It’s old news now, as it’s already in paperback, but my first book recommendation on tw-aw/blog is William Finnegan’s Barbarian Days.

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Before I moved to New Haven in 1997, my dad gave me a xeroxed copy of Finnegan’s two-part New Yorker piece on the city, written in the mid-80s. It was one of those great long-form pieces the magazine used to publish more frequently, telling the story of an African American family in an impoverished neighborhood adjacent to the Yale campus—so close, yet so far away. Finnegan is known for this sort of literary journalism, exposing injustice through rich narrative, evocative portraiture, and compelling scene-setting. He is also, it turns out, a world-class surfer, and Barbarian Days recounts his years discovering remote surfing spots in every corner of the globe. It’s completely transporting and amazing in its capacity to describe waves in all their surprising and varied character. That Finnegan can both surf and write with such distinction is certainly unfair, but despite one’s inevitable envy, it’s hard not to be grateful for the experience.