100 books like Hawaii

By James A. Michener,

Here are 100 books that Hawaii fans have personally recommended if you like Hawaii. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of Beloved

Donna Hemans Author Of The House of Plain Truth

From my list on haunting: how the past lingers with us.

Why am I passionate about this?

I grew up in a culture that both fears and embraces spirits or outrightly rejects the idea that spirits live on beyond death. I grew up on stories of rolling calves and duppies that caused havoc among the living. Since then, I’ve been fascinated by what haunts us—whether it be our familial spirits that float among the living and continue to play a role in our lives, our memories, or our past actions. I’ve written three books that play with this idea of past actions lingering long into the characters’ lives and returning in unexpected ways.  

Donna's book list on haunting: how the past lingers with us

Donna Hemans Why did Donna love this book?

This book is a longtime favorite of mine. Toni Morrison was a master at blending the personal story and the political, and in this book, she blends the true story of a mother who kills her child to prevent slave catchers from returning the baby to life as a slave.

Morrison’s fictional Sethe is haunted by the ghost of the baby she killed and the memories of her difficult life as a slave. This is one of the novels I return to time after time, both for the beauty of the writing and the portrayal of a mother’s love, guilt, and the lingering impact of slavery.

By Toni Morrison,

Why should I read it?

33 authors picked Beloved as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'Toni Morrison was a giant of her times and ours... Beloved is a heart-breaking testimony to the ongoing ravages of slavery, and should be read by all' Margaret Atwood, New York Times

Discover this beautiful gift edition of Toni Morrison's prize-winning contemporary classic Beloved

It is the mid-1800s and as slavery looks to be coming to an end, Sethe is haunted by the violent trauma it wrought on her former enslaved life at Sweet Home, Kentucky. Her dead baby daughter, whose tombstone bears the single word, Beloved, returns as a spectre to punish her mother, but also to elicit her…


Book cover of A Game of Thrones

JD McKelvin Author Of These Cruel Watchers

From my list on exploring your inner darkness.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a child, I learned that I was able to lucid dream at will, speaking to the beings I met in these places I’d never seen before, and it always gave me a sense of interconnectedness. A thread that goes through all of us and our histories. I believe that the ancients dedicated so much of their energy and resources to preserving their stories in order to maintain this connection because it’s so important. Inside all of us is a darkness that, if left unchecked would lead us to ruin. These books all demonstrate the inner struggle we have to understand and redirect that darkness toward the light and the good. 

JD's book list on exploring your inner darkness

JD McKelvin Why did JD love this book?

I absolutely love this book because it explores one of my deepest philosophical questions: What blindspots in our subjective humanity allow for such violence and depravity when the power to engage in such things is granted to us?

As a veteran and long-time student of war, I am fascinated by the ever-fluctuating value of human life when it comes to power, wealth, and empire. 

By George R. R. Martin,

Why should I read it?

16 authors picked A Game of Thrones as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

HBO's hit series A GAME OF THRONES is based on George R R Martin's internationally bestselling series A SONG OF ICE AND FIRE, the greatest fantasy epic of the modern age. A GAME OF THRONES is the first volume in the series.

'Completely immersive' Guardian

'When you play the game of thrones, you win or you die. There is no middle ground'

Summers span decades. Winter can last a lifetime. And the struggle for the Iron Throne has begun.

From the fertile south, where heat breeds conspiracy, to the vast and savage eastern lands, all the way to the frozen…


Book cover of Blood Meridian: Or the Evening Redness in the West

JD McKelvin Author Of These Cruel Watchers

From my list on exploring your inner darkness.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a child, I learned that I was able to lucid dream at will, speaking to the beings I met in these places I’d never seen before, and it always gave me a sense of interconnectedness. A thread that goes through all of us and our histories. I believe that the ancients dedicated so much of their energy and resources to preserving their stories in order to maintain this connection because it’s so important. Inside all of us is a darkness that, if left unchecked would lead us to ruin. These books all demonstrate the inner struggle we have to understand and redirect that darkness toward the light and the good. 

JD's book list on exploring your inner darkness

JD McKelvin Why did JD love this book?

I often ask what the nature of laws and authority is. In the "Old West," when there was no overarching central authority, the survival of the fittest was the law. I’m curious how the clash of the old world with the new becomes a never-ending cycle and where it may lead.

I loved how none of the characters were all good or all bad, they were just survivors. This book is not meant to be liked or disliked. It’s meant to be experienced and "danced with."

