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Irish Writer Captures Kiwi Readers’ Hearts And Minds

Celebrating 26 years of asking Kiwi readers to vote for their favourite books, Irish actor turned writer Lucinda Riley is newly crowned at number one with her series The Seven Sisters in the 2021 Whitcoulls Top 100 Books List, announced today (Monday 26 July.)

This is a real vote of confidence for Riley’s hugely popular adventure legends and the first time in three years that J. K. Rowling’s phenomenal Harry Potter Series (#2) has been ousted from the number one spot. In fact, Harry has been a consistent favourite with Kiwi readers for close to 20 years.

Twenty percent of the books on the list are serial novels, which suggests Kiwi readers are voraciously reading books in the same way they ‘binge watch’ Netflix series. In fact, there is a strong correlation between Kiwis streaming films/TV series and reading serial novels, so to see Julia Quinn’s Bridgerton Series (#19) rank high on the List was not a huge surprise.

The line-up is also significantly different to previous years, with a whopping 40 new books making the cut. Whitcoulls Book Manager Joan Mackenzie puts the number of newcomers on the List down to the fact that readers have found comfort in books and had more time to read since the global pandemic struck.

“We’re always keen to see which recently published titles will turn up on the List – every year there’s a great selection of books which have captured peoples’ imaginations – and they’re joined by many which have featured for several years, in some cases becoming modern classics,” says Mackenzie.

There are 13 New Zealand books on the List, including: Dr Hinemoa Elder’s runaway bestseller Aroha (#20); Rose Carlyle’s extraordinary debut thriller The Girl in the Mirror (#22), for which Hollywood immediately snapped up the rights; and Becky Manawatu’s award-winning bestseller Auē (#27).

Books offering inspiration and guidance are a growing feature of the Top 100 and many are newcomers to the List, including: Aroha (#20) and Think Like a Monk (#48), as are those featured on new social media platform Booktok (an offshoot of TikTok). Books on this platform have often gone viral and some authors have reported a huge upswing in sales for their books, even if they are not new releases. These include newcomers to the list, such as The Song of Achilles (#25).

As ever, Young Adult book series make a regular appearance. The huge appeal of Sarah J. Maas’ award-winning fantasy novels has propelled her Throne of Glass Series into the List at #14. Similarly, Israeli-American fantasy author Leigh Bardugo (another newcomer to the list), whose phenomenally successful Grishaverse novels claimed the #10 spot and demonstrated the influence of TV on reading tastes.

Whitcoulls are grateful to readers who again took the time to vote for their favourite books and appreciate the ongoing groundswell of support for the Top 100, which they say gives a snapshot of what people are interested in reading. They hope the List will inspire many others to pick up a good book. The past year has demonstrated that reading is alive and well, and great books continue to be published.

Whitcoulls have been asking Kiwi readers to vote for their favourite books for more than a quarter of a century and the Top 100 List captures a broad range of reading interests. The Top 100 books are available at Whitcoulls stores nationwide and online here.


Whitcoulls is a major national retailer, offering a wide selection of books, stationery, educational toys, puzzles, games, gifts, greeting cards and wrap. Whitcoulls was founded over 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. Whitcombe & Tombs merged with key competitor Coulls Somerville Wilkie 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 Dawsons and Goldmark.

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