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Reading Michener

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message 1: by Jolene (new)

Jolene Lanier I've tried reading his books in the past, but just can't seem to get into them!


Arlene Nelson You have to get passed the 1st 100 pages. It's an unwritten rule. Once you do that you will get into the story. Took me 5 years to get passed those first 100. Once I did there was no turning back. You won't regret it:)


Gilbert Dennis Read this book twice and each time I was transported back to the earliest and not so recent Hawaiian history with much delight and pleasure. I am a Michener fan and devoured all his books. Best historical fiction writer so far in the league of John Jakes.


Mary JL Jolene: Michener starts very slowly giving all the details. He's is WORTH reading trhough all the preliminary materials.

Once he gets finished describing the geography and the land, and starts talking about PEOPLE, he is a superb historical writer. I have read all of his books.

Give it one more try. Get the the part where the first contact is made between the Hawaiian people and the Briths and American sailors. When you get that far, as Arlene noted, you won't be able to stop!


Robin I haven;t read this book and I live in Hawaii. Saw the movie with Charlton Heston and it was an epic. Watch the movie and see if you want to slog through the tome that is James Michener's book.


Michael T I too quit at around page 100, but if everyone claims that it picks up, perhaps I'll make another pass.


message 7: by Stephen (last edited May 16, 2011 11:32AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Stephen The trip (past page 100) is well worth it. .James A. Michener's style really reached its peak in this book in my opinion. You could see echo's of a characters parents and grandparents in their characters that rang true and made sense. Perhaps you don't need to start with the geographic formation of the islands in order to understand the characters (and the book would certaily be shorter without it) but it informs the environment and the environment informs the characters who in turn inform and shape the story.

BTW... the movie is OK but the book is far superior. If for no other reason, it actually doesn't end half way through the story


Michael Richards I read "Hawaii" soon after my first trip there about 5 years ago. I have to admit, I enjoyed the first part of the book (aka "The Voyage") more than the actual story once they arrived on land. However, I read the book all the way through and did find the characters' stories fascinating.


message 9: by Stephen (last edited May 16, 2011 11:42AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Stephen It occurs to me that the "journey" of getting to Hawaii is a major part of the story, not only for the Pacific Islanders but for the missionaries as well. Even the whalers see the island as a tropical paradise that is a respite from the hardship of their sea travels. To a lesser extent even today's tourist must make a longer plane flight than they are used to.

I went to Hawaii shortly after reading the book and like most tourists was struck by the island's tropical beauty. If I was so awestruck after a simple multi-hour plane-flight, imaging how much more striking the island must have been after a many months sea voyage in the sailing ships of the time!


Robin Yes, the subject matter is alluring and sometimes the author wants to educate his readers. I personally haven't read any Michener, I did see the movie, and I liked it. Not that I am against reading a book about the islands from where I am from.


Sharon [it's only] Barbara wrote: "Hawaii was a wonderful book, I agree the first 100 pages were hard to get through. The first time I started reading it was on a bus in 1967.
My favorite, however, was Centennial. I even enjoye..."


Centennial was also my most favorite and had no problem with the first part either. I grew up on the plains and so that also added to my interest. I have the book Hawaii but not read it as yet. All his work has a lot of geology and geography backgrounds.


Stephen Sharon wrote: ... All his work has a lot of geology and geography backgrounds. "

That's particularly true of this one, but then, geography and geology play a key role in how the islands have developed as they have. And as to the movie version of this book, I sort of felt cheated. The movie ended about half way through the story and (for me at least) a big part of the enjoyment of Mitchener's characters is seeing them in the context of their history. In this case both the islands' history and that of their parents and grandparents.


message 13: by J.P. (new) - rated it 4 stars

J.P. I didn't have a problem with the first 100 with Hawaii. Alaska, with the birth of the salmon, was a bit more painful. And Texas took two tries separated by a year before I was able to get through.

Hawaii was excellent as was Chesapeake. If you want a shorter intro into Michener, try Space. It was the first I read and I managed to finish it one sitting, albeit a sitting that lasted some seven hours.


message 14: by Jim (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jim One of my favorites by Michener is 'The Novel'. Much shorter and completely different from his historical fiction, but a total page turner of a story told from the POV of four different characters.


Karen I have really enjoyed everything I've read by Michener, most especially the first 100 pages, but then I'm a history nut, so absolutely loved "The Source." Of the others, "Centennial" is probably my favorite, but there are scenes from "Poland" and "The Covenant" that definitely stick in my mind.


