Best reads of 2006

The judges have spoken and here is a list of the books customers and librarians liked best in 2006. Some new, some old, all beloved by someone somewhere and all worth checking out.

Wintersmith: a story of Discworld by Terry Pratchett
Anything by Pratchett rates highly with me, especially if it is about the Nac Mac Freggle. KO
From Baghdad with Love: a Marine, the war, and a dog named Lava by Jay Kopelman
It is touching and enlightening to see the human side of the war we all love to hate. Who thought Marines would go ga ga over a puppy?
The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield
A true gem for anyone who loves books or reading. An exquisitely rich narrative with a spellbinding plot. HB
Tsotsi by Athol Fugard
Not a new book - it was originally published in 1980, but has been republished this year following the release of the film based upon it (which I also recommend). This is not a happy book, but nonetheless it is very much worth the read for its touching depiction of the protagonist's emotional development. Vanessa
The borrowers by Mary Norton
Because it was exciting cause they were tiny people and they borrowed every thing. KC
1984 by George Orwell
A timeless classic of relevance to today's NZ.The book shows astriking resemblance to the overall paradigm of the NZ government of today, and how the government has pushed the NZ society over these past 7 years towards an almost perfect matching picture depicted by the book. It's a must read for everyone wanting to make sense of NZ's political outlook. PF
Twilight and New moon by Stephanie Meyer
I loved these books because of the descriptions and the cute little jokes. This love story is very Romeo and Juliet but instead of Montagues and Capulets its Vampires and Humans. This book is suitable for teenage girls AND boys. KL
You can't bring that in here
It was the best novel I have read because it was funny and I like funny stories they just want to make you laugh. KO
Footprints in the sand by Sarah Challis.
A marvellous account of cousins Emily and Clemmie taking Great Aunt Mary's ashes to the Sahara. BN
My Sister's Keeper by Jodi Picoult
I was totally gripped by this novel and couldn't put it down until I had finished… and then I couldn't stop thinking about. How much of your life would you sacrifice for your sister? SN
Peter Pan in scarlet by Geraldine McCaughrean was amazing!!
Almost as if JM Barrie had written it himself. What an amazing storyline to turn Peter bad. Well done that man!!! WS
Sky Burial by Xinran
An absorbing book couldn't put it down. One woman's struggle to find her husband in a country we no little about. CS
The memory keeper's daughter by Kim Edwards
Fascinating novel which kept your attention till the end. One man's hollow deceit against his wife in one moment's decision. CS
On the Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta
I honestly couldn't tell you exactly why I like this book. It is an incredible story that never seems to be making sense and, just when you think it might, something new is always revealed. However, upon reaching the end, I found that it all fitted together in a way that left me feeling content that everything was finished. Grace
Landscape Paintings of New Zealand, a journey from North to South by Christopher Johnston
An inspiring book.The paintings are beautiful and the accompanying text is interesting and informative. Simon
Dances with Wolves by Michael Blake.
Read it before, read it again, I like it. Simon
Hungry Planet by Faith DAloisio.
Wonderful book. A must read for anyone interested in food, people, travel, and to make you grateful and reassess what you eat. I like books with good photography. Simon
How to Look at a Painting by Justin Paton.
Great book. New Zealand can be proud of it. Mind opener. Simon
The Farming of New Zealand by Gordon McLauchlan.
Very well written, explains a lot about the way we were and are. Simon
The Travel Book a journey through every country in the world
Lonely planets best yet. More wonderful photos. Simon
Rick Steins seafoodby Rick Stein.
Probably the best seafood book I've ever read and I've read a lot. Simon
