[The Water Issue] Whalebone’s Summer Reading List

Photo: Ben White

In bringing to life an entire magazine focused on our favorite Earthly substance (oxygen floating in at a close #2), it crossed our minds that one who enjoys the content of our third annual Water Issue might very well be inspired to swim on and enjoy more on the topic. It’s very much natural. So we strapped a close affiliate of the Whalebone crew with a small library of water-related reads, sent him off to a secluded island off of Fiji for four weeks and requested that he come back with a small book report of his absolute favorites to be shared with the world.

If we’re being honest here, it’s been five months since we’ve last heard from the guy. There is a very realistic chance that his life is in danger and he’s begun to befriend inanimate objects (i.e. a volleyball) at this point. So we had the crew take this list on ourselves and offer up their eight most-recommendable aquatic reads.

We believe these will serve as worthy companions during a quiet day at the beach, easy afternoon in a hammock overlooking a waterfall, or in/on/beside any body of water the planet on which we live has to offer. Enjoy, and if any of you see Tom Hanks, tell him it’s time to come home.

1. “The Kon-Tiki Expedition: By Raft Across the South Seas” by Thor Heyerdahl

Thor Heyerdahl was a bit of a legend. After hearing tales of a mythical hero by the name of Kon-Tiki, Heyerdahl, a Norwegian biologist, set out to debunk the myth of Kon-Tiki’s settlement in the South Sea Islands by completing recreating the legendary voyage. With the help of five other committed adventurers, Heyerdahl and crew launched their raft from Peru and set their arrival destination as the Polynesian Islands—over 4,000 miles of open sea away. The Kon-Tiki Expedition details the record of their three-month journey and tells the story of a man willing to face whatever the ocean can throw at him in order to know the truth.


2. “All for a Few Perfect Waves: The Audacious Life and Legend of Miki Dora” by David Rensin

If there’s any easily-accessible testament to Miki’s presence in surfing, it can be first previewed by visiting his Wikipedia page—which is appropriately split up into two sections: life and controversy. The king of Malibu and man of a thousand nicknames, Miki was an unlikely leader who stylishly dominated each and every break, beach and parking lot in Malibu for nearly twenty years. With the help of over four years of interviewing hundreds of those that shared waves, days and nights with Miki, All for a Few Perfect Waves tells the dark prince’s entire life story in a way that wasn’t captured in his features in Vanity Fair and the New York Times, nor anywhere else.

3. “A Golden Age: Surfing’s Revolutionary 1960s and ’70s” by John Witzig

It seems that John Witzig was born to capture surfing’s golden age. In 208 pages, the legendary Australian photographer manages to chronicle the bright, twelve-year evolution of surfing’s formative period through the late 60s and 70s—in a way that no one else really did. Packed into a more than enjoyable history lesson, Witzig wonderfully showcases on the revolutionary changes of the era, including radical progression in board design, a shift in style and surfing technique and more. A Golden Age provides a one-of-a-kind account of the surfing revolution that may or may not have you looking researching nearby time machines in the days that follow its last page.

4. “A Speck in the Sea: A Story of Survival and Rescue” by John Aldridge Anthony Sosinski

If you’ve been with us since our first ever Water Issue, there’s a good chance you remember Pat Fallon’s harrowing piece on Johnny “Load” Aldridge, Lil’ Anthony and the whole of the Montauk fishing community coming together to make sure no man is left behind. The story, which details Aldridge being thrown off the back of the Anna Mary in the dead of night and a rescue mission involving the Coast Guard and local fishing community, is now available (and thriving) in book-form and has been optioned for a movie. Pick up a copy off of Amazon (available in three languages) or bother George at The Dock to read his first edition off the wall.

5. “In Search of Captain Zero” by Allan Weisbecker

In 1996, a well-motivated gent by the name of Allan Weisbecker decided to sell his home + material possessions, load his dog + surfboards into his truck, and journey south to find his long-time surfing companion, Patrick, who had seemingly disappeared during a stint in Central America. In a raw attempt to solve the mystery behind Patrick’s vanishing, Weisbecker trips from Mexico down to Costa Rica, detailing all of his travels to a T—including good times with good folks he met along the way, constantly dodging unanticipated trouble and the waves he caught + lost on the way to finding his friend. Get your hands on a copy, here.

6. “Barbarian Days: A Surfing Life” by William Finnegan

William Finnegan might be a name you are currently familiar with, but if you can spare a moment to dive even one chapter into his story, you aren’t likely forget it. In Barbarian Days, Will recounts his unique upbringing in California and Hawaii, fighting his way through school in Honolulu, mastering waves most of us are only willing to mind surf, and ultimately allowing surfing to be his gateway to a life well traveled and even better lived.

7. “Lost World: The Marine Realm of Aldabra & the Seychelles” by Thomas Peschak

Man, we should’ve got Thomas Peschak involved in this one. Admittedly, we’ve never been to the Seychelles archipelago. And it seems like it would take a lot of time to visit all 115 islands. Luckily, Peschak’s Lost World offers up a complete visual journey beneath the beautiful waters of a lively stretch of western Indian Ocean. Complete with an in-depth look at the archipelago’s coral reefs, mangrove forests and an endless cast of marine-life, Lost World is highly recommended offering for anyone in need of an optical vacation to one of the most lively underwater wonders of the world.

8. “A Wonderful Time: An Intimate Portrait of the Good Life” by Slim Aarons

After serving as a combat photographer in World War II, Slim Aarons famously decided that from then on, he was only interested in shooting “attractive people in attractive places doing attractive things.” A Wonderful Time is Slim’s first testament to making the transition from war photography to capturing the life and times of high society around the world. The 190-page photobook—equipped with intimate stories with some of the most influential people in the 60s and 70s—features unreal imagery with a strong focus on beautiful estates scattered across various coastlines, from exclusive islands off of Maine down to the BVIs. While it’s become a little hard to find, Slim’s preference for shooting water-front estates and lively poolside gatherings during the 60s is well worth a spot on any given coffee-table.