What to Read This November: 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 couple of children’s books, pidgin poetry and more.
‘Ohana Means Family
by Ilima Loomis
“I LOVE collecting children’s books and am always on the hunt to add to my ever-growing collection. So imagine my excitement when I saw ‘Ohana Means Family by Maui author Ilima Loomis. Paired with Kenard Pak’s whimsical illustrations, the entire story is written to the gentle cadence of The House That Jack Built.
‘This is the land that’s never been sold, where work the hands, so wise and old, that reach through the water, clear and cold, into the mud to pick the taro to make the poi for our ‘ohana’s lū‘au.’
An enjoyable read for the entire family as each page walks the reader through all the elements to grow kalo, along with themes such as the importance of working together, preparing food, and in the end, gathering together as an ‘ohana to share a meal … this is definitely a keeper!” —Dimpna Figuracion, education coordinator at Bess Press
The Musubi Man: Hawai‘i’s Gingerbread Man
by Sandi Takayama
“Because I’m basically a kid at heart, I’d strongly recommend one of my favorite Bess Press publications. Yes, it’s a children’s book and a ‘classic’ in the true sense of the word since it has been in print since 1996—24 years!!!! Written by Sandi Takayama and illustrated by Pat Hall, this book is one of my all-time favorites. I’ve read the story to my children and now I’m reading it to my grandchildren. It was made into a play for Honolulu Theatre for Youth and even recommended by The American Library Association as one of their top ‘multicultural’ books.” —Buddy Bess, founding owner and publisher of Bess Press
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Sharks in the Time of Saviors
by Kawai Strong Washburn
“This book captures real contemporary Hawai‘i history over the past 30-plus years; the socioeconomics of race, being Hawaiian, income disparity, housing issues, family issues and the diaspora that affects so many Hawaiian families who are unable or unwilling to deal with the cost of living in ‘paradise.’ A fictional masterwork rooted in realistic experiences.” —David DeLuca, owner of Da Shop: Books + Curiosities
Significant Moments in Da Life of Oriental Faddah and Son
by Lee A. Tonouchi
“Narrative poetry in pidgin that is both poignant and funny at the same time, Oriental Faddah is about our shared local experience and Lee’s family in particular. It won the well-deserved national Association for Asian American Studies award for literature the year it was published.” —Ann Rayson, co-owner of Bess Press and retired English professor, UH Mānoa
This Is Paradise: Stories
by Kristiana Kahakauwila
“I’ve found myself relishing short story collections during the pandemic. Kristiana Kahakauwila’s This is Paradise was an incredible reflection on identity, belonging and perspective. Kahakauwila deftly weaves cultural translations, local shibboleths and universal struggles together in a way that makes her characters accessible to any reader and yet, to read these stories is to accept the invitation to reexamine the Hawai‘i around us through the poignant, textured perspectives and hard truths of her stories. Beautifully written, masterfully paced, This is Paradise is a must-read.”—Kristen Reed, 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.