Wednesday, September 9, 2015


One of the hottest bestsellers is Barbarian Days: A Surfing Life. Author William Finnegan grew up in California and Hawaii and his devotion to surfing and traveling the world was to not just find the best waves, but also to savor the surfers’ culture, which demands both skill and obsession. Part memoir, part appreciation and part explaining the mechanics of waves, the book has been praised for its elegant prose and ability to present visual images that stick in the minds of readers. Look for this very visceral work, likely to be on many best book lists of 2015, on the shelves at the Monrovia Public Library. While you're at it, also look for other books about waves. 

The Book of Waves: Form and Beauty on the Ocean by Drew Campion is a coffee table-sized pictorial work that will especially appeal to those who love watching the changing dynamics and colors of the sea. Magazine writer Susan Casey takes science and translates it into the easily understood in The Wave: The Pursuit of Rogues, Freaks and the Giants of the Ocean. She has interviewed oceanographers, shipping companies and surfers about the huge waves that rise up to sink ships and cause harm to ocean athletes. The book is also a history of some of the most gigantic waves—the biggest was off the Alaskan coast in 1958 and was 1,740 feet high. 

Sometimes personal stories highlight the consequences of a natural disaster. Such is the case with Wave of Destruction: The Stories of Four Families and History’s Deadliest Tsunami. That tsunami, the Japanese word for a giant wave, occurred in 2004 and struck Thailand. Author Erich Krauss was a relief worker on an island off the Thai coast and tracked the fate of four families that were affected by the  wave. Waves are approached from a different direction in Waking the Giant: How a Changing Climate Triggers Earthquakes, Tsunamis and Volcanoes by science writer Bill McGuire. The author explores how rising sea levels caused by global warming can create natural disasters.

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