Friday, March 06, 2009


This note today from publisher Bob Ross:

When we visited a friend in San Francisco last year she said that she had decided that she was definitely coming to New Zealand for a holiday.

She is now asking for a recommended reading list – and she doesn’t mean Lonely Planet Guides etc. She wants real books fiction and non fiction. I am putting my list together, topped by Michael King’s History, but I thought it would be an interesting exercise to get the opinions of other readers.

Maybe you could run it as an exercise on your blog Graham?

Bob and I would welcome your suggestions which I can publish here for all to read with or without your names.


Anonymous said...

The Carpathians - Janet Frame
Waimarino County - Martin Edmond

Jen said...

For non-fiction, I would certainly recommend Brian Turner’s magnificent Into the Wider World: A Back Country Miscellany for anyone wanting to get a sense of place before they visit Down Under

Roger Hall said...

Royce Royce, the People's Choice by Peter Hawes. (Why it hasn't been made into a movie amazes me...)

Paul Reynolds said...

Brilliant idea - off the many options , on the history front, I still think Maurice Shadbolt's New Zealand Wars trilogy is just the business .

Also, Smiths Dream - and All Visitors Ashore , CK Stead.

Plus Chad Taylor for the noir thing.

Anonymous said...

Denniston Rose by Jenny patrick, one of Witi Ihimaera's novels, Fleur's Place, and a poetry anthology perhaps the oner you featured recently called Twenty Contemporary Poets.

Bryce Edwards said...

"No Left Turn" - by Chris Trotter.

This provides a very nice alternative to the Michael King's rather conservative version of New Zealand history.


B said...

Among my essential NZ reading list would be Krystyna's Story, the story of one of the first wave of European Refugees to New Zealand
and as such contributes to our Euro/NZ history. Not to
mention the fact that it is still selling 17 years
after first being published.

Mary @ Awa Press said...

Easy - she should read every one of our Ginger Series - rugby, racing, wine, stars, fishing, birds, art, pop music and cricket ... life in NZ as we know it.

Michael A said...

John Mulgan's "Man Alone"
Janet Frame "A State of Siege"
Alan Duff "One night out stealing"
Lynley Dodd "Hairy Maclary's Caterwaul Caper"

Lee said...

Twenty four Hours by Margaret Mahy (has a real sense of place -particularly Christchurch) or any of MM's teenage novels...

and Harry Wakatipu by Jack Lasenby
for a trip into the new zealand bush with a tin of condensed milk.


Amy said...

Knowing nothing about the person you are recommending the book to, I would go with "The Book of the Film of the Story of my Life" by William Brandt. Not always a literary masterpiece but always entertaining.
Then I would go with either "Queen of Beauty" by Paula Morris and "Going West" by Maurice Gee. Both have images that have stayed with me for years.

Amber said...

Mrs McGinty’s Bizarre Plant. Fifty-Five Feathers. Eel Dreaming. Old Blue.

I agree with Mary – the Ginger series, esp the Steve Braunias and the rugby one.

Both the NZ Books of the Beach 1 & 2 – perfect intro to various NZ writers and a big part of the country’s psyche (discuss!).

Edwin + Matilda for Otago, and because it’s awesome.

Fleur Beale’s A Respectable Girl for history/herstory and kick-ass young NZ women.

Before moving to NZ I read Joe Bennett’s Land of 2 Halves – a sound bloke’s perspective b/c it’s a hitchhiking book.

Short History of Sheep In NZ. When moving back away from NZ, it was one of the few for which I decided to suck up the extra baggage weight cost so I could keep it.

Adam Hartzell said...

I'm happy to hear I'm not the only person who reads their way towards (and through) a destination.

I know I'm going to repeat things already posted here, but that should benefit your friends since it gives further support for them as choices.

Here's what this fellow San Franciscan picked up while in NZ to narrate his travels.



Plus, anything by Four Wind Press -

Or anything from The Ginger Series - - Particularly Justin Patton's HOW TO LOOK AT A PAINTING

And I'm not much of a fiction reader, but I'd concur with the Chad Taylor recommendation. In fact, I read DEPARTURE LOUNGE in the Wellington airport departure lounge on route to Auckland.

And since your friends are in San Francisco, as am I, I would be up for loaning them the NZ books I have for their trip if they have trouble finding any I've mentioned here.