Five volumes to accompany an island sojourn—real or imagined.



No Footprints in the Sand: A Memoir of Kalaupapa

By Henry Kalalahilimoku Nalaielua, with Sally-Jo Keala-O-Anuenue Bowman


Diagnosed with Hansen's Disease, Nalaielua was taken from his family as a boy and exiled to a remote settlement, Kalaupapa, on the island of Moloka'i. More than 8,000 people were sent there over its century of existence. This is the story of how Nalaielua found joy in such desolation.




Fierce Heart: The Story of Makaha and the Soul of Hawaiian Surfing

By Stuart Holmes Coleman


The long history of Hawaiian surfing is distilled through this study of the people and culture of Makaha, a small town on the West coast of Oahu that has produced a slew of world-class surfers as well as a collection of memorable characters that populate this enchanted locale.





By James A. Michener


Michener's 1959 sweeping saga tells the episodic tale of the many immigrants who helped form the islands we know now: the original settlers from Bora Bora, the early American missionaries and merchants, the Chinese and Japanese families who came to work, put down roots and stayed. Michener creatively chronicles the creation of a new world.




The Folding Cliffs: A Narrative of 19th-Centruty Hawaii

By W.S. Merwin


Merwin unfolds his tale in verse: as the Hawaiian government tries to quarantine possible victims of leprosy, one family makes their escape  into the island of Kauai, with a gunboat full of soldiers in deadly pursuit. Amid the gripping historical drama, Merwin's stanzas capture the cultural shifts of an island on the brink of irrecoverable transformation.




Hotel Honolulu

By Paul Theroux


All kinds  end up at the low-rent Hotel Honolulu just off the beach in Waikiki, which is managed by the down-on-his-luck protagonist of Theroux's satirical novel. They're all searching for something, and the author brilliantly illuminates, with his trademark unsparing eye and wit, the desperate search by Americans for something bigger than themselves.


April 19: "What you see first, after the starting gun's crack, is a column of bobbing runners, thousands of them, surging downhill..."

Donna Tartt's The Goldfinch is the winner of the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. James Parker calls this Dickensian coming-of-age novel "an enveloping…

Books, CDs, DVDs to know about now
Poems That Make Grown Men Cry

And women too.  Luminaries from Colin Firth to Nick Cave and Jonathan Franzen chose the poems that bring them to tears, and the result is a stunning collection of poignant verse from writers like Auden, Whitman, Bishop, Larkin, Neruda and many others.  Warning: choking-up hazard.

The King of Pain

Trapped beneath his entertainment system, reality TV mastermind Rick Salter reflects on his life and tries to piece together the events of the previous evening. Seth Kaufman’s romp is an outrageous meditation on pain and entertainment in a deranged world in which the two are often interchangeable.

The Good Inn

Frank Black, frontman for the Pixies, has written a transgressive historical fiction with shades of Thomas Pynchon (focused as it is on the history of explosives and cinematic pornography), all set in a hallucinatory Edwardian Europe.