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, Penguin Random House

Photo: Penguin Random House



‘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 by Sandi Takayama, Bess Press

Photo: 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


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



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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


SEE ALSO: 3 New Books By Hawai‘i Writers That You Should Read Right Now


Oriental Faddah And Son by Lee Tonouchi, Bess Press

Photo: Bess Press



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, Penguin Radom House

Photo: Penguin Radom House



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.


Da Shop: Books + Curiosities, 3565 Harding Ave., (808) 421-9460, dashophnl.com@dashophnl