For Summer Times, Dunedin Public Libraries' staff have dug
through their data base to discover the reading habits of
Dunedin residents. Rebecca Fox talks to library staff about
We cannot get enough romance in our lives is the sad truth
highlighted by the popularity of novels with happy or
romantic overtones sought out by readers at Dunedin Public
Whether it is a paranormal, good mystery or family drama with
a happy ending, ''this is what readers of any age want and
they can't get enough'', librarian collection development
librarian Jackie Howell says.
But, says young adult librarian Su Ikin, ''teens like a bit
of dark''. And film and television influence what we read.
Blockbuster movies such as those based on The Hobbit,
Twilight and Harry Potter novels or television
series like Downtown Abby or Call the Midwife
all produce demand for the books they were based on or those
from a similar era.
When the latest Hobbit movie came out, every book it
was based on that the library held, both new and old,
disappeared off the shelves.
''There was not one left in the library. We even bought
A recent Tom Cruise movie based on a Lee Child book had also
increased interest in his books. Whenever a Jane Austen-based
movie came out, it piqued interest in her novels. A
significant trend was towards what library staff called
''speculative fiction'', the ''falling in love with an
alien'' type novels that were divorced from reality.
Following on from her success with the Harry
Potter series, J. K. Rowling's latest book, targeted
at adults, had 76 holds on it when it came out, while there
were 48 holds for the late Irish author Maeve Binchy's latest
book, A Week in Winter.
The death of Australian author Bryce Courtney also led to
increased interest in his latest book Jack of
There had been a surprising increase in popularity of
Catherine Cookson novels, which were about life in the
grinding poverty of northeast England, as a new generation
discovered her work and recommended her to friends.
It had even meant dusting off some copies from the stacks.
''They might read one by accident, like it and when they
discover there is more, they come and get six at a time.''
It seems Dunedin readers are going against a trend as in the
United Kingdom, where the Mail Online reported Dame
Catherine, once the most popular author read in British
Libraries, had suffered a ''massive drop in popularity'' not
even making the top 10 most popular authors in the past nine
years - the same poll she topped for almost 20 years.
Recently, there had also been a surge in popularity for
graphic novels. The library had moved its collection and
displayed it on the first floor. The move hit a nerve as of
70 books put on the shelves, only 15 remained - mostly taken
out by readers in the 30-plus age group.
In the past, it might have been the Sweet Valley High
series that dominated teenagers' reading, but now it was the
paranormal romance - fallen angels and vampires - that
attracted young adult readers.
The Hunger Games, Twilight and Harry
Potter - it has been the decade of blockbuster teen reads
that also appeal to older readers.
''We had one tourist who came in every day to read a few
pages [of Harry Potter], Ms Ikin said.
Hunger Games, by American writer Suzanne Collins, was
particularly popular with girls, but older novels such as
John Marsden's Tomorrow series from the late 1990s and
Anthony Horowitz books from the 1980s were still going out.
Popular with boys were horror writers Darren Shan and David
''Girls will read just about anything, whereas boys are
mostly into fantasy, adventure or war.''
As you read this, Dunedin libraries' shelves will be emptying
out as children choose their holiday reading.
''The shelves will be hammered. Some take a lot away for
Christmas; others come in when they get back.''
The Diary of a Wimpy Kid series by Jeff Kinney is
never on the shelves and more often than not had holds on
copies before they even arrived at the library.
Series are really popular and Harry Potter was a prime
example, with some books having more than 200 holds on them.
''We have to keep replacing copies as they get a bit scruffy.
Everyone reads those,'' youth services librarian Phillipa
A lot are rereading old favourites, ''nostalgia reading''
such as Roald Dahl, Biggles, Narnia and for
little children Lynley Dodds' Hairy Maclary series.
''Anything about cats and dogs is popular.''
Julia Donaldson's Gruffalo picture books are all
really popular with children who are always requesting them,
even ''little children who can hardly speak''.
Lucy Cousins' Maisey books or anything written by her
were similarly in demand.
''Children like to read everything by an author,'' Ms Ikin
Cooking books and sports books (see Summer Times' Meiks
reads) rate as some of the favoured in the non-fiction
section of the library.
Recent releases of biographies on New Zealand athlete Valerie
Adams and All Black Ritchie McCaw and Kerre Woodham's
Short Fat Chick in Paris were all in demand.
Biographies, authorised or not, were also popular, such as
those on British actor Colin Firth, American chef and
television personality Julia Child and British actress and
comedian Miranda Hart.
A less well known book Running with the Kenyans by
Adharanand Finn about why Kenyans were so good at long
distance running was also popular.
Television also has its influence on the non-fiction shelves,
with anything to do with British presenter Kevin McCloud of
Grand Designs fame in demand.
Reviews on radio also generate interest, with that of On
the Map by Simon Garfield, a book aiming to bring
geography and maps to life, requested afterwards.
''Anything on National Radio on Saturday morning brings
people in,'' non-fiction collection advocate Shirley Jones
British broadcaster, critic and columnist Catlin Moran's book
How to be a Woman was an example, as was Nobel
prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz's The Price of
''Issues that touch people like globalisation, things that
affect us all.''
Anything by Nigel Latta, his books and DVDs were continual
As summer arrived, gardening books also disappeared off the
shelves, from the ''how to'' guides to the inspirational
landscape gardening books.
Cookbooks also went out more in summer, with speculation many
were read just for fun rather than used for cooking. Books by
British chefs such a Nigella, Jamie Oliver and Hugh
Whittingstall were all sought after.
