Title – Hawk: Occupation: Skateboarder

Author – Tony Hawk (with Sean Mortimer)

Year – 2000

Pages – 307

Genre – Autobiography

I wish I was a skateboarder. I had a skateboard once – Jeni got it for me. I couldn’t even stand on it. But ever since I picked up a copy of Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 4 for the GameCube when I was at uni, I have loved it. Back then there was no YouTube to watch skate videos on, so I unlocked as many of the endings as I could to see the tricks.

It was a passing fad that lasted about as long as my infatuation with the game did (and then burst back into the light every time a new game came out – I miss those games!), but I still find skateboarding incredibly cool. And there is no skater that has anywhere near the recognition of Tony Hawk.

I picked this up years ago, but every time I have gone near it since, I have been hit with the thought that there is no need to read this book. Just because he is a famous skateboarder, doesn’t mean his life will be interesting. Would I be able to frame much from the limited exposure that I have had to him through his games? Was it worth me using up reading time on it? Well, a combination of the most difficult read I have had so far (thanks Pat) and the fact that I am trying to cycle through some of the books I own that are on the cusp of being passed on meant that this seemed a suitable time to try.

And I am really glad I did. The rise of Tony Hawk is essentially the rise of skateboarding. His dad formed the national body for skating and he rapidly became one of the most respected and titled stars of the sport. He was there at all the important moments and holds many firsts, and it has been written to allow some access to this.

And even better, it is such an easy read. Amongst the intro to skating are peppered stories of his personal life, and all of the somewhat crass road stories you would expect from an extreme sportsman. I particularly like his tone – he readily admits to the times that he hasn’t been the best person, but doesn’t dwell on them. It leaves him feeling particularly likeable – willing to admit to faults, but with little enough depth that our cursory understanding of him from the book leaves you with a rosy picture.

It also reminded me that picking up a decent autobiography means that you do not need to have a huge background knowledge of their life before you start. I am not suggesting that means this book is for everyone – you will lose patience with the skating anecdotes if you don’t even have a passing knowledge of what it is all about – but an absorbing read about an interesting man’s life is worth a little look if this is your kind of thing.

Two other little things – check out Tony Hawk’s twitter for lots of very funny recounts of times people have told him he looks like Tony Hawk. Also, worth mentioning that one of my favourite authors, Nick Hornby, wrote a teen novel about a kid who is obsessed with this book – Slam. Give that a read if you get the chance.