49 books like Ruling Chiefs of Hawaiʻi

By Samuel M. Kamakau,

Here are 49 books that Ruling Chiefs of Hawaiʻi fans have personally recommended if you like Ruling Chiefs of Hawaiʻi. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

Shepherd is reader supported. When you buy books, we may earn an affiliate commission.

Book cover of The Polynesian Family System in Ka'u, Hawai'i

Dennis Kawaharada Author Of Storied Landscapes: Hawaiian Literature and Place

From my list on understanding Hawaiian culture before visiting.

Who am I?

I taught traditional Hawaiian literature to college students and established Kalamakū Press in 1990 to publish Hawaiian folktales, narratives, autobiography, and poetry. I also worked for a decade as a writer for the Polynesian Voyaging Society (PVS), a scientific and cultural non-profit that builds and sails double-hulled voyaging canoes to explore how the Polynesians, without modern navigation instruments, found and settled Hawai‘i. Long before Europeans arrived in Hawai‘i, Polynesians discovered and lived sustainably for centuries on an isolated chain of eight islands. The practices and values of the traditional culture have a lot to teach communities struggling to find their way in an overdeveloped, overpopulated world today. 

Dennis' book list on understanding Hawaiian culture before visiting

Dennis Kawaharada Why did Dennis love this book?

Despite the scholarly title, this book is a highly readable account of traditional Hawaiian culture in Ka‘ū, the southernmost district of the Big Island of Hawai‘i. Mary Kawena Pukui (1895–1986) was a preeminent Hawaiian scholar, author, composer, hula expert, and educator. She was born and raised in Ka‘ū, a remote, rural area where the old culture endured outside of the Westernization of the islands. In 1935 she traveled home with anthropologist E.S. Handy to gather information from her elders. Their book provides details and insights about the district’s history and ecology, the legendary setting (gods and spirits), the extended household and kinship system, the life cycle of individuals, manners and customs, and the relationships between people and ancestral spirits and animals.

By E. S. Craighill Handy, Mary Kawena Pukui,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Polynesian Family System in Ka'u, Hawai'i as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This classic book on Hawaiian families and culture is an essential text for anyone interested in pre-American Hawaii.

The Polynesian Family System in Ka-'U, Hawai'i is a collaboration of the distinguished scholars Dr. Mary Puku and Dr. E.S. Craighill Handy. It provides us with this fascinating review of traditional Hawaiian life. Manners and customs relating to birth, death, marriage, sexual practices, religious beliefs, and family relationship are all clearly described. The main sources of information were elderly Hawaiian informants of then remote Kacu district of the island of Hawaii.

This Hawaiian history and culture book provides professional scholars and laymen…


Book cover of Hawaiian Antiquities

Dennis Kawaharada Author Of Storied Landscapes: Hawaiian Literature and Place

From my list on understanding Hawaiian culture before visiting.

Who am I?

I taught traditional Hawaiian literature to college students and established Kalamakū Press in 1990 to publish Hawaiian folktales, narratives, autobiography, and poetry. I also worked for a decade as a writer for the Polynesian Voyaging Society (PVS), a scientific and cultural non-profit that builds and sails double-hulled voyaging canoes to explore how the Polynesians, without modern navigation instruments, found and settled Hawai‘i. Long before Europeans arrived in Hawai‘i, Polynesians discovered and lived sustainably for centuries on an isolated chain of eight islands. The practices and values of the traditional culture have a lot to teach communities struggling to find their way in an overdeveloped, overpopulated world today. 

Dennis' book list on understanding Hawaiian culture before visiting

Dennis Kawaharada Why did Dennis love this book?

Hawaiian Antiquities, published in 1903, was translated into English from the nineteenth-century writings of David Malo (1795–1853). Malo was a major scholar of Old Hawai‘i who spent his life among the courts of the kings and chiefs, where he learned traditional practices and oral traditions. His writings cover a wide range of topics, including cosmogony, origins and genealogy, social classes, geography (land, sea, and sky and clouds, winds, and rains), the calendar (seasons, months, and days), flora and fauna, fishing and farming, houses and canoes, food and clothing, sports and games, religious worship and observances, healing practices and necromancy, and traditions about the ancient kings of Hawai‘i.

