new arrival Barbarian Days: A popular online sale Surfing Life online sale

new arrival Barbarian Days: A popular online sale Surfing Life online sale

new arrival Barbarian Days: A popular online sale Surfing Life online sale
new arrival Barbarian Days: A popular online sale Surfing Life online sale__left

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Product Description

**Winner of the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for Autobiography**

Included in President Obama’s 2016 Summer Reading List

“Without a doubt, the finest surf book I’ve ever read . . . ” —The New York Times Magazine

Barbarian Days is William Finnegan’s memoir of an obsession, a complex enchantment. Surfing only looks like a sport. To initiates, it is something else: a beautiful addiction, a demanding course of study, a morally dangerous pastime, a way of life. 
 
Raised in California and Hawaii, Finnegan started surfing as a child. He has chased waves all over the world, wandering for years through the South Pacific, Australia, Asia, Africa. A bookish boy, and then an excessively adventurous young man, he went on to become a distinguished writer and war reporter.  Barbarian Days takes us deep into unfamiliar worlds, some of them right under our noses—off the coasts of New York and San Francisco. It immerses the reader in the edgy camaraderie of close male friendships forged in challenging waves.
 
Finnegan shares stories of life in a whites-only gang in a tough school in Honolulu. He shows us a world turned upside down for kids and adults alike by the social upheavals of the 1960s. He details the intricacies of famous waves and his own apprenticeships to them. Youthful folly—he drops LSD while riding huge Honolua Bay, on Maui—is served up with rueful humor. As Finnegan’s travels take him ever farther afield, he discovers the picturesque simplicity of a Samoan fishing village, dissects the sexual politics of Tongan interactions with Americans and Japanese, and navigates the Indonesian black market while nearly succumbing to malaria. Throughout, he surfs, carrying readers with him on rides of harrowing, unprecedented lucidity.
 
Barbarian Days is an old-school adventure story, an intellectual autobiography, a social history, a literary road movie, and an extraordinary exploration of the gradual mastering of an exacting, little-understood art.

Review

“How many ways can you describe a wave? You’ll never get tired of watching Finnegan do it. A staff writer at The New Yorker, he leads a counterlife as an obsessive surfer, traveling around the world, throwing his vulnerable, merely human body into line after line of waves in search of transient moments of grace . . . It’s an occupation that has never before been described with this tenderness and deftness.” TIME Magazine, Top 10 Nonfiction Books of 2015 

“A hefty masterpiece.” Geoff Dyer, The Guardian

“Terrific . . . Elegantly written and structured, it’s a riveting adventure story, an intellectual autobiography, and a restless, searching meditation on love, friendship and family . . . A writer of rare subtlety and observational gifts, Finnegan explores every aspect of the sport its mechanics and intoxicating thrills, its culture and arcane tribal codes—in a way that should resonate with surfers and non-surfers alike. His descriptions of some of the world’s most powerful and unforgiving waves are hauntingly beautiful . . . Finnegan displays an honesty that is evident throughout the book, parts of which have a searing, unvarnished intensity that reminded me of ‘Stop Time,’ the classic coming-of-age memoir by Frank Conroy.” —Washington Post 
 

“The kind of book that makes you squirm in your seat on the subway, gaze out the window at work, and Google Map the quickest route to the beach. In other words, it is, like Jon Krakauer’s Into the Wild, a semi-dangerous book, one that persuades young men . . . to trade in their office jobs in order to roam the world, to feel the ocean’s power, and chase the waves.” —The Paris Review Daily 
 
“Fans of [Finnegan’s] writing have been waiting eagerly for his surfing memoir…Well, Barbarian Days is here. And it’s even better than one could have imagined . . . This is Finnegan’s gift. He’s observant and expressive but shows careful restraint in his zeal. He says only what needs to be said, enough to create a vivid picture for the reader while masterfully giving that picture a kind of movement.” —Honolulu Star-Advertiser 
 
