“Barbarian Days: A Surfing Life” By William Finnegan

(Memoir, 2015)

By T. Ghezzi

The Pulitzer Prize-winning memoir written by William Finnegan is more than just a book about surfing. Yes, he is the stereotypical surf bum-dirtbag, but in his old school style adventure story Finnegan expands on topics about subcultures, social economics, relationships, personal growth, education, writing and travel. These stories and life lessons stem from his passion and obsession to surf and explore the world.

Foremost I connected with Finnegan’s love and spiritualism for surfing as a lifestyle. I have always been fascinated by surf culture, as it’s the mother and creator to all the other board cultures. I say culture because I feel surfing, skateboarding and snowboarding are more of a lifestyle or life practice rather than a sport.

Finnegan gets very technical and in depth with his descriptions of the waves he’s surfing, but keeps his writing accessible to non-surfers with concrete imagery, entertaining stories and beautiful sentences. I ate up all the “nerdy” surf rants, because I believe he was staying true to his surfer roots, and it displayed his love for the ocean.

“Barbarian Days: A Surfing Life” has been one of the best books I have read in the past five years and I have gifted this book to many of my friends.

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