The best books about surfing (from a surfer)

Who am I?

The moment I rode my first wave 25 years ago, I fell in love with the raw energy of that swell that traveled all the way across the ocean to share the last bit of its journey with me. My love of surfing became an all-consuming passion. I abandoned graduate school and reorganized my life to spend every possible minute in the water. Hours a day, I sit on my board, watching the horizon for the next wave, anticipating that sublime connection, when wind and water unite with my breath and blood. Out of the water, I seek a similar kind of transcendence in the stories I write. 


I wrote...

The Song of All: The Legacy of the Heavens Book 1

By Tina LeCount Myers,

Book cover of The Song of All: The Legacy of the Heavens Book 1

What is my book about?

On the forbidding fringes of the tundra, where years are marked by seasons of snow, humans war with immortals in the name of their shared gods. Irjan, a ruthless human warrior, is a legend among the Brethren of Hunters. But even legends grow tired and disillusioned. Scarred and weary of bloodshed, Irjan turns his back on his oath and his calling to seek a peaceful life as a farmer, husband, and father. When his bloody past is revealed, Irjan’s present unravels as he faces an ultimatum: return to hunt the immortals or lose his child.

With his son’s life hanging in the balance, Irjan enters the world of the immortals, seeking not death, but the magic of life.

The books I picked & why

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

By Susan Casey,

Book cover of The Wave: In Pursuit of the Rogues, Freaks, and Giants of the Ocean

Why this book?

At the heart of any surfing story is a wave: the perfect wave, the one you missed, the one that held you under. Casey’s story is about waves monstrous in both size and appetite. This is a masterfully written non-fiction book in which Casey manages to weave together science, research, and human stories. It is a gripping exploration of not only the rarified surfers who seek to ride the ocean’s titans but also the watery giants themselves. The waves in this book are breathtaking, life-taking, and a powerful reminder that the ocean is, “…a place where the unknown happens.”

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

By Susan Casey,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked The Wave as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The have long been mariners' tales of 100-foot rogue waves - gargantuan monsters that sink super-tankers in the blink of an eye.

But waves that high violate the laws of physics, so science has dismissed them as myth. Until now.

In February 2000 the research ship, RRS Discovery, was trapped by a vortex of mammoth waves in the North Atlantic. Amazingly the ship survived and its state-of-the-art equipment registered waves nearing 100-feet. Something scary is brewing in the planet's waters. And with 72% of earth covered by sea, this is serious business.

Cut to Maui, Hawaii, a surf mecca where…


The Dawn Patrol

By Don Winslow,

Book cover of The Dawn Patrol

Why this book?

The Dawn Patrol is the first in Winslow’s Boone Daniels detective series. It has many hallmarks of a Winslow novel: a Southern California backdrop (San Diego), a host of morally ambiguous characters, a generally good guy trying to do what’s right, snappy writing, and surfing. This book also presents a surf culture we’ve come to recognize from television and movies, with a language, that while not universally shared by all surfers, is understood as the sport’s lingua franca—dude, gnarly, epic, wipeout. Where this book excels, however, is in capturing surfing’s dualistic nature as both a solitary pursuit and a place of a tight-knit community. Main character Boone Daniels is both the lone wolf and a member of a pack, one that can both have his back in the lineup and turn on him on dry land.

The Dawn Patrol

By Don Winslow,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Dawn Patrol as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From the bestselling author of Savages (now an Oliver Stone film).

As cool as its California surfer heroes, Don Winslow delivers a high velocity, darkly comic, and totally righteous crime novel.

Every morning Boone Daniels catches waves with the other members of The Dawn Patrol: four men and one woman as single-minded about surfing as he is. Or nearly. They have "real j-o-b-s"; Boone, however, works as a PI just enough to keep himself afloat. But Boone's most recent gig-investigating an insurance scam—has unexpectedly led him to a ghost from his past. And while he may have to miss the…


Saltwater in the Blood: Surfing, Natural Cycles and the Sea's Power to Heal

By Easkey Britton,

Book cover of Saltwater in the Blood: Surfing, Natural Cycles and the Sea's Power to Heal

Why this book?

