Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Top Books Set in Hawaii

I'm finally taking part in another Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, where I am also a contributor. It's been a while, and I'm pretty sure I've done a similar list of books set in Hawaii for The Broke and the Bookish, but whatever! It's really the only type of book I seek out. Without further ado, here are my top ten picks of books set in Hawaii, in no particular order.

1. Distant Echoes by Colleen Coble. This is the most recent of my Hawaii books, read just a couple weeks ago. Well-rounded characters and a thrilling mystery make for a great read.
2. Mai Tai One On by Jill Marie Landis. I loved this first book in the Tiki Goddess mysteries. These mysteries are funny and set on the beautiful island of Kauai. Plus it has a hilarious group of characters, including the Hula Maidens, a slightly elderly and very mouthy group of hula dancers. The mystery aspect just adds to the fun, even though some people die.

3. Shark Dialogues by Kiana Davenport. This is the real deal stuff, if you want to learn about the less than idyllic side of paradise. This novel is a look at the most recent history of Hawaii told over seven generations of women. It's a hefty book, but well worth reading.
4. Unfamiliar Fishes by Sarah Vowell. Narrative nonfiction at its best. This is about Hawaii's history, going back to Kamehameha I, up to its current state (pun intended). I learned so much about Hawaiian history and culture from this book, and Vowell's wry humor won me over right away.

5. The Aloha Quilt by Jennifer Chiaverini. I found this audiobook at my library and checked it out on a whim. I'm really glad I did. From my perspective, I thought Chiaverini did a great job with showing the tensions between native Hawaiians and the United States, but in a gentle story of healing for one of the Elm Creek quilters spending a few months with a friend on the island of Maui. I learned a lot about the Hawaiian style of quilting too, not that I know anything about regular quilting. I now want to check out the rest of the series, mostly because Christina Moore did such a wonderful job narrating.

6. Calvin Coconut series by Graham Salisbury. Salisbury, as someone who grew up in Hawaii, knows how to express the contemporary Hawaiian culture and the vernacular speech. This series is a great way for kids and adults to see what living on the islands is about, how everyday things are different from the mainland, and the differences and similarities between growing up in Hawaii and wherever the reader is from.

7. The Descendants by Kaui Hart Hemmings. This book was good, but I'm actually going to go ahead and say this is one instance where the movie is better. George Clooney was more likable as the character in the movie, since we didn't hear his inner monologue as we did in the book, and really, he is kind of a jerk. But the movie is lovely, and the visuals are stunning.

That's pretty much all I have right now. These aren't all the books I've read set in Hawaii, but I didn't bother putting ones on here that I didn't really like. Plus I know I have a lot of ground to cover! If anyone can think of others they've loved set in Hawaii let me know! I'm all for adding good books to my TBR list.


  1. I'm putting Distant Echoes on my wishlist. I read part of the Descendants, but stopped because I enjoyed the movie better. I spent 10 days in Hawaii on my honeymoon, so I have a soft spot for anything from the state :) Thanks for sharing this.

    1. Great! It's Christian fiction, just so you know, but I really enjoyed it. I also went to Hawaii for my honeymoon, hence my love for the setting. :)

  2. I don't know that I've read any books set in Hawaii. New GFC/bloglovin' follower from a current English/Library Science student!

    My TTT.


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