In the heart of the country by H. E. Bates.
Read it before, liked it, listened to it on tape this time in the car and it is so soothing I didn't mind being stuck in traffic. Simon
The Painted veil by W. Somerset Maugham.
Because I once read everything Maugham wrote one after the other and thirty years later he's still worth a read. Simon
Covert One series by Robert Ludlum
Thought provoking with factual possibilities. Well written. TW
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
Fantastic read, everyone I have recommended it to has loved it too! BO
Iris and Ruby by Rosie Thomas
Couldn't put it down. BO
The 5th Horseman by James Patterson
An excellent read. JM
Any of the Tudor Series by Philippa Gregory
great reads backed up by careful historical research. VH
Any of Ian Rankin's Rebus novels.
I lived in Edinburgh for a time so good memories plus gritty, if slightly unrealistic detective work. VH
Brick Lane by Monica Ali
This book was published in 2003 but I have only just caught up with it. It tells the poignant story of a youngwoman from a small village in Bangladesh coming to live in London in an arranged marriage to a much older man. Wonderful characterisation, a treasure indeed. RJ
First Light, Second Touch, Third Watch, Fourth Dawn by Bodie & Brock Thoene
This is the list so far in the AD Chronicles. Based on biblical truth they weave a wonderful and enlightening story in the time of our Lord. Cannot put down, very compelling ready and looking forward to reading the sixth book in the series due out early next year. Highly recommend these books they are so well written they make you feel as if you are part of the story. ER
King Rat by James Clavell
Because the author is outstanding. Brings the characters to life. VM
The Lighthouse by P.D. James
Baroness James is one of the few modern writers I respect. She has an exquisite taste in words, and is able to use them to give precise and alluring descriptions of people and events. GD
The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold
One of the best reads of this year so compelling I could not put it down. Everybody that I have also lent the book to also felt the same way. LC
The Midnighters series by Scott Westerfeld
Simply amazing, it had just the right amount of suspense, action and mystery to keep you hooked and reading… I couldn't put them done and now I find myself wanting to read them all over again!!! KJ
Rabbit Run; Rabbit Redux; Rabbit is Rich; Rabbit at Rest by John Updike
I keep coming back to these books and each read is a richer experience. Updike's Rabbit Angstrom is first presented as a frightened young newly-wed struggling with the transition to manhood. Each of the next books, written roughly 10 years apart, picks up Rabbit's story. Through Rabbit we see the journey of an ordinary man through the banal and at times extraordinary circumstances of his life while at the same time watching America work through the Korean war, civil rights, moon landing, feminism, oil shocks etc. Updike's strengths are in describing relationships and those between Rabbit and his parents, in-laws, wife and son are heavy with truth. This is masterful writing with the maturing writer matching the maturing character and thus essential reading for the maturing man. MA
The Summer Garden Paullina Simons
Why? - You'd have to have been there!! Sean
We need to talk about Kevin by Lionel Schriver
It was a thought-provoking story, one which I describe as an "uncomfortable" read, but sufficiently intriguing to persevere with despite the disturbing nature of the story.
The story is told through a series of letters written by a wife to her husband about their son, Kevin, who had committed a horrible crime. She unravels some of the events in her son's life that may have led up to this crime, and also shares her conflicted feelings of being a wife and a mother. It is, at times, a painful and uncomfortable read to see her emotions laid bare and the questions raised by the behaviours of her son, her husband and herself within the family dynamic. MI
The Ezekiel Option, Epicenter, The Copper Scroll, The Last Days, The Last Jihad by Joel Rosenberg