“That surfing life is [Finnegan’s], and it’s a remarkably adventurous one sure to induce wanderlust in anyone who follows along, surfer or not . . . Lyrical but not overbaked, exciting but always self-effacing. It captures the moments of joy and terror Finnegan’s lifelong passion has brought him, as well as his occasional ambivalence about the tenacious hold it has on him. It’s easily the best book ever written about surfing. It’s not even close.” —Florida Times-Union 
 
“An engrossing read, part treatise on wave physics, part thrill ride, part cultural study, with a soupçon of near-death events. Even for those who’ve never paddled out, Finnegan’s imagery is as vividly rendered as a film, his explanation of wave mastery a triumph of language. For surfers, the book is The Endless Summer writ smarter and larger, touching down at every iconic break.” —Los Angeles Magazine 
 
“Vivid and propulsive . . . Finnegan . . . has seen things from the tops of ocean peaks that would disturb most surfers’ dreams for weeks. (I happily include myself among that number) . . . A lyrical and enormously rewarding read . . . Finnegan’s enchantment takes us to some luminous and unsettling places—on both the edge of the ocean, and the frontiers of the surfing life.” —San Diego Union-Tribune 
 
“Barbarian Days gleams with precise, often lyrical recollections of the most memorable waves [Finnegan has] encountered . . . He carefully mines his surfing exploits for broader, hard-won insights on his childhood, his most intense friendships and romances, his political education, his career. He’s always attuned to his surroundings, and his reflections are often tinged with self-effacing wit.” —Chicago Reader 
 
“Extraordinary . . . [Barbarian Days] is in many ways, and for the first time, a surfer in full. And it is cause for throwing your wet-suit hoods in the air…If the book has a flaw, it lies in the envy helplessly induced in the armchair surf-­traveler by so many lusty affairs with waves that are the supermodels of the surf world. Still, Finnegan considerately shows himself paying the price of admission in a few near drownings, and these are among the most electrifying moments in the book . . . There are too many breathtaking, original things in Barbarian Days to do more than mention here—observations about surfing that have simply never been made before, or certainly never so well.” —The New York Times Book Review 

“Without a doubt, the finest surf book I’ve ever read . . . All this technical mastery and precise description goes hand in hand with an unabashed, infectious earnestness. Finnegan has certainly written a surfing book for surfers, but on a more fundamental level, Barbarian Days offers a cleareyed vision of American boyhood. Like Jon Krakauer’s ‘Into the Wild,’ it is a sympathetic examination of what happens when literary ideas of freedom and purity take hold of a young mind and fling his body out into the far reaches of the world.” —The New York Times Magazine
 
“Which is precisely what makes the propulsive precision of Finnegan’s writing so surprising and revelatory . . . Finnegan’s treatment of surfing never feels like performance. Through the sheer intensity of his descriptive powers and the undeniable ways in which surfing has shaped his life, Barbarian Days is an utterly convincing study in the joy of treating seriously an unserious thing . . . As Finnegan demonstrates, surfing, like good writing, is an act of vigilant noticing.” —The New York Review of Books 

“Finnegan is an excellent surfer; at some point he became an even better writer. That pairing makes Barbarian Days exceptional in the notoriously foamy genre of surf lit: a hefty, heavyweight tour de force, overbrimming with sublime lyrical passages that Finnegan drops as effortlessly as he executed his signature ‘drop-knee cutback’ in the breaks off Waikiki . . . Reading this guy on the subject of waves and water is like reading Hemingway on bullfighting; William Burroughs on controlled substances; Updike on adultery . . . Finnegan is a virtuoso wordsmith, but the juice propelling this memoir is wrung from the quest that shaped him . . . A piscine, picaresque coming-of-age story, seen through the gloss resin coat of a surfboard.” —Sports Illustrated 