''It's like speculative cookery - if only I could,''
collection specialist non-fiction Jackie McMillan says.
New Zealand television presenter and chef Al Brown's latest
offering Get Fresh disappeared off the shelves quickly
after a library event at Port Chalmers featuring the man
''We had 150 there and 50 on a wait list. If people have been
here, it sparks their interest.''
Anything written by Dunedin author Neville Peat was also very
Other Southern authors such as Rees Valley Station owner Iris
Scott's take on her life and the Life on Gorge River
books by husband and wife Robert Long and Catherine Stewart
were also very popular even a year or so after their release.
''It's the whole idea of a life better than your own.''
And of course, no story on popular books could be complete
without a mention of the New Zealand Road Code - the
library's copies just keep flying off the shelves.
On the up
Katie Flynn (UK, romance)Erica James (UK, romance)Karin
Slaughter (US, crime)Kathy Kelly (Ireland, ''chick
lit'')Catherine Cookson (UK, family saga)Peter Robinson (UK,
crime)Jeffrey Archer (UK, saga)Reginald Hill (UK,
crime)Nalini Singh (NZ, romance)Marcia Willet (UK, family
saga)Josephine Cox (UK, family saga)Stieg Larsson (Sweden,
crime)Terry Pratchett (UK, fantasy)Anita Shreave (US,
family)Joanna Trollope (UK, romance)Robyn Carr (US, romance)
On the down
Johnathan Kellerman (US, suspense)Jude Deveraux (US,
romance)Susan Lewis (UK, ''chick lit'')Clive Cussler (US,
thriller)Kathy Reichs (US, crime)Mary Higgins Clark (US,
suspense)Quintin Jardine (Scotland, crime)
Source: Dunedin Library based on authors'
three last publication.
Top 10 most requested
1. Wanted Man by Lee Child
2. A Wife on Gorge River by Catherine Stewart
3. The Casual Vacancy by J. K. Rowling
4. Richie McCaw by Greg McGee
5. The Mystery of Mercy Close by Marian Keyes
6. Simple Pleasures by Annabel Langbein
7. The Bone Bed by Patricia Cornwell
8. Winter of the World by Ken Follett
9. Standing in Another Man's Grave by Ian Rankin
10 A Week in Winter by Maeve Binchy
Top 10 - NZ fiction
1. The Larnachs by Owen Marshall
2. Containment by Vanda Symon
3. The Italian Wedding by Nicky Pellegrino
4. Recipe for Life by Nicky Pellegrino
5. Mister Pip by Lloyd Jones
6. The Ringmaster by Vanda Symon
7. Inheritance by Jenny Pattrick
8. Dolci di Love by Sarah Kate Lynch
9. Hunting Blind by Paddy Richardson
10. The Conductor by Sarah Quigley
Top 10 NZ non-fiction
1. Footrot Flats by Murray Ball
2. The Free Range Cook by Annabel Langbein
3. Free Range In The City by Annabel Langbein
4. A life on Gorge River by Robert Long
5. All Blacks Don't Cry by John Kirwan
6. Port Chalmers and Its People by Ian Church
7. So Brilliantly Clever: Parker, Hulme and the murder that
shocked the world by Peter Graham
8. It's Easier Than You Think by Jo Seagar
9. 100+ Tasty $10 Meals by Sophie Gray
10. Riverstone Kitchen by Bevan Smit
Top 10 children's reads
1. Obelix & Co by Goscinny.
2. Explorers on the Moon (Tintin) by Herge.
3. Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone by J. K. Rowling.
4. Asterix the Legionary by Goscinny.
5. Asterix and the Big Fight by Goscinny.
6. Slinky Malinki, Open the Door by Lynley Dodd.
7. The Little Yellow Digger by Betty Gilderdale.
8. Asterix and the Banquet by Goscinny.
9. Hairy Maclary, Sit by Lynley Dodd.
10 The Blue Lotus (Tintin) by Herge.
The top five
1. And Furthermore by Judi Dench
2. A Life on Gorge River by Robert Long
3. A Train In Winter: a story of resistance, friendship and
survival by Caroline Moorehead
4. Dear Fatty by Dawn French
5. All Blacks Don't Cry by John Kirwan
1. The Free-Range Cook by Annabel Langbein
2. Free Range In The City by Annabel Langbein
3. It's Easier Than You Think by Jo Seagar
4. 100+ Tasty $10 Meals by Sophie Gray
5. Riverstone Kitchen by Bevan Smith
1. The Tui New Zealand Flower Garden by Rachel Vogan
2. Yates Garden Guide
3. Native by Design: landscape design with New Zealand plants
4. Compost by Kenneth Thompson
5. Colour in the Garden by Val Bourne
1. The Impossible Dead by Ian Rankin
2. Believing the Lie by Elizabeth George
3. Red mist by Patricia Cornwell
4. Explosive Eighteen by Janet Evanovich
5. The Saint Zita Society by Ruth Rendell
1. The Affair by Lee Child
2. Private by James Patterson
3. A Wanted Man by Lee Child
4. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson
5. Worth Dying For by Lee Child
1. House Rules by Jodi Picoult
2. Sing You Home by Jodi Picoult
3. Daughters-in-law by Joanna Trollope
4. Stolen by Lesley Pearse
5. The Real Katie Lavender by Erica James
1. Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins
2. Halo by Greg Bear
3. The Lost Fleet by Jack Campbell
4. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
5. Lord of Mountains by S. M. Stirling