An ultimate guide to books on surfing

At Northcore our team love to read. So we’ve asked the Northcore founder Matt Strathern to share and review a few of his best surfing books:

Surfing is a big part of my life so it’s no surprise that my book cases are filled with surfing book titles. I consume new books weekly and have read a good number of every book that has been published in recent years about surfing. From instructional, coffee table, collectible, fiction and more. Some of these books have become cherished items which I’ve read over and over, some inspire and others spark day dreams about offshore, empty waves and sunny days.

If you’re into surfing and looking for a new book to take on your next surf trip, for a gift or to add to your book collection this top 12 list may help out. Of course a lot of these popular titles are available in iBooks/Kindles but when it comes to surf books I do like to keep to old school print versions to add to the ever growing library! So I’ve compiled and briefly reviewed 12 surf books below which for me have stood out as being top of their genre. Of course books are subjective but I’m confident that these won’t disappoint!

Captain Zero – Breath – Dogs of Winter


These are fiction books which have surfing as the focal point to their story lines:

  1. In Search of Captain Zero – Allan Weisbecker. OK the lines between fact and fiction blur a little in this title but it’s a cracking read especially if you’re looking for inspiration for a road trip or adventure!
  2. Breath – Tim Winton. One of Winton’s finest books, Breath is an award winning coming of age story set in the beach fringes and big waves of Western Australia. Full of action and superbly written.
  3. The Dogs of Winter – Kem Nunn. This is the first title to convince me that a fictional book about surfing could also represent a credible story with skilled writing. Nunn weaves a tale of big waves in Northern California, where sharks and hostile locals can both kill. Nunn has also written a number of other books including the surf themed “Tapping the source” and “Tijuana Straits” both are well worth a read.

Barbarian Days – For a few perfect waves – Saltwater Buddha – Caught Inside – Eddie Would Go


  1. Barbarian Days a Surfing Life – William Finnegan. Love it! If I had to choose a single favourite surf title this would be it. Barbarian Days is a memoir of a life spent travelling the world chasing waves. This book offers up  an old-school adventure story and a social history by delving into one mans obsession with mastering the art of surfing. If you buy only one book make it this one!
  2. Saltwater Buddha A Surfers Quest To Find Zen on the Sea – Jaimal Yogis. This bio is a story of the ocean, coming of age and spirituality, chronicling Yogis adventure as a youth running away from home to surf in Hawaii. Saltwater Buddha offers a different perspective on the surfers tale, it’s brilliantly written, thought provoking and well worth a read.
  3. All for a few perfect waves Miki Dora – David Rensin. This is an incredibly well researched, well written and very comprehensive bio on the legend that is Miki Dora. Dora was an eccentric character and this book highlights all of his highs and lows. If you’re into your modern surfing history this is a must.
  4. Caught Inside – Daniel Duane. This book remains one of my all time favourites – I’ve read it over and over again. Caught Inside is Duane’s chronicles of a year living in Santa Cruz Central California. I found it highly evocative, capturing the natural beauty of the ocean, fauna and flora of Californian Pacific coastline interspersed with surfer human dynamics, explanations of wave creation and surfboard design. Definitely a top pick!
  5. Eddie Would Go – Stuart Holmes Coleman. Again this is another book which I’ve read on numerous occasions. Eddie Would Go dives deeply into the life of a man who became a Hawaiian legend. Eddie Aikau epitomised what it is to be a surfer, a Hawaiian and a stand up human being. It’s a really well researched book that is a must for surfers looking to learn more of the modern history of surfing.

Laird_The Wave_Surfing Adventures_Surf Shacks


  1. Laird Hamilton Force of Nature – Laird Hamilton. Often a divisive character Laird is a man who isn’t easily ignored. He’s been on top of his game as a surfer, innovator and athlete for decades. The book is a guide to how he achieved his status as one of the worlds greatest ever surfers which he shares through tips on peak fitness in mind, body and soul. The book provides detail on training programs, nutrition, recipes, yoga and more. A great book if you’re looking for a bit of motivation.
  2. Ultimate Surfing Adventures- Alf Anderson. 100 extraordinary experiences in the waves. The title says it all really! This book contains some gripping adventures, surf stories, images and info. A great read.
  3. Surf Shacks – Gestalten. This new title is a collection of short interviews with creative personalities of the surfing world focusing on their homes, style and approach to life. Surf Shacks illustrates how surfers live in a wide variety of homes from New York City apartments, cabins in the woods or vans on the road. Visually it’s rich in photography to inspire home ideas so a good coffee table book to pick up and delve into at any time.
  4. The Wave – Susan Casey. Big wave surfers, ocean currents, weather, science, shipping and much more are all part of this great book about rogue waves. If you love the ocean this book is a top read.

I hope you’ve found this snapshot of some of my favourite surfing books useful- thanks for reading!


Thanks for the surf book reviews Matt. If you think that there’s a classic title that you’d add to the list and deserves a mention feel free to comment below and provide your own review. Thanks,



One response to “An ultimate guide to books on surfing”

  1. Nic Schuck says:

    Bummed to see my novel, Native Moments, didn’t make the cut. Hopefully, after this shameless self-promo, you’ll check it out.

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