100 books like Honolulu

By Alan Brennert,

Here are 100 books that Honolulu fans have personally recommended if you like Honolulu. 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 Island of Sweet Pies and Soldiers

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?

I’m a bit of a fangirl when it comes to Sara Ackerman. I love all of her books about real people in Hawaii during World War II. Her characters are believable and compelling, and the Hawaiian setting is a different aspect of World War II than is usually presented. This book features a close-knit group of women who open a pie stand near a military base. Violet’s husband has disappeared without a word, and she suspects her daughter knows something she isn’t telling. When tension and suspicions rise among neighbors, the women are accused of being spies, and Violet must keep her friends and family safe. 

By Sara Ackerman,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Island of Sweet Pies and Soldiers as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

“A close-up look at how wartime chaos affects a tight-knit group of women living on Hawaii in 1944 at the height of Pacific combat.... [Violet’s] journey overcoming her trials and grief through friendship, family, and romance is a story of strength and perseverance.”—Booklist

Violet Iverson and her young daughter, Ella, are piecing their lives together after the disappearance of her husband. As rumors swirl and questions about his loyalties surface, Violet believes Ella knows something. But Ella is stubbornly silent. Something—or someone—has scared her.

With the island overrun by troops training for a secret mission, tension and suspicion between neighbors…


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…


Book cover of Bound in Flame

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?

I truly enjoy historical fiction that presents a culture or era from a different point of view. This one is set in early twentieth-century Hawaii. It features a girl, Letty, returning from a boarding school on the mainland. Letty’s devoted to animals, and she is one of the first female veterinarians in history. She jumps into the ocean to save a horse. Her healing powers are strengthened by her connection to the ancient Hawaiian land. The undercurrent of power gives this novel a fantasy feel, but it doesn’t lose its historical aspect. Then Letty learns the price of her healing power—her kisses can kill. Even worse, she’s attracted to the man who owns the horse she saved. 

By Katherine Kayne,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Lose yourself in the magic of old Hawaii with award-winning author Katherine Kayne . . .

Letty Lang is a suffragist of the most fearless kind, with a bullwhip, big plans, and ancient power she doesn’t understand. Will a fast horse and a stubborn man derail her dreams?

Banished to boarding school to tame her wild temper, Leticia Lili‘uokalani Lang sails home to Hawaii, bringing her devotion to animals with her. She’ll be among the first female veterinarians in history—most remarkable in 1909 when women still cannot vote.

With one mad leap into the ocean to save a horse, Letty…


Book cover of Diamond Head

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?

Frank Leong is a wealthy shipping industrialist who moves his family from China to Oahu at the turn of the nineteenth century. Frank is murdered, which completely destroys his family. Whispers of an ancient parable haunt the Leongs, of a red string that connects someone to their perfect match but can also punish for mistakes in love. Frank’s pregnant teenage granddaughter, Theresa, is the next target to suffer from her family’s curse. The story is told from multiple points of view in this tragic multigenerational story of secrets and betrayal. My own interest in family history made this novel resonate deeply within me as several generations of women fail in their relationships.

By Cecily Wong,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

“Diamond Head is an intricate meditation on what is in our control and what is fate—and on whether children must bear the costs of their parents’ mistakes.” —Celeste Ng, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Everything I Never Told You and Little Fires Everywhere

At the turn of the nineteenth century, Frank Leong, a fabulously wealthy shipping industrialist, moves his family from China to the island of Oahu. But something ancient follows the Leongs to Hawaii, haunting them. The parable of the red string of fate, the cord that binds one intended beloved to her perfect match, also punishes…


Book cover of Next Ship Home: A Novel of Ellis Island

Kathleen Boston McCune Author Of Assignment Love: The Writer and Her Agent

From my list on when needing excitement or the comfort of a caress.

Why am I passionate about this?

I'm a woman of four and seventy years who thankfully doesn’t yet resemble that person to those who haven’t met me. I'm a mother of two who both have their own businesses in the fields of their natural talents, I've been Deputy Treasurer to the State of Kansas, written 22 books but think younger than I did at 20, and am enjoying the best sex life to date! Life is precious and should not be limited to us based on our age, but on our interests, knowledge, and what we have to offer. Writing about that which I've experienced and the recorded history of family are my passions and hopefully for my readers as well.

Kathleen's book list on when needing excitement or the comfort of a caress

Kathleen Boston McCune Why did Kathleen love this book?

I personally enjoyed this book for the courage found by the Heroine in a world where women were considered 2nd class citizens, but she, through strength of character and love of a sister she loses due to illness and no monies to save her, gives her that impetus to forge ahead through unconventional, but effective ways and new friends of wealth in America. It could be called a Cinderella story with illegal immigrants as heroines.

