Reviews, Surf cultureSurf Books for Surf Geeks 

-Words by Mat Arney, images by Callum Morse
“It is what you read when you don’t have to that determines what you will be when you can’t help it.”
Oscar Wilde

With the development of Surf Simply’s new resort came many opportunities; one of them was for the new resort to house a library of surf books. As a team of self-identifying surf geeks it was like Christmas had come early as suggestions were put forward, discussed, and a list compiled. Now, as the holidays approach and many people are shopping for surf-related gifts for loved ones (or, come the New Year, may have gift vouchers to spend), we want to share some of our picks from the incredible collection that we’ve curated at Surf Simply.

Harry (above)

Surfing: 1778 – Today (Jim Heimann)

I’m going to recommend Surfing: 1778 – Today. It’s probably one of the most beautiful books I’ve seen. Period. Oversized in every dimension, and full of stunning photos of every aspect of this sport and culture.

This book is the most comprehensive visual history on all things surfing. With more than 900 images and essays by today’s leading surf journalists, this platinum publication spans photography, fashion, film, art, and music to chart the evolution of surfing culture from its first mention in 1778 to today’s global and multi-platform phenomenon.

ISBN: 9783836547505

Will (below)

Surf Shacks x Indoek

How the other half of your half live. Modesty has never looked so stylish in this coffee table book that quietly sneaks under the cliché radar. Sure there’s the odd mason jar filled with sea glass, and plenty of vintage surfboards dysfunctionally placed next to indoor cheese plants. But surfing isn’t the subject here; just the coincidental connection between a group of house-proud and van proud artists, athletes, and environmentalists letting you see their homes through the sliding door.

Surf Simply technical surf coaching resort, Guiones, Nosara, Costa Rica

From New York City apartments, to tropical bungalows, rural cottages in the Northeast, Topanga cabin hideaways, converted surf vans, and eclectic beach houses of various architectural styles on coasts all over the world—this is where our favorite people in the creative surf community call home. After four years of documenting these homes in our popular online series, we decided to curate a collection of our favorite 42 stories in the project so far and publish a “Surf Shacks” book. The book is rich with colorful and inspiring photography and contains in-depth interviews with each subject. A must have for any surfer’s home.

ISBN: 9783899559071

Jessie (below)

Surf Science (Dr. Tony Butt)

Whenever I need to revise or fact check on an element of the theory of how waves are formed, behave and break, I turn to this book. It’s a great and really accessible beginners guide to the science of surfing that breaks everything down, but it also goes deep and is full of information. It makes sense of all of the chaotic information that’s out there, and presents it in a well-written and easy to read book, with nice illustrations.

Surf Simply technical surf coaching resort, Guiones, Nosara, Costa Rica

Have you ever wondered where surfing waves come from, what makes every wave different, why some peel perfectly and others just close out; why, some days, the waves come in sets and other days they don’t, and how the tides, the wind and the shape of the sea floor affect the waves for surfing? If you have, this book is for you. Now in its third edition, Surf Science is an introduction to the science of waves and oceanography from a surfer’s point of view. It fills the gap between surfing books and waves textbooks, and helps surfers to learn how to predict surf. You don’t need a scientific background to read it, just curiosity and a fascination for waves.

ISBN: 978-0906720899

Tommy Potterton (below)

History of Surfing (Matt Warshaw)

It’s great to see the evolution of surfing through Matt Warsaw’s selection of stories and themes throughout this book. We get a great understanding of how the subculture that surrounds surfing has moulded it over the years, as well as a subsequent showcasing of the transformation and expansion of surf photography over time.

Surf Simply technical surf coaching resort, Guiones, Nosara, Costa Rica

Matt Warshaw knows more about surfing than any other person on the planet. After five years of research and writing, Warshaw has crafted an unprecedented history of the sport and the culture it has spawned. At nearly 500 pages, with 250,000 words and more than 250 rare photographs, The History of Surfing reveals and defines this sport with a voice that is authoritative, funny, and wholly original. The obsessive nature of this endeavor is matched only by the obsessive nature of surfers, who will pore through these pages with passion and opinion. A true category killer, here is the definitive history of surfing.

