– stripping surfing back down to its most elemental form

West of Jesus

West of JesusI’ve not read many surf related books and this one came to me by way of a gift. Steven Kotler’s West of Jesus: Surfing, Science and the Origins of Belief is an interesting and well-researched read. It is not a Christian surfing book as the title may suggest. Rather it is more self-exploration, scientific research, and a little bit of surfing thrown in here and there to keep things surfy.

Kotler writes while coming through a fight with Lyme disease. The disease caused some major changes in his life, most not for the better. Close to the end of his hope, a friend invites him out for a surf. Although the disease leaves him with little energy for anything more than the normal routines of life, his first surf in many years rejuvenates and creates a feeling of hope. This sort of catharsis sends Kotler into a search for the spiritual side that many feel when immersed in the sport. His quest leads him to many of the world’s best wave spots including Mexico, New Zealand and Hawaii and to some of the worlds foremost neuroscientists, psychiatrists and mythologists.

If you’re looking for a book recounting epic surf sessions, barrel rides and shallow reef passes, this is not for you. Although if you are looking for introspection and dialog about the sport of kings you will not be disappointed. Kotler does a great job of combining scientifically valid knowledge with ancient myth while exploring the modern definition of belief. Along the way he meets many interesting people and perhaps learns something. In the end, he rededicates his life to the pursuit of surf, which to me was the most redeeming aspect of the book.

You can probably find this book in most bookstores but you could also check your local library. If they don’t have it ask them to add it to their collection.

• Category: art, board construction, diy, environment, interviews, news & media,, skateboarding

2 Responses »

  1. I really loved this book! Glad you enjoyed it too. :)

  2. I enjoyed this book as well. It put words to the feelings that I think many of us have about surfing. It becomes more than just a “sport” or an “activity”. Even the worst day of surf can give some contentment and balance. Now as I find myself landlocked it also made me question my relationship to surfing as well as what it means to be a “surfer”. I passed my copy on to my step father who taught me how to surf…can’t wait for his take on it too!