WW2 books, true stories and classics among New Zealanders’ favourite reads

Reading is in good health, with thousands of New Zealanders voting for their favourite books in the Whitcoulls Top 100 Books List.  Announced today, the List reveals that classic books, war and true stories are among the nation’s favourite reads.

Our interest in WW2 books is massive and Whitcoulls report huge sales for this genre.  The stratospheric rise of The Tattooist of Auschwitz, which this year rocketed to number four in the List, is indicative of this trend, as is Kiwi newcomer Doug Gold, with his hugely successful The Note through the Wire, a true story about a prisoner of war and a resistance heroine.  Other popular choices among readers are Lilac Girls and Lost Roses. (

Typically, around 20 to 30 percent of the books that appear each year are new to the List and 2019 is no exception, with 24 newcomers making the cut.  Most notable is Michelle Obama’s international bestselling memoir Becoming (number ten) and a biography about Tiger Woods (number 28).

Joan Mackenzie, Whitcoulls Book Manager said, ‘We’re thrilled to welcome Michelle Obama onto our Top 100.  Her book was one of the highlights of 2018, reminding us all about the power of memoir and of finding your voice in the world.’ 

Another personal favourite of Mackenzie’s is The Heart’s Invisible Furies by John Boyne, an epic novel spanning one man’s entire life in Ireland – from when his young pregnant mother was turned away by the church through to old age – a survivor of all that his country threw at him.

As ever, big drum roll for J. K. Rowling who got the most votes from readers for her series Harry Potter; followed by Irish actor turned popular historical fiction writer Lucinda Riley (number two), with her series The Seven Sisters.  Tolkien’s classic The Lord of the Rings comes in at number three and Diana Gabaldon, a perennial favourite with readers, secures the number five spot with her popular Outlander series.

Popular author (Lee Child) and classic authors (Harper Lee) are always favourites with voters; biography and memoir account for nearly ten percent; there are a score of books by Kiwi authors, including Eleanor Catton, Doug Gold and Nicky Pellegrino.

The 2019 Whitcoulls Top Five

We’re thrilled that Kiwis are still reading voraciously – the benefits of which are perhaps best summed up by Educated (number 15), a book by 32-year-old American writer Tara Westover, which has become a favourite with many of our staff and almost everyone who’s read it,’ said Mackenzie.

Whitcoulls has been asking Kiwi readers to vote for their favourite books for 23 years, with online voting being the most popular method.

The Top 100 books are available at Whitcoulls stores nationwide and online at https://www.whitcoulls.co.nz

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