Overflowing with vivid descriptions of waves caught and waves missed, of disappointments and ecstasies and gargantuan curling tubes that encircle riders like cathedrals of pure stained glass…These paragraphs, with their mix of personal remembrance and subcultural taxonomies, tend to be as elegant and pellucid as the breakers they immortalize…This memoir is one you can ride all the way to shore.” —Entertainment Weekly 

“[A] sweeping, glorious memoir . . . Oh, the rides, they are incandescent…I’d sooner press this book upon on a nonsurfer, in part because nothing I’ve read so accurately describes the feeling of being stoked or the despair of being held under. But also because while it is a book about ‘A Surfing Life’…it’s also about a writer’s life and, even more generally, a quester’s life, more carefully observed and precisely rendered than any I’ve read in a long time.” —Los Angeles Times

“Gorgeously written and intensely felt . . . With Mr. Finnegan’s bravura memoir, the surfing bookshelf is dramatically enriched. It’s not only a volume for followers of the sport. Non-surfers, too, will be treated to a travelogue head-scratchingly rich in obscure, sharply observed destinations . . . Dare I say that we all need Mr. Finnegan . . . as a role model for a life fully, thrillingly, lived.” —Wall Street Journal

“An evocative, profound and deeply moving memoir…The proof is in the sentences. Were I given unlimited space to review this book, I would simply reproduce it here, with a quotation mark at the beginning and another at the end. While surfers have a reputation for being inarticulate, there is actually a fair amount of overlap between what makes a good surfer and a good writer. A smooth style, an ability to stay close to the source of the energy, humility before the task, and, once you’re done, not claiming your ride. In other words, making something exceedingly difficult look easy. The gift for writing a clean line is rare, and the gift for riding one even rarer. Finnegan possesses both.” —San Francisco Chronicle 

“Finnegan writes so engagingly that you paddle alongside, eager for him to take you to the next wave . . . It is a wet and wild run. He makes surfing seem as foreign and simultaneously as intimate a sport as possible . . . Surfing is the backbone of the book, but Finnegan’s relationships to people, not waves, form its flesh . . . [A] deep blue story of one man’s lifelong enchantment.” —Boston Globe 

“Finnegan’s epic adventure, beautifully told, is much more than the story of a boy and his wave, even if surfing serves as the thumping heartbeat of his life.” —Dallas Morning News 
   
“That’s always Finnegan’s M.O.: examining the ways in which surfing intertwines with anthropology, economics, politics, and, of course, writing. Finnegan is a sober, straightforward author, but the level of detail, emotion, and insight he achieves is unparalleled . . . A must-read for all surfers—not just because of its unblinking prose and subtle wit, but because it’s the only book that properly details what it’s like to cultivate both an award-winning career and a dedicated surfing life.” —Eastern Surf Magazine

“Finnegan describes, with shimmering detail, his adventures riding waves on five continents. Surfing has taken him places he''d never otherwise have thought to go, but it also buoyed him through a career reporting on the politics of intense scarcity, limitless cruelty, and unimaginable suffering. It''s a book about travel and growing up, and the power of a pastime when it becomes an obsession.” —Men''s Journal

“With a compelling storyline and masterful prose, Finnegan’s beautiful memoir is sure to resonate.” —The New York Observer

“Fearless and full of grace.” —Outside Magazine

“Irresistible.” —O, The Oprah Magazine

“It’s always fabulous when an incredible writer happens to also have a memoir-worthy life; Barbarian Days bodes well.” —GQ.com

“A demonstration of gratitude and mastery. [Finnegan] uses these words to describe the wave, but they might as well apply to the book. In a sense, Barbarian Days functions as a 450-page thank you letter, masterfully crafted, to his parents, friends, wife, enemies, ex-girlfriends, townsfolk, daughter—everyone who tolerated and even encouraged his lifelong obsession. It’s a way to help them—and us—understand what drives him to keep paddling out half a century after first picking up a board.” —NPR.org

“[A] lyrical, intellectual memoir. The author touches on love, on responsibility, on politics, individuality and morality, as well as on the lesser-known aspects of surfing: the toll it takes on the body, the weird lingo, the whacky community. Finnegan’s world is as dazzling and deep as any ocean. It’s a pleasure to paddle into and makes for a hell of a ride.” —The Millions