My favourite books this year would have to be The castaways of the Flying Dutchman series, by Brian Jacques, The phantom stallion series by Terri Farley and the Half Moon ranch series by Jenny Oldfield. I would have to say that I can't break it down to one book. Every year I pick an author whos books I must read. The author I picked was Linda Howard. This authors books had everything. From romance, to horror, to sad lies and pasts, to mystery that has you wondering who did it, and suspense. I loved every minute of it. Simona

I love A Series Of Unfortunate Events, The Bad Beginning by Lemony Snicket. It's sad, but you don't often see a book with a sad beginning and a sad ending. I love these books as they are a book that you can't tell what's going to happen at all! These books are awesome! Kirsty

The series of three books by Paullina Simons (The Bronze Horseman, Tatiana and Alexander, The Summer Garden), I generally don't get into books but I practically became obsessed by these ones, I couldn't sleep after finishing the first one so i had to buy the rest and find out what happened. Well written and pulls at all the heart strings. RS

I have 3 this year. Finally got round to read The Time Travellers Wife, by Audrey Niffeneger, loved the story and very believable. Also enjoyed Any Bitter Thing by Monica Wood wonderfully written a story of heartbreaking love and loss. And something a little different The Stolen Child by Keith Donohue an adult 'fairy' story.
All excellent. Eve

So many this year! Two books about the Sixties, both with "white" in the title.
White Bicycles by Joe Boyd. A funny and affectionate account of making music in tne Sixties by someone who was there and remembered it. White Heat by Dominic Sandbrook. A big book, covering every aspect of politics, culture and like in Britain between 1963 and 1970. Well worth the effort. Black Swan Green by David Mitchell. After the pyrotechnics of Cloud Atlas (another great book by the way) this was intimate, almost a chamber piece, about a boy growing up in late '70's Britain. Very convincing narrative voice. Kalooki Nights by Howard Jacobsen. Very funny and very sad. Probably the best novel I have read about being Jewish in the wake of WWII. Brilliant. Restless by William Boyd. Any Boyd novel is an event and this is the equal of Any Human Heart. Gripping spy novel - but so much more than that. AG

My fav book this year would have to be Celia!!! This is one of the most exciting, realistic books I've ever read! It is about an average student that does not know that she was adopted. It is after an awful day at school when she decides to go home earlier than usual time and finds out that she is adopted. She had many questions that she could not possibly answer herself and makes the decision that she will go out into the big world to receive the answers she had been longing to know. She faces many obstacles during her journey and many things disappoint her but in a way she becomes stronger. As she is alone on this journey of her own she is very tempted to give up. I recommend this book for anybody that is into realistic, a mixture of funny and sad emotional situations. It is a full on interesting novel that is definitely worth the time to be read. **beautstah**

Two books to recommend, one, Tim Flannery's The Weather Makers'. Presents the science of climate change in compelling, readable terms, and provides excellent suggestions for what we can do as individuals to reduce our emissions.
Second, and same theme, Elizabeth Kolbert's Field Notes from a Catastrophe. Journalistic reportage from climate change hotspots, places where the impacts are already being seen on ecosystems. NC-H

Stories by Enid Blyton as they are true and are fun to read. They go into detail. upasana

My favourite reads this year are Definitely dead by Charlene Harris and Stroke of midnight by Laurell K Hamilton. I loved Definitely dead because of the lightheartedness of Sookie the main character and the new love interest. I also liked that the author tied up loose ends with lingering points from other books in the series. Stroke of midnight is the latest in Laurell K Hamilton's Merry Gentry series and it's truly evil. The queen of the fairies reached all time highs of bloodthirst and Merry seems to be closing in picking a man to be her king. The new plotline of her uncle plotting against her is starting to get really intriguing and all of the men are starting to develop more personality which adds to the storyline and all of its hidden meanings. This series of Laurell K Hamiltons is way better than her Anita Blake series which is starting to die. Merry Gentry is alive and killing all other fiction out there for fairy or otherworld fiction. SB

