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Surf's Up

January 27, 2022

Did you know that the best time to surf is actually in the winter? For us Northern Hemisphere types at least. It’s not the warm endless summer waters that make the best waves, but the cold winter breaks in Hawaii, Mavericks in California and Nazare in Portugal. To celebrate the surf, I offer you several different ways to enjoy hanging ten here on dry land.

If we are honest, most surf books/articles/magazine covers/movies are about guys. Which is crazy, especially considering that Hawaiian Carissa Moore was the first women’s Olympic gold medal surfer while the US men did not place. I was excited about this book – until I read it. It’s long and feels more like a cut-and-paste job. However, I have to give credit where credit is due, and it did turn me on to lots of other fun surfing things. So, read this one if you must, or you could just take my word for it and read/watch all these other things Kimpton mentions.

The first thing I learned from Kimpton is that Agatha Christie was a surfer. Um…what?!? She was actually one of the first European surfers who was able to stand on a board. And that’s about the coolest thing I’ve ever learned from a book. Kimpton said that The Man in the Brown Suit was inspired by a surf trip she took, so of course I had to check that out. This is the first Agatha Christie book I’ve ever read. Unfortunately, surfing is only mentioned in one paragraph on page 111, “I made for the bathing pavilion, and when they said would I have a surf board, I said, ‘Yes please.’ Surfing looks perfectly easy. It isn’t. I say no more. I got very determined to return on the first possibly opportunity and have another go. I would not be beaten. Quite by mistake I then got a good run on my board, and came out delirious with happiness. Surfing is like that. You are either vigorously cursing or else you are idiotically pleased with yourself.” There. Now you’ve read the entire surfing portion, so you don’t need to read this one unless you just like mysteries. Still really cool that AC was a surfer, though. 

We’ve all grown up knowing who Gidget was, but I never realized that she was actually a real person. Kathy Kohner was the original girl midget – or Gidget – who surfed Malibu with Moondoggie, The Big Kahuna, and the other guys. Her dad, a Hollywood screenwriter, was fascinated with his daughter’s surfing life, and when she told him she’d thought about writing a book, he offered to do it for her. The rest, as they say, is history. If you want to read the original story, you’ve got to request it through ILL. While you're waiting, you can check out the movies on DVD from NPL.

Kimpton did not tell me about this fiction book. I found it on NPL’s Lucky Day table and snapped it up. I love books about surfing, and while this isn’t specifically about that, surfing does play a decent part in the story line. I also love Taylor Jenkins Reid. If you don’t recognize her name, she wrote one of my favorite books a few years ago, Daisy Jones and the Six. The combination of one of my favorite reading pastimes and favorite authors means that I’m in heaven. Set in 1983, on the night of Nina Riva’s annual massive blowout party, we get insight into the privileged world of Malibu in the 80s. (Take that, 90210.) Come for the surfing. Stay for the family and the party.

If you aren’t a big reader, don’t worry, NPL has some great surfing films to watch. We also have two different streaming services that you can access right on your phone. 

If you utilize our Hoopla platform, you can watch this beautifully shot film about several different women who define themselves in relation to the sea. Some are surfers. Some are divers. One crazy chick likes to swim with sharks. All the beautiful cinematography made me wish I lived closer to the water.

This DVD discusses the evolution of big wave riding. When I first learned about surfing, big wave riding is all I pictured. I didn’t realize that most surfing is actually on waves less than five feet. I think I could maybe handle that – if I could actually stand on a board. But riding big waves – like the double and triple overheads here – is WAY outside my wheelhouse. I’ll leave it to the professionals like Greg Noll (Waimea Bay), Jeff Clark (Mavericks), and Laird Hamilton (Jaws and everywhere). 

NPL started offering a new streaming platform recently called Kanopy. If you haven’t checked it out yet, there’s some great stuff there, including this little surfing gem. We get to see footage from Mavericks, Pipeline, and even the Cortez Bank in the middle of the Pacific Ocean (for more info see Ghost Wave below). It’s a little dated at this point; it was filmed in 2003. But the waves were still beautiful and captivating. Check all the surfing videos on Kanopy, then browse to see what else you’d enjoy.

So those are my latest surfing finds. I hope you find time to enjoy at least some of them, and check out our streaming services as well, even if you don’t watch surf movies.

Happy hanging ten…
:) Amanda

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Amanda is a classically-trained pianist who loves to read. Like any good librarian, she also has two cats named after Italian cities. Amanda spends her free time sitting in Nashville traffic, baking, and running the Interlibrary Loan office at the Nashville Public Library.