The Mullet Summer Reading Part I: Some Suggestions

 A Paddler’s Reading List

Much to our chagrine, we can’t always be paddling in our copious spare time. But if we can’t be out on the water, we can at least read about it.  Whether you’re trapped in a car on a long business trip and need an audio book, or you’re nursing an injury and need something to assuage the boredom and frustration, or just if you’ve binged out on everything good on Netflix and need to detox, here’s a the first of a two-part list of great water-related reads to supplement your summer.

A Classic

Barbarian Days: A Surfing Life by William Finnegan

Finnegan, a staff writer at The New Yorker, takes us on a coming of age surf journey around the world in a style Sports Illustrated describes as Hemingway-esque. Not sure I would go that far, but the prose is more than engaging and the descriptions of breaks, secret spots and the details of his relationships with the people he meets along the way are enthralling, heartbreaking and soulful. It’s no wonder this autobiography won a Pulitzer Prize last year.

Oh, Mexico!

In Search of Captain Zero: A Surfer’s Road Trip Beyond the End of the Road by Allan Weisbecker

If you’ve never dreamed of chucking it all, buying an RV and driving across the border on a surf safari, then this book might make you want to do it.  Or it might make you think twice. The true story of Weisbecker’s search for a long lost friend  through Mexico and into Central America is a great ride, with a poignant ending.

A Paddler's Reading List

Kook: What Surfing Taught Me About Love, Life, and Catching the Perfect Wave by Peter Heller 

And if Captain Zero doesn’t make you want to jump in that RV, Kook most definitely will.  And if you’re like me, you’ll feel an instant kinship with the author as Weller describes his trials and tribulations learning how to surf. You might learn some things along the way, as well.


438 Days: An Extraordinary True Story of Survival At Sea by Jonathan Franklin

I just recently listened to this in the seven-hour car ride from Raleigh to Chattanooga and I can’t stop thinking about it. I remember hearing about  Salvador Alvarenga’s 2014 rescue after being lost at sea for over a year and how authorities were not sure if his story was actually true.  But indeed it was, and the story is downright amazing. Caught up in a massive storm whilst fishing in Mexico, Alvarenga washed ashore 15 months later in the Marshall Islands.  With sad, sad moments, and moments of absolute brilliance, you will marvel at Alvarenga’s skill as a seaman, his courage as a friend, and his resilience as a member of the human race. This could make a fantastic movie, though a search doesn’t offer any information on whether that’s in the works.

Two By Susan Casey

The Wave by Susan Casey

Part oceanography lesson, part profile of big wave legends like Laird Hamilton, and part catalogue of the world’s Big Wave meccas, Casey helps us understand how waves tick, and how the men and women who ride the giants do as well.

The Devil’s Teeth: A True Story of Obsession and Survival Among America’s Great White Sharks 

Set in the Farallon Islands off the coast of San Francisco, The Devil’s Teeth tells the story of shark researchers who spend isolated hours on a guano-covered outpost trying to learn all they can about the Great White sharks that congregate there. It’s a fascinating read.

Tell Us Something We Don’t Already Know

Blue Mind: The Surprising Science That Shows How Being Near, In, On, or Under Water Can Make You Happier, Healthier, More Connected, and Better at What You Do by Wallace J. Nichols 

Looking for some validation? Justification? Just want to know why it feels so good to be in the water? Then here you go.

One Fish, Two Fish

What a Fish Knows: The Inner Lives of Our Underwater Cousins by Jonathan Balcombe

It can get a little into the science-y weeds, but it is absolutely fascinating to learn that there’s more to our finned friends than we might think.  If you love critters, especially the ones that live in the water, then give this a look.

A Whale of a Tale

 Set in Maui, Christopher Moore takes us on a hysterical romp into the fantasy world of humpback whales.  This is a laugh out loud kind of book in the vein of Terry Prachett, Jasper FForde, and Neil Gaiman, with a little bit of Carl Hiaasen thrown in for good measure.

Want more?

Stay tuned for Part Two of the Mullet Summer Reading list coming next week!

In the meantime, check out John’s recommendations from a while back…

Got something to add? Let us know in the comments!