What to Read This February: 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 Newbery-winning Korean folk tale, a memoir, a murder case and more.


Anshu Dark Sorrow

Photo: Bamboo Ridge Press



Anshu: Dark Sorrow

by Juliet S. Kono

Anshu is a singular achievement, a novel that captures better than most the unique suffering of a people, a place and a time through the experience of a single character. Himiko Aoki’s life is a study of woe, from her humble Big Island beginnings and an out-of-wedlock pregnancy that leads to challenges in Japan, culminating in her joining the ranks of the hibakusha, the survivors of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima. Throughout her trials, you will suffer along with Himiko, but gradually, almost imperceptibly, you will eventually find peace with her at the peak of her misfortune at the end of a quintessentially Buddhist journey. Juliet S. Kono has given me in Anshu more than a standout treasure for my personal library: She’s given me a work that has inspired my own. —Scott Kikkawa, Elliot Cades Award-winning author of Kona Winds


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


Honor Killing

Photo: Penguin Publishing Group



Honor Killing: Race, Rape, and Clarence Darrow’s Spectacular Last Case

by David Stannard

The injustice in the life and murder of Joseph Kahahawai is a sobering reminder that justice does not always prevail. Power and privilege can override it if people are not actively fighting and advocating against that kind of system. This true story sheds light on how the perception and narrative, and even the life and murders, of Hawaiians and Hawai‘i residents have consistently been manipulated for various purposes, and how politicians and the media have participated in that. —Justine Espiritu, founder of the Greener Reader Book Club and director of membership at Bishop Museum


SEE ALSO: 50 Essential Hawai‘i Books You Should Read in Your Lifetime


When You Trap A Tiger

Photo: Penguin Random House



When You Trap a Tiger

by Tae Keller

Recently awarded the prestigious Newbery Medal, When You Trap a Tiger is a middle grade novel about family, friendship and the power of stories. Local girl Tae Keller blends Korean folk tales into the real world of young Lily, who bargains with a mischievous tiger to help save her sick halmoni (grandmother). Keller infuses her characters with tenderness and strength as they navigate loss, loneliness, love and wonder in the stories they discover and write for themselves. A beautiful book for middle grade readers and adults too! —Kristen Namba Reed, bookseller at Da Shop: Books + Curiosities


Miss Aluminum

Photo: Farrar, Straus and Giroux



Miss Aluminum

by Susanna Moore

Susanna Moore’s Miss Aluminum is a gripping memoir that proves the cliché that life can be stranger than fiction. Growing up in Hawai‘i with significant childhood trauma and graduating from Punahou in 1964, she left on a journey of life with extreme emotional and physical highs and lows. Her meetings of the rich and famous (in New York, Philadelphia and Hollywood) are presented in a harsh reality that made this reader think, “Be careful what you wish for,” or perhaps in Ms. Moore’s case, be careful who you meet and who you trust. Kudos for her having the courage to write such a personally revealing story. —Buddy Bess, founding owner and publisher of Bess Press


SEE ALSO: 3 New Books By Hawai‘i Writers That You Should Read Right Now


S Went Surfing

Photo: Mutual Publishing



S Went Surfing: An ABC Book for Keiki

illustrated by Ruth Moen Cabanting

Although this book has been published since 2004, I feel it is such a fun and interactive “learning the alphabet” read aloud! We all know that S Went Surfing just from the title but what did A, B, C, D, E, F … all do during their day off from school? This is a timeless read that the entire family will enjoy! —Dimpna Figuracion, educational coordinator at Bess Press



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