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Contrary to common belief, the written word and surfing are not mutually exclusive. Indeed, written documentation of surfing goes back as far as Captain Cook’s ship logs, and early chroniclers of the sport include vexed beginner Mark Twain and Jack London, who was clearly awestruck by the spectacle. Today, surf literature is served predominantly by gorgeous coffee-table books filled from stem to stern with big brilliant photos and lean expository text. For every aspect of waveriding, there is an authoritative book—there’s even Surf Movie Tonite!, 144 pages devoted entirely to the rich (and very specific) history of surf movie poster art. Here, we have gathered the best the genre has to offer—titles that earn their place on the bookshelf of anyone enraptured by waves.

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