Our most popular Fiction. Who’s reading what?

October is the season of book awards, with the Man Booker award and the Dagger awards from the Crime Writer’s Association. Also this year, in lieu of the Nobel for Literature, the librarians of Sweden had a hand in the New Academy for Literature. Selecting the author who has told the story of the “humans in the world”. Using a global open vote, the Laureate Maryse Conde from Gaudeloupe has been awarded top prize. Taking this idea to heart we have created a list of the most recent popular reads here at Wellington City Libraries, books are rated by number of issues across the system.

There are a few themes running through the most popular reads, the way World War II upturned the lives of many and how loss leads to new experiences. Wellington readers seem to love a well crafted thriller that keeps readers guessing as to motives and methods. One surprising entry is the Walking Dead series of graphic novels, which has proved to be hugely popular with our readers.

1. Warlight / Ondaatje, Michael
“The multi-award-winning author of The English Patient turns in a new novel both mysterious and dramatic, featuring 14-year-old Nathaniel and older sister Rachel, whose parents leave them in the care of a shadowy and possibly criminal individual called the Moth when they move to Singapore in 1945. The Moth’s friends, connected by wartime service, have lots to teach the siblings, who face more confusion when the siblings’ mother returns, mum about their father. In a narrative as mysterious as memory itself – at once both shadowed and luminous – Warlight is a vivid, thrilling novel of violence and love, intrigue and desire.”(Catalogue)

2. The walking dead. Compendium one / Kirkman, Robert
“The world we knew is gone. The world of commerce and frivolous necessity has been replaced by a world of survival and responsibilty. An epidemic of apocalyptic proportions has swept the globe, causing the dead to rise and feed on the living. In a matter of months society has crumbled, no government, no grocery stores, no mail delivery, no cable TV. In a world ruled by the dead, we are forced to finally start living”(Catalogue)

3. The woman in the window / Finn, A. J
“It’s been ten long months since Anna Fox last left her home. Ten months during which she has haunted the rooms of her old New York house like a ghost, lost in her memories, too terrified to step outside. Anna’s lifeline to the real world is her window, where she sits day after day, watching her neighbours, the Russels are a picture-perfect family of three. But one evening, a frenzied scream rips across the silence, and Anna witnesses something no one was supposed to see. Now she must do everything she can to uncover the truth about what really happened. But even if she does, will anyone believe her? And can she even trust herself?” (Catalogue)

4. Careless love / Robinson, Peter
“A young, local student has apparently committed suicide. Her body is found in an abandoned car on a lonely country road. She didn’t own a car. Didn’t even drive. How did she get there? Where did she die? Who moved her, and why? As the inconsistencies multiply and the mysteries proliferate, Annie’s father’s new partner, Zelda, comes up with a shocking piece of information that alerts Banks and Annie to the return of an old enemy in a new guise. This is someone who will stop at nothing, not even murder, to get what he wants–and suddenly the stakes are raised and the hunt is on.” (Catalogue)

5. The other wife / Robotham, Michael
“Childhood sweethearts William and Mary have been married for sixty years. William is a celebrated surgeon, Mary a devoted wife. Both have a strong sense of right and wrong. This is what their son, Joe O’Loughlin, has always believed. But when Joe is summoned to the hospital with news that his father has been brutally attacked, his world is turned upside down. Who is the strange woman crying at William’s bedside, covered in his blood – a friend, a mistress, a fantasist or a killer?” (Catalogue)

6. Transcription / Atkinson, Kate
“In 1940, eighteen-year old Juliet Armstrong is reluctantly recruited into the world of espionage. Sent to an obscure department of MI5 tasked with monitoring the comings and goings of British fascist sympathizers, she discovers the work to be by turns both tedious and terrifying. But after the war has ended, she presumes the events of those years have been relegated to the past forever. Ten years later, now a radio producer at the BBC, Juliet is unexpectedly confronted by figures from her past. A bill of reckoning is due, and she finally begins to realize that there is no action without consequence.” (Catalogue)

7. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society / Shaffer, Mary Ann
“In January 1946, London is beginning to recover from World War II, and Juliet Ashton is looking for a subject for her next book. She spent the war years writing a column for the Times until her own dear flat became a victim of a German bomb. While sifting through the rubble and reconstructing her life, she receives a letter from a man on Guernsey, the British island occupied by the Germans. So begins a correspondence that draws Juliet into the community of Guernsey and the members of the Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. Named to protect its members from arrest by the Germans, the society shares their unique love of literature and life with a newfound friend. Seeing this as the subject of her next book, Juliet sails to Guernsey, a voyage that will change her life” (Catalogue)

