Great Summer Reads
arts & culture

Great Summer Reads

Summer is the perfect time to dive into your reading list. And nothing goes better with a trip to the cottage or a day on the beach than a good book. Why not add some stoke to your stack of books with some surf content? Here are our top recommendations for great summer reads!

The History of Surfing

It took former editor of SURFER magazine, Matt Warshaw, five years of writing and research to put together the 500-page The History of Surfing. His work paid off; his definitive history of surfing, spanning the pre-1900s to 2009, is a must for anyone curious about the origins of the sport. A Brief History of Surfing is an abridged version, in a snappy, highly readable, and easier-to-tote-along format with bonus updated content to bring the content up to 2015.

 Rockaway: Surfing Headlong Into a New Life

In Rockaway: Surfing Headlong Into a New Life, Diane Cardwell tells the true story of her transformation in her forties from a New York City dweller to a dedicated Rockaway Beach surfer. Candid and honest, Cardwell recounts the struggles and joys of learning this challenging sport, becoming part of the Rockaway surf community, and surviving superstorm Sandy. This is the perfect book for anyone wanting a first-hand account of the dedication, hard work, and rewards that comes with making a major life change and taking up surfing later in life. 


Step out of the typical Western-centric view of surfing and get a fresh perspective with AFROSURF. This limited edition collection, published by African surf brand Mami Wata, contains essays, interviews, photographs, illustrations, poems, comics, and recipes, all tied together through the central theme of African surf culture. The content highlights 18 different coastal countries, from Morocco to Somalia, Mozambique to South Africa. Read our full review here

The Surfer’s Journal

The Surfer’s Journal is an eye-catching glossy print publication that fits perfectly in your beach bag. Independently published in San Clemente, California, this bi-monthly periodical is gorgeous to look at and moves beyond the typical sports magazine with thoughtful features, offering stories that fly below the radar of your usual surf fare. The latest issue delves into the science of tube riding, the work of Cocoa Beach artist Bruce Reynolds, and an interview with Interpol frontman Paul Banks. 


Malibu Rising

Malibu Rising is the latest offering from American novelist Taylor Jenkins Reid. It centers around the Riva siblings, surfers and offspring of famous fictional singer Mick Riva. Reid weaves the narrative between each of the Rivas, connecting their stories and secrets, past and present, culminating at their epic annual end-of-summer bash. The setting of the Malibu shores in the early ‘80s makes this book a fun summer read.

 Barbarian Days: A Surfing Life

It’s easy to see why Barbarian Days won the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for Best Biography or Autobiography. The New Yorker staff writer William Finnegan has penned one of the best autobiographies, centered around his life as a surfer. Raised in Hawaii and California in the 1950s and ‘60s, Finnegan grew up during the early heydays of contemporary surfing, witnessing the shortboard revolution, and chasing waves around the world when surf tourism was starting to become a thing.  


Captain Liz Clark lives a life most would dream of: living aboard her sailboat, Swell, and seeking out uncrowded surf breaks. But the road to this life wasn’t, and isn’t always easy. In her memoir, Clark tells the story of her journey, from the early planning stages of the voyage, to the challenges and rewards of captaining a boat and living an unconventional life. Beautifully written and accompanied by personal photographs and gorgeous illustrations, Swell is candid, vulnerable, and inspiring. 


Words by Jordan-na Belle-Isle. Header photograph by Shannon Kelly.  

Jordan-na Belle-Isle

Jordan-na Belle-Isle is a Montreal-born, Toronto-based expert in all things related to stand up paddleboarding (SUP). She is an instructor, writer, and community builder who SUPs and surfs the Great Lakes year-round. A recognizable face in the local scene since 2012, she obtained her first instructor certification in 2017, and has collaborated with organizations and brands such as ROXY, Surf the Greats, Patagonia, Toronto Island SUP, A Greener Future, and Explore Magazine. Her image has been used in a national campaign for Tourism Canada and she has been interviewed by several media outlets such as PBS, Breakfast Television, and the Toronto Star. Jordan-na is a proud team member of Taiga Board and a co-organizer for Lake Surfistas. Learn more at and find her on Instagram.