William Finnegan - Barbarian Days: A Surfing Life (Q)

This is one of the most highly rated memoirs of the last year, and I’ve been looking forward to reading it. Unfortunately, the audiobook is poorly made (an example of why most authors shouldn’t read their own audiobooks). I almost didn’t read it, but the reviews kept pulling me back. 

Depending on how much you love surfing, the book wanders from good to fantastic. Thirty years of waves around the world are described in great detail, and if the topic of surfing is interesting to you then the book will be an incredible read. This is not one of those books where the memoir is a vehicle for a larger point about life - there is no universal theme that will draw in readers who don’t care about surfing. It’s not a metaphor. It’s a well-written chronicle of the adventures of a surfer. 

What you take from it is that surfing isn’t like other sports and hobbies. You’re at the mercy of waves and weather. When they call, you go. And if you don’t heed the call, you’re not a real surfer. Towards the end of the book, there are descriptions of how waves change - hurricanes, dredging, construction. When that happens, the use of the shore changes. The people who use it change. The local economy shifts. (Granted, I read a lot into a short chapter.) Only surfers would see this. Because only surfers are there, on the water, looking back to shore. 

What’s Next?

More water. But this time, back in Canada.