Book by UC Santa Cruz alumnus tops President Obama’s Summer Reading List

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William Finnegan
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A memoir of surfing by UC Santa Cruz graduate William Finnegan, (Cowell, ’74, English literature) is at the top of President Obama’s 2016 Summer Reading List.

The White House released the list today as the President vacationed with his family in Martha’s Vineyard.

Finnegan’s book, Barbarian Days: A Surfing Life, won the 2016 Pulitzer Prize in April for a biography or autobiography by an American author. It covers Finnegan’s obsession with waves in California and Hawaii—including his surfing days in the early 1970s while a student at UC Santa Cruz.

Describing Finnegan as a writer of rare subtlety and observational gifts, the Washington Post lauded the book as: “Terrific…elegantly written and structured, it’s a riveting adventure story, an intellectual autobiography, and a restless, searching meditation on love, friendship and family.”

And a San Francisco Chronicle review called it an “An evocative, profound and deeply moving memoir…The proof is in the sentences. Were I given unlimited space to review this book, I would simply reproduce it here, with a quotation mark at the beginning and another at the end.”

Joining Finnegan’s Barbarian Days: A Surfing Life on President Obama’s list were the prizewinning novels: The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead, H is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald, The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins, and Seveneves by Neal Stephenson.