27 Best Local Books to Read This Summer

Throw ’em in your beach bag or load up your nightstand: 27 must-have books from local authors and publishing houses.

A man breaks up with his wife over a volcano. A king buys a yacht built to woo a princess, then tries to use it to conquer Kaua‘i. A 13-year-old plans and executes the first-ever archaeological dig in a tsunami-ravaged valley. Just a few of the true stories in this summer’s nonfiction. Multigenerational immigrant drama? Spies stalking the twisted alleys of Old Honolulu? Families torn by inherited conflicts and addictions? It wouldn’t be summer fiction without them. And we’ve got the year’s big theme, too: the natural world.


These days, Hawai‘i books go mainstream and win big prizes: a Pulitzer for William Finnegan and Barbarian Days; an American Book Award for poet Craig Santos Perez and from unincorporated territory [guma‘]; and a Poets and Writers Award for Kimo Armitage. Also, 2015 National Book Award nominations went to Susannah Moore and Hanya Yanagihara. “Sales numbers are climbing, demand is up,” says Bess Press publisher Dave DeLuca. Read on!


Lab Girl Brings Life to Science

UH geobiologist writes a best-selling, thought-provoking memoir.

By Kim Steutermann Rogers
Hope Jahren
Photo: Courtesy of Hope Jahren

When teaching science, explaining complex ideas in a clear, easy-to-understand way has its challenges. For Hope Jahren, a UH geobiologist and author of a new, highly lauded memoir-cum-science book, the secret is metaphor.


“I think very hard about which metaphor stabs closest to the heart of what I’m trying to say,” she says. “Metaphors are like an egg. A light little tap and the whole thing breaks open, and then your student—and your reader—is on the same page as you.”


It’s a technique Jahren tapped for her book, Lab Girl. Take, for example, this passage about how little water trees actually collect from the ground: “If we think of all the water on Earth as an Olympic-size swimming pool, the amount that’s available to plants within the soil would fill less than one soda bottle.”


Lab Girl contains many passages about trees. This is the part Jahren calls sneaky—“textbooklike.” But her prose, far from being academic, is clear and thought-provoking, ensuring you won’t look at the tree outside your kitchen window—or elsewhere—in quite the same way. Did you know there are about as many leaves on one tree as there are hairs on your head?


Apart from the science bits, Lab Girl is most assuredly a memoir, chock full of personal stories—some funny, some heartbreaking, some bravely revelatory—of Jahren’s route from penniless student to tenured professor and recipient of three Fulbright Awards. New York Times book reviewer Michiko Kakutani wrote that the book “does for botany what Oliver Sacks’ essays did for neurology, what Stephen Jay Gould’s writings did for paleontology.” 


SEE ALSO: “Lab Girl”: 7 Reasons to Read Hope Jahren’s Fierce New Memoir Getting National Buzz


In her lab, Jahren tackles big questions. What, for example, will happen to plants—and, hence, our world’s supply of food, medicine and wood—in 350 years if greenhouse gas levels keep increasing at the rate they do now? 


Photo: Aaron Yoshino 

But why a coming-of-age-as-a-scientist memoir, and not the textbook academia expected of her after earning her Ph.D.? “I tried that,” Jahren says. “But I couldn’t keep my own story out of it. I felt a need to say this stuff, to talk about what’s important, to write in my voice.” And, in the process, Jahren found the writing helped her make sense of her own life. 


In a March essay for The New York Times, Jahren tackled another subject that’s important to her—sexual harassment in the science community. Questioning why little has been done to stop it, Jahren writes, “Female scientists like me will be solicited for constructive solutions that don’t involve anybody getting fired. Female students will be advised to examine how their own behavior might have contributed, and I will have more than my usual trouble keeping my mouth shut. And, in the end, science—an institution terminally invested in believing itself honorable—will sort of come close to admitting that it isn’t.”


She says the essay began with the oft-asked question of why there aren’t more women in STEM—science, technology, engineering and math—careers. “In my view, we’re never going to be able to stand with a clear conscience and recruit women into science without being sure we’re offering a fair shot at success in a safe environment.” Jahren pauses, then adds, “I owe it to my students, don’t I?” Jahren doesn’t have any specific complaints about the University of Hawai‘i, although there’s a “special kind of inertia here, and that’s frustrating.” She has since announced she is leaving UH.


