Reading in Paradise

The Well-Read Man in Moments of Leisure

Reading in Paradise

Updates will be sparse this week as I am basking in the near-equatorial sunshine of Hawaii. It’s our family’s first-ever visit here, and as with classic books, there is a mixture of amazement and cold reality. The scenery around Oahu, where we are staying, is breathtaking, but as we went around Honolulu looking for places on our must-see list, my son remarked, “I thought Hawaii would be more resort-like.”

Although the vacation will include much-needed downtime from everyday life, the reading never stops. Here are some Hawaii-themed books that will keep you company through this time of relaxation.

  • Hawaii’s Story by Hawaii’s Queen, by Queen Lili’uokalani, the last monarch of the Hawaiian islands. She penned this history in 1898, five years after she was forced off the throne. The book covers Hawaiian history in general, and also gives a first-person account of the overthrow of the monarchy by business interests.
  • Letters From Hawaii and the Hawaii-specific portions of Roughing It, both by Mark Twain. Selections from the humorist’s many travel writings.
  • Moloka’i, by Alan Brennert. Although fictional, Brennert’s novel tells a compelling story of life in a Hawaiian leper colony at the end of the nineteenth century.
  • At Dawn We Slept, by Gordon W. Prange. Considered the definitive work on the Japanese attack of America’s military base at Pearl Harbor, this thick book has silently mocked me from bookstore shelves for years, daring me to read it. I now dare you to beat me to it.
  • Hawaii, by James A. Michener. As with Michener’s other monstrously large books, the story of the main fictional characters is backed up by rich and accurate historical content. In Hawaii, that history covers millions of years, beginning with the geological formation of the islands.

[Image Credits: Me, a photo from my hotel room!]


  1. I visited the Iolani Palace while in Hawaii, and picked up a copy of “Hawaii’s Story by Hawaii’s Queen” from the palace bookstore. Looking forward to the great read.


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