The Surfer’s Essential Reading List

The Surfer’s Essential Reading List

What’s the next best thing after surfing? Reading about surfing. We’ve compiled an essential reading list to get your toes wet in the world of surf literature. These books will have you waxing up your board and rushing to your local break in no time:


Barbarian Days by William Finnegan

First up on the list is Barbarian Days by William Finnegan. This is a truly great piece of writing, and probably the most essential book on the list. It is the memoir of Finnegan, a New Yorker columnist, who had an incredible surfing life. It is a story with great insights into relationships, culture, and surf, with intoxicating accounts of some of the best breaks around the world. If this doesn’t get you day dreaming about your next surf trip - we don’t know what will. We’ve never heard another book mentioned by more surfers.


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

This is the story of Yvon Chouinard. Who’s Yvon Chouinard? Just the founder of Patagonia - one of the most successful outdoor brands to ever do it. Patagonia is known for its ethical and sustainable approach to creating clothing and gear for people who love the outdoors. Let My People Go Surfing, is the account of how Chouinard, an avid surfer and rock climber, created one of the biggest outdoor brands in the world and used it to protect the lands and oceans he loves, and promote a message of stewardship and environmentalism. This is not just a personal success story, it is a story with a broader philosophy about environment and our innate human connection to the elements. If you care deeply for the ocean this one is a must! At Charming Shark, we appreciate companies that share a sense of social responsibility. You can read more about our efforts to make a difference here


The Encyclopedia of Surfing by Matt Warshaw

Do you want to know everything you can about surfing…its origins, language, histories, personalities, equipment and evolutions? This isn’t so much a book as it is a resource. Compiled by Matt Warshaw, a renowned surf historian, The Encyclopedia of Surfing has been called the most comprehensive surf literature out there. It has thousands of alphabetical entries and hundreds of photos that will have you reciting surf trivia to all of your friends. No other book will get you completely up to speed on everything surf.


Surf Shacks by Indoek

Okay, so this one is more of a coffee table book. If you’re the slightest into aesthetic, interior design, or simply love beautiful images, this one is for you! This lovely book is filled with stunning photos of the coolest surf shacks imaginable. From Malibu to Rockaway Beach, this book highlights the most stylish surfer homes, and the people and stories that inhabit them. 


Swell: A Sailing Surfer’s Voyage of Awakening by Liz Clark

The list ends with one woman’s story of adventure. In Swell, Liz Clark chronicles her journey of sailing around the world and surfing remote waves. Starting in Southern California and making her way through Central America and the Pacific Islands, Liz’s story is literally one for the books. If you love a good tale of adventure and don’t mind enchanting images of remote surf breaks, we highly suggest picking this one up. 


The surf isn’t always on, but enjoying a good book on surfing is always a great idea. So grab a book, sit back, and enjoy some tales of stoke. This list of essential surf literature will help you recall why you love surfing in the first place. As if you need a reminder…


Written by AJ Letterel

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