Students in Hawai‘i, she says, “are generally really receptive to caring about nature, and the whole island is basically a greenhouse. It’s like Hawai‘i was created as a place to grow plants for science.” In a chapter on seeds, Jahren writes, “When you are in the forest, for every tree that you see, there are at least a hundred more trees waiting in the soil, alive and fervently wishing to be.” 


By now, we know Jahren’s also talking about people. We are like trees in a crowded forest, adapting, bending toward the light, seeking the things that nourish us. Plants, animals, institutions: We all need to adapt to grow.


Holy Mōlī Soars on Wings of Love and Loss 

A retired nurse’s albatross obsession becomes a publishing sensation.

By lavonne leong
Photos: Aaron yoshino

If you’ve ever dreamed about writing a book someday but haven’t yet, this one’s for you. 


At 67, Kaua‘i resident, retired nurse and Laysan albatross advocate Hob Osterlund has published her first book. Holy Mōlī: Albatross and Other Ancestors is a memoir of loss and grief, a love letter to the species she has devoted more than a decade to saving, and a moving personal essay about how the two strands, woman and mōlī (the Hawaiian word for albatross), have come together. As much as Osterlund has worked to save the birds, the birds, of course, have also saved her. 


As with most of us, Osterlund’s life has not run in a straight line. Her adored mother’s death when she was 10 years old set her on a devastated, wandering course in which a degree in ecological geography was followed by a career in nursing, marriage was followed by divorce and then an LGBTQ identity, long before that was a term. She arrived in Hawai‘i in 1983, “summoned” by a dream in which ancestral relation Martha Beckwith, translator of the first English version of the Kumulipo, placed a copy of the book in her hands.


Years later, Osterlund had her first encounter with a Laysan albatross. Like other authors who have written about close encounters with another species (you’ll probably recall Gorillas in the Mist, and Helen MacDonald’s H is for Hawk and Sy Montgomery’s The Soul of an Octopus are two of the finest recent works in this genre), she found that spiritual kinship can cross species lines.


Laysan albatrosses, who mate for life, are famously tender mates and devoted parents. Politically, they lean progressive; not only do they practice equal-time parenting, but one in every three mated pairs in the main Hawaiian Islands is female-female. 


They’re also red-listed by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, put at risk by humans (whom they don’t fear) and sea-level rise, which threatens to drown the low-lying Northwestern Hawaiian Islands, where more than 99 percent of their population resides. Wildlife biologist Lindsay Young says the birds’ fragile, tiny populations on Kaua‘i and O‘ahu are considered a kind of “ark.”  


Osterlund is the founder of the Kaua‘i Albatross Network as well as Cornell’s live “Trosscam,” which has received millions of hits since it was founded four years ago. Watching the birds carry on with their lives against a backdrop of constant danger and heartbreak provided her with a perspective that humans alone couldn’t offer. Just being who you are, even if there is a heavy price to pay, is a theme that runs through Holy Mōlī. Another is knowing what you’ve got before it’s gone. 


This fall, when the albatrosses take off for their monthslong flights over the Northern Pacific, Osterlund will fly, too: to the West Coast for a whistlestop book tour to promote this slim volume, which has some heavy hitters singing its praises. Cheryl Strayed, author of the bestselling memoir Wild, described Holy Mōlī as a “moving and fascinating book about birds, loss and finding a true home in the world.”


Osterlund, though, wants to talk about the birds: “When we say ‘wild animals,’ we tend to think of tigers and bears, but birds are the wild animals who live in our communities, going about the business of survival right in front of us, every minute of every day.”



Beyond Words, What Animals Think and Feel 

by Carl Safina


A Force for Good: The Dalai Lama’s Vision for Our World 

by Daniel Goleman


‘Ōlelo No‘eau: Hawaiian Proverbs & Poetical Sayings

by Mary Kawena Pukui


Holy Mōlī: Albatross and Other Ancestors, by Hob Osterlund, Oregon State University Press, May 2016, 147 pages




Photos: Aaron Yoshino 

Native Hawaiian Law: A Treatise

The biggest book of the year, in a literal sense, at least, has been sending waves of change since its 1991 first edition. Back then, it was part of a groundbreaking approach to indigenous rights, a field opened up by the judicial creativity of Supreme Court Chief Justice William Richardson. From Waiāhole to Honopū, tales tell of small farmers reading up on case law in their dog-eared copy of Native Hawaiian Law and heading to court. Original editor and contributor Melody Kapilialoha MacKenzie went on to help start the Native Hawaiian Law program at the William S. Richardson School of Law, while continuing to expand the book’s scope. With Maui’s water rights on the docket since A&B announced the end of sugar cane cultivation, you can bet this new edition, which clocks in at more than 1,400 pages, will see hard use. Other readers will eye the terra incognita of Indigenous Cultural Property as an area of future assertion of sovereignty. 