“As it progresses the whole book turns into a portal . . . It’s tempting to say that Barbarian Days will bring readers as close as they’ll get to the surf, short of actual surfing. But I had a stronger reaction: The book brought me closer than I’d ever been, or expected to get, to the real, unfathomable ocean.” —Bookforum

“A dream of a book by a masterful writer long immersed in surfing culture. Finnegan recaptures the waves lost and found, the euphoria, the danger . . . the allure.” —BBC.com
 
“Panoramic and fascinating…The core of the book is a surfing chronicle, and Finnegan possesses impeccable short-board bona fides . . . A revealing and magisterial account of a beautiful addiction.”—Publishers Weekly (starred review) 

“Like that powerful, glassy wave, great books on surfing come few and far between. This summer, New Yorker writer Finnegan recalls his teenage years in the California and Hawaii of the 1960s—when surfing was an escape for loners and outcasts. A delightful storyteller, Finnegan takes readers on a journey from Hawaii to Australia, Fiji, and South Africa, where finding those waves is as challenging as riding them.” —Publishers Weekly''s Best Summer Books of the Summer

“A fascinating look inside the mind of a man terminally in love with a magnificent obsession. A lyrical and intense memoir.” —Kirkus

“An up-close and personal homage to the surfing lifestyle through the author’s journey as a lifelong surfer. Finnegan’s writing is polished and bold . . . [A] high-caliber memoir.” —Library Journal

About the Author

WILLIAM FINNEGAN is the author of Cold New World, A Complicated War, Dateline Soweto, and Crossing the Line. He has twice been a National Magazine Award finalist and has won numerous journalism awards, including two Overseas Press Club awards since 2009. Barbarian Days: A Surfing Life received the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for Autobiography. A staff writer at The New Yorker since 1987, he lives in Manhattan.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

From Barbarian Days by William Finnegan. Reprinted by arrangement with Penguin Press, a member of Penguin Group (USA) LLC, A Penguin Random House Company. Copyright © William Finnegan, 2015.
 
At the post office in Nuku’alofa, I tried to send my father a telegram. It was 1978, his fiftieth birthday. But I couldn’t tell if the message actually went through. Did anyone back home even know what country we were in?

I wandered down a road of half-built cinderblock houses. There was a strange, philosophical graffito: ALL OUTER PROGRESS PRODUCE CRIMINAL. I passed a graveyard. In the cemeteries in Tonga, late in the day, there always seemed to be old women tending the graves of their parents—combing the coral-sand mounds into the proper coffin-top shape, sweeping away leaves, hand washing faded wreaths of plastic flowers, rearranging the haunting patterns of tropical peppercorns, orange and green on bleached white sand.

A shiver of secondhand sorrow ran through me. And an ache of something else. It wasn’t exactly homesickness. It felt like I had sailed off the edge of the known world. That part was actually fine with me. The world was mapped in so many different ways. For worldly Americans, the whole globe was covered by the foreign bureaus of the better newspapers. But the truth was, we were wandering now through a world that would never be part of any correspondent’s beat. It was full of news, but all of it was oblique, mysterious, important only if you listened and watched and felt its weight.

On the ferry here, I had ridden on the roof with three boys who said they planned to see every kung-fu and cowboy and cop movie playing at the three cinemas in Nuku’alofa until their money ran out. One boy, thin and laughing and fourteen, told me that he had quit school because he was “lazy.” He had a Japanese comic book that got passed around the ferry roof. The book was a bizarre mashup: cutesy children’s cartoons, hairy-armed war stories, nurse-and-doctor soap opera, graphic pornography. A ferry crewman frowned when he got to the porn, tore each page out, crumpled it, and threw it in the sea. The boys laughed. Finally, with a great bark of disgust, the sailor threw the whole book in the water, and the boys laughed harder. I watched the tattered pages float away in a glassy lagoon. I closed my eyes. I felt the weight of unmapped worlds, unborn language. I knew I was chasing something more than waves.

