My earliest childhood belief was a sneaking suspicion that the world was more mysterious than people were letting on. It’s hard to say how much of this was suburban boredom and how much heartfelt sentiment, and in the end it didn’t matter. By the time I got to college, that little notion had grown into a bad case of Jonathan Livingston Seagull-itis. When two semesters of philosophy failed to satisfy, I dropped out and moved to Santa Fe because the New Age was booming.



“A heady mix of brain waves and ocean waves.”

- Men’s Journal

“Kotler creates a work that combines the most compelling elements of memoir, travelogue and scholarly abstract into an accessible tale of physical and mental adventure… both enlightening and inspirational.”

- Publishers Weekly

“The ideal book for any readers who have ever asked themselves, ‘How did surfing take over my life?’ Kotler brings us close to the answer via a wild globe-trotting journey in search of surfing’s much-referenced but rarely discussed spiritual side.”

- Los Angeles Times

“A surprisingly entertaining nonfiction account of his own spiritual quest through surfing… Kotler is often laugh-out-loud funny.”

- San Francisco Chronicle

“Kotler’s tale starts slow and then, like a seasoned surfer calibrating his board to his ride, monumentally catches stride. Call it mysterioso or the oceanic feeling, what Kotler’s seeking is nothing less than the big explanation”

- Village Voice

“West of Jesus is a colorful, rambling memoir of his adventures in the world of surfing. Surfing, not just as a sport or a pastime: To the initiated, it is more like a folk religion, complete with myths, rituals and transcendental experiences. Kotler describes all of this with tremendous verve and clarity, and sets out some intriguing ideas about their neuroscientific underpinnings, such as how the neurochemistry of emotion impacts our perception of the world, and the evolutionary roots of religious ritual.”

- Seed Magazine

“This is a cool book, admirably well-written and reported by an observant fellow who takes the reader on a surf journey to exotic spots but also a journey of the soul and the boundless territory of the mind…Sounds heavy, but it’s not — Kotler is so smart that it’s bright and engaging, self-deprecating, peppered with evocative song lyrics and quotes from an apparently vast and diverse diet of reading, and gratifyingly full of “aha” type moments.”

- Santa Cruz Sentinel

“A wonderful and engaging book, West of Jesus provides a unique window into the neuroscience of belief. Woven into an enthralling surf narrative, Kotler’s quest will appear to anyone interested in understanding the connection between science, sport and spirituality.”

- Dr. Andrew Newberg

Director of clinical nuclear medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, author of Why God Won’t Go Away.

“Steven Kotler’s West of Jesus is a fascinating and enlightening journey, like a global surfing safari with the coolest professor you never had. A perfect companion for anyone’s endless summer.”

- John Albert

Author of Wrecking Crew

“Here is a strangely exciting tale of coincidence and serendipity sub-populated with shaman, Tibetan White Buddhists and kahunas at the intersection of Stoke and Karma. The surf quest, for Kotler, is experienced as a disturbingly real search for the Holy Grail.”

- Drew Kampion

Author of The Way of the Surfer and The Lost Coast