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Laird Hamilton surfs the bestsellers list

November 22, 2008 |  9:00 am

Laird1 This Sunday's extended version of the Los Angeles Times hardcover bestsellers list features, at #13, "Force of Nature" by Laird Hamilton (Rodale).

I think I can safely assume one thing: Hamilton isn't spending his days worrying about economic recession. His book is a celebration, first of all, of himself, and then, well, more of himself.

It's definitely a welcome relief from all the other news.

Subtitled "Mind, Body, Soul, and, of course, Surfing," the book offers the surf king's tips on fitness, food and keeping a positive attitude that applies in any situation--whether you're just worrying about the future or if you suddenly find yourself with a giant wave poised above your head. Either way, it's all the same for him. Fear is necessary, he says: "If you think about it, the flip side of fear is commitment. You can spend your life fence-sitting because you're frightened of something bad that might happen--or you can launch yourself into it with all of your conviction and all of your intelligence."

Sure thing, dude.

The best part of the book for me is a two-page photo of Hamilton surfing a wave. On either side of his vertical figure, there are lists of injuries, with lines pointing to the various parts of his body that he's broken over the years. What are Laird's most common injuries? "Broken ankle six times" says one item, "broken toes" says another, "134 stitches to the forehead" says still another." What are the more exotic ones? Let's see:

"surfboard through the cheek"

"skilsaw through the thigh"

"surfboard to the femur"

Maybe this book will prompt you, like it did me, to get off the couch and practice with my boys' skateboard one Saturday afternoon and land several times on my back (just be sure to wear a helmet, ok? Remember: You may be inspired by Laird, but you ARE NOT Laird). "Force of Nature" seems like it wouldn't be out of place on your shelf alongside "Fight Club," or maybe "A River Runs through It," a collection of Hemingway stories or any other book in praise of male strength.

--Nick Owchar

photo credit: Anne Cusack/Los Angeles Times (2006)