The book that I wanted to tell you about this week came recommended from Ann Kingman from Books on the Nightstand, who is a favorite Twitterer of mine (@AnnKingman). I was asking for some great book recommendations for upcoming books and she happened to tackle me and insist I read this book. Unbeknownst to her, I’ve had a fascination with surfing ever since I can remember, so tackling me wasn’t even necessary! (She didn’t really tackle me…but she should have! I’m very ticklish.)
A little background: My older brother is a surfer, and when I was younger, I idolized him and everything he did. Thus, I loved surfing without thought or reason. When I was around 21 years old, I was down in Malibu, California vacationing with a friend, and took a surf lesson from a life guard (who was really freaking hot) I met while down there. He was really nice and gracious, refusing payment since he was technically working, even though the beach was empty. He gave me an hour lesson, during which I spent more time under the water than on top of it, but at least I learned how to swim under a wave. When the lesson was over, we were chatting and drying off, and after about 10 minutes, my nose gushed water. It was as if someone turned on a faucet in my head because there was no warning, my nose didn’t feel weird, nothing. It was just all of a sudden I had a bloody nose, except it wasn’t blood, it was water. He must have seen the look of utter embarrassment on my face because he said, “That’s totally normal. That’s happened to me after I was surfing and then went on a date. We were sitting at a restaurant eating dinner and water just came out of my nose!”
The second time I took a surf lesson I was in Hawaii, and I took it from this Hawaiian lady who was very tough, and who made me feel like an out of shape wuss (which I was) (but swimming in the ocean is HARD).
During that same Hawaii vacation, every morning I was calling the phone number that gave you the surf status. The Triple Crown of Surfing competition was finishing up the week I was in Hawaii, but the surf was too rough for almost all of the days I was there, so the day that I called at 6am to get the surf report and they said the competition would go that day, I jumped out of bed so I wouldn’t miss the Triple Crown. It was so cool to walk onto a beach with everyone focused on one guy in the ocean. I plopped down at the front of the crowd between two professional photographers and watched the surfers tackle huge waves. That is hands down my favorite memory from that trip. I even have the hoodie I bought there that’s never been washed since it still has sand granules from North Shore, where the competition was held.
(I hardly ever wear this hoodie, so I promise it’s not dirty.)
(This hoodie should be a lucky hoodie since I haven’t washed it for TEN YEARS. You know how people don’t wash their lucky shirt or socks or whatever? Yeah, this is kind of like that, except my hoodie isn’t lucky, it just has sand in it that I don’t want to lose.)
So to say I was excited to hear about this book is an understatement. I’m fascinated by waves, surfers, and any stories that involve the two.
The Wave by Susan Casey
Hardcover: 352 pages
Publisher: Doubleday (September 14, 2010)
From Susan Casey, bestselling author of The Devil’s Teeth, an astonishing book about colossal, ship-swallowing rogue waves and the surfers who seek them out.
For centuries, mariners have spun tales of gargantuan waves, 100-feet high or taller. Until recently scientists dismissed these stories—waves that high would seem to violate the laws of physics. But in the past few decades, as a startling number of ships vanished and new evidence has emerged, oceanographers realized something scary was brewing in the planet’s waters. They found their proof in February 2000, when a British research vessel was trapped in a vortex of impossibly mammoth waves in the North Sea—including several that approached 100 feet.
As scientists scramble to understand this phenomenon, others view the giant waves as the ultimate challenge. These are extreme surfers who fly around the world trying to ride the ocean’s most destructive monsters. The pioneer of extreme surfing is the legendary Laird Hamilton, who, with a group of friends in Hawaii, figured out how to board suicidally large waves of 70 and 80 feet. Casey follows this unique tribe of people as they seek to conquer the holy grail of their sport, a 100foot wave.
In this mesmerizing account, the exploits of Hamilton and his fellow surfers are juxtaposed against scientists’ urgent efforts to understand the destructive powers of waves—from the tsunami that wiped out 250,000 people in the Pacific in 2004 to the 1,740-foot-wave that recently leveled part of the Alaskan coast.
Like Jon Krakauer’s Into Thin Air, The Wave brilliantly portrays human beings confronting nature at its most ferocious.