8. Clock dance / Tyler, Anne
“Willa Drake can count on one hand the defining moments of her life. In 1967, she is a schoolgirl coping with her mother’s sudden disappearance. In 1977, she is a college coed considering a marriage proposal. In 1997, she is a young widow trying to piece her life back together. And in 2017, she yearns to be a grandmother but isn’t sure she ever will be. Then, one day, Willa receives a startling phone call from a stranger. Without fully understanding why, she flies across the country to Baltimore to look after a young woman she’s never met, her nine-year-old daughter, and their dog, Airplane. This impulsive decision will lead Willa into uncharted territory, surrounded by eccentric neighbors who treat each other like family, she finds solace and fulfillment in unexpected places. (Catalogue)

9. Pieces of her / Slaughter, Karin
“Andrea knows everything about her mother, Laura. She knows she’s spent her whole life in the small beachside town of Belle Isle; she knows she’s never wanted anything more than to live a quiet life as a pillar of the community; she knows she’s never kept a secret in her life. Because we all know our mothers, don’t we? But all that changes when a trip to the mall explodes into violence and Andrea suddenly sees a completely different side to Laura. Because it turns out that before Laura was Laura, she was someone completely different. For nearly thirty years she’s been hiding from her previous identity. But now she’s been exposed, and nothing will ever be the same again. (Catalogue)

10. The midnight line / Child, Lee
“Reacher takes a stroll through a small Wisconsin town and sees a class ring in a pawn shop window: West Point 2005. A tough year to graduate: Iraq, then Afghanistan. The ring is tiny, for a woman, and it has her initials engraved on the inside. Reacher wonders what unlucky circumstance made her give up something she earned over four hard years. He decides to find out. And find the woman. And return her ring. Why not? So begins a harrowing journey that takes Reacher through the upper Midwest, from a lowlife bar on the sad side of small town to a dirt-blown crossroads in the middle of nowhere, encountering bikers, cops, crooks, muscle, and a missing persons PI who wears a suit and a tie in the Wyoming wilderness.” (Catalogue)

Reader’s choice: Engaging with fiction titles

Recent selections from our collection by patrons include thrillers, science fiction, historical and contemporary fiction. Some reviews will make you wonder if your reading experience will be a little or a lot different.

The Readers’ Choice selections are books nominated by people who want to pass on their reading experience to the library community. These selections are highlighted with Reader’s Choice stickers so that others can find great reading material. You can find slips for Reader’s Choice reviews in new books, or ask staff for one if you have a review or recommendation to embellish the library collection.

The last girl / Hart, Joe
“A mysterious worldwide epidemic reduces the birthrate of female infants from 50 percent to less than one percent. Medical science and governments around the world scramble in an effort to solve the problem, but twenty-five years later there is no cure, and an entire generation grows up with a population of fewer than a thousand women. Zoey and some of the surviving young women are housed in a scientific research compound dedicated to determining the cause. For two decades, she’s been isolated from her family, treated as a test subject, and locked away, told only that the virus has wiped out the rest of the world’s population.” (Catalogue)

“Although the pace was a bit slow to start it developed into a very exciting book. I look forward to the next in the series.” ⭐⭐⭐⭐ (4/5 stars)

The wife : a novel / Wolitzer, Meg
The Wife is a wise, sharp-eyed, compulsively readable story about a woman forced to confront the sacrifices she’s made in order to achieve the life she thought she wanted. But it’s also an unusually candid look at the choices all men and women make for themselves, in marriage, work, and life. With her skillful storytelling and pitch-perfect observations, Wolitzer invites intriguing questions about the nature of partnership and the precarious position of an ambitious woman in a man’s world.” (Catalogue)

“I thought this book very apt in this 125 years of suffrage, as Joan Castleman finally decides at the age of 64 years to have another chance at life.” ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ (5/5 star rating)

Man out of time / Bishop, Stephanie
“One summer, a long time ago, Stella sat watching her father cry while the sky clouded over. He had tried to make amends: for his failures, for forgetting to buy the doll she once hoped for, for the terrible things he had done. The first time Stella sensed that something was wrong was on her ninth birthday. There was an accident, and when she opened her eyes there was the tang of blood in her mouth. Leon was beside her. But not quite there. In the winter, when her father finally came home from hospital, he looked different. Looked at her differently. Now he was missing, and Stella held the key to his discovery. But did he want to be found?” (Catalogue)

“I thought this book was bleak and the only way I could deal with it was to dip into it every 20 pages or so.  Nothing like My Name Is Lucy Barton, which I loved.” (Unrateable)