By Cormac McCarthy,

Why should I read it?

14 authors picked Blood Meridian as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy is an epic novel of the violence and depravity that attended America's westward expansion, brilliantly subverting the conventions of the Western novel and the mythology of the Wild West. Based on historical events that took place on the Texas-Mexico border in the 1850s, it traces the fortunes of the Kid, a fourteen-year-old Tennessean who stumbles into a nightmarish world where Indians are being murdered and the market for their scalps is thriving.


Book cover of War and Peace

Abdul Quayyum Khan Kundi Author Of Legacy of the Third Way

From my list on books to take you to the future.

Why am I passionate about this?

From a young age, I've been captivated by evolution and its implications for the future. I immersed myself in classical works of philosophy and literature that explored human emotions and our relentless drive to succeed against all odds, advancing human knowledge and shaping society. This fascination with understanding the future led me to write op-ed pieces on foreign policy and geopolitics for prominent newspapers in South Asia. My desire to contribute to a better future inspired me to author three nonfiction books covering topics such as the Islamic Social Contract, Lessons from the Quran, and Reflections on God,  Science, and Human Nature. 

Abdul's book list on books to take you to the future

Abdul Quayyum Khan Kundi Why did Abdul love this book?

Leo Tolstoy is considered a master storyteller with an unmatched grip on presenting the inner emotional struggles of mankind.

This novel presents the stress caused in the lives of people and society when French General and Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte attacked Russia. The book had a deep impact on future generations. I read the book in my early 30s and found it fascinating. 

I have a deep interest in the evolution and reaction of societies to crises, both natural and man-made. The discussion on leadership, whether it is by birth or upbringing, was fascinating for me. 

By Leo Tolstoy, Richard Pevear (translator), Larissa Volokhonsky (translator)

Why should I read it?

9 authors picked War and Peace as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From the award-winning translators of Anna Karenina and The Brothers Karamazov comes this magnificent new translation of Tolstoy's masterwork.

Nominated as one of America’s best-loved novels by PBS’s The Great American Read

War and Peacebroadly focuses on Napoleon’s invasion of Russia in 1812 and follows three of the most well-known characters in literature: Pierre Bezukhov, the illegitimate son of a count who is fighting for his inheritance and yearning for spiritual fulfillment; Prince Andrei Bolkonsky, who leaves his family behind to fight in the war against Napoleon; and Natasha Rostov, the beautiful young daughter of a nobleman who intrigues both…


Book cover of Silence

Ken Yoder Reed Author Of Both My Sons

From my list on time travel to transport to another time and place.

Why am I passionate about this?

"There is no frigate like a book"—my grade school teacher, Mrs. Gundy, liked to quote Emily Dickinson as she encouraged us to read. I became a novelist because I found imagination has the power to transport a reader across centuries and perhaps national boundaries and into a character’s heart and soul. After growing up in the Mennonite/Amish culture of Pennsylvania I published four novels, three of them three historical novels that present that culture. What do I look for in good historical fiction? An unforgettable character and a good capture of the Zeitgeist, the spirit of the times in which that character lives. The five books I recommend all do that.

Ken's book list on time travel to transport to another time and place

Ken Yoder Reed Why did Ken love this book?

Japan’s Tokugawa Era was created by the first shogun, Tokugawa Ieyasu, in 1603. Ieyasu withdrew Japan from international trade and relations and created a closed, feudal society.  For 250 years, the Japanese conducted international trade only with the Dutch and Chinese, and even then only in specially designated trading ports such as the manmade island of Dejima in Nagasaki harbor. Ieyasu also brutally suppressed Christianity and expelled European missionaries. 

Silence tells the story of a Portuguese Jesuit priest, Sebastiao Rodrigues, who is sent by the Catholic Church to Japan in 1639 to investigate reports that his mentor, a Jesuit priest in Japan named Ferreira, has committed apostasy and renounced the Christian faith. About half of the book is Rodriguez's written journal. Rodrigues and his companion Garrpe arrive in Japan to find the local Christian population has been driven underground. To ferret out these hidden Christians, government officials force suspected Christians…

By Shusaku Endo, William Johnston (translator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Silence as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Now a major motion picture directed by Martin Scorsese, starring Liam Neeson, Adam Driver and Andrew Garfield.