To look at what is written about surfing, it would seem that it’s a “man’s world.” Surfing, like other pursuits and professions, is one where women are often characterized as either anecdotal or exceptional. The truth is so much richer and complex that, as a woman who surfs, I almost don’t want to share our secrets. But Easkey Britton shares some of hers from years of competitive surfing around the world and from the fierce and sustaining waters she calls home on the west coast of Ireland. Britton has surfed waves and conditions that few among us have the desire to tackle. But in discussing all these places and all these conditions, she speaks eloquently about what can be gained through immersion in the ocean that gave birth to our human form and continues to abide by our human trespasses. 

Saltwater in the Blood: Surfing, Natural Cycles and the Sea's Power to Heal

By Easkey Britton,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Saltwater in the Blood as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This is an incredibly inspiring exploration of the sea's role in the wellness of people and the planet, beautifully written by Easkey Britton - surfer, scientist and social activist. She offers a powerful female perspective on the sea and surfing, explaining what it's like to be a woman in a man's world and how she promoted the sport to women in Iran, surfing while wearing a hijab. She speaks of the undiscussed taboo around entering the water while menstruating - and of how she has come to celebrate her own bodily cycles. She has developed her own approach to surfing,…


The Silence of the Wave

By Gianrico Carofiglio, Howard Curtis (translator),

Book cover of The Silence of the Wave

Why this book?

Arguably, this is not a book about surfing. The Silence of the Wave is about an Italian undercover police officer dealing with trauma and guilt. But within this hardboiled story of crisis and the dark and ugly undercurrents of our modern world, Carofiglio beautifully illustrates the lasting impact surfing can have on a person’s life. Like first love, surfing may be in your past, but it is never forgotten and often takes on a mythic quality that at once can feel like a dream and also lead you back to your true self.

The Silence of the Wave

By Gianrico Carofiglio, Howard Curtis (translator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Silence of the Wave as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A woman on the run from her past. A child on the run from reality. A man on the run from himself. Carofiglio confronts the dark side of the human soul in this captivating story of fall and redemption. Every week, Roberto Marias crosses Rome on foot to arrive at his psychiatrist's office. There, he often sits in silence, stumped by the ritual - but sometimes crucial memories come to the surface. He remembers when he was a child and used to surf with his father. He remembers the treacherous years he spent working as an under-cover carabinieri, years that…


Saltwater Buddha: A Surfer's Quest to Find Zen on the Sea

By Jaimal Yogis,

Book cover of Saltwater Buddha: A Surfer's Quest to Find Zen on the Sea

Why this book?

The surfing safari was immortalized in 1962 by the Beach Boys, and made legendary by Bruce Brown’s iconic 1966 film, Endless Summer. The search for great surf is a pillar of this literary genre. Whether harrowing, aggrandizing, escapist, or prize-winning, surf memoirs have a common theme: a quest. An empty beach, an epic swell, a perfect wave, an adventure, an escape. Surfers are always looking to the horizon—searching. What speaks to me in Yogis’s memoir is his explicit connection between the struggle toward Buddhist enlightenment and the teachings of the ocean, its waves, and surfing. With self-effacing humor and a conversational style, Jaimal Yogis, makes the worlds of both Zen Buddhism and surfing, approachable and human. Yogis, quoting Walt Whitman, reminds us: “Who need be afraid of the merge?” 

Saltwater Buddha: A Surfer's Quest to Find Zen on the Sea

By Jaimal Yogis,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Saltwater Buddha as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Fed up with teenage life in the suburbs, Jaimal Yogis ran off to Hawaii with little more than a copy of Hermann Hesse's Siddhartha and enough cash for a surfboard. His journey is a coming-of-age saga that takes him from communes to monasteries, from the warm Pacific to the icy New York shore. Equal parts spiritual memoir and surfer's tale, this is a chronicle of finding meditative focus in the barrel of a wave and eternal truth in the great salty blue.


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in surfing, private investigators, and Rome?

7,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about surfing, private investigators, and Rome.

Surfing Explore 18 books about surfing
Private Investigators Explore 203 books about private investigators
Rome Explore 236 books about Rome

And, 3 books we think you will enjoy!

We think you will like Lord of the Flies, Life of Pi, and The Sea Was in Their Blood if you like this list.