Our staff have chosen their favourite books for 2020

To help you find your next great read, we've compiled a list of books recommended by our staff. 

Anne-Maree - Manager Business Support Libraries

Flesh and Blood : a history of my family in seven maladies / Stephen McGann (aka Call the Midwife’s Doctor Turner)

An entertaining read about the author’s family’s history through the maladies, diseases, wounds or ailments that have afflicted various members over the past 150 years. The associated medical information was as fascinating as the entertaining anecdotes about his various relations.

Debbie - City of Literature Projects Coordinator

Ralph Hotere: The dark is light enough - Vincent O’Sullivan

Released to coincide with the stunning Hotere exhibition Ātete at the Dunedin Public Art Gallery this book is a must read. A powerful biography that really packs a punch, and demonstrates how art can be created to shine light on environmental or societal grievances and to condemn injustice.

Fiona - Lending Services Supervisor

All the Devils Are Here - Louise Penny

‘All the Devils are here’ is the latest instalment in Canadian author Louise Penny’s Inspector Gamache series featuring Chief Inspector Armand Gamache of the Sûreté du Québec. Usually set in the fictional and allegorical village of Three Pines, this novel moves Gamache to the ‘City of Lights’ Paris, France. Louise Penny’s books reflect on the importance of friendship and family, and explore human motivations.

Lynn - Youth Services Supervisor

Auē - Becky Manawatu 

A beautifully written story about a broken family and their journey to find each other and forgiveness – couldn’t put it down even though parts broke my heart.

Barbara  - Senior Library Assistant Heritage Collections

The Divorce Diaries - Sarah Quigley

I loved this book because it was searingly honest, and describes emotions and situations many of us have also felt.

And another layer of enjoyment is reading a stylish writer’s take on living as a New Zealander in a foreign city (Berlin) ; Delicious!

A book to read more than once!

Jill - Digital Outreach Coordinator

The Secrets of Strangers - Charity Norman

Five strangers have their lives changed forever when they are held hostage in a London café. A gripping read with some wonderful characters - I loved learning their backstories.

This is the first book I've read by Charity Norman and I highly recommend it.

Our Little Cruelties - Liz Nugent

Another great psychological thriller by Irish author Liz Nugent. The book begins at a funeral attended by three brothers - one of them is in the coffin! Who is it and how did they get there?

Hinton Hollow Death Trip - Will Carver

Narrated by Evil itself, this book is definitely not for the fainthearted. This dark and twisted tale features Detective Sergeant Pace as he returns to his home town of Hinton Hollow. 

BUT he's not alone - Evil is following him there!

Su - Youth Outreach Coordinator

Lizard's Tale - Weng Wai Chan

Written for older children, this action-packed adventure set in Singapore in 1940, sees Lizard and his friends caught up in a tale of spies and espionage. With Singapore on the brink of war, nobody is safe!

‘Lizard’s Tale’ is the winner of the Wright Family Foundation Esther Glen Award for Junior Fiction in the 2020 New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults. 

Glenda - Collection Specialist

Where the Crawdads Sing - Delia Owens

This delightful story opens up an intriguing world of detail about the marsh lands near a small town in North Carolina, while unfolding, through a series of flashbacks, the equally intriguing mystery of the murder of a young man, Chase Andrews - the pride of Barkley Cove. A great summer read!

Maureen - Senior Library Assistant Customer Experience

People Like Us - Louise Fein

This is a debut novel set in 1930’s Leipzig, Germany.

A love affair blossoms between a young German girl, Herta and a Jewish boy, Walter. Set against the backdrop of increasingly vicious Nazi rule, Herta struggles against all she has been taught.

Will their love affair survive all the odds?

I really liked the fact that the story is based on fact – the author’s father’s family grew up in Nazi Germany. There is also a message from Louise Fein at the end of the book with the message, “ I hope people will remember that we are all human, and that there is far more about us that is the same and which connects us, than that which is different and divides us”.

Shirley - Senior Library Assistant Customer Experience

Hamnet - Maggie O’Farrell

It is the sense of time and place and the beautiful language, that make this book stand out for me. You will be transported to 16th century England to the life of Agnes (Anne Hathaway), her children Susanna and twins Hamnet and Judith, and her (un-named) husband William Shakespeare.

Find the eAudiobook of Hamnet on our catalogue.

Amanda - Library Assistant Customer Experience

Blood Water Paint - Joy McCullough

This is an inspiring story based on the life of Artemisia Gentileschi. After suffering a vicious attack in her father’s studio, Artemisia boldly decides to confront and fight her attacker through the court system – even though it is heavily weighted in the favour of men. This fabulously stirring story easily rates as one of my favourite books.

Stephaney - Library Assistant, Blueskin Bay Library

Your Own Kind of Girl - Claire Bowditch

ARIA Award winning Australian singer and actress Claire Bowditch from an early age had to deal with grief, anxiety, feelings of guilt and compulsion.

Her story dealing with mental illness is written in a very honest way. She explains how she deals with her inner critic, to be able to do the things she loves in life.

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society - Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows

I wanted to read this so that I could watch the film (it’s a rule of mine).

I really enjoyed the letter style of writing. It was quite a surprise, I expected a more jaunty story!

I learnt a lot about Guernsey during World War 2 and the hard times those island dwellers endured, on both sides. Highly recommended.

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society on DVD.

Rebecca - Library Assistant Collection Services

How not to be a boy - Robert Webb

If you’ve ever seen his work with David Mitchell on TV programmes like Peep Show, you’ll already know that he’s hilarious. This humour shines through the book, alongside a pathos that accompanies his heartfelt reflection on the ups and downs of his formative years. His commentary on the detrimental effects of suppressing emotion on boys and men is particularly insightful and illuminating. I cannot recommend this book enough – it really will make you laugh and cry and feel all the feelings.

Shona - Collection Specialist

Fake Baby - Amy McDaid

This book tackles some pretty heavy topics. A beautiful story of three characters suffering from varying mental health issues. The author will have you laughing out loud but also have you wiping away a tear or two.

Susan - Collection Specialist

Just ignore him -  Alan Davies

A brilliantly written memoir by the comedian Alan Davies of his horrific childhood and his recovery from it.

Tracey - Collection Specialist

Troubled Blood - Robert Galbraith

This is book number 5 in the Strike series by Robert Galbraith (aka J K Rowling). They just keep getting better, this is the best one so far and at 927 pages… not one page is wasted.

Andrea - Collection Services Team Leader

Troubled Blood – Robert Galbraith (eAudiobook)

The fifth and best yet in the Robert Galbraith’s (otherwise known as J.K. Rowling) series featuring Private Detective Cormoran Strike and partner Robin Ellacott.

A great cast of characters combines with an excellent mystery which keeps you guessing right up to the end.

I’ve enjoyed listening to the whole series – if you haven’t discovered it yet, listeners you are in for a treat!