So the sadness of the obscure graveyard, of unforgotten elders buried under sand made my chest tight. It seemed to mock this whole vague childish enterprise.

Still, something beckoned. Maybe it was Fiji.

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4.6 out of 54.6 out of 5
2,816 global ratings

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Top reviews from the United States

Adam
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
This and So Much More.
Reviewed in the United States on July 15, 2016
This is, quite simply, the best memoir I''ve ever read. I originally got the audiobook (even though I''m not an audiobook kind of guy) to help supplement my long drives to work. After the first few minutes, I was hooked. I''ve since listened to the audiobook... See more
This is, quite simply, the best memoir I''ve ever read.

I originally got the audiobook (even though I''m not an audiobook kind of guy) to help supplement my long drives to work. After the first few minutes, I was hooked. I''ve since listened to the audiobook twice, and have purchased a physical copy to see if it is as good as I would think holding it in my hand, going at my own pace. It is, and more.

I am not a surfer. I have never been a surfer, and - though I did spend a decent part of my youth summers at the beach - surfing to me has always been one of those things, "Out there", in the ether. Ephemeral. Johnny Utah and that kind of stuff. Despite that, I have found myself drawn to it''s literature, perhaps because of a longing of things I wish I''d done, perhaps to quench my knack of ex-patness, perhaps as a midlife crisis. Regardless, though this book is "about'' (I use quotes intentionally, b/c it can or is or encompasses just that, but also so much more) surfing, it is written so eloquently that it could be about anything, and I would still love it.

The prose, the pace, the presentation of the subject matter both intimate and as timepieces from afar - everything about this book is wonderful.

Read it, you won''t be disappointed.
85 people found this helpful
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M. Tillman
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Come for the waves, stay for the writing.
Reviewed in the United States on December 5, 2017
This is writing. It is writing about a life well lived, and it brings on a certain sorrowful pleasure in reading. As the pages are turned, stories of glory and excitement turn to stories of pain and aging, to introspection and loss. Such is life for all of us, regardless... See more
This is writing. It is writing about a life well lived, and it brings on a certain sorrowful pleasure in reading. As the pages are turned, stories of glory and excitement turn to stories of pain and aging, to introspection and loss. Such is life for all of us, regardless of whether we surfed these waves or even lived this big of a life. There aren''t many who have been able to pull off writing of this type, that makes the reader feel alive simply by reading about the accomplishments of others.

