Good Minds Suggest—Evan Slater's Favorite Books About Surfing

June, 2012
Evan Slater Writer and surfer Evan Slater has crisscrossed the world's oceans chasing perfect waves, from the shark-infested waters off South Africa to the treacherous Cortes Bank. The big-wave rider—defined as someone with the skills and guts to conquer waves larger than 20 feet—is also the former editor of Surfing magazine and currently a scribe for Hurley. His new collaborative book, Swell: A Year of Waves, pairs photographs of waves by Surfing magazine photo editor Peter Taras with informative essays about the anatomy of swells and the unique waves they produce. Catch your own epic rides with these top five surfing books recommended by Slater.

Tijuana Straits by Kem Nunn
"Kem Nunn is a master storyteller, and he always finds a way to weave surfing into a larger, riveting tale. Tijuana Straits sheds light on a forgotten surf territory, a former surfing legend, and romanticizes a famous big-wave spot from the '60s. And this is just the subplot."


Breath by Tim Winton
"Another great story where surfing just happens to be part of the scenery. The best description I've ever read on what it feels like to wipe out on a huge wave."


The History of Surfing by Matt Warshaw
"Most of surf history is hearsay. [This] surf history is the closest thing we have to fact. [It's] painstakingly researched, cross-referenced, and artfully written; Matt Warshaw is one of the few who make history lessons fun. The fact that they're about surfing makes them even better."


North Shore Chronicles: Big-Wave Surfing in Hawaii by Bruce Jenkins
"This book helped fuel my dreams of surfing on the North Shore of Oahu—a series of profiles on some of the most respected underground big-wave heroes of the '80s. Jenkins shows how surfing's big-wave characters run deep. Real deep."


The Pump House Gang by Tom Wolfe
"One of the most famous surfing books written by an 'outsider.' Wolfe infiltrates the notorious La Jolla Windansea crew, yet he doesn't realize he's actually profiling the fringe dwellers more than the kingpins. It's still an interesting character sketch of another generation lost on surfing."



Vote for your own favorites on Listopia: Best Books on Surfing for Surfers



Comments Showing 1-7 of 7 (7 new)

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message 1: by Steve (new)

Steve Too bad he did not inlcude Daniel Duane's excellent, "Caught Inside", a nice brief history of surfing, and some great tales of his own exploits. mostly on the N CA shores.


message 2: by Dobber (new)

Dobber Yes- what Steve says. Daniel Duane is a fine writer. He writes boy-stories but they're good for those of us women who live with outdoorsy men. "Caught Inside" was a great primer for me, helped me understand my fella's favorite pastime.


message 3: by Lorra (new)

Lorra Fae Some wonderful ones I would add are: The Tribes of Palos Verdes by Joy Nicholson (fiction), and ESPECIALLY That Oceanic Feeling by Fiona Capp (memoir). Both great surf tales.

As for non-fiction, I agree Caught Inside is also an awesome read.

"Chasing Waves" by Amy Waeschle is sweet, too.


message 4: by Beth (new)

Beth Shelby If you're looking for surf culture within larger story arcs, Winslow's Dawn Patrol is excellent. Jeff Shelby also has an entire (excellent) series with surfer-PI Noah Braddock as the protagonist.


message 5: by Erin (new)

Erin How can you not include Susan Casey's "The Wave"????


message 6: by Lorraine (new)

Lorraine I just finished reading Kem nunn's Dogs of Winter- another excellent "surf" novel. Breath by Tim Winton is one of my favorite novels, regardless of genre.


message 7: by Lorraine (new)

Lorraine Lorra wrote: "Some wonderful ones I would add are: The Tribes of Palos Verdes by Joy Nicholson (fiction), and ESPECIALLY That Oceanic Feeling by Fiona Capp (memoir). Both great surf tales.

As for non-fiction, I..."


Two fins up for That Oceanic Feeling- a wonderful book!


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