A book of 1902, about a young woman who had been abused by her father to the point that a nun suggested she find refuge elsewhere. From Italy, she proceeds to save enough money to book passage with a ship for both herself and her younger sister who is already ill from similar abuse. She looks forward to Ellis Island, knowing she then will be on the safe harbor of America, until she learns that…

By Heather Webb,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Ellis Island, 1902: Two women band together to hold America to its promise: "Give me your tired, your poor ... your huddled masses yearning to breathe free..."
A young Italian woman arrives on the shores of America, her sights set on a better life. That same day, a young American woman reports to her first day of work at the immigration center. But Ellis Island isn't a refuge for Francesca or Alma, not when ships depart every day with those who are refused entry to the country and when corruption ripples through every corridor. While Francesca resorts to desperate measures…


Book cover of Islandborn

Manuel Antonio Morán Author Of The Colors of Frida

From my list on books that are perfect for your kids during Hispanic Heritage Month.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a part of Teatro SEA,  promoting and strengthening the cultural identity of young latiné audiences is the main focus of our mission and everyone who works there. We have been around since 1985 as SEA (Society of the Educational Arts, Inc.) and are the premiere Bilingual Arts-in-Education Organization and Latino Children’s Theatre in the United States. We create and produce a combination of educational theater, in-school multidisciplinary arts instruction programs, art & cultural festivals/ events, online educational programming, and Theater Books, all intended to raise self-esteem, strengthen cultural identity, and provide educational advancement for our community of latiné children and youth. 

Manuel's book list on books that are perfect for your kids during Hispanic Heritage Month

Manuel Antonio Morán Why did Manuel love this book?

When you love your homeland but must leave it, it’s a complex thing that can be difficult to explain to children. This book is incredibly helpful when it comes to explaining the more nuanced parts of immigration. Most importantly, it teaches kids to come together as part of a community to stand up against oppression, and that bravery can come in all shapes and forms.

The part that always makes me tear up is the line, “Even if I never stepped foot on the Island, it doesn’t matter. The Island is me.” I always start thinking about how we embody all the strength, bravery, and beauty of our ancestors and our homeland.  

By Junot Diaz, Leo Espinosa (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Islandborn as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 5, 6, 7, and 8.

What is this book about?

From New York Times bestseller and Pulitzer Prize winner Junot Diaz comes a debut picture book about the magic of memory and the infinite power of the imagination.

A 2019 Pura Belpre Honor Book for Illustration

Every kid in Lola's school was from somewhere else.
Hers was a school of faraway places.

So when Lola's teacher asks the students to draw a picture of where their families immigrated from, all the kids are excited. Except Lola. She can't remember The Island-she left when she was just a baby. But with the help of her family and friends, and their memories-joyous,…


Book cover of Star of the Sea

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been fascinated by "sea stories" since I could read, maybe before. I was born in Liverpool, my dad was in the navy, my family ran an 18th-century inn named the Turk’s Head after a nautical knot, and I’ve directed or written more than twenty films, plays, and novels with the sea as their setting. But they’re not really about the sea. For me, the sea is a mirror to reflect the human condition, a theatre for all the human dramas I can imagine. More importantly, I’ve read over a hundred sea stories for research and pleasure, and those I’ve chosen for you are the five I liked best.

Seth's book list on books about the sea that aren’t just about sailing on it, or fighting on it, or drowning in it, but are really about the human condition

Seth Hunter Why did Seth love this book?

I love this story because, for me, it’s a perfect example of why a ship is such a great platform for storytelling, a moving stage for a compelling cast of characters to act out the drama of their past and present lives while heading into an uncertain future.

The Star of the Sea is a "coffin ship," the name given to the leaking hulks that transported a million emigrants from Ireland to America during the Great Famine of the 1840s.

It’s a historical novel but for me, a timeless story about emigration and the human condition, of refugees fleeing the monsters of their past, war, famine, disease, whatever, into what they hope will be a brighter future, and of what happens to them on the way.

By Joseph O'Connor,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Star of the Sea as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 14, 15, 16, and 17.

What is this book about?

* Over a million copies sold *

Rediscover Joseph O'Connor's monumental #1 international bestseller.

In the bitter winter of 1847, from an Ireland torn by injustice and natural disaster, the Star of the Sea sets sail for New York.

On board are hundreds of fleeing refugees. Among them are a maidservant with a devastating secret, bankrupt Lord Merridith and his family, an aspiring novelist and a maker of revolutionary ballads, all braving the Atlantic in search of a new home. Each is connected more deeply than they can possibly know.

But a camouflaged killer is stalking the decks, hungry for…


Book cover of The Bad Immigrant

Benjamin Kwakye Author Of Obsessions of Paradise

From my list on the complexities of migration.

Why am I passionate about this?

I was born in Ghana and migrated to the US, where I have spent most of my adult life. The antipathy in certain circles towards immigrants still surprises me. I have tried to address this in my own way through fiction in the hope that readers can come to see migrants as multi-dimensional people with similar hopes, dreams, and aspirations. As such, I am similarly drawn to books that address the humanity of migrants. It has always been my belief that a better understanding of those we think are different from us will help bridge our various divides. I hope my recommendations help get readers there. One book at a time.

