Coming out of the recent 25th Eddie Aikau Memorial Surf Competition and the Billabong Pipeline Masters 2009, this surf season’s swells are still making headlines. Most recently it’s the 30ft monsters making their way to the North Shore that are drawing the crowds and shutting down the beaches. Surrounded on all sides by the Pacific, locals know and respect the awesome power of the ocean and Hawaii has contributed a great deal to surf culture and history. Naturally, there are LOTS of books out there to check out if you’re interested, though sadly, I have not read as much from this genre as I would like. I’ve barely scratched the surface of surf related reading materials but here’s a quick review on some of the books I have had the privilege to read.

surfingA few months ago MVP Books was kind enough to send us a copy of their new hardcover book on surfing Legends of Surfing: The Greatest Surfriders from Duke Kahanamoku to Kelly Slater by industry insider, Duke Boyd. Boyd is a local author, long-time surfer and co-founder of Hang Ten surf-wear. In the introduction to his book he laments not being able to squeeze everyone in… but believe me he tried, with over 200 pages of people who have influenced surf culture and industry. I was disappointed at the lack of details provided on many of these important people specifically “the pioneers” and felt like the title of this book was a bit misleading. It should really be called “Who’s Who In Surfing”. This book is a nice comprehensive look at the people who shaped and continue to shape surf culture and great for someone who is just getting into learning about surf history. However, if you’re familiar with surf history and looking for the kind of anecdotal writing that displays the richness and depth of surf culture and its legends, then you may find this book a bit lacking. However, Boyd does do a very nice job of illustrating how BIG surfing is, even going so far as to include influential board shapers, surf filmmakers and other industry professionals that outsiders would never guess to contribute to surf culture. You can tell a lot of the book was written based on Boyd’s personal knowledge. The best thing about the book though are the photographs—visually stunning!

Hawai’i publishers Bess Press , Watermark and Island Heritage have put out some great surf books on Duke mountssKahanamoku and Eddie Aikau including a children’s picture book by Ellie Crowe which we reviewed here.  But one of the best books I’ve come across in surf literature is Men Who Ride Mountains: Incredibly True Tales of Legendary Surfers (Lyons Press) by Peter Dixon. Great details and passionate, fluid writing make this book hard to put down. It reads almost like a novel and really captures the essence of what early surfriders were doing… making history, having fun. Stories of waves they rode, wipeouts they took and feats they accomplished all together in a book that makes you say “wow”.

 I still have a long way to go in my exploration of surf lit so look out for more surf related book reviews in the future. 🙂