure gone wrong. The scene brings back memories of his teenage years and we scroll back through his memories to his childhood and adolescence not far from the WA coast, in a small rural town.

The scenario is simple but the storytelling is mesmerising and the writing is superb. I was totally immersed in this book even before we hit the coast and we travel along with Bruce as
Diane S ☔
Jan 16, 2014 rated it liked it
3.5 Very first Winton book I have read and I found it fascinating. Coming of age story of two boys who find a mentor in the risk taking Sandor. Very atmospheric book, the descriptions of the waves, surfing and the reefs made me realize how much I miss the ocean. Very emotive writing style, may just have to read another by this author to experience another example of his writing.
Nov 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Let’s face it. I would give five stars to Tim Winton’s shopping list.
Jeanette (Ms. Feisty)
Breath is set in 1970s Western Australia. Pikelet and Loonie, two adolescent boys, are at first brought closer together by their love of surfing and free diving. Ultimately, it drives them apart as they compete for the approval of Sando, a daredevil veteran surfer who basks in their admiration and delights in challenging them with ever greater dangers.

This is not so much a coming-of-age tale as it is a coming awake tale. Pikelet gradually comes to see the bitter reality of the people he idolize
Apr 03, 2019 rated it really liked it
Beautifully writing coming of age story. I loved the narrative of Bruce, the friendships and the love of the ocean, just mesmerizing.
Apr 04, 2010 rated it it was amazing
I first read “Breath” in January 2010. My second reading only confirmed the strength of Winton’s 2008 novel, at this time the most recent of his works. It is clear that Tim Winton continues at the top of his form. His language is extraordinary—poetic, strong, evocative, fresh, creative. For example, in “Breath”, the narrator (Bruce Pike) describes the impact of a charismatic surfer (Bill Sanderson) on him as an emerging adolescent: “Being with him was like standing near a lethal electric current ...more
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Play Book Tag: Breath | Tim Winton | 4 stars 4 19 Aug 12, 2019 03:14AM  
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Aussie Readers: August 2018-First Thoughts-**No Spoilers**- Breath 1 18 Jul 31, 2018 02:56AM  
Screen & Page: Breath by Tim Winton 2 2 Jun 18, 2018 04:58PM  

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Tim Winton was born in Perth, Western Australia, but moved at a young age to the small country town of Albany.

While a student at Curtin University of Technology, Winton wrote his first novel, An Open Swimmer. It went on to win The Australian/Vogel Literary Award in 1981, and launched his writing career. In fact, he wrote "the best part of three books while at university". His second book, Shallows

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