It would be so easy to spend this entire quarantine on the couch watching 12 hours of TV a day, eating pancakes and ice cream, moving only when prompted to move by trips to the bathroom. Wouldn't it feel so much better though to come out of this whole thing refreshed after exercising the mind and body? As I write this, I am about to begin season 3 of The Wire after binge watching the first two seasons in 96 hours, so I am not trying to act like I am the authority on a healthy lifestyle during Quarantine 2020. Safe to say, I need a P90X type of workout and the magic of some ink beneath my fingers as much, if not more, than anyone right now. I am here to give some recommendations on the latter: my favorite water related books to read. For some, this could be painful as we bunker down and have to read about these water activities we love while not being able to enjoy them first hand, like having to see pictures of a girl you like when you know you can't be with her. For others, I hope it is inspiring for when this all passes and to appreciate the beauty of the sea each and every day, not taking it for granted ever again. One of the Driftline founders, Wes, and I joined forces to put together our recommendations. Think of it like Gene's picks and Vincent's picks from Seinfeld (I am Vincent for those that get the reference). So without further ado, here are our top 5 books on all things that you'd need a pair of Drifties to dive into:
By Peter F. Grooves (PFG) and Wes Horbatuck
PFG Pick - In Search of Captain Zero by Allan Weisbecker: This is an autobiographical story of a surfer that goes to look for his friend, Christopher, who vanished in pursuit of the perfect wave without telling anyone where he was going. There are fascinating stories along the way of the author's adventure throughout Mexico and Central America while explaining every beautiful detail of the world of surfing through his pit stops at breaks that most of us will probably never see. I read this book when I had just started out surfing and it was a useful tool in learning the terms and unwritten rules while following along an enthralling storyteller's journey. The author saw Big Blue the same way that I do, for all of its power and all of its grace, and had far more surfing experience than I do, but he gave me something to look forward to when I am an old salty dog still chasing waves. All the while, he lived in a camper on the back of his truck... something that I know a little about and was part of the inspiration behind my own book, Backstreets.
Wes Pick - Let My People Go Surfing by Yvon Chouinard: Most see this title and immediately categorize it as a surfing story or a surfer’s almanac, when it is much more. Yvon Chouinard, the founder of Patagonia, is a true pioneer in outdoor apparel who approached his life with an entrepreneurially-environmental mindset. As the founder of Driftline, he is a beacon of inspiration to me because he created a culture around “work to live rather than live to work”. Everyone has worked at jobs where the company culture is sub-par at best and you try to imagine what life would be like with a flexible boss or an office that would help inject passion into your veins. Yvon’s philosophical approach to life bled into his work, and because he led by example, his employees adopted his strong morals and helped grow Patagonia to what it is today. In a passage he says “our philosophies aren’t rules; they’re guidelines. They’re the keystone of our approach to any project, and although they are ‘set in stone’ their applications to a situation isn’t. In every long-lasting business, the methods of conducting business may constantly change, but the values, the culture and the philosophies remain constant.” This book will make you think twice about the companies you purchase from and will make you fall even more in love with that Patagonia jacket you wear every single day.
PFG Pick - A River Runs Through It by Norman Maclean: I have never gone fly fishing in my life and I am terrible at regular fishing, but this book made me want to pack up my truck, throw my iPhone out, and move to Montana to live out the rest of my days in a house close to the river where I could fly fish every single day. This is a novella for all of you non-readers out there looking to have a quick read to get you started. To the characters in this book, fly fishing is a religion in much the same way that surfing is to many people. In a family that seems to not have much else in common, the bond that the river brings them pulls at the reader's heartstrings. Of all of the books on this list, this one will be the most painful to read during quarantine because Maclean's descriptions on the Montana landscape, the river, and even the fish themselves will have you bursting to get off of the couch and into the wilderness. It is also a movie, but I haven't seen it, so I will just be the typical know-it-all that says "The book was better than the movie."
Wes Pick - The Wave: In Pursuit of the Rogues, Freaks, and Giants of the Ocean by Susan Casey: You know when you see a movie or hear a song and after seeing it you say “how the hell have I never seen/heard that?” That is what The Wave did for me with Laird Hamilton. I had never heard of Laird Hamilton when I read this book years ago, but since then he has not only come to define big wave surfing, but is a leader in fitness of the mind and the body in regards to extreme sports. I have suggested this book to friends that surf everyday and friends that have never been and all of them come away with a new appreciation for the ocean. Susan Casey follows Laird Hamilton throughout the book sharing stories of heroism and insanity from his past while documenting his extreme daily mindset. At the same time, Susan Casey also goes deep into the science of big “freak-like” waves showing their growth over time and the sheer power around them. As someone who is an equal part nerd and surfer, this book titillates both sides of my brain. Seeing surfers today like Laird and Kai Lenny surf these waves is impressive on instagram and video, but when you read Susan Casey’s explanation of the science behind the waves it will blow your mind. She brings to life the data and physics behind the waves by comparing them to relatable objects like skyscrapers and mountains. You will come away realizing that these men and women are on a completely different wavelength.
PFG Pick - The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown: There is a reason that this book is in so many of the recommendation lists - it deserves to be. It's got a little bit of everything. For those of you that are craving sports like Bubbles from The Wire craves drugs, this book describes all of the beauty of sports: the sacrifice, the team, the glory and all of the team members that chase it with reckless abandon. The main character, Joe Rantz, has such an inspiring story that you'll realize you have no excuse not to be doing your own in home workouts and staying fit. Without giving too much away, the crew isn't all massive Winklehoss looking dudes; the short guys get some love too as every boat needs a coxswain and the one in this book is a legend in his own right. And if you want to nerd out, the book has that as well with the expressive descriptions of the boat, making it a character itself. Lastly, behind it all, there is a powerful theme of patriotism, which we could all use at this time. Usually tragedies bring people together, but this mess has only seemed to literally and figuratively push people apart, so hopefully sometime very soon we can all come together as a country (without actually getting together) and beat this enemy, that bastard COVID-19.
Honorable Mention: (PFG) Born to Run by Bruce Springsteen: For those that know me, you had to know I was going to shamelessly plug the Boss. You might be thinking, what does this have to do with the water? The way Bruce describes his time at the shore during his twenties takes me right back to the best times of my own life, living at the beach in the summers between college semesters. He wrote a lot of his music from his first three albums while living at the beach and once you read how he experienced those times, you hear the songs completely differently and feel like you are at the shore with him.