what I'm currently reading

Patricia Grace - ChappyChappy

Patricia Grace

A young man's quest to find himself leads him to New Zealand, where he learns of the beautiful, but beleaguered love-affair between his Māori grandmother, Oriwia, and his deceased Japanese grandfather, Chappy. Their story grounds him in his past and takes him forward into the future. A lovely, gentle tale exploring man's need to belong.

Dr Jared Noel with David W.Williams - Message To My GirlMessage To My Girl

Dr Jared Noel with David W.Williams

A young doctor with terminal bowel cancer shares his very personal journey, reflecting on mortality, faith, thwarted aspirations and his impending death.

Hannah Kent - Burial RitesBurial Rites

Hannah Kent

This story is based on true events. Set in Iceland in 1829, it centres around a young woman sentenced to death for her role in the murder of two men. With no prisons in Iceland, she is sent to stay with a family on their farm for the winter leading up to her execution.The relationship she develops with these strangers forms the crux of this fascinating and moving historical novel.

Nancy Horan - Under the Wide and Starry SkyUnder the Wide and Starry Sky

Nancy Horan

A novel exploring the fascinating and often fraught relationship between Fanny Van de Grift Osbourne and Robert Louis Stevenson. A mostly engaging, interesting read that sets Stevenson's works against a complex, personal backdrop.

Ta-Nehisi Coates - Between the World and MeBetween the World and Me

Ta-Nehisi Coates

A letter from the author to his fifteen-year-old son about what it means to be black in America. An unflinching look across America's history at the notion of race and racism. A disturbing and very necessary read.

Anne Lamott - Bird by BirdBird by Bird

Anne Lamott

Sage advice for writers, leavened with a good dose of humour. Lamott steers well clear of didacticism, focusing instead on the experiences that make up a writing life. Real and relatable. A valuable resource for the writer at any stage of his/her career.

Phil Klay - RedeploymentRedeployment

Phil Klay

The war in Iraq told through a series of short stories, each with its own distinct voice. Without any frills, euphemisms or platitudes, this National Book Award winner by Marine veteran Phil Klay, makes for a harrowing, devastating read.

Kate Grenville - One LifeOne Life: My Mother's Story

Kate Grenville

An insightful portrayal of Kate Grenville's mother's life, highlighting the challenges faced by this remarkable woman, and indeed all independent women living in early twentieth century Australia. 

Anthony Doerr - All The Light We Cannot SeeAll The Light We Cannot See

Anthony Doerr

Two children – one French, one German – navigating the vicissitudes of life during World War II. Heartbreaking and uplifting in equal measure. My favourite read of the year!

Helen Macdonald: H is for HawkH is for Hawk

Helen Macdonald

The fascinating account of Helen Macdonald's training of a goshawk in the wake of her father's death. The taming of Macdonald's grief parallels her taming of this wild bird. A beautiful book for its prose, its difference, its honesty. I highly recommend it.


Janet Frame

First published in 1957, Janet Frames's debut novel is a powerful commentary on the New Zealand of her era. Through the story of the Withers family, Frame explores the grind of poverty, the horror of mental institutions, and the artifice and insincerity of so much of the adult world. She deftly juxtaposes this with the honesty and instinctive hope of childhood. Acutely observed, masterfully narrated and deeply human – a book which resonates with the reader even half a century after it was first written.

Geraldine Brooks: People of the BookPeople of the Book

Geraldine Brooks

Inspired by  a true story, this historical novel traces the tenuous survival of an ancient Hebrew codex, from its creation in medieval Spain to modern day war-torn Sarajevo, where it is again is saved from destruction by a Muslim librarian. A fascinating read.



Ann Glamuzina

An engaging tale of two immigrant women with different histories and from different generations, whose stories intersect in New Zealand.

Witi Ihimaera - Maori BoyMaori Boy

Witi Ihimeara

This first volume of Witi Ihimaera's memoirs navigates his childhood years in rural New Zealand. His Maori heritage and ancestral history are powerfully and often movingly evoked, and play a significant role in his personal story.

Michael King - The Penguin History of New ZealandThe Penguin History of New Zealand

Michael King

A fascinating, meticulously researched, and very accessible account of New Zealand's history. It is no wonder this book has been so highly acclaimed.

Gabrielle Levin - The Collected Works of A.J. FikryThe Collected Works of A.J. Fikry

Gabrielle Levin

A widowed bookstore owner finds himself raising a young child abandoned in his shop. This light and heartwarming tale is about a handful of people finding their way in the world, and is set against an all-important backdrop of books.


Bryce Courtenay

A compilation of Bryce Courtney's reflections and musings about life, approaching death, and the craft of writing. It is an inspirational gem of a read and will definitely find a permanent home on my bookshelf.

Richard Flanagan - The Narrow Road to the Deep NorthThe Narrow Road to the Deep North

Richard Flanagan

This often overwhelming commentary on humanity is set against the backdrop of the Burma Death Railway. A masterpiece. Winner of the 2014 Man Booker Prize.

Miranda Sherry - Black Dog SummerBlack Dog Summer

Miranda Sherry

A murdered mother lingers in the afterworld, following the different threads of story that belong to those left behind.

