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Whitcoulls' Top 20 Reads 2013

Media release reads – 1

2 December, 2013


The easy way to decide what to read this summer

With all the planning that goes in to Christmas meals and summer holidays, it’s great when someone takes a few tasks off your hands.

So to ensure you don’t have to stress out over what’s best to read these holidays, Whitcoulls’ Joan Mackenzie has put together a top 20 list of the best reads for all the family.

Mackenzie is the company’s highly experienced book manager and she has collated her list across six genres: fiction, chick lit, biography, New Zealand, history and kids’ books.

Her pick of the top 20 is Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch. It’s a fictional tale about young Theo Decker, whose life changes in the most unexpected of ways one morning. It leads him on a journey across an American landscape of wealth, obsession, survival and impending doom - in what Mackenzie says is “an extraordinary, wonderful, brilliant book, from the much acclaimed author of The Secret History.

Others in the fiction category include Man Booker Prize winner Eleanor Catton’s The Luminaries – a “steal at $30” Mackenzie says, and all the better for being from a New Zealand writer; John Grisham’s latest legal thriller Sycamore Row (which is a sequel to his very first book A Time To Kill); and Cockroaches, Jo Nesbo’s sequel to the The Rat, and available from December 6.

Mackenzie picks New Zealand author and former magazine editor Wendyl Nissen’s The Road From Midnight as a must-read in the chick lit category. It’s about a magazine editor whose daughter goes missing on a train to Venice.

Bridget Jones is also back as a chick lit favourite, older but not necessarily wiser in the “hilarious” Bridget Jones: Mad About The Boy.

Mackenzie has opted for three biographies, two from the world of sport while the third is from one of the stars of Absolutely Fabulous - Jennifer Saunders’ “hilarious and touching” Bonkers: My Life in Laughs.

Sir Alex Ferguson’s autobiography about his 26 years at Manchester United and Mike Tyson’s Undisputed Truth are Mackenzie’s other biography picks. She says the latter is “a stunning book about poverty, genius, fame and failure, violence and redemption. Forget everything you thought you knew about Mike Tyson and see it all again through his eyes”.

Simon Winchester’s The Men Who United America and One Summer by Bill Bryson are her two choices in history books.

The Bryson book adheres to his popular style of “hugely entertaining history” and is set over the summer of 1927, when America enjoyed one of its most interesting periods in history. Winchester takes “a fascinating look” at the men who helped unify the United States and created one cohesive nation.

New Zealand books are led by a Whitcoulls’ exclusive, Lauren Earl’s Flatter’s Survival Guide, which is hilarious and wise, and simply the perfect gift for any young person leaving home and going flatting. It has all the advice and wisdom that they could possibly want, delivered in a witty, clever and graphic way, Mackenzie says.

Molesworth is Harry Broad and Rob Suisted’s recent history of “one of New Zealand’s most glorious places”. Mackenzie says it’s “a treasure to give, and to own”.

Peter Alsop and Gary Stewart’s Promoting Prosperity examines the art of early New Zealand advertising before colour photography and television changed the media landscape forever. It’s a big, substantial, perfect book for anyone interested in our cultural evolution over many years. And perfectly designed for coffee tables.

Mackenzie crams the kids’ genre with six selections.

From the singer-songwriter who gave us The Wonky Donkey comes My Daddy Ate an Apple, a book and CD by Craig Smith and Scott Tulloch. Jeff Kinney’s Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Hard Luck is the eighth book in this super selling series – and is the story of Greg Heffley who decides to rely on a roll of the dice to change his luck. Younger readers adore this series, Mackenzie says.

Demon Dentist is David Williams’ creepy take on what happens when some children put a tooth out for the tooth fairy (ages 8+) while Allegiance by Veronica Roth is her compelling finale to the Divergent trilogy – “brilliant post-apocalyptic writing for teens”.

The Andy Griffiths & Terry Denton book The 39-Storey Treehouse is the third in their much loved series about a treehouse which just keeps getting taller (ages 8+), and Rick Riordan’s House of Hades is the latest in his hugely popular Heroes of Olympus series (for ages 10+).

Joan Mackenzie’s Top 20 books are available at Whitcoulls stores nationwide and the full list is available online at

About Whitcoulls
Whitcoulls is a major national retailer with 59 stores around the country, offering a wide selection of books, e-Readers, stationery, DVD’s, educational toys, puzzles, games, gifts, greeting cards and wrap. Whitcoulls was founded 130 years ago when George Tombs, a printer and bookbinder, and George Whitcombe, a publisher and bookseller, combined their businesses to create a national publishing company. In 1971, Whitcombe & Tombs merged with key competitor Coull Somerville Wilke, and was renamed Whitcoulls in 1973. Whitcoulls is now proudly New Zealand owned by the James Pascoe Group which includes The Farmers Trading Co, Stevens, Pascoes the Jewellers, Stewart Dawson’s and Goldmark.


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