Monday, July 25, 2016

New Zealanders’ favourite reads are books that become movies

The power of movies impacts on New Zealanders favourite books as Whitcoulls today announce their Top 100 books List, and celebrate 20 years of polling New Zealanders about their best loved books. 

This year, voting was 17.5% higher than in 2015 with the popularity and ease of social media making it easier for the nation’s readers to have their say. The upswing in voting also suggests that New Zealanders are increasingly passionate about the books they love.

The biggest impact on this year’s list is the number of film tie-in editions of books making an appearance, with two of the top three books/book series having subsequently been made into films. They are: Me Before You by Jojo Moyes, who claims the number one spot and the Harry Potter Series by J. K. Rowling at number two. Terry Hayes book I Am Pilgrim comes in at number 3.

Significant, is the appearance of Barry Crump’s classic Kiwi book Wild Pork & Watercress, some 30 years after it was first published. Crump’s film tie-in edition storms on to the List at number 20, the direct result of Taika Waititi’s box office smash film adaptation, Hunt for the Wilderpeople.

Incredibly, New Zealand authors continue to hold the same number of places in the Top 100 since Whitcoulls first launched their List in 1996. Among the seven that feature this year are local fiction and wellbeing titles, with the notable disappearance of perennial favourite, the Edmonds Cookbook. This is no doubt driven by the strong multimedia presence of those authors whose books appear, including Dr Libby Weaver, whose book Exhausted to Energised is at number 35.

The other New Zealand books to feature on the list are: American Blood by Ben Sanders (number 16); Under Italian Skies by Nicky Pellgrino (42); The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton (53); Eat Less Live Long by Jason Shon Bennett (59); and The Antipodeans by Greg McGee (73).

Alongside the huge popularity of film tie-in editions of books is the continuing interest in books for Young Adults, among them, Veronica Roth’s compelling Divergent series at number 25. Increasingly, these titles appeal to a wider age range and attract new readers.

Then of course there are the things which do not change. The Lord of the Rings is always a strong contender and this year it claims the number 11 spot. Modern classics such as The Lovely Bones and The Power of One always attract many votes, and older classics including The Bible, continue to feature strongly.

Whitcoulls Book Manager, Joan Mackenzie said, “The thing that never changes though is the recognition and enthusiasm for a truly great book – and there are as many of these being published now as there ever have been. Every year our readers find their new favourites and collectively vote them onto the List, and we are thrilled to be able to gather them all in one place, and highlight them to a new generation of readers.”

“But we love seeing new recommendations come to the fore as well – Me Before You, All the Light We Cannot See, American Blood and The Light Between Oceans, to name just a few,” said Mackenzie.

“We love the fact that non-fiction features prominently with New Zealanders – Scar Tissue makes a reappearance after being bumped off last year – and Yeonmi Park’s book about escaping North Korea (In Order to Live) is well towards the top,” said Mackenzie.

The Whitcoulls Top 100 is a genuinely interesting mix of genres, styles and themes. It includes thrillers, romance, classics, memoirs, books on wellbeing and spirituality, and books for Young Adults.

Anecdotally, the staff at Whitcoulls are told that their Top 100 is a useful guide when deciding which book to pick up next. For New Zealanders who love to read and want some guarantee that their next choice will be a good one, the List helps them to narrow down their options and reflects the enthusiasm of thousands of New Zealanders.

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