When I was finished, I noticed that my book had somehow become water damaged, which left the pages wrinkled. It was almost like the book had lived a bit and seen the sea a few too many times. Somehow this left me with a sense of pride, as if some of this adventure was mine as well. That is what good writing does, and it''s too bad that we have to plow through so many books to find one like this.
44 people found this helpful
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C. Dean
2.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Largely Boring
Reviewed in the United States on August 26, 2018
Somewhere in the middle of this cruelly long book (which I only finished because my book club is reading it), Finnegan acknowledges that his girlfriend found watching him surf "exquisitely boring." Imagine what it''s like to read about him surfing. Literally hundreds of... See more
Somewhere in the middle of this cruelly long book (which I only finished because my book club is reading it), Finnegan acknowledges that his girlfriend found watching him surf "exquisitely boring." Imagine what it''s like to read about him surfing. Literally hundreds of waves are described--how they looked from shore, how he surfed them, how other people surfed them, how they nearly killed him, etc. Descriptions of the rest of his life are not especially interesting, either, which is surprising, considering the kinds of assignments he''s had as a writer for the New Yorker. He just shows no sense of narrative here, endlessly describing people he''s known and places he''s been for no apparent reason. The exceptions might be the self-imposed hardships of his late adolescence/early adulthood and his time as a teacher in apartheid-era South Africa. How this won a Pulitzer is beyond me.
22 people found this helpful
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Bodkins
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
"You have to hate how the world goes on"
Reviewed in the United States on November 29, 2020
FIRST LINE REVIEW: "I had never thought of myself as a sheltered child." Hardly! This really amazing memoir of a most "unsheltered" child whose parents let him lead the surfer''s life, with all of its dangers, delves deeply into so much more than catching the next big wave... See more
FIRST LINE REVIEW: "I had never thought of myself as a sheltered child." Hardly! This really amazing memoir of a most "unsheltered" child whose parents let him lead the surfer''s life, with all of its dangers, delves deeply into so much more than catching the next big wave (though that is a HUGE part of the book.) Rather, this feels like a serious exploration of life''s vagaries and the importance of pursuing passions while you can...living this one life as fully as possible because, as Finnegan reveals in one of the most devastatingly true sentences I''ve ever read: "You have to hate how the world goes on." Meaning that, when we''re gone, the world will simply go on. Yes, I, too, hate that. But I also live in the knowledge of that reality. So live well!
8 people found this helpful
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05/11A
4.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Surfing..Timeless Memories...
Reviewed in the United States on July 25, 2018
Enjoyed the book..it took me back some years having grown up in South Bay with middle school in Hermosa Beach with lots of beach/surf time between Haggarty''s and Redondo Beach breakwater. My first time on the board was at Palos Verdes Paddleboard Cove, commonly call just... See more
Enjoyed the book..it took me back some years having grown up in South Bay with middle school in Hermosa Beach with lots of beach/surf time between Haggarty''s and Redondo Beach breakwater. My first time on the board was at Palos Verdes Paddleboard Cove, commonly call just "The Cove". In those days, big & heavy boards..no leash!

I can recall across from Pier Avenue Elementary School was Greg Noll''s..just down the street at Jacob''s surfboard shops. The LightHouse was a popular place and across the street was the Golden Bear..perhaps some might recall.

Ventured to Hawaii and spent a month or so surfing the North Shore with my 9''6" Bing and "learned my lesson" about surfing the "bigger waves". Moved into Waikiki and lived in what was called "The Cages" and work at Hawaiian Tuna Packers..after leaving and receiving draft notice..did a tour in RVN 68-69..returned to college and retired as LTC US Army Infantry Officer. Worked most of the wars with my last gig in Uganda training and assisting the battalions in preparation for deployment into Mog, Somalia.

Those were the "good ol'' days" with sun, sea, surf and great times. Few crowds..a welcome community of local surf guys and few social issues. How times have changed..!

Been surfing for many years..I have my 9''6" Becker over my desk. thanks Bill for the memories! (Pic(s): Surfboard & FOB Gardez, Afghanistan
17 people found this helpful
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cmdodd11
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Great Book; Raises Questions
Reviewed in the United States on December 18, 2020
I took over a year to read this. Not because it was bad at all. I''m just not a great reader, and it feels like a book that you have the freedom to read at your own pace, largely because it covers many decades in the author''s life. I read a few pages before bed every night.... See more
I took over a year to read this. Not because it was bad at all. I''m just not a great reader, and it feels like a book that you have the freedom to read at your own pace, largely because it covers many decades in the author''s life. I read a few pages before bed every night. It is a calming book. It also raised some questions for me.

The author mentions writing to friends, including male friends. That seemed really nice. It also reminded me of how I don''t really keep in touch with friends like that. We have overly romanticized actual letters in this era, and so texting, despite being more immediate, feels less in your face and less like a declaration. That seems sad. It was nice to read about that. Maybe he wouldn''t have written if he were just a few states away instead of a world away. But back then when there was no internet and long-distance calling wasn''t a fun expense, maybe so. This just made me think a lot about how our technology has changed our communication and our levels of intimacy and what we like. I was not alive in the 70s and barely the 80s, but it is strange to think how unimaginable it is currently.