Christchurch City Council Staff Picks

Ghosts of Gondwana : the history of life in New Zealand by George Gibbs
This accessible and well illustrated book traces the history of life in New Zealand from 80 million years ago to the present, using the latest science to explode some popular myths of the origins of our flora and fauna, but also highlighting new information. GC
My favourite books this year have been non-fiction.
Female chauvinist pigs: Women and the rise of raunch culture by Ariel Levy
If you think feminism has passed by the likes of Paris Hilton, you may be right. Ariel Levy looks at the Playboy "Girls gone wild" culture we seem to have emerged into. DR
Mary Queen of Scots and the murder of Lord Darnley by Alison Weir
Weir delves into the mystery of the death of Mary Queen of Scots sexy blonde husband Darnley. A good example of history written with intelligence and an eye for drama and intrigue. DR
The Timewaster letters by Robin Cooper
Ingenious and hysterically funny, Cooper brings his quirky wit to writing letters to businesses and organisations. See Cooper's website for more silly stuff. DR
One good turn: a jolly murder mystery by Kate Atkinson
I don't usually read murder mysteries but I love Kate Atkinson. Her new book stars Jack Brodie, the rather shambling ex detective from Case Histories. Again, Atkinson deftly weaves a myriad of mysterious incidents and characters with perception, humour and irony. As with all good mysteries, all is unravelled in the end but it is her character studies that give her books, their edge. WM
Scar Tissue by Anthony Kiedis
An amazingly honest rock autobiography. BF
The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
A moving story about redemption. Great characters and incredibly well written. BF
We need to talk about Kevin by Lionel Shriver
A devastating read, not a "nice" book but one which provoked a great deal of thought and discussion. Not a book that will be forgotten quickly, it explores many universal themes within a closely personal, even at times claustrophobic, domestic setting. LJ
The Cloudspotters guide by Gavin Pretor-Pinney
An engaging look at how to name clouds, how clouds form and what weather they bring. Enlivened by anecdotes and personal stories, this book still manages to explain the scientific issues in an accessible way. GC
The blood knight by Greg Keyes
Book 3 of Kingdoms of Thorn and Bone carries on the excellent standard set by the first two. GC
The unfolding of language : an evolutionary tour of mankind's greatest invention by Guy Deutscher
How language could have developed from very rudimentary beginnings. An intriguing idea, this book also explains how language continues to change and why we shouldn't worry about it. GC
The coffee-house : a cultural history by Markman Ellis
The importance of the coffee-house in the development of our most important institutions cannot be overestimated, and The coffee-house clearly traces this influence. GC
Snow Flower and the secret fan by Lisa See
Great for its window on foot-binding and the Chinese tradition of laotung, which have long since disappeared. Speaks of friendship and pride, and decisions made in the heat of the moment which impact forever on lives. SI
The Anita Blake Vampire Hunter Series by Laurell K. Hamilton
because they are naughty and fun. FB
The Water Thieves by Sam Mahon
I believe this book is extremely important not only to those who live in Canterbury but to all New Zealanders. Reading this book shows how our water supply is being depleted, polluted and abused. It will make everyone realise that our beautiful rivers will soon be gone if we allow this overuse and abuse to continue. JH
The Time Travellers Wife by Audrey Niffeneger
One of those books that you read slowly cos you don't want it to finish. RS
Inhaling the Mahatma by Christopher Kremer
If you aren't already hooked on India this book will do it. author is an Australian journalist who marries an Indian woman and he takes you through his journey through India. He is also the author of the Carpet Wars - a great insight into the middle east. CS
The 8.55 to Baghdad by Andrew Eames
Part biography/travel book on Agatha Christie - published in 2004. Miss Marple she is not!! Agatha was a single mum who in the 20's took a journey on the Orient Express to Iraq, and marries an English archaeologist. The author retraces that journey. It will give you a totally different perspective on this woman who then spent every summer (for about 30 years went on 'digs' in the area) and wrote the odd best seller murder mystery. The book manages to be a great biography and travel book at the same time. CS
Madonnas of Leningrad by Debra Dean
Any book by Terry Pratchett.
The Discworld is a wonderfully hilarious place that shows up Harry Potter books for what they really are … kids books. Terry holds up a magical mirror for many of the human race's foibles and civilisation's absurdities. Laugh? I haven't stopped since I picked up my first TP in 1998! DB

In fiction New Zealand author Matt Johnson's debut novel Overdue new releases was everything a 30-something who has watched too many movies and spent too much time in video rental stores could ever hope for. It's the novel I wish I'd written. MT
In non-fiction Victoria Finlay's Buried treasure: travels through the jewel box is an absorbing read which tells the stories and histories of gems (where do they come from? how are they made?) She also draws attention to real issues like "conflict diamonds" and the ends to which human beings will go to own sparkly, shiny trinkets. History made gripping. MT (staff)