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Reader’s Den

September Reader's Den: "Sweetness and Blood"


Welcome to the September Reader’s Den! This month, we’ll be discussing Sweetness and Blood: How Surfing Spread from Hawaii and California to the Rest of the World, with Some Unexpected Results by Michael Scott Moore. This nonfiction book begins with the author’s apology that it is far from a complete history of surfing. Rather, it is a pop culture view of surfing’s global popularity from Californian influences.

The author explores lesser known surf venues, such as Morocco, Israel, and the Gaza Strip, in order to accomplish this. (Read an excerpt from the Pop Matters website). Sometimes, this unconventional take yields interesting insights. For instance, when asked if surfing is seen as contradictory to Islam, a surfer responds, “Young people are lost between a tradition […] which no longer exists, and a modernity that makes them unhappy because they can’t afford to take advantage of it as people from rich countries can. Surfing gives them a chance to live a little like young people today, to meet other people, perhaps to travel. Surfing is like a breath of fresh air.” (p. 132)

As someone who hasn’t spent much time on the West Coast and has never been to Hawaii, surfing has always seemed like a phenomenon reserved for a select group of the initiated. This view of mine changed somewhat when a friend took me paddle boarding for my birthday. Paddle boarding was popularized about a year ago by celebrities such as Cher. For those who live in New York, there's a paddle board club that can be seen paddling along the Hudson. My instructor talked about "Beach Boys of Waikiki," which prompted me to find a few sites on the history of surfing:


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Author of Sweetness and Blood

Hi there, Michael Scott Moore, author of this book, will be in NYC week of Oct 17-21. He could probably come by and join a discussion about this book club pick! Let me know. Thansk!

Surfing at the Jersey Shore

Thank you for highlighting this book. It's nice to hear how people around the world are enjoying surfing, a fine sport! As a surfer of the Jersey Shores, I have to say that on the East Coast this is the place where one can catch nice waves and meet other people with the same interest. The summer months can be very crowded, but during the Fall, surfing is much more enjoyable with the crowds gone. Contrary to what one might think, surfing is no longer limited for the hip and young, it has been discovered that a large number of older people practice this sport and on many occasions find relief and healing. As for me, surfing takes me to an unsuspected high akin to that of meditation!

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