The author also mentions how friends that he traveled with wanted to go see something else nearby, so he just stayed in that little town halfway across the world while he waited for them to return in a few days. It''s clear that there''s no internet at that time, obviously, and likely no New York Times. So he had to pass the time just by surfing by himself and talking with whatever locals or other travelers that he met in the moment. I can''t imagine that. We need news and entertainment now all the time.

There were just a few little things like that that made me think.

This author''s style seems very straightforward but not boring. I want to say like Hemingway, but I don''t like Hemingway, so that''s not at all helpful.
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John T. Mannhaupt
4.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Positive Waves
Reviewed in the United States on March 29, 2016
I read this over several months, with other books interspersed, and it was always easy to come back to and pick up the thread. There were two downsides to the book. First, the author uses some surfing terns the rest of us, or at least me, find unfamiliar. It''s fairly... See more
I read this over several months, with other books interspersed, and it was always easy to come back to and pick up the thread. There were two downsides to the book. First, the author uses some surfing terns the rest of us, or at least me, find unfamiliar. It''s fairly easy to deduce the meaning, and I am not suggesting a glossary; it was just a bit disconcerting at times. The second downside is highly personal. Near the end of the book, as he approaches sixty, he begins to doubt his ability to continue surfing. I read this on my ski trip and could not help but draw the parallel to concerns about my own ability to continue a sport I love. The list of things he captures well is long. The friendships he forged due to surfing. The battles of being in new schools and neighborhoods as an adolescent. The adventure of literally traveling the world without much money. The cultures he experienced first-hand. The political upheaval of the times from the US to South Africa. The difficulty of choosing a so-called adult profession. The connection afforded by family. Finnegan treats all these topics with care, insight, and an appropriate depth. This book may be about growing up, or finding oneself, or surfing, or all three. And that may be its greatest strength: the reader gets to decide what to take away from it.
20 people found this helpful
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D. Carson
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Insightful autobiography of surfing life
Reviewed in the United States on October 28, 2020
I originally thought that this book would be a good one to leave in the bathroom, meaning a book that I could read a little at a time, nothing too exciting. I was surprised to find that I liked this book enough to elevate it to my workout book (which means to mean that the... See more
I originally thought that this book would be a good one to leave in the bathroom, meaning a book that I could read a little at a time, nothing too exciting. I was surprised to find that I liked this book enough to elevate it to my workout book (which means to mean that the story is interesting enough to hold my attention through 45 minutes on an elliptical.) It is a book about the kind of person who is not often introspective, or, if they are, often not creatively-literate and a good enough writer to put their lifestyle out there in a reflective set of essays that help you understand surfers a bit better and understand their world a bit better. I have tried surfing, as I live in "surf city", but I''ve never been very good at it. After reading this book, I have a lot better understanding of what I was doing wrong, and I think I might give it another try. The worst day in the ocean is better than the best day in the office, after all.
One person found this helpful
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Top reviews from other countries

