What to Read This Month: 5 Hawai‘i Book Picks Recommended by Local Experts
Celebrate National Book Month with a mystery novel, a book of proverbs, an illustrated trip to the market and more.
Photo: Courtesy of @wickedfables
We’re not always sure what is and isn’t allowed these days, but if there’s one thing you can always do, inside or outside, alone or in a socially distant book club, it’s read. We reached out to our friends at Da Shop: Books + Curiosities, 2020 Best of HONOLULU winner for Best Place to Find Your Next Great Read, to ask their community of writers and readers for their picks. All of these books can be ordered through Da Shop—call (808) 421-9460 or visit dashophnl.com. The Kaimukī shop, at 3565 Harding Ave., is also open for browsing Tuesdays through Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Here are their recommendations this month.
Photo: Bamboo Ridge Press
by Scott Kikkawa
“A complicated noir mystery set in 1952 Honolulu. I had to make myself not jump to the last chapter to find out ‘who done it.’ In the course of setting the plot, Kikkawa shows the pervasive racism that permeates Hawai‘i … A great read!”—Rich Oka, stock manager at Bess Press Inc.
Photo: Sounds True
The Bowl of Light
by Hank Wesselman
“An incredible, firsthand telling of a personal, fated relationship with a Hawaiian kahuna from the Big Island that reveals ancestral spiritual knowledge and direction for the future of humanity. This is for anyone with an interest in spirituality, indigenous wisdom, Hawaiian culture, and who is looking to make sense of the world we currently live in and what our responsibility is within the larger picture of life on earth and beyond. Especially powerful for those who live in the Islands, this is an impactful star-map of a book that uplifts as much as it grounds.”—Diane O’Neal, events coordinator at Da Shop
Photo: UH Press
Hawai‘i One Summer
by Maxine Hong Kingston
“Beloved Asian American writer Maxine Hong Kingston offers snapshots of her residence in Hawai‘i during the 1970s and ’80s. Thought-provoking and humorous, this chapbook reads almost like a diary and is filled with revelatory observations about what it meant and felt like to be part of local life without really being ‘local.’ Rhythms of daily living are interwoven with her memories of family, culture, the Mainland and other historic or personal events. Although Kingston no longer resides here, nor is a born-and-raised kama‘āina, these 11 essays reveal why it’s no wonder she is a ‘Living Treasure of Hawai‘i.’”—Lani Lee, bookseller at Da Shop
Photo: bishop museum press
by Mary Kawena Pukui
“The beauty of this book is that it serves as the perfect translation bridge between yesterday and today, and all that remains relevant. This title should be an essential inclusion in every home library because it captures the poetic beauty of oral Hawaiian language, ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi. The meanings layered in its passages are not only roots of Hawaiian sentiment, but the seeds from which all of humanity can relate. This book holds a timelessness aesthetic within its prose and we are fortunate that Bishop Museum Press reissued the new addition and with it can continue to perpetuate Hawaiian values.”—David DeLuca, owner of Da Shop
Photo: Catherine Toth Fox
Kai Goes to the Farmers Market, written by Catherine Toth Fox, illustrated by Mariko Merritt
“I don’t know of many picture books about eating local in Hawai‘i, so this one is a must-have in my humble opinion. Yes, I am the illustrator, promoting my own book, but really, I owe it all to Catherine Toth Fox who is a well-known food writer and blogger, and now children’s book author! (Editor’s note: Toth Fox is also the editor of HONOLULU’s sister publication, HAWAI‘I Magazine.) She wrote a fun, rhyming story about hangry Kai and his trip to the farmers market, and I got to do my dream project of drawing fruits and vegetables––all those colors, textures and shapes––yum! I love that there’s also an easy (and vegetarian) Farmers Market Frittata recipe in the back to whip up after you’ve collected all your favorite local ingredients. Let’s eat!”—Mariko Merritt, bookseller at Da Shop