Enter your mobile number below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
Getting the download link through email is temporarily not available. Please check back later.

  • Apple
  • Android
  • Windows Phone
  • Android

To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.

Qty:1
  • List Price: $16.00
  • Save: $4.16 (26%)
FREE Shipping on orders with at least $25 of books.
In Stock.
Ships from and sold by Amazon.com. Gift-wrap available.
Kook: What Surfing Taught... has been added to your Cart
FREE Shipping on orders over $25.
Condition: Used: Very Good
Comment: A well-cared-for item that has seen limited use but remains in great condition. The item is complete, unmarked, and undamaged, but may show some limited signs of wear. Item works perfectly. Pages and dust cover are intact and not marred by notes or highlighting. The spine is undamaged.
Have one to sell? Sell on Amazon
Flip to back Flip to front
Listen Playing... Paused   You're listening to a sample of the Audible audio edition.
Learn more
See all 3 images

Kook: What Surfing Taught Me About Love, Life, and Catching the Perfect Wave Paperback – July 13, 2010

4.2 out of 5 stars 131 customer reviews

See all 8 formats and editions Hide other formats and editions
Price
New from Used from
Kindle
"Please retry"
Paperback
"Please retry"
$11.84
$6.99 $0.83

The Amazon Book Review
The Amazon Book Review
Author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more. Read it now
$11.84 FREE Shipping on orders with at least $25 of books. In Stock. Ships from and sold by Amazon.com. Gift-wrap available.
click to open popover

Frequently Bought Together

  • Kook: What Surfing Taught Me About Love, Life, and Catching the Perfect Wave
  • +
  • Saltwater Buddha: A Surfer's Quest to Find Zen on the Sea
  • +
  • Barbarian Days: A Surfing Life
Total price: $34.51
Buy the selected items together


Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Journalist Heller's gripping memoir of finding the value of life while shooting the curl off Baja starts off as a disappointing middle-aged man's lament about the lack of love and meaning in his life. Just back from an exhausting assignment in Tibet, he gets a phone call from an old friend in California who wants Heller to come out so they can take surfing lessons together. Reluctant at first to leave Denver and his girlfriend, Kim, he follows the call to this new adventure. At Huntington Beach, Heller violates every rule of surfing etiquette, and other surfers vilify him as a kook, a beginning surfer. Initially, Heller is embarrassed, but he soon becomes so consumed by surfing that he brings Kim to California with him so that she can take lessons; soon, the two are traveling to various surfing locales in California and Mexico as Heller follows the waves. People admire surfers so much, he argues, because they have bowed to a force greater than themselves—the wave—and have transformed themselves into beings who can respond to such power with grace, humility, and beauty. By the end of this powerful memoir, Heller has learned that surfing is not simply about staying up on your board; it's about love: of a woman, of living, of the sea. (July)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Review

"In this rich and gracefully written book, Heller's creative and artistic abilities are on full display. We follow along with him on an insightful, year-long quest as he grapples with the dual, ever capricious, challenges of love and the sea."
—National Outdoor Book Award

“Breathtaking. . . . As Heller slips deeper and deeper into the surfing world, he teeters at the edge of obsession. . . . Over the course of this journey, Heller comes to understand the power of the waves, the value of the ocean and its suffering at the hands of man. Perhaps most important, he discovers his ability to commit, to love.”
The Dallas Morning News

“Told with an honesty and self-deprecating sense of humor, Heller’s tale is as much about surfing as it is about his personal growth as an individual once he starts getting his glide on. With a finely trained ability to both have insight and share it, Heller connects the dots between the simple act of surfing, emotional health, personal redemption, and our duty to work as stewards of Mother Earth. Next time an employer, a parent, or a significant other questions why you surf or what the bigger meaning of so much time getting waterlogged actually adds up to, this book is the ideal answer to give them.”
Santa Barbara Independent

“The book may be about surfing, but the real subject here is obsession. How far is one man willing to push his body, mind, and relationship to achieve a singular goal? Though Peter Heller may end up catching a wave that is perfect, the life lessons along the way are even more powerful.”
Mark Obmascik, author of Halfway to Heaven and The Big Year

“Heller is a guy you would want to go on an adventure with: likeable, fallible, good-humored, given to near-fatal bouts of love—for the ocean, for his girl, for the perfect wave. What begins as a mid-life crisis evolves, in this engaged and engaging story, into a deeply impassioned stand on behalf of marine-life, and of all life. Kook makes the dangerously unhip suggestion that it is still possible to find meaning--even transcendence--in the ever diminishing natural world.”
—Pam Houston, author of Sight Hound

“Heller takes us on a wild, unforgettable adventure with the poet's gift for capturing the quintessential in risking everything and the transformation that comes with it. This book is a funny, compelling exploration of love, surfing and the everyday, even when life proves as uncompromising as the wave.”
—Rebecca Rowe, author of Forbidden Cargo

"The author has a great feel for people… As a result, the reader gets to know a collection of fascinating characters: surf stars, expats, and environmentalists, to say nothing of the creatures of the sea…Mr. Heller’s colorful and informative paean to humility belongs on the bookshelves of kooks and surf gods alike." --The East Hampton Star
NO_CONTENT_IN_FEATURE