Mark Chisnell
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Pssibly the best surfing book ever?
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on January 31, 2017
I didn’t expect to find a surfing memoir via a podcast about American politics, but amongst all the gloom of the Slate Political Gabfest’s coverage of the last Presidential election cycle there was a recommendation to read Barbarian Days by Bill Finnegan. Soon afterwards, I...See more
I didn’t expect to find a surfing memoir via a podcast about American politics, but amongst all the gloom of the Slate Political Gabfest’s coverage of the last Presidential election cycle there was a recommendation to read Barbarian Days by Bill Finnegan. Soon afterwards, I heard that the book had won the 2016 William Hill Sports Book of the Year Award in the UK, having already picked up a Pulitzer for Biography. A surfing book? A Pulitzer? Really? The rebel alliance has clearly been sucked into the mainstream - this one obviously had to be read. Bill Finnegan is a New Yorker staffer with a background in political and conflict reportage, so he knows his writing chops and has the contacts and reputation for this to come to the attention of the literary establishment in a way that most surfing books probably don’t. Having said that, this is the best book on the topic that I’ve read since Andy Martin’s Walking on Water, another minor masterpiece. He never says as much, but Finnegan is a minor hellman, a big-wave surfer. Not the truly giant stuff taken on by household names like Laird Hamilton (ok, showing my age now) but still, this is a guy who has taken on most of the world’s best waves, including some of the heaviest. A man who has consistently surfed sessions in 10-15ft, often at breaks where reefs and rocks require complete commitment. Very few of the people that can do this can also write as well as Finnegan, and the descriptions he brings back from the wave face and ‘out the back’ in big swells ring with a sonorous truth. Bill Finnegan also captures the moment and the people beautifully, growing up in the 60s in LA and Hawaii, travelling cheap and light looking for waves in the 70s and 80s. I found myself constantly drawn back to this book, and to the water. The recent arrival of two children mean that it’s been a long while since I bothered to check the surf at the local breaks. I’m thinking that needs to change.
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Surfer Nomad
4.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Too True
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on September 1, 2017
I came to this a surfer who writes, so my perspective may be distorted, however that disclaimer aside, I have found this book eminently readable, it''s not a rip roaring page turner, but it is a pleasure. Finnegan captures the way that surfing changes ones life decisions...See more
I came to this a surfer who writes, so my perspective may be distorted, however that disclaimer aside, I have found this book eminently readable, it''s not a rip roaring page turner, but it is a pleasure. Finnegan captures the way that surfing changes ones life decisions without getting dragged into mystic gobbledygook. It''s a phenomena all life long surfers will understand. The language is appropriate, articulate and the prose is balanced ( apart from one really bizarre typo where it seems a completely different sentence has been superimposed on another). How much a non surfer would get from this is hard to gauge, it might seem somewhat self indigent. Anyone who surfs though and has a taste for a good turn of phrase will love it
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Tony T-S
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
You don''t need to be a surfer...
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on March 22, 2016
...to enjoy this book. I''m not saying surfers won''t perhaps get even more from it than a non-surfer like me: understand better the sensations, the obsessions, the author describes so well. But there''s enough vicarious enjoyment, excitement and insight, beautifully expressed...See more
...to enjoy this book. I''m not saying surfers won''t perhaps get even more from it than a non-surfer like me: understand better the sensations, the obsessions, the author describes so well. But there''s enough vicarious enjoyment, excitement and insight, beautifully expressed and sensitively communicated, to bridge the gaps in direct experience and bring this thoughtful autobiography to life for any reader with imagination. A great read. Thank you, Mr Finnegan!
5 people found this helpful
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Robert Blythe
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
A fantastic read for surfers and non-surfers alike!
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on February 25, 2018
I bought this for my dad (a keen surfer) and he was instantly enthralled! I have never seen him so involved in a book ever! Once he finished with it he gave it to a family friend (not a surfer) who loved it equally as much. This book is extremely well written and is sure to...See more
I bought this for my dad (a keen surfer) and he was instantly enthralled! I have never seen him so involved in a book ever! Once he finished with it he gave it to a family friend (not a surfer) who loved it equally as much. This book is extremely well written and is sure to please surfers and non-surfers alike, as technical vocabulary is explained perfectly in laymans terms without detracting from the purpose of the book. It''s filled with wonderful anecdotes and is as funny as it is moving. Wonderful read!
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JGL
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Highly recommended
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on June 15, 2016
I love this book. As appears obvious it is mainly about surfing, the bonds between the surfer and the wave, the bonds between surfers themselves and the way that surfing can basically take over your life. It is also about way more than that. Little snippets of science,...See more
I love this book. As appears obvious it is mainly about surfing, the bonds between the surfer and the wave, the bonds between surfers themselves and the way that surfing can basically take over your life. It is also about way more than that. Little snippets of science, history, psychology, sociology and geography are liberally littered around so you feel you are really learning something more than just about the author. His story is fascinating and is written in a choppy, conversational style which makes the paragraphs fly by.
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