What to Read in August 2021: 5 Hawai‘i Book Picks Recommended by Local Experts

We reached out to our friends at Da Shop: Books + Curiosities to ask their community of writers and readers for their picks: a collection of poetry, short stories and more.



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Islands Linked by Ocean

by Lisa Linn Kanae

Islands Linked by Ocean is more than a collection of Hawai‘i-based short stories: It’s the verbal equivalent of a heavy, glossy coffee table book full of in-the-moment images imbued with a unique elegance and wonder by the artist who captured them. Lisa Linn Kanae conjures frame after frame, many familiar to most of us, but in a light that brings out a grace we never knew existed: a veteran steersman berating his novice stroker, the banter and gossip of women in an office breakroom, a starving dog tied to a chain-link fence behind a dumpster. My own favorite is the title story—which ironically contains the least amount of fiction—maybe because I, too, had a McKinley-alum dad who could croon like Dean Martin. And I never realized how beautifully he did so until I read Kanae’s work about her own father. —Scott Kikkawa, Elliot Cades Award-winning author of Kona Winds and associate editor, The Hawai‘i Review of Books


Noa the Puhi Learns to Let Go

by Gail Omoto and Jan and Judy Dill, illustrated by Garrett Omoto

Noa the Puhi Learns to Let Go is a reflective story about a Hawaiian eel (puhi), who holds so tightly to hurts and misunderstandings that it starts to negatively impact his relationships with friends. One day, Noa learns a valuable lesson that will forever change his fate, and with the help of his friends and the wisdom of his Tūtū, he learns that sometimes we must learn to let go not only of physical things but also emotions that may harm us. A wonderful read-aloud to help young readers learn how to process their feelings and see forgiveness as a positive action through the characters in the book. —Dimpna Figuracion, educational coordinator at Bess Press



by Alan Brennert

Moloka’i tells the story of Rachel, a young girl exiled to Moloka‘i because she developed leprosy, set against the backdrop of the kingdom’s 1893 overthrow. Separated from her family at only 7 years old, Rachel seems destined for a life in isolation. Instead, we accompany her as she finds hānai family while navigating love and loss. It’s a meticulously researched coming-of-age tale that will transport you back to old Hawai‘i. —Michelle Regan, writer for Island Scene magazine and Da Shop blog


SEE ALSO: A HONOLULU Magazine Exclusive Short Story: “Haleola’s Tears” by Alan Brennert


Night Is A Sharskin Drum Haunani Kay Trask Credit Uh Press

Image: UH Press



Night is a Sharkskin Drum

by Haunani-Kay Trask

Night is a Sharkskin Drum is a striking poetry collection by the late scholar and activist, Haunani-Kay Trask. Her poems construct a precise and passionate indictment of Hawai‘i’s dispossession by colonialism, tourism and militarism while drawing upon a deep love for and power from her beloved homeland. Trask’s fearless poetry embodies her life’s dedication to advocating for the rights of the Native Hawaiian community. —Kristen Namba Reed, bookseller at Da Shop: Books + Curiosities


What I Talk About When I Talk About Running

by Haruki Murakami

This is not your typical “local” or “Hawai‘i” book, but it was indeed partially written in Hawai‘i, since the author lived here from time to time. Global citizen and internationally renowned writer Haruki Murakami shares thoughts about his two passions: writing and running. Interestingly, he meditates on how being both a writer and runner defines this binary sense of self. A memoir as unique as Murakami himself, this is a fun, breezy read that may even inspire you to take up running! —Lani Lee, bookseller at Da Shop: Books + Curiosities


SEE ALSO: What to Read This July: 5 Hawai‘i Book Picks Recommended by Local Experts


All of these books can be ordered through Da Shop, our 2020 Best of HONOLULU winner for Best Place to Find Your Next Great Read. The Kaimukī bookseller is also open for browsing Tuesdays through Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.


Da Shop: Books + Curiosities, 3565 Harding Ave., (808) 421-9460, dashophnl.com@dashophnl