Sunday, July 25, 2010

Reading as Research

Over the past month, I've been interested in reading more about these beautiful islands that make up Hawaii.  At my conference this past week, the participants came from mainly the Big Island, as well as Molokai.  In visiting with them about the cultures and landscapes of their islands, I was intrigued to learn a bit more. 

 I started off this summer reading Between the Deep Blue Sea and Me, which was an excellent book that delved into one woman's reconnection to her Hawaiian heritage.  After reading that award winner, I switched gears and read No Footprints in the Sand, which is a really great autobiography of a man who was sent to Molokai after his diagnosis of Hansen's disease, or leprosy.  It was a great read, and has left me wanting more. 

As a follow up to No Footprints in the Sand, I've started to read Moloka'i by Alan Brennert.  Although fiction, the set up of this 1800's story of a woman diagnosed with leprosy and sent away from her family to Molokai is compelling.  I'll have a hard time putting it down. 

Last year, Brennert also put out another acclaimed novel, Honolulu, which has received great reviews.

There are a lot of great books out there that explore Hawaiian culture and history.  I'd like to finish reading House of Many Gods, and also Song of the Exile, both by Kiana Davenport.

I have a list of other books categorized as Hawaiiana, but this is a great starting list. 

Have you used reading as personal research, and have you read any of the books listed here?   


  1. I really have not used literature for research, but I felt like I did learn so much by reading Molakai and Honolulu, about topics I knew very little about....great reads

  2. I actually have done some personal reading as research this summer and have thoroughly enjoyed myself. I have been reading/researching Impressionism and have read a number of non-fiction as well as historical fiction novels. I have read so much that I can really start to picture Paris in the late 19th Century - and I feel as though I intimately know some of the key characters: Manet - Degas - Cassatt - Renoir.

    I now truly long to go to Paris - and Montmartre - and visit all these locations that I have read about over the past few months.

    I have not read any books about Hawaii - but I am thinking that might be a good research project, that of course, would require an extensive field trip :)

  3. I wasn't using them as research, but I loved both MOLOKAI and HONOLULU. They're both lush and beautifully written.

  4. I have always wanted to read Molokai so I can't wait to hear what you think of it! And yes, to answer your question, when I've traveled, like you I love to read books about the place too to get a feel for them outside of travel guides!

  5. I haven't read any of them, but I really like the sound of Between The Deep Blue Sea and Me. It helps that I love the cover too!

  6. Actually... no. Haha. ;) Oh, I probably have, but I can't remember for what at the moment. Usually I become obsessed with a certain thing but can't find much on it, then a few months later it's all the rage and I've moved on to something else. :P Maybe I should read some books about Oklahoma, though.

  7. The first book I reviewed on my site was Molokai. I took it with me when we hiked down to Kalaupapa this past fall. It was wonderful to see the book's setting up close!

    Aloha from Rob

  8. Bibliophile & Susan--That's great to hear about the Brennert novels. I'm excited to keep reading!

    Molly--Wow! You've done a lot of research reading! I hope you get to go on some field trips. :)

    Amused--It's so fun looking at books that center on places you've been or are going. I think it has shaped a lot of what I've read over the years!

    Nymeth--Between the Deep Blue Sea and Me is really good. You'll have to give it a try!

    Heidenkind--I do that too. I've been known to fixate on a genre and then switch gears. Don't you remember me talking about Istanbul not too long ago? Ha, ha! I don't know how I switch so dramatically, but I do. :)

    Rob--That is so great that you got to read Moloka'i and hike down to Kalaupapa. What a great way of combining the two and getting to see what you were reading about! In some ways, I feel that way as I read about old Honolulu, as I know most of the streets he references. It's fun to consider the modern city into the one he discusses. Mahalo for stopping by!

  9. I have been doing some research on Molokai recently. This year a Belgian Catholic missionary who worked with leprosy patients was declared holy, "father Damien". He's an interesting figure and I'm interested in reading more about the island itself. Thank you for suggesting these books.

  10. I definitely have used reading as personal research! :) Like Ana, the first book really jumped out at me.

  11. I haven't read any of the books you list, but I have read Shark Dialouges by Kiana Davenport. It was very different from my usual reading, but I enjoyed it.

    Thanks for the recommendations. I'll have to see if I can track these others down.

  12. Iris--Yes, there are a lot of references to Father Damien in the books I'm reading. In fact, in the autobiography I recently read, the man went to his beatification. It's pretty interesting.

    Eva--Isn't it really great to use books in that way! :)

    Don--I've heard of that book by Davenport as well, but haven't read it. I really should check it out though!