Friday Review: Kalele Books

I hate chain bookstores.  They are so sterile and generic and I feel completely overwhelmed and uninspired at the same time.  And somehow all books look bad in chain bookstores.

Also, the Borders in Wellington has a whole section called “Vampire Romance”.  It’s bigger than their “Spirituality” section.  I’m scared.

But I adore used bookstores.  They are interesting and quirky and every time you visit there are new things to explore.  And with the really good ones you can become friends with the clerks and they save the best stuff for you when it comes in.

So, on the odd chance that you should happen to visit the very small island of Molokai, I thought you should know that Kalele Bookstore and Divine Expressions is a really good used bookstore.

Kalele Books carries an enchantingly random assortment of both new and used books, and some excellently chosen art.

Art and objects d’art

The bookstore is currently hosting three paintings done in red dirt, which sounds a little gimmicky, but is actually amazing in person.  Who knew you could get such depth, and so many subtle gradients of colour, out of dirt?  The paintings look like old museum photographs of Impressionist paintings.


In addition to real art, and tourist art (of the better quality), the bookstore has lots of fun bits of pogey bait.

And some fetching clothes.

And a gorgeous set of retro suitcases that the proprietor uses as props and won’t let me buy. (Grumpy face)

And books.  Old books.  New books.  Good books.  Frivolous books.  And lots and lots of books about Hawaii.

And finally (best of all), places to sit and relax and read.  Couches and benches and wonderful wooden rocking chairs.

It should be mandatory for all bookstores to have tons and tons and tons of places to curl up with a book

Thanks to the couches and chairs and benches, plus the general ambiance, the air conditioning, the ice water, and the free coffee, Kalele Books is an oasis in the dusty, searing heat of Kaunakakai town.  It’s a calm, cool haven of art and literature, a place to escape for chats, books, hula lessons, poetry readings, and study groups.


And the bookstore has pets. Dogs.  A wonderful calm, big poi dog, and an absolutely adorable Tibetan spaniel.  And the dogs hang out under the arbor in the flower fringed garden at the back of the shop.

Awwww… The proprietress and Tibetan spaniel at a study group


Could it get any better?*

*Actually, yes.  The bookstore also has the nicest loo in town.


  1. Kathy P says

    I’m really enjoying your posts about Hawaii.

    Your photo of the pogey bait reminds me- My husband and I are fans of the Brit comedy “The IT Crowd”. While watching one evening, I noticed that one of the board games on the office shelf is called “Pogey Bait”.

    That bookshop looks like a small bit of paradise; lovely and comfy and interesting.

    • Oooh, thanks Kathy! I did not know that – now I’m going to have to find a copy of the The IT Crowd!

      And glad you are enjoying these posts!

  2. The IT Crowd is pretty funny in a Britcom kind of way. 🙂

    That bookstore looks and sounds just lovely. It’s so hard to find places like that here.

    • It is a gem of a shop. There are one or two that are a bit like it in Wellington, but nothing that manages a garden, a great store, and lots of seating.

  3. Oooh, I love shops like this. My town has a sweet little bookstore–not used, but it does have Bookshop Cats, which is quite a draw for me in terms of bookstore perks.

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