Benjamin's book list on the complexities of migration

Benjamin Kwakye Why did Benjamin love this book?

Writing about a Nigerian family’s migration from Nigeria to the US, I appreciated Atta’s ability to masterly cover a wide range of issues without losing focus.

I was totally charmed by the remarkable way in which this novel managed to take me along on a journey that ultimately raises deep appreciation of each character’s point of view in the course of touching on issues such as interracial as well as intra-racial tensions and familial strains exacerbated in a new geographic and cultural environment.

By Sefi Atta,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

An account of an immigrant family's struggle and the lessons learned about diversity

Writing at the height of her powers, The Bad Immigrant cements Sefi Atta’s place as one of the best storytellers of our time. Through the voice of her first male protagonist, Lukmon, Atta peels away nuanced layers to expose the realities of migration from Nigeria to the USA, such as the strains of adjustment and the stifling pressure to conform without loss of identity.

Covering a wide range of issues, including interracial and intra-racial tensions, and familial strains exacerbated in a new geographic and cultural environment, this…


Book cover of Rescue: Refugees and the Political Crisis of Our Time

Nell Gabiam Author Of The Politics of Suffering: Syria's Palestinian Refugee Camps

From my list on refugees in or from the Middle East.

Why am I passionate about this?

I developed an interest in the Middle East after taking a class on the Peoples and Cultures of the Middle East and North Africa as an undergraduate student. I later lived and worked in Kuwait for two years and traveled extensively across the Middle East, including to Syria, a country whose hospitality, history, and cultural richness left an indelible impression on me. During subsequent travel to Syria, I became acquainted with the Palestinian refugee camp of Yarmouk, in Damascus. This camp, which physically blended into its surroundings while retaining its Palestinian-ness, ignited my desire to better understand Palestinian refugee identity and the political claims at the heart of this identity. 

Nell's book list on refugees in or from the Middle East

Nell Gabiam Why did Nell love this book?

This is another book that addresses Europe’s 2015-2016 “refugee crisis.” While Miliband also offers some insights into the experience of refugees seeking asylum in Europe, the focus of his book is on how current European policy betrays the values at the core of Europe’s recent history and self-understanding. Miliband weaves analysis of the predicament of mostly Middle Eastern and African refugees attempting to reach Europe through irregular Mediterranean routes with reflection on his parents’ experience as Jewish refugees fleeing Nazi Germany and seeking protection in England in the 1940s. The strength of Rescue is that it provides the reader with multiple frames of reference for thinking about what ought to be Europe’s response toward contemporary refugees, a significant number of whom are Muslims from the Middle East. 

By David Miliband,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

We are in the midst of a global refugee crisis. Sixty five million people are fleeing for their lives. The choices are urgent, not just for them but for all of us. What can we possibly do to help?

With compassion and clarity, David Miliband shows why we should care and how we can make a difference. He takes us from war zones in the Middle East to peaceful suburbs in America to explain the crisis and show what can be done, not just by governments with the power to change policy but by citizens with the urge to change…


Book cover of In the Name of Women's Rights: The Rise of Femonationalism

Sara Shaban Author Of Iranian Feminism and Transnational Ethics in Media Discourse

From my list on proving Arab women can speak for themselves.

Why am I passionate about this?

As an Arab American woman who grew up in Nashville in an evangelical church, I’ve always maintained complex understandings of myself as both an Arab and a woman. My experiences coupled with my love for reading led me to become a journalist where I could explore stories about Arab women in hopes of learning more about myself. After 9/11, watching my family face racism and hate from a country we're so proud to be a part of, I wanted to change the narrative. I got a Ph.D. in Media Sociology from the University of Missouri and started writing critical analyses of media’s poor representation of Arab women and how we can help change the game.  

Sara's book list on proving Arab women can speak for themselves

Sara Shaban Why did Sara love this book?

Farris’ book is a provocative and timely piece that would make any holiday dinner awkward.

We’ve all heard the arguments seemingly standing up for Arab or Muslim women that sounds a lot like a white savior complex and maybe a little racist. In short, Farris calls out those folks who use gender equality language to hide their racist and xenophobic language and how we can put a pin in that kind of rhetoric. 

By Sara R. Farris,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked In the Name of Women's Rights as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Sara R. Farris examines the demands for women's rights from an unlikely collection of right-wing nationalist political parties, neoliberals, and some feminist theorists and policy makers. Focusing on contemporary France, Italy, and the Netherlands, Farris labels this exploitation and co-optation of feminist themes by anti-Islam and xenophobic campaigns as "femonationalism." She shows that by characterizing Muslim males as dangerous to western societies and as oppressors of women, and by emphasizing the need to rescue Muslim and migrant women, these groups use gender equality to justify their racist rhetoric and policies. This practice also serves an economic function. Farris analyzes how…


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