By David Malo,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

1951 2nd. ed.


Book cover of Hawaiian Fishing Traditions

Dennis Kawaharada Author Of Storied Landscapes: Hawaiian Literature and Place

From my list on understanding Hawaiian culture before visiting.

Who am I?

I taught traditional Hawaiian literature to college students and established Kalamakū Press in 1990 to publish Hawaiian folktales, narratives, autobiography, and poetry. I also worked for a decade as a writer for the Polynesian Voyaging Society (PVS), a scientific and cultural non-profit that builds and sails double-hulled voyaging canoes to explore how the Polynesians, without modern navigation instruments, found and settled Hawai‘i. Long before Europeans arrived in Hawai‘i, Polynesians discovered and lived sustainably for centuries on an isolated chain of eight islands. The practices and values of the traditional culture have a lot to teach communities struggling to find their way in an overdeveloped, overpopulated world today. 

Dennis' book list on understanding Hawaiian culture before visiting

Dennis Kawaharada Why did Dennis love this book?

Hawaiian Fishing Traditions celebrates famous Hawaiian fishermen. Fish was the main source of protein. The first story, by Moke Manu, tells of Kū‘ula-kai, who became deified as a god of fishermen because of his power to control fish. He built the first fishpond, in Hāna, Maui, to supply the chief and people with food. His son ‘Ai‘ai, featured in the second story, continued his father’s good work by locating offshore fishing grounds and teaching the people how to catch fish, practice conservation, and distribute the catch with generosity. Also included are the stories of other legendary fishermen and of battles with man-eating sharks. Two articles in the appendix describe the vast array of traditional fishing methods; a third article gives an anthropological account of the worship of shark gods.

By Moke Manu, Dennis Kawaharada (editor),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A celebration of the great fisherman of ancient Hawaii, known for attracting and propagating fish, inventing fishing techniques, and bringing in extraordinary catches.


Book cover of Hawaiki Rising: Hōkūle‘a, Nainoa Thompson, and the Hawaiian Renaissance

Dennis Kawaharada Author Of Storied Landscapes: Hawaiian Literature and Place

From my list on understanding Hawaiian culture before visiting.

Who am I?

I taught traditional Hawaiian literature to college students and established Kalamakū Press in 1990 to publish Hawaiian folktales, narratives, autobiography, and poetry. I also worked for a decade as a writer for the Polynesian Voyaging Society (PVS), a scientific and cultural non-profit that builds and sails double-hulled voyaging canoes to explore how the Polynesians, without modern navigation instruments, found and settled Hawai‘i. Long before Europeans arrived in Hawai‘i, Polynesians discovered and lived sustainably for centuries on an isolated chain of eight islands. The practices and values of the traditional culture have a lot to teach communities struggling to find their way in an overdeveloped, overpopulated world today. 

Dennis' book list on understanding Hawaiian culture before visiting

Dennis Kawaharada Why did Dennis love this book?

How did Polynesians navigate without instruments in voyaging canoes made with stone-age tools to discover and settle an isolated island chain in the middle of the Pacific, over 2,000 miles from their ancestral homelands in Tahiti and the Marquesas? Their navigational practices are lost in time, but the Polynesian Voyaging Society was established in 1975 to explore how it might have been done. Low tells the story of the society’s early work, a marvelous combination of adventure, exploration, and research that contributed to the contemporary revival of the spirit, pride, values, and traditions of the ancient culture. Also highly recommended on this subject are books by the three founders of the Polynesian Voyaging Society: artist and scholar Herb Kawaianui Kane, anthropologist Ben Finney, and writer and waterman Tommy Holmes.

