What to Read This July: 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. This summer, dive into a memoir about addiction, a local recipe book, a children’s story and more.


Da Shop Picks One Hit Away Jordan Barnes Credit Kate Wadsworth

Cover designer: Kate Wadsworth (katewadsworth.com)



One Hit Away: A Memoir of Recovery

by Jordan P. Barnes

One Hit Away struck this reader like a thunderbolt. Who among us does not have a friend or family member with severe addictions? Like watching a car or train wreck in slow motion, reading Jordan P. Barnes’ memoir One Hit Away brought this reader into the grim daily reality of addiction—life on the street and the mental and physical pain that the addict deals with. Like descending ever deeper into Dante’s lower circles of hell, the protagonist does the same. Redemption and recovery miraculously appear with the strong support of family and true grit. The author grew up in Hawai‘i but his story is universal. —Buddy Bess, founding owner and publisher of Bess Press



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Alphabet Hukilau in Hawai‘i

by Vera Arita, illustrated by Mariko Merritt

Alphabet Hukilau in Hawai‘i turns letter recognition and learning your ABCs into a fun story of casting out your hukilau net to capture the alphabet from A to Z! Vera Arita’s incorporation of Hawaiian names and facts about sea creatures creates an excitement to learn more. The playful paper cutout illustrations make the story memorable and entertaining. What a wonderful way to dive into our alphabet and some of Hawai‘i’s unique sea life. From angelfish to nai‘a, you never know what you might catch! —Brandie Ota, co-founder of Books 4 Keiki


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



Picture Bride Stories

by Barbara F. Kawakami

Meticulously researched and sincerely documented, this is a published oral history of Hawai‘i’s turn-of-the-20th-century Japanese picture brides. These women embodied all that I was taught growing up about being Japanese: the values of hard work, quiet strength and perseverance without complaining. It really is a marvel reading about how they rose above their personal sacrifices and larger socioeconomic challenges, including the hardships of World War II, to make a new life and raise their families in Hawai‘i. It is a humbling reminder that while life is full of hardship, we endure for the sake of the next generation. These women’s stories also helped me to imagine what my own grandmother—whom I had never met—was like and what she must have gone through as a young picture bride. Despite no personal memories of her (only the handful of family stories I know), I nevertheless hold her close to my heart because I know the good life I have today is partly due to her. I am a beneficiary of her choices, sacrifices and strength. —Lani Lee, bookseller at Da Shop: Books + Curiosities


SEE ALSO: Meet the 96-Year-Old Author Sharing the Untold Stories of Japanese Picture Brides



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Cooking in Pono

by LiAnn Lilinoe Uyeda

Cooking in Pono is what I consider to be truly local style. The author, LiAnn Lilinoe Uyeda, shares her family recipes while weaving in other “recipes” on ways to live harmoniously with one another. She gives us examples of being pono, or having positive “excellent energy,” followed by recipes for a local dessert, soup, salad or main dish. My personal favorites are the desserts and pūpū; her energy bars, prune mui and party mix are excellent. Recipes for both the food and harmonious living are easy to follow. She brilliantly suggests that we should all live with good food and good feelings. After all, don’t we all want to share yummy food and eat with the people we love? —Roland Lee, lifelong reader and social worker


SEE ALSO: We Tried It: 9 Recipes from Sheldon Simeon’s New Cookbook



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Sakamoto’s Swim Club: How a Teacher Led an Unlikely Team to Victory

by Julie Abery, illustrated by Chris Sasaki

This picture book is a great introduction to the inspirational legacy of Maui’s Soichi Sakamoto and his Three-Year Swim Club. Chris Sasaki’s vibrant and detailed images perfectly complement Julie Abery’s sparse rhyming narrative to tell the story of this unconventional coach who led a group of kids swimming in a sugar plantation ditch to the national championships, the Olympics, and ultimately changing the sport through his innovative training methods. As I read this with my children, they had so many questions about the context of the story and luckily, we could learn more together from the author’s note at the end that includes a thorough history of Coach Sakamoto and his incredible swim club. —Kristen Namba Reed, bookseller at Da Shop: Books + Curiosities



Da Shop: Books + Curiosities, our 2020 Best of HONOLULU winner for Best Place to Find Your Next Great Read, is open for browsing Tuesdays through Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., 3565 Harding Ave., (808) 421-9460, dashophnl.com@dashophnl