With an introduction by Martin Scorsese

'One of the finest historical novels written by anyone, anywhere . . . Flawless' - David Mitchell

Father Rodrigues is an idealistic Portuguese Jesuit priest who, in the 1640s, sets sail for Japan on a determined mission to help the brutally oppressed Japanese Christians and to discover the truth behind unthinkable rumours that his famous teacher Ferreira has renounced his faith. Once faced with the realities of religious persecution Rodrigues himself is forced to make an impossible…


Book cover of A Tale of Two Cities

Fathali Moghaddam Author Of The Psychology of Revolution

From my list on why revolutions fail.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have a deep passion for the psychology of revolution because my family has experienced revolution in our country of birth, and I have expertise on this topic because, as a psychologist, I have extensively studied revolutions for decades. This is a topic seldom studied by modern psychologists, perhaps because most research psychologists live in Western countries and have not experienced revolutions. Western psychologists have no experience with revolutions. The last book published with the title of my book, The Psychology of Revolution, came out in 1894! I am very enthusiastic about putting together this diverse reading list, which is made up of research books, novels, and a poetry collection.

Fathali's book list on why revolutions fail

Fathali Moghaddam Why did Fathali love this book?

Dickens was a great intuitive psychologist, and The Tale of Two Cities shows some brilliant insights into human behavior during and after revolutions. The wonderful dreams of French society being built on justice and fairness came crashing down after the revolution. This is because people driven by opportunism and pathological hatred took over society. These ‘revolutionaries’ had an intense desire for vengeance and violent retribution–as well as gaining power for themselves. 

This is a feature of revolutions that we see again and again after the collapse of the old regime: unprincipled opportunists jumping to power. The direction of change becomes more radical. Inevitably, a lot of innocent people became victims during this post-revolution period, as did many innocent French people during what became known as the period of ‘Terror,’ when the guillotine rapidly killed thousands and thousands.

Dickens shows that in this terrifying post-revolution period, some individuals make great sacrifices…

By Charles Dickens,

Why should I read it?

9 authors picked A Tale of Two Cities as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Sydney Carton is a lawyer who has wasted his abilities and his life. Now he has to make a difficult choice about what is really important to him, which could be a matter of life or death. The French Revolution is running its violent course; lives are ruined as a new France is created. How did the gentle Doctor Manette and his daughter Lucie become caught up in France's struggles? What is the real identity of the handsome Charles Darnay, who wins Lucie's hand in marriage? And why does the shadow of La Bastille Prison hang over them all? The…


Book cover of Rome: A History in Seven Sackings

JD McKelvin Author Of These Cruel Watchers

From my list on exploring your inner darkness.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a child, I learned that I was able to lucid dream at will, speaking to the beings I met in these places I’d never seen before, and it always gave me a sense of interconnectedness. A thread that goes through all of us and our histories. I believe that the ancients dedicated so much of their energy and resources to preserving their stories in order to maintain this connection because it’s so important. Inside all of us is a darkness that, if left unchecked would lead us to ruin. These books all demonstrate the inner struggle we have to understand and redirect that darkness toward the light and the good. 

JD's book list on exploring your inner darkness

JD McKelvin Why did JD love this book?

I find myself struggling with the impulse to see the great empires as superhumans or so different from me that I could never understand how they live as they do.

This book reminded me that my fears and selfish desires aren’t so different from those of the Romans. I see signs of their impact in my everyday life, and I constantly wonder what life was like for Romans who never would have thought that people like me would be studying them centuries later. This book takes me into the mindset of people living in constant threat of annihilation and how it may impact my view of humanity. 

By Matthew Kneale,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Rome as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.


Book cover of Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems

JD McKelvin Author Of These Cruel Watchers

From my list on exploring your inner darkness.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a child, I learned that I was able to lucid dream at will, speaking to the beings I met in these places I’d never seen before, and it always gave me a sense of interconnectedness. A thread that goes through all of us and our histories. I believe that the ancients dedicated so much of their energy and resources to preserving their stories in order to maintain this connection because it’s so important. Inside all of us is a darkness that, if left unchecked would lead us to ruin. These books all demonstrate the inner struggle we have to understand and redirect that darkness toward the light and the good. 

JD's book list on exploring your inner darkness

JD McKelvin Why did JD love this book?

Anytime I get the chance to travel to and live amongst people whose lives are completely foreign to me, I take it. Most of us look at the state of the Hawaiian islands and wonder what it was before a marketing machine convinced the world it was one big vacation resort with no past and no independent culture.

Whether the novel is historically accurate seems beside the point to me. The point is, as always, to be forced to empathize even when it hurts. 

