What to Read This June: 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 of what to read this month. Here are their selections, from a history of marriage equality for Pride Month to a book that inspired local kids to try to save a species.



View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Tae Keller (@tae_keller)


The Science of Breakable Things

by Tae Keller

Tae Keller is probably known best for her Newbery Medal-winning novel, When You Trap a Tiger, but her debut book helped to open my eyes to the power of middle grade fiction. I hadn’t read many middle grade novels before I read this and I was blown away at Keller’s authentic, sensitive and compassionate portrayal of those difficult but formative years and the very real hopes, fears, heartbreaks and joys of the protagonist, Natalie. And who doesn’t love the thrill of a good egg drop competition?! The language of scientific inquiry, project iteration and lessons in teamwork inform her growing understanding of her mother’s mental health struggles and the incredible fortitude of family, friendship and love. —Kristen Namba Reed, bookseller at Da Shop: Books + Curiosities


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


Bamboo Ridge Press Da Shop

Image: Bamboo Ridge Press



Bamboo Ridge No. 118

Bamboo Ridge’s newest anthology is dedicated to the themes of loss, grief and healing—things we’ve all become familiar with in one way or another during the pandemic. These poems and stories, however, are not COVID-19-related at all, but rather poignant and quietly powerful perspectives about life, death and the remembrance of people we hold dear in our lives. There are humorous, lighter moments, too, and a funny vignette about cats (love the cover art!). This special issue also honors two local writers, Marie Hara and Joe Tsujimoto, whose selected works are included as a touching tribute to their lifelong contributions to local literature in Hawai‘i. This is a beautiful, heartfelt collection that can provide much comfort, kind of like having a purring cat rest on your lap. —Lani Lee, bookseller at Da Shop: Books + Curiosities



View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Sasha Issenberg (@engagement_book)


The Engagement

by Sasha Issenberg

Have you ever wondered: If the Hawai‘i Supreme Court said that same-sex marriage is constitutional, then why did it take 20 years for the LGBTQIA+ community to gain legal access to marriage equality? Well, you are in luck. Sasha Issenberg takes us on an in-depth journey into the quarter-century struggle for marriage equality in the United States. The story begins in Hawai‘i, which led the nation in this pursuit. O, The Oprah Magazine included The Engagement on its list of “32 LGBTQ Books That Will Change the Literary Landscape in 2021,” calling it “part Grisham-esque legal thriller, part Sorkin-esque political drama, and part Maddow-esque historical yarn.” The New York Times says “it conveys social history as the grand drama it really is, full of intimate details, battling personalities, heated court cases, public persuasion,” ranking the book as its No. 1 nonfiction summer pick for reading. —Sandy Livingston, board member, Hawai‘i LGBT Legacy Foundation


SEE ALSO: How Two Hawai‘i Women Helped Ignite the National Movement For Same-Sex Marriage


Butterfly for a King: Saving Hawai‘i’s Kamehameha Butterflies

by Cindy Trumbore and Susan L. Roth

Did you know that Hawai‘i has a state insect? With beautifully crafted illustrations and informative text, Butterfly for a King tells the story of the unique Kamehameha butterfly. I learned of this book from a friend who lives in New York and reviews children’s literature. She thought it was wonderful and hoped that I’d heard of it, being the lover of children and the natural world that I am. Sometimes it takes someone else to point out what we have missed, which is what a class of fifth graders at Pearl City Elementary School did. They wanted people to know about and care for the endemic and endangered Kamehameha butterfly. It was their lobbying efforts that led to it becoming the state insect. Once the state Legislature made it official, more people became aware that we had something rare that was worth saving. The University of Hawai‘i got involved and many others worked to ensure that this delicate being would survive and someday thrive. Some folks replanted habitat to support the caterpillars and butterflies. Others raised them so that they could be released into the wild. There is even an exhibit of them at the Honolulu Zoo now. This picture book merges art, science and citizen empowerment into one story. It will please readers young and old alike. —Becca Kesler, retired kindergarten teacher


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



Holu the He‘e Stands Up!

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

Holu, a shy he‘e (octopus) happily lives with his friends at the bottom of the ocean until the day his life changes with the arrival of the “Big Fish”—a large and pushy ulua who bullies Holu and makes his life miserable. And what’s worse, his friends are too scared to help him for fear of being bullied themselves! One day, Kai the ‘ōpihi realizes something must be done and is determined to help his friend. With the guidance of Tūtū Heʻe, they learn a very important life lesson about bravely standing up for someone in need. —Dimpna Figuracion, educational coordinator at Bess Press



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