New York Times best sellers
Browse the New York Times best sellers in popular categories like Fiction, Nonfiction, Picture Books and more. See more

Product Details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Free Press (July 13, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743294203
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743294201
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.8 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.9 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (131 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #200,006 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
In some ways, I feel that Peter Heller is still a kook. You would think that someone who started surfing in his late forties would show a little more respect for art. Early in the book, he wrote that the California surf culture doesn't have the Aloha spirit that has stereotyped surfing for decades. He described it as more of a testosterone fueled aggressive sport. The problem is that he didn't take the time to appreciate the diversity in surfers, locations and overall attitudes. I have surfed in Southern California for 16 years and can say that although there are the aggressive competitive beaches and surfers, there are plenty of generous life loving surfers who have adopted the overall aloha lifestyle. The thing that really bothered me was an incident in which he kooked out and ran into a young girl whose father was teaching her to surf. Rather than apologize for damaging her board, he got into a pissing contest with the dad . . . in front of the girl. Although he realized that he was wrong, he never acknowledged it to the father or the girl. He seems to be the guy that he despises . . . another yuppie trying to steal an identity and understanding that in truth, takes years to develop.

That being said . . . it was a good read and interesting story.
2 Comments 52 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
Format: Kindle Edition
This is my first review ever, and I'm only writing it because there were none, so I figured it would be helpful to prospective purchasers to have something here other then professional reviews.

I'll start by saying this book is an easy read, entertaining and well worth the price of admission, even to non-surfers. Heller, as a self desribed kook (or beginner), takes us slowly into surfing culture and lingo at a pace where we can easily understand certain aspects of surfing without actually being a surfer. There is a good feel for the complexity and commitment that it takes to become proficient at surfing and I thought the author was able to get the emotions and spirituality of the surfing experience across to a wider audience. As a surfing lifestyle book, I think it is a sucess.

The other themes of the book are secondary: Ocean Conservation and Relationships. It is obvious Heller's passion is the ocean and there is a conservationist message sprinkled throughout that is mostly well integrated, but at times seemed a bit forced. If you are a right wing ultra conservative (or Japanese) you may find the message off putting, but if you fall into that camp you probably wouldn't be out surfing or reading this book.

The only reason I didn't give the book a full five stars is because I wasn't convinced Heller learned the relationship advice he was giving himself as he grew throughout the book. Towards the end of the book, he doesn't seem to be any more understanding of his girlfriend/wife's difficulties, and even if he understands, he doesn't seem to actually *do* anything about it, he just goes surfing and leaves her behind or whines about having to wait for her, even though he knows its selfish. As a relationship book, I think this fails.
Read more ›
2 Comments 42 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
Format: Paperback
I found myself being annoyed by this book eventually. At some point this learning surfer gets a pro surfer acquaintance to fly in and boost his learning curve. Kind of strange...actually proves the title correct, but not in a positive way.
Comment 7 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
By Kitelady on September 12, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I loved this book. I read it once and enjoyed it, but then I read it again and really experienced it. Hearing about the travels, scenery and waves made me feel like I was in the van too. I could relate to Kim so much regarding the pre-surfing ritual and sessions and also the waiting, rushing husband. It was informative, sad and funny and any person beginning a water sport can relate.
Comment One person found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Kook is a well written book and was entertaining to read. Near the end, Heller argues with himself whether the book is about love or surfing. I'd say it's really about neither. I thought the book was really about "mastery"--a concept Heller touches on and about which he writes somewhat perceptively. Heller doesn't seem as interested in surfing as in becoming a master surfer. He semi-idolizes the accomplished surfers he meets, notes how they seem "larger than themselves". He has a nice section where he notes we admire doctors, pilots, soldiers, shamans because they've "given themselves to a larger power" and let themselves be shaped by it, as surfers are shaped by the ocean. Heller clearly wishes he'd started surfing as a child.

This is where the book kind of grated on me--Heller's personality irritated me, at least. He's having an admitted mid-life crisis at 45-48. While he seems to enjoy surfing, what he really craves is having mastery of the sport that would make him feel better about himself and ooze cool in the presence of others. This desire to be hipper than Thou is off-putting, for me at least, and apparently for a good number of other reviewers. Heller is obviously an accomplished writer and outdoorsman who's devoted many hours to being good at both. Why can't he be satisfied with that? What is so much better about surfing anyway? He never tells us and never seems to really reflect deeply on that question either. How would he feel about someone who decided they'd become an accomplished, and well reviewed author in six months? Hmmm? As other reviewers have noted, Heller can be very rude to other surfers and inconsiderate of his wife/girlfriend.
Read more ›
Comment 7 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse

Most Recent Customer Reviews

Set up an Amazon Giveaway

Kook: What Surfing Taught Me About Love, Life, and Catching the Perfect Wave
Amazon Giveaway allows you to run promotional giveaways in order to create buzz, reward your audience, and attract new followers and customers. Learn more about Amazon Giveaway
This item: Kook: What Surfing Taught Me About Love, Life, and Catching the Perfect Wave