Native Hawaiian Law: A Treatise, by Melody Kapilialoha MacKenzie, editor, with Susan K. Serrano and D. Kapua‘ala Sproat, Kamehameha Publishing, August 2015, 1,404 pages



The Healers

Readers have come to expect visions and miracles in their books since the arrival of magic realism and the success of that boy wizard and those plucky hobbits. But here’s a real miracle for you: a smart, swift, psychologically canny novel that conveys actual indigenous knowledge in everyday life. That’s what Kimo Armitage gives us in this tale of two contemporary Native Hawaiian children, Pua and Keola, who become healers. Light on its feet, the story dances in short time shifts from creation myth to small-kid days on O‘ahu’s east shore. With a blessed lack of lecturing or heavy political underlining, we plunge into a natural world of dazzling, closely observed beauty: our Hawai‘i nei. And we swim into the family and interpersonal conflicts that divide and wound us, as Pua and Keola find their way as children and vessels of healing, dealing with teenage love and challenged by a fellow channeler from Tahiti, Tiki, whose dark spirit stems from childhood abandonment and lack of adult guidance. The language is spare and exact, reflecting Armitage’s track record (more than 20 books, most for children and young adults); an assistant professor of Hawaiian and indigenous literature at UH Mānoa, he keeps his mastery of the spirit of cultural practice hidden backstage, letting his exuberant yet delicate prose and storytelling do the work. Not to be missed.

Photo: Courtesy of Kimo Armitage

The Healers, by Kimo Armitage, University of Hawai‘i Press, February 2016, 198 pages



The author of The Descendants returns to Hawai‘i and, spiritually if not literally, picks up the story of lives and friendships tested and torn by divisions of class, cool, localness, ethnicity and, what’s that other thing? Oh, yeah: money. Smartly choosing for a protagonist a high school girl, Lea, uprooted from California by her Hawai‘i-raised actress mother and plopped down in Punahou, Kaui Hart Hemmings next ups the ante by having Mom’s star-struck, rich friend Melanie offer the proudly self-sufficient mother-daughter team their own cottage on her Kāhala estate. The reader may be forgiven any “Warning! Reality Television!” flashes, because that is exactly what the author is after here—in an achy-breaky-heart, Disney-afterschool-special kind of way. Melanie’s daughter Whitney is Punahou’s “it” girl, her son Will a dreamboat, who’s got the golden arrogance of a true romantic lead. One is Lea’s friend, the other her crush, and don’t think it’s only the rich kids who break bonds of trust or chase status. We all do: Sometimes Hawai‘i really is like high school and, in Juniors, Hemmings really nails the soft-tissue damage, if you read between the lines. 

Juniors, by Kaui Hart Hemmings, Putnam, September 2015, 320 pages


The Girl From Everywhere

Raising sail and setting a course across the seven seas and time itself, young Nix is the indispensable navigator to her grief-stricken father Slate’s dangerous obsession—to return in time to 1868 Honolulu and undo his beloved wife’s death during childbirth. The one map that can get them back on their square-rigged time machine, with Nix’s help, is an antique on the auction block at Christie’s in New York City in 2016—but, if Nix succeeds, her father will undo her own conception and, thus, existence. The existential dilemma that drives the plot of this nationally acclaimed novel, by a Punahou grad who now lives in Brooklyn, invokes Salman Rushdie, David Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas and Scheherazade, the greatest girl storyteller of them all. Far from being weighed down by its antecedents, the story literally bounces with wit, angst and Y.A. snark, as Nix tries to win over her brooding, callous father and learns to rely on, and finally to love, the charming, feckless thief Kash. Adventures over time in India, Brooklyn, Hawai‘i and China lead the space pirates to a showdown during the violent intrigues surrounding the Bayonet Constitution—because it was in an opium den under the streets of Honolulu that Nix’s mother died giving her life.

