Tropical Book Inspiration


If you are traveling to Hawaii soon, you might be looking for something to match the awesomeness of your upcoming trip. Spoiler alert: nothing will. That doesn’t mean, however, that you still can’t enjoy some new reading material while lounging in the golden sand or even as a bit of tropical inspiration before you leave.

best books to read in hawaii

Let’s toss out the poolside gossip magazines and usher in a new era, shall we? 2016 – The Year of Reading. Preferably on a beach.

Hawaii Reading List 2016

Boi No Good, Chris McKinney

Born and raised on Oahu, Boi No Good is one of many novels about the darker side of Hawaii by author Chris McKinney. The book tells the story of three siblings raised in troubling conditions on Oahu and unveils the unidealized, much less glamorous side of life in so-called paradise. An interesting read for those looking to delve a little deeper, as are the rest of his works, particularly The Tattoo and The Red-Headed Hawaiian.

novels about hawaii

Shark Dialogues, Kiana Davenport

Also born in Honolulu, award-winning author Kiana Davenport has written a highly acclaimed assortment of Hawaii-based novels, including Song of the Exile and House of Many Gods, among others. Shark Dialogues is a saga about Hawaii’s history and its relationship within a single family through multiple generations. A beautiful tale of Hawaiian myths, and it absolutely brings the imagery of your imagination to life.

best hawaii authors

The Red Wind, Ian Macmillan

A Hawaii resident for nearly four decades and a professor at the University of Hawaii, Ian Macmillan tells the tale of a Hawaiian family over four generations in The Red Wind. Spanning the time from post-WWII Hawaii to the 90s, this is a great read to learn more about Hawaiian culture, spirit, and family perspectives. Excellent, especially for those visiting the windward side of Oahu, as it paints a vivid picture of the area.

hawaii novels

Dubious Gastronomy: The Cultural Politics of Eating Asian in the USA, Robert Ji-Song Ku

If you consider yourself a foodie, you may want to pick up a copy of Dubious Gastronomy, a look at how common Asian dishes in the U.S. are often diluted versions of what they truly stand for. This book won the 2014 Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature in Adult Nonfiction and provides a fascinating look at the meaning of Asian cuisine in America and beyond.

food books hawaii

All I Asking for Is My Body, Milton Murayama

For those unfamiliar with Hawaii’s resident culture, All I Asking for Is My Body is an excellent place to start. In 1940s Hawaii, readers will be placed in the life of Kiyoshi, a second-generation Japanese American in Hawaii in the years leading up to WWII. A powerful story of family, tradition, and hope, and a memorable first novel from Maui-born Murayama.

hawaii books

Other Recommendations:

  • Unfamiliar Fishes by Sarah Vowell
  • Poetry by Lois-Ann Yamakana
  • Talking to the Dead by Sylvia Watanabe
  • Big Happiness by Mark Panek
  • Pass On, No Pass Back! by Darrell Lum
  • ‘Ewa Which Way by Tyler Miranda
  • Fierce Heart: The Story of Makaha and the Soul of Hawaiian Surfing by Stuart Holmes Coleman

hawaii novelists

While certainly not an extensive list, we hope this gives you new reading inspiration from some of Hawaii’s most talented authors. Let us know what we missed in the comments below, and as always, mahalo for reading!

2 thoughts on “Tropical Book Inspiration”

  1. Thank you! How did you know I needed some Hawaii books for my winter reading! We’ve been iced in here in Portland Oregon. I need the mental escape! Thank you!!


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