The late bloomers’ club : a novel / Miller, Louise
“Two sisters, beloved diner owner Nora and her short-on-cash filmmaker sibling, Kit, are inheriting the property of local cake-making legend Peggy. The town is divided on whether the sisters should sell the land to a big-box developer, which Nora opposes, but everyone wants to find Peggy’s lost dog. Nora, the owner of the Miss Guthrie Diner, is perfectly happy serving up coffee, and eggs-any-way-you-like-em to her regulars, and she takes great pleasure in knowing exactly what’s “the usual.” But her life is soon shaken when she discovers she and her free-spirited, younger sister Kit stand to inherit the home and land of the town’s beloved cake lady, Peggy Johnson.” (Catalogue)

“I thought this book was a great light read. I didn’t want to put it down.” ⭐⭐⭐⭐ (4/5 stars)

River under the road / Spencer, Scott
“Thirteen parties over the course of two decades–an opium infused barbeque, a reception for a doomed presidential candidate, a fund-raiser for a blind child who speaks in tongues, a visit to one of New York’s fabled sex clubs–brilliantly reveal the lives of two couples. Funny and cutting, affecting and expansive, River Under the Road is Scott Spencer’s masterpiece of all that lies beneath our everyday lives-a story about the pursuit of love, art, and money, and the inevitable reckoning that awaits us all.” (Catalogue)

“Well written and well developed characters.” ⭐⭐⭐⭐  (4/5 stars)

Belladonna / Drndić, Daša
“Andreas Ban is a writer and a psychologist, an intellectual proper, full of empathy, but his world has been falling apart for years. When he retires with a miserable pension and finds out that he is ill, he gains a new perspective on the debris of his life and the lives of his friends. In Belladonna, Dasa Drndic pushes to the limit the issues about illness and the (im)possibility of living (and dying) in contemporary, utterly dehumanised world where old age and illness are the scarlet letters of shame thrown in the face of the advertised eternal youth and beauty.” (Catalogue)

“Most interesting and unusual. I feel I should read it again to pick up all the points.” ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐  (5/5 stars)

The history of bees / Lunde, Maja
“This novel follows three generations of beekeepers from the past, present, and future, weaving a spellbinding story of their relationship to the bees–and to their children and one another–against the backdrop of an urgent, global crisis… Haunting, illuminating, and deftly written, The History of Bees is just as much about the powerful bond between children and parents as it is about our very relationship to nature and humanity.” (adapted from Catalogue)

“A great read… I can envision an film.” ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ (5/5 stars)

The orphan of Florence / Kalogridis, Jeanne
“In this irresistible historical novel set in the turbulent world of the Medicis, a young woman finds herself driven from pick-pocketing to espionage when she meets a mysterious man.” (Catalogue)

“Excellent, good storylines and interesting plot.” ⭐⭐⭐⭐ (4/5 stars)

Who’s reading what? Our most popular Fiction

The avid readers of Wellington have been spending these long winter nights, chilly commutes, and chance sunny spells devouring the latest offerings of the fiction world.  What have been the most favourite titles this past season? Interest in Pip Adam’s new award winning title means The New Animals is in a favoured position amongst readers. Adam has received high praise for writing technique and her faceted nuanced characters that live beyond accepted palatable current Auckland stereotypes.

There is a decent helping of gritty mystery writing from the likes of Jo Nesbø and Donna Leon. Jo Nesbø’s Macbeth is one in the Hogarth Shakespeare series preceded by Edward St. Aubyn’s treatment of King Lear in Dunbar. North American President turned author Bill Clinton writing with James Patterson has also captured the capital’s attention, as have writing luminaries Ali Smith and Michael Ondaatje.  Below are the top 10 titles by issues in August.

1. Macbeth / Nesbø, Jo
“When a drug bust turns into a bloodbath it’s up to Inspector Macbeth and his team to clean up the mess. He’s also an ex-drug addict with a troubled past.He’s rewarded for his success. Power. Money. Respect. They’re all within reach.But a man like him won’t get to the top. Plagued by hallucinations and paranoia, Macbeth starts to unravel. He’s convinced he won’t get what is rightfully his. Unless he kills for it.” (Catalogue)

2. The woman in the window / Finn, A. J
“It’s been ten long months since Anna Fox last left her home. Ten months during which she has haunted the rooms of her old New York house like a ghost, lost in her memories, too terrified to step outside.
Anna’s lifeline to the real world is her window, where she sits day after day, watching her neighbours.
But one evening, a frenzied scream rips across the silence, and Anna witnesses something no one was supposed to see. Now she must do everything she can to uncover the truth about what really happened. But even if she does, will anyone believe her? And can she even trust herself?” (Catalogue)