By Sam Low,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Attuned to a world of natural signs-the stars, the winds, the curl of ocean swells-Polynesian explorers navigated for thousands of miles without charts or instruments. They sailed against prevailing winds and currents aboard powerful double canoes to settle the vast Pacific Ocean. And they did this when Greek mariners still hugged the coast of an inland sea, and Europe was populated by stone-age farmers. Yet by the turn of the twentieth century, this story had been lost and Polynesians had become an oppressed minority in their own land. Then, in 1975, a replica of an ancient Hawaiian canoe-Hokule'a-was launched to…


Book cover of Hawaii's Story by Hawaii's Queen

Jasmin Iolani Hakes Author Of Hula

From my list on nonfiction to read before your Hawaii vacation.

Who am I?

My passion to write about Hawaiʻi began with a desire to see the world that I knew and loved reflected in literary form, complete with all its complexities and nuance. Growing up alongside Hawaiʻi’s sovereignty movement, there was so much I didn’t understand. School textbooks didn’t mention Hawaiʻi. The little I learned about our culture and history was from dancing hula. So when I started reading some of the books on this list, it put all of my memories into context. Everything about my home became clearer to see (and therefore write about). The true beauty of Hawaiʻi exists behind its postcard image, and this is how you get there!

Jasmin's book list on nonfiction to read before your Hawaii vacation

Jasmin Iolani Hakes Why did Jasmin love this book?

When I was growing up, all I learned about my home was the year Hawaiʻi became a state.

My mother forbid me from speaking local pidgin at home because of the prevailing stereotype that locals were uneducated, unrefined, and not able to understand the complexities of the wider world.

Television and film portrayed people from Hawaiʻi as pagans needing saving from themselves, who drank and sinned themselves to death unless saved by white foreigners. In more ways than one, the loss of the Hawaiian Kingdom was placed on the shoulders of leaders too weak and simple-minded to maintain and protect it.

Hawai’i’s Story challenges that. Written by Queen Liliʻiuokalani after she was imprisoned and overthrown by a group backed by U.S. Marines and intended to aid in the fight against annexation, this memoir reveals a Hawaiian Kingdom that is the most literate nation in the world at the time and…

By Liliuokalani,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Hawaii's Story by Hawaii's Queen as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Hawaii's Story by Hawaii's Queen (1898) is an autobiography by Lili'uokalani. Published in 1898, the book was written in the aftermath of Lili'uokalani's attempt to appeal on behalf of her people to President Grover Cleveland, a personal friend. Although it inspired Cleveland to demand her reinstatement, the United States Congress published the Morgan Report in 1894, which denied U.S. involvement in the overthrow of the Kingdom of Hawaii. Hawaii's Story by Hawaii's Queen appeared four years later as a final effort by Lili'uokalani to advocate on behalf of Hawaiian sovereignty, but it unfortunately came too late. That same year, President…


Book cover of KINO and the KING

Lehua Parker Author Of One Boy, No Water

From my list on authentically Hawaiian books for tweens and teens.

Who am I?

Growing up in a kanaka maoli—Native Hawaiian—family in Hawai’i, I hungered for stories centered around island kids and their authentic lived experiences. I scoured classrooms, libraries, and bookstores looking for stories that reflected my reality, but all I ever found were dusty collections of ancient legends, not books that appealed to my sense of wonder or adventure. It’s the reason I wrote the Niuhi Shark Saga trilogy and why I’m so excited to share this collection with you. These books are everything I always wanted to read as a child growing up in Hawai‘i—and more!

Lehua's book list on authentically Hawaiian books for tweens and teens

Lehua Parker Why did Lehua love this book?

With a sacred stone in hand, twelve-year-old Kino hides from bullies in an ancient grass hut on display at Bishop Museum. In a blinding flash, she travels back in time to 1825 and meets a young boy who is destined to become King Kamehameha III. Together they go on an epic adventure facing sharks, Night Marchers, wild boars, and more as they collect the four items Kino needs to return home. I love this fantasy story with Hawaiian kids as heroes because it treats Hawaiian history and culture as both magical and ordinary rather than sensationally exotic.