Michael T Those with insomnia are treated with Mitchener


Wendy Suckow I thank everyone for your recommendations. I tried to read The Source after I had devoured Hawaii, and couldn't make it through. I have been to Hawaii and this might have been the draw for me. However, if you want to read about different cultures of people, and their effect on each other, this book is profound! I recommend it to everyone. Has anyone read Molo'Kai?


message 18: by Rick (new) - rated it 4 stars

Rick Bavera I have enjoyed Michener's work for years. Have re-read several of them.
I agree that the early parts of the books are often tough, but they DO set the scene.
He is one of my favorites.
Centennial and Chesapeake are my two favorites of Michener's works.

Another author who is very similar (inspired by Michener, I think I read somewhere) is Edward Rutherford.

Love to read long tales, where you can get involved with the characters....but still have not been able to read those long books by Russian authors....


MARILYN As a long time Mitchner fan, skip the geology part and read the story, you can go back and read it later and it will make more sense. Hawaii is my favorite but I loved The Source and The Covenant. I learned to skip the geology part, get to the story and then come back.


Charlotte I've only read 'Hawaii' so far though I have a copy of 'The Source' waiting to be read. On the long geological introduction, I found it almost mirrored the experience of the characters. Each group that came to Hawaii had to endure a long journey to get there - so do the readers have to get through this section to get to the main story. I don't know if this analogy works for any of Michener's other books, but that's my tuppun'orth anyway.


Adrian I liked the first 100 pages of Hawaii. I thought the geology was fascinating and I loved the part about the ancient islanders.

But, if you can get past that, the story starting with Abner is tremendous.

After you read Hawaii, might pick up Shoal in Time, a true history of Hawaii.


message 22: by Evan (new) - rated it 5 stars

Evan Williams Michener's novels are richly rewarding. Being a detailed person, I appreciate the obligation he feels to provide background information, even if it involves prehistoric geological events at the future setting for the book. I still treasure his works I read forty years ago. Read them ALL!


Susan I agree with a lot of the others. Once you get into Michener's novels, they are hard to put down. I end up re-reading several of them (Centennial and Chesapeake being my favorites).

I saw someone's comment regarding Rutherford. Will have to try him!


Susan The dinosaurs! I get into that part too. This was my first Michener book and it got me hooked just reading about the dinosaurs.


Adrian Similar to Michener, I liked James Clavell's books, Shogun, Tai-Pan, King Rat and Noble House. Very much in the same vein of historical fiction.


Susan Adrian wrote: "Similar to Michener, I liked James Clavell's books, Shogun, Tai-Pan, King Rat and Noble House. Very much in the same vein of historical fiction."
Adrian - Clavell's Shogun series is great. My least fav was King Rat, but great books.
I'm now starting Sarum by Edward Rutherford. Already has me hooked and only started yesterday.


Adrian King Rat was my least favorite, too. I really liked Tai-pan and Noble House.


Patricia I have been a huge Michener fan since high school 48 years ago, when I read Hawaii for a group book report. Yes, you do have to be patient as you read through the first pages! Michener provides so much information on every aspect of the islands that it is well worth it. The one book that gave me the most grief was The Source. It took three attempts but I finally did it!


Brenda Hawaii, Alaska, Carribean, Chesapeke, Poland, Mexico, Caravan, etc. Every time I read one of his books, I have a new place or two to add to my "Bucket List"! HA!


withdrawn I found Michener to be great light reading for those times when I wasn't into anything else. Easy fiction with a bunch of facts thrown in to give me something to talk to myself about. I bought a whole bunch of them in a used book store before going off to live alone in the Canadian Rockies doing forest fire duty for the B.C. government in 1978. (I was in my Kerouac phase.) Whole days spent in my sleeping bag reading Michener and listening for bears. Life was good.


message 31: by Rose (new) - rated it 2 stars

Rose Brenda wrote: "Hawaii, Alaska, Carribean, Chesapeke, Poland, Mexico, Caravan, etc. Every time I read one of his books, I have a new place or two to add to my "Bucket List"! HA!"

i thought TEXAS was the best book i ever read!


message 32: by Rey (new) - rated it 3 stars

Rey Dekker The Drifters was my introduction to Michener and, indirectly, it got me to Torremolinos, Spain...pretty much found all the others worth reading...Hawaii, Alaska, Cowboys(?)...just don't expect Evanovich and you will be fine...do some lifting...


David I read 10 to 20 books a year. By far one of the best books I have read. Amazing story. The guy knows how to write.


Robert J I read this many years after seeing the film which i really love. Normaly i dont read a book after seeing the film but in case it made the book more enjoyable, i really wanted to dig into the WHOLE story. And i loved the book. I didnt find i had a issue with a slow start.


Penny I loved this as well as every other book James A Michener has written! As Jolene says once you get past the first 100 pages or so you are hooked into the story and the lives of the characters he writes about.
I like how involved and meaty his stories are!
I recently read The Drifters which I enjoyed, but my favourite has to be The Source.