The Girl From Everywhere, by Heidi Heilig, Greenwillow (HarperCollins), February 2016, 454 pages



Tinfish Press Chapbooks

The pleasure of a chapbook is more than its portability and promise of a distilled reading experience; as Susan Schultz’s Tinfish Press shows in this series, designed by Jeff Sanner, joy leaps off the page in a marriage of art, design and poetry. How do they do it? “I find the words for our chapbooks and books,” says Schultz; which means experimental poetry from across the Pacific. “Then I send them to our designer. For these chapbooks, and for most of our work, the idea is that the designer is the privileged first reader and interpreter of the text. I have no input on design myself. I just sit back and marvel. It’s like Christmas when these books and chapbooks come out.” To order: tinfishpress.com

Awkward Hugger, by Timothy Dyke; Lichen Loves Stone, by Jen Crawford; Orphan, by Joseph Han; A Winged Horse in a Plane, by Salah Faik; Tinfish Press, 2015, unpaginated




Rare is the shaman who can ride the tiger of economic forces as well as Walter Dods Jr., former chairman of First Hawaiian Bank. Beginning as a self-described “Pordagee hot-rodder,” Dods rises through alliances and creativity in a sleepy Hawai‘i goosed by the arrival of outside capital, particularly Japan’s. The book details the tight relationships, booms and busts and the perils of crony capitalism: the Mānoa Finance savings and loan disaster (cozy ties between legislators and bankers), First Hawaiian’s near collapse due to entering Japan’s yakuza-dominated consumer loan market (a no-questions leadership style by mentor John Bellinger) and the banker who would’ve let his elderly Japanese investors lose their savings rather than allow a bailout. (He was only persuaded when Dods threatened to lift his Wai‘alae Country Club membership.) A colorful audit of our top-tier tranche. Note: The book is subsidized by Dods; net proceeds go to Aloha United Way.

Yes!, by Walter Dods Jr., Legacy Isle Publishing, December, 2015, 256 pages 



The Last Volcano

It sounds like a creation myth: A man breaks up with his first wife over a volcano. Setting himself up at the edge of a bleak and fire-blasted crater, he then finds a second love willing to live with him atop Kīlauea. And while her name is Isabel Maydwell, not Pele, the mythic tale explains Thomas Jaggar, whom most of us vaguely know from Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park and its Jaggar Museum and overlook. In the hands of John Dvorak, however, we get the dirt—and grit—of a man who pursued volcanic eruptions all over the globe, from Italy to Alaska, before settling in Hawai‘i. A U.S. Geological Survey volcano and earthquake specialist who himself lives on Kīlauea, Dvorak doesn’t turn Jaggar into a god of science. In this frank and unvarnished account, we see a man who was a fortune-hunter, wooing women who could support his first love. Sparks fly in more ways than one, and this fascinating, readable book is all the better for it.

The Last Volcano, by John Dvorak, Pegasus Books, December 2015, 309 pages



Local Book Picks

Isles of Amnesia

by Mark J. Rauzon 
Photos: Aaron Yoshino 

Addictive as ‘opihi, each chapter here is devoted to an island or an area of atolls ranging from Northwest Hawai‘i to the Marianas: nutritious, beautifully written, quietly thrilling or disquieting, as when the author travels to nuclear test sites. Mark Rauzon’s three-decade career as a seabird- and habitat-saving Indiana Jones provides plenty of narrative thrust. Traveling light, he brings us into charmed worlds, but also to places where extinctions loom. Rauzon doesn’t flinch: What’s the moral calculus, he asks, when 115 feral cats on Jarvis Island are ravaging the sooty tern population to the tune of 25,000 killed a year? We like him all the more to learn a restored population afterward doesn’t ease his conscience.

University of Hawai‘i Press, December 2015, 271 pages


Midnight in Broad Daylight

by Pamela Rotner Sakamoto

This evocative and detailed story follows three brothers in a Japanese-American family who end up on opposite sides of the Pacific Campaign. Longtime Punahou history teacher Pamela Rotner Sakamoto paints with a supple brush the life of the Fukuhara clan’s journey from Japan to the Pacific Northwest. Hard work and stoicism yields successes. When their father dies, though, their mother takes Frank and Pierce back “home” to Hiroshima—where the boys, hazed and confused, end up in the Imperial Army. Meanwhile, third brother Harry fights American prejudice until he, too, ends up in uniform. After Pearl Harbor, the die is cast, and the reader settles in for an engrossing triple-lensed portrait of life during wartime.  