By Jen Angeli,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Want to escape into an epic adventure back in time? Pick up a copy of KINO and the KING and follow Kino Kahele on her visit when Hawaii was a young nation, and the Kamehameha Dynasty ruled the land. After Kino receives a pohaku (stone), that is supposed to help Kino find her destiny, she is chased by bullies into the Hawaiian Hall at the Bishop Museum in Honolulu. She ducks into the ancient grass hut display and hides her rock in a conch shell. With a flash of bright light, she is transported to 1825 where she meets 11-year-old…


Book cover of The Jaded Spy

Cat Connor Author Of [Whiskey Tango Foxtrot]

From my list on to relive the 70’s if you’re surrounded by spies.

Who am I?

Crime and espionage are a lifelong fascination for me. I used to think my dad was a spy when I was young because he didn’t talk about work. Turned out he didn’t think I’d be interested in his day as a Quantity Surveyor, my Grandad was a LEO so talking about work wasn’t really a thing. Or they were both spies. Over the years I have made some good friends in the espionage community and various policing agencies and they’re kind enough to share their expertise with me. I’m a big fan of fast-moving stories with intricate plots and action and hopefully they'll draw you in as well. I hope you enjoy the books.

Cat's book list on to relive the 70’s if you’re surrounded by spies

Cat Connor Why did Cat love this book?

This book is the first in the Jaded Trilogy. It’s set in New Zealand during the 1970s. It’s a twisty plot (which I particularly love) and there are Russian spies.

NZ in the ’70s (mid-Cold War) when nothing was as it seemed and everyone had an agenda, whether it was stealing a painting, growing and distributing weed, or counter surveillance on a Russian diplomat. And things overlapped as they do in New Zealand.

This is a fun exciting book. It reminded me of what the world was like before phones became computers back when everything was analog. As a writer of spy/PI thrillers, it was a great read. (I’m a fan, I’ve read all of Nick Spill’s work including his non-fiction.)

By Nick Spill,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Alexander, the curator, is sent to Auckland to escort Captain James Cook to the Auckland Art Gallery. On opening night, the priceless portrait is stolen. Alexander has to find the painting to save his career but he also has to deal with a Soviet spy whom he has been clandestinely photographing. He meets Dr. Mel Johnson who proves irresistible to him when he is invited to her female-only martial arts school. A Maori Land Rights group led by Wiremu Wilson claims to have kidnapped Captain Cook and is holding the painting ransom for lands that were seized before and after…


Book cover of Blue Latitudes: Boldly Going Where Captain Cook Has Gone Before

Susan K. Harris Author Of Mark Twain, the World, and Me: Following the Equator, Then and Now

From my list on blending memoir, travel, and history.

Who am I?

I’ve always enjoyed books that introduce me to faraway places, cultural narratives, and the writers behind the stories. After retiring from college teaching, I decided to write one myself. I’m a Mark Twain scholar, so I followed Twain’s lecture tour through Australasia, India, and South Africa. One of my goals was to expose my research methods to my readers, and writing in the first person made that easy. What I hadn’t foreseen was how much the process would force me to confront my own past—exposing the radical differences between Mark Twain and Me. 

Susan's book list on blending memoir, travel, and history

Susan K. Harris Why did Susan love this book?

This is one of my favorite books ever. Horwitz’s project was to follow famous travelers, and Blue Latitudes follows Captain Cook on a voyage that Cook himself characterized as having gone “farther than any other man has been before.” (Trekkies take note: Cook/Kirk, “farther than any other man has been  before”/”boldly go where no man has been before.” Who knew?) 

Star Trek aside, Horwitz, accompanied by his hard-drinking sidekick Roger, boldly goes where Cook went, exploring history, culture, and the legacies of European colonialism on their way. In between bouts of laughter, we learn a lot about the South Pacific, then and now, and about Cook and his men themselves—not to speak of Horwitz and Roger. It’s a rollicking voyage through time and space that holds your attention throughout.

