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07 Dec 2022

Ten holiday reads to take with you this summer

For lots of people, it wouldn’t be summer without a book to read on the beach or beside the pool. If you’re getting ready for relaxation, here are ten great reads to pop in your picnic basket.

Aue by Becky Manawatu

Aue has won multiple awards, including the top prize at the Ockham Book Awards. It has a really strong New Zealand voice and centres on a boy named Arama whose father has been killed by gang violence. It’s been described as “gentle in the places where you expect brutality, and truly horrible in the places you hope to find relief”. Not a light read but a worthwhile one.

Needs Adult Supervision by Emily Writes

For a different change of pace entirely, there’s Needs Adult Supervision by parenting blogger Emily Writes. It is refreshingly honest about the challenges facing modern parents – and that feeling that many people have of not quite being ready for adulthood, no matter what your age. A good read for anyone who’s felt as parents that they have just as much to learn as their kids do.

Grand by Noelle McCarthy

Writer and broadcaster Noelle McCarthy’s memoir traverses alcoholism – hers and her mother’s – the birth of her daughter and the death of her mother. It pulls readers in with its raw power, detailing her own “rock bottom” within the story of her mother’s illness. It’s been described as “funny, clever, beautiful, sad”.

Blue Blood by Andrea Vance

If you’ve ever wondered what went wrong for National in recent years, this is probably the book for you. Political journalist Andrea Vance explains what was really happening behind the scenes when the “National Party went to war with itself”.

Gideon the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir

Fantasy readers take note. The first in the Locked Tomb series by New Zealand writer Tamsyn Muir, this is an escapist dive into a “solar system of swordplay, cut-throat politics and lesbian necromancers”. It has won multiple fantasy awards and has been described as “deft, tense and atmospheric”.

The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton

The summer break could be the perfect time to read this hefty novel set on the South Island’s West Coast during the gold rush. Winner of the Man Booker Prize, it’s been described as a “fiendishly clever” ghost story, painting a rich picture of a period of New Zealand’s past.

Tragedy at Pike River Mine: How and Why 29 Men Died by Rebecca Macfie

In 2010, a big explosion at Pike River Mine killed 29 men. In the time since, there have been countless questions asked about mismanagement of the mine and what caused the tragedy. Journalist Rebecca Macfie provides new insights. The book was updated in 2022.

Moonlight Sonata by Eileen Merriman

This novel is set around a New Year family get-together, so will feel quite current to anyone enjoying a summer break. It deals with relationships, secrets and (seriously) forbidden love and began life as a short story on RNZ in 2017. 

The Night Book by Charlotte Grimshaw

Described as a “meditation on power and politics”, The Night Book’s characters are rich and successful -  and on the verge of running the country. But over the course of the novel, much of the artifice they have built up around them is stripped away. Author Charlotte Grimshaw was praised for the way in which she portrayed the “well-heeled world” of National party donors.

Blood Men by Paul Cleave

If what you’re after is a suspense-filled read from a talented crime writer, Blood Men could be a good bet. Set a week out from Christmas, it centres on the son of a serial killer who suddenly finds he needs his father’s help.


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