HPU Reads

Previous Common Books

The Common Book Selection Committee will soon select the sixth book to be read by the HPU community.  Below are the works previously selected.

HPU Reads 2012-2013: The Value of Hawaii
HPU Reads 2011-2012: The Value of Hawaii

The Value of Hawai'i, is a collection of current essays, provides HPU students, faculty and staff and the community at large outside of HPU, with a cluster of starting points for a discussion of Hawai'i that explores these questions and more, in an effort to learn about Hawai'i from the inside out, cutting through the many layers of stereotypes and hype about what Hawai'i really is and isn't.  The brief essays address a wide range of topics: Education, the Environment, Hawaiian Issues, Tourism, the Arts, Political Culture, Law, Labor, the Military, Transportation, Homelessness, and many more.

Although the contributors to the anthology may have different perspectives and expertise, they each passionately believe that "taking stock of where [the people of Hawai'i] are right now, what need[s] to remember[ed],what need[s] to [be] preserve[d] and to change, is the challenge that all [who are linked to Hawai'i] must face now" (from front cover of book).

Craig Howes is director of the Center for Biographical Research and a co-producer of the Biography Hawai'i television documentary series. Jonathan KayKamakawiwo'ole Osorio is professor of Hawaiian Studies at the Kamakakuokalani Center for Hawaiian Studies. He is an author and musician.

The Value of Hawaii

HPU Reads 2010-2011: Enrique's Journey

Enrique’s Journey, by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Sonia Nazario, is the unforgettable true story of a young Honduran boy’s journey to the United States in search of his mother. Along the way Enrique encounters a cast of characters who provide their own unique commentaries on immigration, not just into the United States but into the Central American countries through which Enrique must travel in his quest to be reunited with his mother. While immigration is a central theme of the book, Enrique’s encounters with bandits, gangs, drug smugglers, glue-sniffers, border agents, and a host of characters involved in one way or another in the tide of human traffic between south and north America, illuminate and provoke discussion on a host of issues from poverty, to organized violence, family responsibility, generational conflict, globalization, and the market economy.

Enrique's Journey Cover

HPU Reads 2009-2010: Little Brother

The 2009-2010 HPU Reads selection is the program's first work of fiction, Little Brother, by Cory Doctorow. The heroes of this adventure novel are teenagers in San Francisco who build anonymous Web sites and services after the US government censors the mainstream media and imprisons thousands in the wake of a terrorist attack. The title invokes Big Brother of George Orwell's 1984, the novel that gave us the term "Orwellian" to describe a society where surveillance of citizens is commonplace and official speech is dominated by doublethink.

Little Brother Cover


HPU Reads 2008-2009: The Omnivore's Dilemma

Author Michael Pollan traces four meals from their origins:
• chicken nuggets from McDonald's, eaten in the car;
• an organic TV dinner from a Whole Foods store;
• dinner from a chicken he has killed at a family-owned organic farm in Virginia;
• wild boar and mushrooms that he has hunted and gathered himself.

When you can eat everything, what should you eat? Pollan defines the omnivore's dilemma as the problem of finding the perfect meal in a fast-food world. One thing this book makes clear: if we are what we eat, it's getting so we hardly know ourselves at all.

Omnivores Dilemma Cover

HPU Reads 2007-2008: The Bookseller of Kabul

The Bookseller of Kabul, by Asne Seierstad, is an intimate look at the realities of daily life in today's Afghanistan and a detailed history of one family's fortunes and misfortunes during two decades of civil war. Some topics raised by this fascinating journalistic account include:

• Balance between Westernization and traditional Islam.
• Afghan traditions, family models, and the role of women.
• Changes felt by the bookseller and his family under successive regimes: the Soviets, the Mujahedeen, the Taliban, and the coalition-supported democracy.

Bookseller of Kabul Cover

Selection Committee

A group of volunteers, chaired by Dr. Micheline Soong, meet during the academic year to discuss the list of nominees and to select a book. The committee uses the following criteria:

  • Clear ties to HPU’s mission and to some of the Five Themes;
  • A connection to global learning;
  • Appropriate to a wide variety of disciplines and courses;  
  • Suggests a variety of co-curricular events and speakers that will enhance students' general education experience;
  • The book will sustain discussion for a term, if not for a year. 
  • The book is appropriate for first-year college students.