By Galileo Galilei, Stillman Drake (translator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Galileo’s Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems, published in Florence in 1632, was the most proximate cause of his being brought to trial before the Inquisition. Using the dialogue form, a genre common in classical philosophical works, Galileo masterfully demonstrates the truth of the Copernican system over the Ptolemaic one, proving, for the first time, that the earth revolves around the sun. Its influence is incalculable. The Dialogue is not only one of the most important scientific treatises ever written, but a work of supreme clarity and accessibility, remaining as readable now as when it was first published. This…


Book cover of The Taste of Sugar

Diane Lefer Author Of Out of Place

From my list on for recovering erased history.

Why am I passionate about this?

Soon after 9/11, I had dinner with several American scientists worried about how new security measures would affect international collaborations and foreign-born colleagues. Since science rarely if ever comes up in discourse about the War on Terror, that set me off. I’m always drawn to whatever gets overlooked. I was born in one international city – New York – and have lived in another – Los Angeles – for over 20 years. I’ve spent time on four continents and assisted survivors of violent persecution as they seek asylum – which may explain why I feel compelled to include viewpoints from outside the US and fill in the gaps when different cultural perspectives go missing.

Diane's book list on for recovering erased history

Diane Lefer Why did Diane love this book?

Through friendships with Borinqueñxs and interest in the island, I don’t consider myself wholly ignorant about Puerto Rico. Like the Philippines, Puerto Rico was claimed by the US following the Spanish American War, but once again, when I tried to learn more about that era, I ran into a brick wall. Marisel Vera recovers that history while offering all the pleasures of a traditional family saga. She brings the reader close to the daily lives and loves of a family of coffee farmers who struggle first under Spanish rule and then the system established by the US. Vera also taught me something I’d never heard of: the deceptive recruitment that carried newly impoverished but still hopeful Puerto Ricans off to Hawaii to labor in the sugar fields. 

By Marisel Vera,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Taste of Sugar as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Marisel Vera emerges as a major new voice in contemporary fiction with this "capacious" (The New Yorker) novel set in Puerto Rico on the eve of the Spanish-American War. Up in the mountainous region of Utuado, Vicente Vega and Valentina Sanchez labor to keep their coffee farm from the creditors. When the great San Ciriaco hurricane of 1899 brings devastating upheaval, the young couple is lured along with thousands of other puertorriquenos to the sugar plantations of Hawaii, where they are confronted by the hollowness of America's promises of prosperity. Depicting the roots of Puerto Rican alienation and exodus, which…


Book cover of The Last Aloha

Linda Ulleseit Author Of The Aloha Spirit

From my list on historical fiction about Hawaii.

Why am I passionate about this?

I live in California and write novels based on my grandmother’s stories of our female ancestors. I love tales of everyday women who lived normal lives (according to them) but were quite remarkable to my 21st-century eyes. I wrote The Aloha Spirit about my husband’s grandmother, who was an amazing woman. His family is from Hawaii, and we visit there frequently. Anyone who spends time in the islands experiences the warm welcome of the people, which we know as the aloha spirit. I know Grandma had a difficult life, and I wrote the novel to explore how she might have overcome those difficulties to find her aloha spirit.

Linda's book list on historical fiction about Hawaii

Linda Ulleseit Why did Linda love this book?

Laura’s fiancé and father die, and she travels from San Francisco to Hawaii to live with missionary relatives. It’s 1886, and Honolulu is the sophisticated bustling capital of a prosperous modern kingdom. Laura’s missionary relatives actively work to bring down the monarchy while Laura goes to work for the royal family. She builds quite a bond with the last queen, Lili`uokalani, who is trying to save her kingdom. This book tells the compelling story of the Hawaiian kingdom’s last days from a point of view inside the royal family. 

By Gaellen Quinn,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Last Aloha as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

BAIPA Award Winner: Best Historical Fiction.
How did Hawaii become part of America? This story, inspired by true events suppressed for nearly 100 years, is the one James Michener never wrote. In 1886, Laura Jennings travels to Hawaii to live with missionary relatives. She imagines she'll live in a grass hut, ministering to savages. When she arrives in Honolulu, she's surprised to find her relatives are among the wealthy elite plotting to overthrow the Hawaiian monarchy. And, far from being savages, the Hawaiians have developed a charming and prosperous Victorian kingdom. To avoid her conniving uncle's control, Laura leaves to…


5 book lists we think you will like!

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