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In search of the elusive book in Hawaii

May 13th, 2010 · 8 Comments

As I noted in a previous post, I’m living the hard life in the backwoods of Oahu. I didn’t realize how hard until I discovered that I had left my only novel behind at my hotel the first night and was trapped in the wilderness without anything to read.

I’d frankly rather go without water and my companion felt pretty much the same, so we set out yesterday to find books in northern Oahu.

That turned into quite an expedition. I knew this was a surfing oasis, but I didn’t know that it meant people didn’t read — not even surfing books. We went to the biggest town in the area, Halei’wa and hunted high and low at grocery stores, gas stations, general tourist stores, art galleries where the most we could rustle up was a few People, Entertainment Weekly and Us magazines. We were contemplating a desperate run to Honolulu and it seemed more than ironic to us that there was a literary and music festival scheduled for the city this weekend, while we were half an hour away, on the verge of breaking into someone’s house to try to find a book.

Finally, someone suggested we try the library in the next town over, Waialua, an old sugar-factory town on the hillside nearby. After a few wrong turns, we found the town and the little local library in the shadow of the sugar-mill stack and hauled away a stack of books from their resale section for a mere $7, managing to pluck out Linda Spalding’s novel set in Hawaii, a biography of Julia Child, Sebastian Junger’s A Perfect Storm and a few other gems from the usual airport dreck.

I also checked out the magazines donated by locals, being recycled. As I suspected, quite a few surfing/outdoors type magazines. But the preponderance were … Fortune magazines. Aha, this is why no one reads. They’re not surfing. They’re counting the ways to make money from their lovely retirement homes.

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