Harper, January 2016, 464 pages


Eating Korean in America

by Sonia Ryang

It’s not your imagination—kalbi and kim chee really are taking over, and resistance is futile. Part of it is demographics, as the Korean population in America has outstripped that of the Japanese over the past 10 years, according to the 2010 U.S. Census. Part of it is meat, as author Sonia Ryang, born and raised in Japan to Korean parents, explains. In Japan, handling dead carcasses is “deemed a source of deadly pollution,” and butchers—often if incorrectly assumed to be of Korean ancestry—discard offal, tongues and skin. In Korea, nothing goes to waste. And those dishes and tastes suit our modern craving for the funky and the flavorful—which describes this graceful, even brave tour de force of data, pancakes and pig ears.

University of Hawai‘i Press, March 2015, 138 pages 


Green Island

by Shawna Yang Ryan

Shawna Yang Ryan’s taut, thrillerlike novel of Taiwan, or is it the Republic of China, peels back layers of intrigue from the night the narrator was born. Which is also the night the defeated and newly arrived Nationalist Chinese massacred Taiwanese demonstrators. Soon her doctor father is “disappeared” along with 20,000 others. When he returns 11 years later, he finds no joy in his modernized daughters and son. The author, a UH professor of writing, reveals a once-tropical paradise now crammed, concretized and  turned into a police state propped up by the fear of another dictatorship, the People’s Republic. Our narrator makes it to America, only to find out there’s no escaping the reach of the past. 

Knopf, February 2016, 400 pages


Ē Luku Wale Ē

by Mark Hamasaki and Kapulani Landgraf

The large-format, black-and-white photographs in this handsome book chronicle the creation of O‘ahu’s 10-mile freeway, H-3, with the pitiless grandeur we see in the landscapes of war. They were taken by Piliāmo‘o, aka Mark Hamasaki and Kapulani Landgraf, after work crews departed for the day. H-3 was indeed a cultural battleground. It’s still a matter of debate, whether union jobs and a military conduit from Pearl Harbor to Kāne‘ohe were reason enough for such a large, lightly used traffic artery. A testament to Sen. Daniel Inouye’s legendary pork-barrel prowess, the project was also the most expensive until rail. Complemented by haunting poems by Landgraf; designed and produced by Barbara Pope. 

‘Ai Pōhaku Press, 2015, 168 pages


Murder Frames the Scene

by Victoria Nalani Kneubuhl 

Once you form an attachment to the characters of Victoria Nalani Kneubuhl’s Murder series, there’s no place like home—because that’s where you’ll want to curl up and read. Here we follow part-Samoan, part-British agent Ned Manusia into Shanghai, only the most atmospheric, and dangerous, city on earth in 1935. Don’t be lulled when the next chapter opens in sleepy Honolulu, where Ned’s part-Hawaiian fiancée Mina Beckwith has been roped into writing the Academy of Arts catalog for a show by snarky society painters. Once the bodies start to fall, no one and no place is immune to the darkness spreading from Europe and Asia. Fortunately, we have Ned and Mina, and Mina’s Portuguese water dog, Ollie, on the case.

University of Hawai‘i Press, May 2016, 384 pages


Between Sky and Sea: A Family’s Struggle

by D. Carreira Ching

Opening his range since earning his 2012 Best Writer in Pidgin award, Donald Carreira Ching now blends other dialects into this unpretentious novel of a Hawaiian-Portuguese Kahulu‘u family. For every “stay over between you two, or what?” there’s the above-it-all drone of the haole high school teacher; the Marxist-tinged gush of undergraduates; the earnest speaking-in-proverbs of Native Hawaiian activists; and, gratingly but tellingly, the Alcoholics Anonymous jargon that anchors desperate lives and families. Ching’s is a story of class and the spiraling down of three brothers whose failures are inherited in part from their fathers and partly from a matrix of poverty, machismo and substance abuse. It stings and we ache.

Bamboo Ridge Press, January 2016, 192 pages


King of the Worlds

by Thomas Gammarino

So, you’re a Kurt Vonnegut fan and Philip K. Dick cultist who thinks Hawai‘i’s literary scene lacks a ripping good sci-fi novel that incidentally tackles the Godhead, polygamy and B-movie fans stalking has-been actors in space. Well, now you can relax. With Thomas Gammarino’s serenely absurd and quite enjoyable novel—extra credit if the title reminds you of Leonardo DiCaprio standing in the bow of the Titanic—you can join former heartthrob Dylan Greenyears in New Taiwan as he succumbs to a long-distance fan-mail dalliance, bringing his well-grounded family to the verge of premature eternity. What’s really amazing, though, is Gammarino has the prose chops to shape-shift bits and pieces of our contemporary reality into pure nitrous oxide. 

