Image: Greg Martin.
Greg Martin is a man of many talents. He has captured some of the best surf images to come out of the UK, but you’d never find him shouting about it. He is also pretty useful with a pen in his hand – or more likely a keyboard. He’s been hanging close to home since relinquishing the reigns at Wavelength magazine and the arrival of his new son. Seems he’s been getting plenty of waves though.”My wetsuit has literally stayed wet at the bottom of the shower for all of 2014 so far,” he confesses, “because it’s warmer to put it on in a hot shower then walk down!”
So to celebrate International Book Day, here’s Greg’s favourite reads. “I warn you though I’m not a massive reader of fiction, I’m all photography books, magazines and papers! But these are an honest top 5″
5. Surfing Great Britain – Carl Thomson
I’ve always loved surf guide books and when I was young would spend ages looking at a line up and mind surfing it, hoping to go there some day. The oldest one I have is this, and I love it because it’s from a time (late 70s) of so much potential for exploration. Every spot feels like it is being pioneered and there are so many hints at places that are yet to be discovered. I particularly like the description of waves on the east coast of Scotland – “The wave forms are tremendous – shaped to perfection and run in straight sets directly from the Arctic storms. The waves are very heavy and tend to collapse like a falling brick wall.”
I also love the fact that my copy has been stolen from a library in Oxfordshire, where someone named ‘Goring’ seemed to be the only person to take it out, once a year, until he maybe got fed up and kept it! No doubt it was then stolen from him, and I kind of borrowed it from someone else, who hopefully isn’t reading this.
4. In the Heart of the Sea – Nathaniel Philbrick
I’ve read this book about the true story that inspired Moby Dick several times. A huge whale decides to fight back and attack a whaling boat, sinking it… and that’s just the beginning of the story! This is a gritty story of the true price of survival, resulting in canabalism and madness.
3. Ring of Fire – Lawrence Blair and Lorne Blair
When I was a young lad there was an amazing documentary series on tv called Ring of Fire, in which two brothers explore the islands of Indonesia in the 70s. When I found out there was a book to accompany it, I got straight on to Father Christmas. It’s amazing that in my lifetime a lot of the places featured have gone from being tribal communities, untouched by the modern world, to tourist destinations. Amazing and sad. But it certainly inspired me to want to go there. One of the first pictures in the book is of a local painting of people surfing. It has a scribbled pencil cross next to it… I had taken note.
2. The Inspector Rebus novels – Ian Rankin
Sorry, this probably isn’t the sort of book you were hoping to be recommended, but these are my guilty pleasures. I love the escapism and how you can just nail through a book over a few nights, which is perfect for a surf trip. Whenever I read them I daydream that one day I will also be a crime fiction writer, with my Cornish detective novels set around the surfing community down here. The series is called ‘Crime Waves’. Go ahead, laugh. But when you think about it again tonight and realise what a gripping ITV drama it would make, remember that it’s my idea, you can’t have it!
1. The Ocean World of Jacques Cousteau – Oasis in Space.
This book was my mum and dad’s and has been with me most of my life. As soon as I could write my own name, I wrote it on the inside of this book. The photos may look super seventies, but they are just as awe-inspiring today and the message about sustainability and protecting our oceans is just as relevant.
If you enjoyed the Wes Anderson film ‘The Life Aquatic’, here is the book that inspired many of the shots, ideas and feel of that film.
More recently, when my wife was heavily pregnant, she used to have this book at the side of the bed in case she ever felt anxious or panicky. There’s something about books on the ocean and adventure that are also incredibly reassuring and calming… no matter how old and tatty they are.
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