By Tony Horwitz,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In an exhilarating tale of historic adventure, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Confederates in the Attic retraces the voyages of Captain James Cook, the Yorkshire farm boy who drew the map of the modern world

Captain James Cook's three epic journeys in the 18th century were the last great voyages of discovery. His ships sailed 150,000 miles, from the Artic to the Antarctic, from Tasmania to Oregon, from Easter Island to Siberia. When Cook set off for the Pacific in 1768, a third of the globe remained blank. By the time he died in Hawaii in 1779, the map of…


Book cover of The Ends of the Earth: Essays

Akiko Busch Author Of How to Disappear: Notes on Invisibility in a Time of Transparency

From my list on essays by poets.

Who am I?

I am drawn to what happens when writers skilled in one form of expression explore their ideas in another. Poets write with a sense of distillation. Prose allows for something different, the essay form bringing to the surface something more expansive, less concentrated. Clarity is constant, but it takes on a different rhythm, a spaciousness, a sense of one thing leading to another and another.

Akiko's book list on essays by poets

Akiko Busch Why did Akiko love this book?

W. S. Merwin writes about place with both a sense of rich material texture and evanescence. Science and history may be referred to as well. Somehow these assorted sensibilities, or views, create a genuine and full sense of place that reflects what is both visible and invisible. For some reason I don’t quite understand, I would rather encounter a monk on a tractor in a Merwin essay than in a Merwin poem.

By W.S. Merwin,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

W. S. Merwin is widely acknowledged as one of the finest living poets in English. Less well known is the power and range of his work in prose. For his first new prose collection in more than ten years, The Ends of the Earth, Merwin has gathered eight essays that show the breadth of his imagination and sympathy. A memoir of George Kirstein, publisher of "The Nation," stands alongside one of Sydney Parkinson, explorer, naturalist and artist on Captain James Cook’s Endeavour. A wonderful portrait of the French explorer of Hawai’i, Jean-Francois Galaup de La Perouse is followed by a…


Book cover of Kaiulani: Crown Princess of Hawaii

Eric Redman Author Of Bones Of Hilo

From my list on under-appreciated about Hawai'i.

Who am I?

In the early 1980s, I fell in love with the Big Island of Hawaiʻi, its people – including my wife’s Native Hawaiian relatives – and its history. My wife and I owned a home on the South Kohala Coast of the Big Island for twenty years, where I assembled a library of Hawaiian history and began reading all things Hawaiian, including detective fiction. Every year, Hawaiʻi inspires so many books, fiction and non-fiction, well-publicized or obscure, that it’s fun to mention some that Hawaiʻi lovers and residents may have missed.  

Eric's book list on under-appreciated about Hawai'i

Eric Redman Why did Eric love this book?

Princess Victoria Kaʻiulani is among those brave real-life heroines who remain inspiring despite terrible tragedies, in Kaʻiulani’s case the theft of the Hawaiian kingdom in a coup by white planters in 1893 when she was only seventeen, and her shockingly premature death only six years later, at twenty-three, after being caught far from shelter in a chilling Hawaiʻi rain storm. 

In those six years, she became a figure on the world stage, welcomed by the royal houses of Europe as the forceful, articulate, and beautiful advocate (educated in England) pleading for the Hawaiian Kingdom’s formal diplomatic recognition and its return by the United States. 

U.S. annexation, an admitted wrong, might have been righted by her efforts had not Alfred Thayer Mahan’s relentless crusade persuaded Congress and the President that the U.S. needed Pearl Harbor to project U.S. naval power across the Pacific. 

Ironically, Kaʻiulani’s planned marriage to a Japanese prince,…

By Nancy Webb, Jean Francis Webb,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Vintage paperback


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in Hawaii, the Pearl Harbor attack, and surfing?

10,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about Hawaii, the Pearl Harbor attack, and surfing.

Hawaii Explore 51 books about Hawaii
The Pearl Harbor Attack Explore 23 books about the Pearl Harbor attack
Surfing Explore 27 books about surfing