Chin Music Press, April 2016, 274 pages


Unearthing the Polynesian Past

by Patrick Vinton Kirch

Time travel is real, if you’re Patrick Kirch. The adventure of digging deep into the past took hold of young Pat while growing up in the verdant valleys of Mānoa. Winning over the dubious head of archaeology at Bishop Museum at age 13, he embarked on a 50-year career searching for the origins of Polynesian cultures. Lucky to come along when the Pacific islands were on the cusp of change and Hawai‘i faced a construction boom that would eradicate its past, Kirch had the stamina and smarts to throw himself into the fray. His entertaining summing up brings us up to date on the evolution of theories and field work about who the Polynesians were and how they adapted, island by island, across the Pacific. 

University of Hawai‘i Press, November 2015, 379 pages


The Aloha Shirt (revised and expanded)

by Dale Hope and Gregory Tozian with Yvon Chouinard

Many of us bought aloha shirt auteur Dale Hope’s book when it came out in 2000 from the late, great Cynthia Black’s press. So why spring for a revised edition? Because it’s bigger, more beautiful and a complete reshuffle. A compulsive graphic and fabric art curator, Hope has added pages, stories and art, giving the whole a more expansive feel. It’s also even more lively, thanks to an introduction by Gerry Lopez and a variety of contributions from Patagonia’s founder, Yvon Chouinard. The result is investment grade and also sweetly readable, with period photos and advertisements from HONOLULU and Paradise of the Pacific, our own first edition. 

Patagonia, June 2016, 240 pages


Queen Lili‘uokalani, the Dominis family, and Washington Place, Their Home

by Rianna M. Williams 

This is a docent’s book, and if ever a house could stand in for a nation, it would be Washington Place. Immaculate art and photo reproductions tell the story of its most famous occupant, Lydia Lili‘u Kamaka‘eha, who would reign as Queen Lili‘uokalani; the news clippings, photos, summaries of important events and journal entries spin a novelistic tapestry. A lasting and fascinating contribution.

Ka Mea Kakau Press, March 2015, 246 pages


Poke: Hawai‘i’s Food

by Chef Sam Choy

“Early in my chef career,” writes Sam Choy in this kitchen-friendly book, “I made it my goal to have a locally rooted Hawaiian dish go mainstream. Sadly and unfairly … poi had become a punch line. Poke was the logical choice.” Choy’s timely and useful book charmingly resembles those water- and stain-resistant recipe books tūtū or popo threw together with PTA or church friends. His stories and history ring true, and home cooks will eat up the step-by-step prep photos. 

Mutual Publishing, October 2015, 174 pages


Plants for the Tropical Xeriscape

by Fred D. Rauch and Paul R. Weissich

The climate it is a-changing. For gardeners the answer is xeriscaping, the use of water-sparing plants and features, now becoming law in some cities. As this book shows, the results can be gorgeous, through ground cover, shrubs, trees, vines, bromeliads and cycads—pretty much the entire Jurassic Park. Filled with 1,300 photos and additional drawings and diagrams; appendices include “nightscape” and Native Hawaiian plants.  

University of Hawai‘i Press, May 2015, 240 pages 


Hānau Ka Ua, Hawaiian Rain Names

by Collette Leimomi Akana with Kiele Gonzalez

As a student of hula, Collette Leimomi Akana learned rain and wind names through chants and mele. Now a scholar and kumu hula, she has created a beautiful book featuring an exquisite design by Barbara Pope. Names, proverbs and their translations flow from page to page in concert with a suite of illustrations by Sig Zane. Meditative, inspiring and witty, as in the case of the Hilo rain of insomnia (kanikani‘ā‘ula).  

Kamehameha Publishing, 2015, 327 pages


Shipwrecked in Paradise

by Paul F. Johnston

This handsomely illustrated book covers the short weird life of Cleopatra’s Barge before it sank in Hanalei Bay in 1824, then the author’s dive to recover artifacts. A dying shipowner built it to cruise Europe in search of a princess to marry. Next the well-armed yacht was sailed to Hawai‘i and sold to King Kamehameha II, Liholiho, for a million pounds’ worth of sandalwood. Liloliho’s plan to use the craft to conquer Kaua‘i foundered in a storm of politics and alcohol. 

Texas A&M University Press, September 2015, 216 pages