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Last week while we were on the island of Oahu in Hawaii, I took the family on some day trips along the coast. One of the spots we visited was the beach at Lanikai, which is simply stunning. It’s a local beach, not too many tourists, at least not when we were there. Just opposite the beach is a little restaurant, a shack of a bar/burger joint, named Buzz’s where we had lunch and some libations at mid-day.

Afterwards, I had a craving for a Dole Whip—a non-dairy, probably high in sugar, soft-serve pineapple flavored kind of frozen treat. So, we took a drive across the island to what I lovingly referred to as the fountain of youth. I mean, where else would you go for a Dole Whip but the actual source—the Dole Plantation which was founded in 1900 and helped establish the golden pineapple as a mainstream fruit.

It is a working plantation and a tourist attraction that includes the Pineapple Express. No, not that smoke-able pineapple express, but an actual multi-car tram that takes you around the plantation property. We didn’t do that. Instead, we got ourselves some Dole Whip and sat outside under an umbrellaed table enjoying the cup of delicious sunshine and the balmy island weather.

The main plantation building is rather large and the entire inside of it is one gigantic gift shop packed with souvenirs, candy, tee-shirts, food of sorts, and of course the glorious Dole Whip dispensing machines. For as large as the gift shop was, I was disappointed that there was not an obvious book section.

Then I spotted a book, a single copy of a book lying haphazardly on a counter by a rear door. It was a history book about the Hawaiian pineapple industry but had a greasy finger smudge on the cover. I wanted a new smudge-less copy and proceeded to ask a clerk where the books where. At the back of the gift shop, I asked a woman behind a counter of wood carved tikis where the book section was. She said I should ask someone in a yellow Hawaiian shirt. Moving down to counter towards the end, another clerk in a yellow clad shirt looked at me blankly when I asked where the book section was and thought it might be up in the front of the store.

I headed towards the front of the gift shop past the displays of hot sources, guilts, boxes of milk chocolate pineapple crunch, and the endless racks of tee-shirts in search of some books. There were none visibly within my sightlines just candied pineapple and papaya, pineapple flavored gummies, jellybeans, and taffy.

Asking another yellow Hawaiian shirted clerk where the book section was, she looked at me puzzled and then had an epiphany. She pointed over to an out of the way corner. I couldn’t see any books so she led me over. There, under a counter top, were several cookbooks and one, yes only one, book on pineapple history. That was the extent of the books this gift shop had to offer.

It was a sad commentary on tourism. It seems that most people are interested in getting useless souvenirs and immediately consumable sweets than learning something new about an area they are visiting. I tend to want to pick up a book, when I can, on the history of a place I’m visiting.

It made we wonder just how many people read books. According to a HuffPost/YouGov poll asking 1,000 U.S. adults about their reading habits, 41 percent of respondents had not read a fiction book in the past year; 42 percent had not read a nonfiction book. It’s likely that even less have read any kind of book.

Regardless, that is a sad statistic. The simply act of reading stimulates your mind that can enhance your memory which is now been shown to potentially slow Alzheimer’s. Not only that, you increase your vocabulary which in turn makes you more articulate. All that aside, simply reading makes you more aware of the world around. It allows you to get a fully understanding of any topic, or in the case of travel a deeper understanding of other people and cultures.

At the Dole Plantation gift shop, I at least found one book, Hawai’i’s Pineapple Century: A History of the Crowned Fruit in the Hawaiian Islands. As I was in line to pay for it, I overheard a large woman belt out a question to the clerk; “Where are the chocolate bars?” At least I will know the history of the pineapple the “main” ingredient in Dole Whip! Don’t be a dope, read more books.  

Dave Bossert-- Commentary   

Dave Bossert is a community volunteer who serves on several boards and councils. His commentaries represent his own opinions and not necessarily the views of any organization he may be affiliated with or those of The SCV Beacon.