Memoirs, cookbooks and health tips--kama'aina style

Books / Labor of love

Barbara: Memoir of a Love Affair by Will Butler, Authorhouse, $13, 360 pages

People between their 20s and mid-30s avoid thinking about old age at all costs. It seems gray and dull and lonely. Once in awhile, if they’re lucky, they come across someone much older than they, someone who doesn’t seem to be any of those things. Then they realize the deal–if you develop principles early in life and stick to them, if you make good decisions, then the latter part of your life might actually be pretty good. Barbara is a wonderful illustration of that principle. Kaiser clinic co-founder and longtime Moloka’i doctor Will Butler composed much of this memoir while the book’s namesake, his wife of five decades and lover of six, was dying of cancer. Barbara is unflinchingly candid and emotional, and stunningly detailed. Still, memoirs like this are only as good as the material they have to work with; in Will and Barbara’s case the material is spectacular. After meeting, traveling and living together in Mexico in the 1940s, the two were drawn back to the U.S. by the draft, then remained there while Will finished medical school. While working and raising four children, the two became embroiled in the civil rights and anti-war movements of the 1950s and ’60s, often at great personal and professional expenses. They then moved to the islands, where Will was known as the ‘Red Doctor’ of Moloka’i before moving to O’ahu and diving headfirst into local political struggles over healthcare provision. Barbara is a remarkable story of two remarkable people. This is exactly what self-publishing is meant to be.

Baby I got your money

Money Lei Making in Hawaii: A Step-by-Step Guide by Laurie Shimizu Ide, Mutual, $9.95, 48 pages

Local floral artist Laurie Shimizu Ide presents this crafty guide to that most hybrid of local traditions–the money lei. Combining, Polynesian lei-making techniques with Chinese gift-giving traditions and Japanese origami, the money lei is a standard sight at graduations and birthdays. Ide breaks it down into simple steps, with examples that accommodate all ability levels, using both coin and paper.

Seeing trails

Day Hikes in Hawai’i: 90 Great Hikes on Kauai, Maui and Oahu, by Robert Stone, Day Hike Books, $16.95, 224 pages

Dude, Robert Stone must have calves like a freaking yeti. He claims to have hiked every trail in the 21 hiking books he has penned since 1991. His choice of paths on O’ahu and two neighbor islands is a great cross-section of Hawai’i’s different ecosystems. Day Hikes is that rarest of all things–useful for both locals and visitors.

Request for fire

By Request: The Search for Hawai’i’s Greatest Recipes by Betty Shimabukuro, Mutual, $13.95, 172 pages

A compendium of Shimabukuro’s recipe columns from the Honolulu Star-Bulletin, By Request is as much an oral history of O’ahu’s restaurant industry as it is a recipe book. Shimabukuro spends her days tracking down half-remembered recipes for her readers, usually from their childhoods. This takes her, and you, the reader, to some strange places, like Queen’s Hospital (for their beef stew recipe) or her own family’s Baked Pepsi Ham. (Ingredients: Pepsi, ham.) There’s also Diamond Head Market’s renowned blueberry scones, L & L’s Chicken Katsu, I Love Country’s Furikake Eggplant, the Punahou Carnival’s legendary Portuguese Bean Soup, and many, many more. Destined for the shortlist of classic Island cookbooks.

Senior week

Senior Fitness: The Diet and Exercise Program for Maximum Health and Longetivity by Ruth E. Heidrich, Lantern, $17, 219 pages

No carb-bashing or steam room-anorexia here. You can tell that local fitness trainer and radio host (Nutrition & You, KWAI) Ruth Heidrich is legit because she doesn’t promise dramatic short-term results without a fundamental commitment to exercise and healthy eating. What Heidrich does promise is this: that many of the chronic conditions that eat away at quality of life for older people–osteoporosis, heart disease, diabetes–can be warded off or reversed with the right combination of exercise and healthy eating. Hardly revolutionary, but with growing numbers of Americans barreling towards an old age of diabetic obesity, it’s an urgent message.

Try talk nice

Pocket Hawaiian Grammar: A Reference grammar in Dictionary Form by Albert J. Schutz, Gary N. Kahaho’omalu Kanada and Kenneth William Cook, Island Heritage, $8.99, 248 pages

Ask anyone who has had to go through the torturous process of learning a second language after the age of 5: A good grammar book is like a threadbare stuffed animal or a favorite pair of socks. You get used to its particular format. Each folded corner and crease reminds you of a particular conjugation. Pocket Hawaiian Grammar, by three local profs, has all the makings of a classic. Arranged encyclopedia-style, with grammar points arranged alphabetically. Alas, there is still no 501 Hawaiian Verbs (Damn you, Barron’s!), but this is a convenient and well thought-out substitute.

If it’s got a local connection and paper with words printed on it, we want it! [email: joelharold]