Erinkempfer I loved this book - though I have not loved all his books. The reason he is so hard to read is he has such rich character and scene development. It is as if you were right there....I also loved Cenntenial and Chesapeake....I did NOT love Poland - couldn't get through it....


message 37: by Lori (new) - rated it 3 stars

Lori Baldi I feel pretty good that there isn't a single Michener book that I didn't get through! There are plenty of other authors who have defeated me. I've enjoyed all of Michener's work and learned so much. Definitely a learning experience. My favorite by far is Centennial but Space was really good too and also Texas. I think the one that I still need to get to is Alaska. Maybe in 2013.


Carol I loved the geology part of Hawaii and have read that part by itself many times without reading the rest of Hawaii after the first time. His writing is so perfect, I could almost "see" those islands rising out of the sea and was awed by his descriptions. An amazing writer. I've enjoyed all his books and will reread again some day!


Penny Lori wrote: "I feel pretty good that there isn't a single Michener book that I didn't get through! There are plenty of other authors who have defeated me. I've enjoyed all of Michener's work and learned so much..."

Hear hear Lori, I really enjoy his stuff too. Alaska was actually one of my favourites.


Susan The first book I read by Michener was The Source. I absolutely loved it (to reread it is on my very long to do list). Perhaps it was because I had read about Palestine before and knew a little about it, because his later books did not interest me so much. I did read Hawaii and liked it. Most of the others I could not get into. I forced myself to get through Chesapeake because I live in that area, but I cannot say it was a favorite book of mine. I wish they would come out with an audiobook of The Source. That would make good listening.


Susie Arlene wrote: "You have to get passed the 1st 100 pages. It's an unwritten rule. Once you do that you will get into the story. Took me 5 years to get passed those first 100. Once I did there was no turning back. ..."

Ha, that goes for all of Michener's books. It's worth it.


message 42: by Tom (new) - rated it 5 stars

Tom Lyons Have not read a Michener book in 10 years. But I have read every single book that he wrote.
He's another national treasure, like McMurtry.
Most of Michener's books do start off slowly ..... then they build as the story of the characters develop and we get drawn into what happens to them.


message 43: by Beth (new) - rated it 5 stars

Beth Jim wrote: "One of my favorites by Michener is 'The Novel'. Much shorter and completely different from his historical fiction, but a total page turner of a story told from the POV of four different characters."
One of my favorites as well and it doesn't seem to be that well known.


message 44: by Tom (new) - rated it 5 stars

Tom Lyons In his day, and during that time .... 1960's to 1990's ... nothing was a better read than a Michener book.
If he were alive today .... and if he still wrote today ..... his books would have been just as relevant and interesting.
He was a national treasure, in my opinion.
Thanks!


Kathryn Manahan I have learned so much history from Michener's books. The intro chapters having to do with formation of the land, etc., can be skipped and the reader can just read the story. Centennial is one of my all-time favorite books and I loved the mini-series that was on TV years back. Hawaii was an excellent book also.


Carol Bro He knows how to tell a good story and how to create very memorable characters, but more importantly, he's reliable with his history. Sure, it's historical "fiction," but I like to think I'm learning a thing or two while enjoying the story. Michener does thorough research. That can't be said for a lot of authors of hist. fiction. Even Larry McMurtry, who also knows how to tell a great story, plays around too much with the facts. My favorite Michener book is Chesapeake. Also loved Texas and Centennial, and prepped for my 1st trip to the Caribbean by reading Michener. Gonna have to try Hawaii again - quit about halfway through that one for some reason.


message 47: by Eric (new) - rated it 3 stars

Eric Andrews-Katz I enjoyed this book but there is a certain way to read Hawaii. First, take a dromamine. All those waves in the first 100 pages rolling in and rolling out made me a little sea sick. Scan over the first 100 pages and get into the story. That's when this book becomes very good!
Eric


message 48: by Robert (new)

Robert Jolene, I know this is backwards, but it works. Watch the movie if there is one and then read the book. Movies and written word are very different, but once having built the framework for the story, the huge amount of back-story makes sense.


Helen M. Ryan Arlene is right. You have to get through the first 100 pages. Michener is hard to get into at first. I think Caravan was my first one (I was about 13 so a little young). It took me 3 months to read. But then I got hooked on all the history and his storytelling. Hawaii was great.


message 50: by Gene (last edited Oct 03, 2015 11:36AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Gene Moore Read Hawaii several years ago as my first Michener read and followed up reading several other books written by him. Most of his writings are rather long, but all are worth the time it takes to complete. I could not put the books he wrote down very long before returning.


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