Kook by Peter Heller
What Surfing Taught Me About Love, Life, and Catching the Perfect Wave

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Author of the New York Times bestselling novel The Dog Stars

With grit, poetry, and humor, Peter Heller, acclaimed author of The Whale Warriors recounts his remarkable journey of discovery—of surfing, an entirely new challenge; of the ocean’s beauty and power; of the strange surf subculture; of love; and, most of all, of how to seek adventure while crafting a meaningful life.

Having resolved to master a big-hollow wave— that is, to go from kook (surfese for beginner) to shredder—in a single year, Heller travels from Southern California down the coast of Mexico in the company of his girlfriend and the eccentric surfers they meet. Exuberant and fearless, Heller explores the technique and science of surfing the secrets of its culture, and the environmental ravages to the stunning coastline he visits.

As Heller plumbs the working of his own heart and finds joy in both love and surfing, he affords readers vivid insight into this fascinating world, with all of its perils and pleasures, its absurdity and wonder. Exhilarating, entertaining, and moving, Kook is a love story between a man and his surfboard, a man and his girlfriend, a not-so-old man and the sea.

About Peter Heller

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Peter Heller holds an MFA from the Iowa Writers' Workshop in both fiction and poetry. An award-winning adventure writer and longtime contributor to NPR, Heller is a contributing editor at Outside magazine, Men's Journal, and National Geographic Adventure, and a regular contributor to Bloomberg Businessweek. He is also the author of several nonfiction books, including Kook, The Whale Warriors, and Hell or High Water: Surviving Tibet's Tsangpo River. He lives in Denver, Colorado.
Published June 25, 2010 by Free Press. 340 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, Nature & Wildlife, Sports & Outdoors, Science & Math. Non-fiction

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Negotiating riptides and surprise swells, Heller eventually developed a fresh appreciation for “the forces a surfer deals with” and, even as a neophyte, applauded their “prowess and grace.” “Surfers are an intense bunch,” he writes, “and they love their coast the way they love their mothers.” A g...

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Publishers Weekly

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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.

Apr 26 2010 | Read Full Review of Kook: What Surfing Taught Me ...


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After sailing the Antarctic Sea and traversing the deepest Tibetan gorge, Peter Heller became a "kook," or beginner surfer. It was while surfing in Huntington Beach, Calif. that he caught a glimpse of his next great adventure: a trip down the West Coast, in search of the perfect wave. In Kook he ...

Jul 25 2010 | Read Full Review of Kook: What Surfing Taught Me ...

The Washington Post

Unfortunately, Heller describes the most promising episode only cursorily: his escapades during a brief respite from surfing spent with Hollywood actress Hayden Panattiere and animal rights activist Ric O'Barry, trainer of the TV dolphin Flipper, in the Japanese sea town of Taiji.

Aug 01 2010 | Read Full Review of Kook: What Surfing Taught Me ...

Dallas News

Way back in history - say, post-Gidget, but before the dawn of the slick, prepackaged surf lifestyle - surfing was a sun-kissed summer avocation with the philosophical heft of a Styrofoam cooler.

Sep 05 2010 | Read Full Review of Kook: What Surfing Taught Me ...

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