ISBN: 9780811856003

Read our interview with surf historian Matt Warshaw.

Mat (below)

The Voyage of the Cormorant (Christian Beamish)

Few authors have been able to translate the feeling of surfing onto the pages of a book in a way that resonates with both surfers and non-surfers as Christian Beamish. His account of a solo surf and sailing adventure down the remote Baja coast in a small homemade boat is enthralling, inspiring and beautifully written.

Surf Simply technical surf coaching resort, Guiones, Nosara, Costa Rica

Christian Beamish, a former editor at The Surfer’s Journal, envisioned a low-tech, self-reliant exploration for surf along the coast of North America, using primarily clothes and instruments available to his ancestors, and the 18-foot boat he would build by hand in his garage. How the vision met reality – and how the two came to shape each other – places Voyage of the Cormorant in the great American tradition of tales of life at sea, and what it has to teach us.

ISBN: 978-0980122763

Kerianne (below)

Ice Cream Headaches (Ed Thompson and Julien Roubinet)

When I moved to New York a lot of people told me that I could forget about surfing, especially good waves. I was pleased that they were wrong. New York and New Jersey have a really vibrant and eclectic surf culture, which this book captures. It’s exciting to flip through and see familiar faces of people who I’ve surfed with in places like Long Beach and Montauk.

Surf Simply technical surf coaching resort, Guiones, Nosara, Costa Rica

Little known to many who live there and to the throngs of tourists who pass through each year, New York and New Jersey are home to a diverse and vibrant cold water surfing community. Ice Cream Headaches captures a snapshot of this often overlooked facet of America’s most dense metropolis. Over a span of four years, writer Ed Thompson and photographer Julien Roubinet have logged more than 5,000 miles from Eastern Long Island to Cape May in South Jersey to interview and photograph forty surfers, surf board shapers, artists and documentarians of the culture personally. From local legend and Montauk fisherman Charlie Weimar to Pulitzer-prize-winning author William Finnegan and professional surfers with global followings such as Quincy Davis, Mikey De Temple and Balaram Stack, this new monograph highlights surfers who experiment with new forms, materials, ideas or surfing styles. Across 192 pages, the book features four essays rich with quotes and anecdotes, over 150 photographs, and a foreword by iconic portrait and surf photographer Michael Halsband. Ice Cream Headaches takes the reader inside the surf breaks and stomping grounds of the surfers who call New York and New Jersey home, surfers who are willing to pull on a 5mm wetsuit, wade through a foot of snow on the beach, and battle thirty mile per hour winds for a few fleeting moments inside a yawning barrel.

ISBN: 978-8862085731

Read our Ice Cream Headaches interview with Ed and Julien.

Asher (below)

A Golden Age: Surfing’s Revolutionary 1960s and ’70s (John Witzig)

I’d like to recommend: A Golden Age: Surfing’s Revolutionary 1960s and ’70s, John Witzig’s photo book. The involvement era of surfing has become pretty in-vogue in the past few years, for good reason. The majority of surf design and performance today has roots in this short period, and I think Witzig does a fantastic job capturing its magic.

Surf Simply technical surf coaching resort, Guiones, Nosara, Costa Rica

Surfing s formative period from 1965 to 1978, as shown through the most complete book of the iconic images of photographer John Witzig. Chronicling the great creative years in the evolution of surfing, the late 1960s and early 70s, this engaging volume documents the revolutionary changes of the era in board length, in surf style and technique through the images of Australian photographer John Witzig. Witzig was not only photographing the scene, he was part of it, a group that included surfers Bob McTavish and George Greenough, and his images reflect both that access and that intimacy. In 1967, he created a firestorm of controversy with a Surfer cover story declaring that a core of young Australian surfers had redefined the sport, as evidenced by his friend Nat Young s blazing win in the 1966 World Surfing championships. Witzig went on to capture the defining moments the surfers, the draft-dodging back-to-landers, the radical developments of board design, and, of course, the waves, from Australia to Honolua Bay of surfing s most thrilling period. Soulful, poetic, iconoclastic, filled with rare images, this book is a unique look at surfing’s cultural revolution.

ISBN: 9780847838288

Take a look at our gallery article with John Witzig talking us through some of his most iconic images.