Sandy Geyer - My Long Flight From FreedomMy Long Flight From Freedom

Sandy Geyer

South African born Sandy Geyer's frank and heartfelt account of why she left her homeland and moved with her family to New Zealand

Will Schwalbe: The End of Your Life Book ClubThe End Of Your Life Book Club

Will Schwalbe

The journey of a mother's terminal illness facilitated and shared with her son through books. A memoir.

Lloyd Jones - A History of SilenceA History of Silence

Lloyd Jones

The devastating Christchurch earthquake of 2011 served as a catalyst for this arresting memoir, which unearths and pieces together long-hidden truths within the author's family. This book lingered with me long after the last page.

THE CAT'S TABLE by Michael Ondaatje The Cat's Table

Michael Ondaatje

A sea voyage from Sri Lanka to Britain throws three young boys together. The friendships forged and their adventures on board the Oronsay will resonate long into their adult lives."

The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd The Invention of Wings

Sue Monk Kidd

"The Invention of Wings" is another powerful and beautifully written novel by Sue Monk Kidd, based on the true story of Sarah Grimke – a woman who fought tirelessly for both the abolition of slavery and women’s rights at the start of the nineteenth century. A harsh and poignant reminder of this era in America's history.


Alan Paton

I first read ‘Cry the Beloved Country’ many years ago. On reading it again, I have been reminded what a moving work it is – and brave for its time (1948), written when apartheid was just taking shape in South Africa.

Toni Morrison - BelovedBeloved

Toni Morrison

This deeply affecting and heartbreaking story by American Nobel Laureate Toni Morrison.


Piper Kerman

A rare and enlightening account of life behind bars in a US federal women’s prison. 'Orange is the New Black' raises many questions about modern society’s attitude towards crime and punishment.

Instructions for a Heatwave by Maggie O'Farrell.Instructions for a Heatwave.

Maggie O'Farrell

The Riordan family regroups following the mysterious disappearance of their loving father and husband. An insightful portrait of a family in crisis. 

NoViolet Bulawayo - We Need New NamesWe Need New Names

NoViolet Bulawayo

Told in the innocent voice of ten-year-old Darling, 'We Need New Names' is both a humorous and heartbreaking story about growing up in contemporary Zimbabwe (2005+) and the challenges of emigration.

Ann Patchett: This is the Story of a Happy MarriageThis is the Story of a Happy Marriage

Ann Patchett

Ann Patchett offers a memoir-like compilation of some of the most significant moments and experiences in her life. The book affords a rare and candid insight into her world.

Witi Ihimeara - THE PARIHAKA WOMANThe Parihaka Woman

Witi Ihimeara

Witi Ihimeara seamlessly blends fact with fiction to create an engaging and moving read about an important period in Maori history.

The Luminaries

Eleanor Catton

A satisfying murder mystery set during the nineteenth century New Zealand gold rush. This intriguing yarn never once flagged; I kept turning the pages - all 832 of them! As a winner of the Man Booker Prize, The Luminaries is a great example of accessible literary fiction.


A.D. Miller

This novel navigates the murky underworld of modern Moscow, where everything has a price and life is cheap. Miller draws the reader so completely into the bleak physical and moral landscape that it takes a while to reorientate after reading the last page. 

The Street Sweeper by Elliot PerlmanThe Street Sweeper

Elliot Perlman

An ambitious work set against a vast backdrop that encompasses both the horrors of the Holocaust and the American civil rights movement.


Rachel Joyce

From the author of ‘The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry’ comes a much darker tale about one mistake with unimaginable consequences.

Mukiwa. A White Boy in Africa by Peter GodwinMukiwa. A White Boy in Africa

Peter Godwin

Peter Godwin has written a compelling memoir of growing up in Rhodesia in the 1960’s during the last years of white rule. Beautifully written and powerfully evoked.

Natasha Solomon - Mr Rosenblum's ListMr Rosenblum's List

Natasha Solomon

A delightful, humorous and poignant read. This book got a big ‘yes’ from me.

Kevin Powers - The Yellow BirdsThe Yellow Birds

Kevin Powers

A haunting account of two young soldiers' bid to stay alive during their tour of duty in Iraq. Deeply affecting.

Michael Lavigne - NOT MENot Me

Michael Lavigne

In this novel, the truth for one man – Michael Rosenheim – is tipped on its head. A captivating tale that challenges society’s traditional definitions of good and evil, and leaves the reader grappling with moral uncertainties.

Rachel Joyce - The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold FryThe Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry

Rachel Joyce

I found myself looking at the world with different eyes by the end of Harold's journey. A must read!

Gillian Flynn: Gone GirlGone Girl

Gillian Flynn

An unsettling thriller that had me hooked from the opening line.

Annie Barrows, Mary Ann Shaffer - The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold FryThe Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

Annie Barrows, Mary Ann Shaffer

An epistolary novel set in 1946, following the end of the German occupation of Guernsey. A charming and uplifting read celebrating the power of the written word and the ability of the human spirit to rise above adversity.