3. The temptation of forgiveness / Leon, Donna
“As the twenty-seventh novel unfolds in Donna Leon’s exquisite chronicle of Venetian life in all its blissful and sordid aspects, Brunetti pursues several false and contradictory leads while growing ever more impressed by the intuition of his fellow Commissario, Claudia Griffoni, and by the endless resourcefulness and craftiness of Signorina Elettra, Patta’s secretary and gate-keeper. Exasperated by the petty bureaucracy that constantly bedevils him and threatens to expose Signorina Elettra, Brunetti is steadied by the embrace of his own family and by his passion for the classics.” (Catalogue

4. The new animals / Adam, Pip
Carla, Sharon and Duey have worked in fashion for longer than they care to remember — for them, there’s nothing new under the sun. They’re Generation X: tired, cynical and sick of being used. Tommy, Cal and Kurt are Millenials, they’ve come from nowhere, but with their monied families behind them they’re ready to remake fashion. They represent the new sincere, the anti-irony. Both generations are searching for a way out, an alternative to their messed-up reality. Pip Adam’s new novel walks the streets of Auckland city now, examining the fashion scene, intergenerational tension and modern life with an unflinching eye. From the the wreckage and waste of the 21st century, new animals must emerge.” (Catalogue)

5. The punishment she deserves / George, Elizabeth
“No. 1 New York Times best-selling George returns with the next mystery featuring DI Thomas Lynley and his partner DS Barbara Havers, who’s in the lead here. Approached by a Member of Parliament with a request to investigate the supposed suicide of a constituent’s son, New Scotland Yard’s assistant commissioner sees an opportunity to stick Havers with an impossible case and thence get rid of her. (He’s not a fan.) George’s last title was in 2015, so folks will be clamoring. Award-winning author Elizabeth George delivers another masterpiece of suspense in her Inspector Lynley series.” (Catalogue)

6. Dear Mrs. Bird : a novel / Pearce, A. J.
“London, 1940. Emmeline Lake is Doing Her Bit for the war effort, volunteering as a telephone operator with the Auxiliary Fire Services. When Emmy sees an advertisement for a job at the London Evening Chronicle, her dreams of becoming a Lady War Correspondent suddenly seem achievable. But the job turns out to be working as a typist for the fierce and renowned advice columnist, Henrietta Bird. The irrepressible Emmy keeps writing letters in this hilarious and enormously moving tale of friendship, the kindness of strangers, and ordinary people in extraordinary times.” (Catalogue)

7. The President is missing / Clinton, Bill
“The President is Missing. The world is in shock. But the reason he”s missing is much worse than anyone can imagine. With details only a President could know, and the kind of suspense only James Patterson can deliver.” (Catalogue)

8. An unsuitable match / Trollope, Joanna
“Rose Woodrowe is getting married to Tyler Masson – a wonderful, sensitive man who is head-over-heels in love with her. The only problem? This isn’t the first time for either of them, and their five grown-up children have strong opinions on the matter… Who to listen to? Who to please? Rose and Tyler are determined to get it right this time, but in trying to make everyone happy, can they ever be happy themselves?” (Catalogue

9. Winter / Smith, Ali
“Following Autumn, the first of four novels named for the seasons and drawing on their moods, Smith takes an icy look at the era of Brexit and fake news, examining themes of history and memory and celebrating our will to survive. Winter. It makes things visible. Ali Smith’s shapeshifting Winter casts a warm, wise, merry and uncompromising eye over a post-truth era in a story rooted in history and memory and with a taproot deep in the evergreens, art and love.” (Catalogue)

10. Warlight / Ondaatje, Michael
“In a narrative as mysterious as memory itself – at once both shadowed and luminous – Warlight is a vivid, thrilling novel of violence and love, intrigue and desire. It is 1945, and London is still reeling from the Blitz and years of war. 14-year-old Nathaniel and his sister, Rachel, are apparently abandoned by their parents, left in the care of an enigmatic figure named The Moth. They suspect he might be a criminal, and grow both more convinced and less concerned as they get to know his eccentric crew of friends: men and women with a shared history, all of whom seem determined to protect, and educate… But are they really what and who they claim to be? A dozen years later, Nathaniel begins to uncover all he didn’t know or understand in that time, and it is this journey – through reality, recollection, and imagination – that is told in this magnificent novel.” (Catalogue)