What to Read This March: 5 Hawai‘i Book Picks Recommended by Local Experts
Happy Read Across America Day! We reached out to our friends at Da Shop: Books + Curiosities to ask their community of writers and readers for their picks, whether you want to learn more about Okinawan culture, organized crime or famous artists.
Sunny Skies, Shady Characters: Cops, Killers, and Corruption in the Aloha State
by James Dooley
Published in 2015, Sunny Skies, Shady Characters: Cops, Killers, and Corruption in the Aloha State reads like true inspiration for the next hit streamed crime drama script. Author James Dooley has a knack for taking the complex real life underworld of Hawai‘i, exposing its reach and how it’s shaped Hawai‘i. Dooley’s career as an investigative journalist is evident through his skillful prose. The international cast of real-life characters in this read plays out in a darkly satisfying way. It’s a window into an intriguing part of Hawai‘i history and it’s ripe for an engaging read. —David DeLuca, owner of Da Shop: Books + Curiosities
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The Last Sakura: Tales of the Yuta
by Ashley Nakanishi
Growing up in Hawai‘i, I full Okinawan, but I nevah know us Okinawans have our own myths and our own language. Kids nowdays lucky brah, they can read Ashley Nakanishi’s young adult novel The Last Sakura: Tales of the Yuta from Lō‘ihi Press wea they can learn about Okinawan culture and be expose to Uchinaaguchi, our endangered language. What starts off as one straightforward story set in Hawai‘i about Kiko, one young girl coping with da death of her mom becomes more fantastical when she’s force for move to Okinawa and live with her grandma, who’s one yuta, one shaman with da ability for see spirits. Dea Kiko encounters mythical creatures like da mischievous kijimunaa, who’s kinda like one Okinawan menehune, and da shisaa, da guardian lion dogs of Okinawa. When Kiko learns she stay destined for battle one mysterious evil, will this yuta in training be able for handles? —Lee A. Tonouchi, author of Okinawan Princess: Da Legend of Hajichi Tattoos
by Sarah Vowell
Sarah Vowell, whom you may know as a contributor on NPR’s This American Life, details the American occupation of Hawai‘i from 1820 to 1898. It’s the story of Hawai‘i’s slow Americanization and eventual overthrow beginning with the arrival of missionaries from New England. Vowell isn’t local, but her account is thorough and compassionate. She writes with the enthusiasm of a history buff and the insight and understanding of someone whose Native American ancestors were also forced off their land. Vowell’s wit makes this difficult and sometimes complicated slice of history easy to digest. —Michelle Regan, writer for Island Scene magazine and Da Shop blog
Pili the ‘Iwa Bird Flies Again!
by Jan and Judy Dill, illustrated by Garrett Omoto
Pili the ʻIwa Bird Flies Again! is a children’s book that teaches a valuable lesson to young readers. In the story, Pili is obsessed with collecting things until she learns there is more to life than possessions. This book is just one in a series written by Jan and Judy Dill, and illustrated by Garrett Omoto, through the Tūtū and Me Preschool program, part of the Partners in Development Foundation. These books have amazing illustrations, and each one ends with a moral lesson drawn from the Bible and taught to the main character by a wise grandparent, or tūtū. I appreciate the thought and time put into each of their books. From the beautifully vibrant illustrations and life lessons from the Bible to the read-along CD with special guest Jason Scott Lee, Pili the ‘Iwa Bird Flies Again! is a great read for children and adults alike. —Pua Aquino, author of My Kalo has Lau, Big and Green and curriculum specialist for Ka Paʻalana Homeless Family Education Program
Georgia O’Keeffe’s Hawai‘i
by Patricia Jennings and Maria Ausherman
Many famous people have had their Hawai‘i experience. In 1939, for about three months, Georgia O’Keeffe had hers at the invitation of Dole Pineapple when it commissioned her for two paintings. She toured the Islands, starting on O‘ahu and made her way through Kaua‘i, Hawai‘i Island and Maui. This book encapsulates that time from memories of a young girl—author Patricia Jennings—whose family hosted O’Keeffe in Hāna. Replete with letters, anecdotes and paintings, this is a treasure trove for O’Keeffe fans. The artist’s tropical sojourn ultimately culminated in not only the two paintings that were used for pineapple advertisements but also 20 more works inspired by Hawai‘i’s natural landscape in all its splendor. —Lani Lee, bookseller at Da Shop: Books + Curiosities
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.