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Book reviews: October 2023

3 min read
October book reviews

Pick of the month

New Zealand’s Biggest Year
Harry Boorman with Felicity Boorman
$39.99
John Beaufoy Publishing
Reviewed by Steve Atkinson

I wouldn’t have picked this book to be a winner but couldn’t help getting drawn into Harry’s big year, which was dedicated to locating as many species of birds across New Zealand as possible.

The book has all the hallmarks of a top chase novel, with our intrepid bird spotter jumping on a plane, boat, or in his car at a moment’s notice to ensure another tick gets added to his steadily growing tally. On top of that, he’s up against another pro, who plays the game well. With only seven hours to go before the New Year rings in, he jumps on a plane to the Chatham in an effort to get the final seven species.

It’s a nail-biting finish and an epic tale of how two friends (who become rivals) set out to break the all-time record for the most New Zealand bird species seen in one calendar year. What a great way to get people interested in a new hobby.

More good reads

Iconic Kiwi Pubs: From Mangōnui to Bluff
George Lockyer
Bateman Books
$45.99

As well as offering an insight into the history of the classic Kiwi pub, this brilliant tribute to the genre sees author George Lockyer share his travels around Aotearoa, where he uncovers lesser-known gems alongside some of the country’s most iconic pubs. Each one forms a vital thread in this rich tapestry.

Offering a deep dive into the history of these remarkable buildings and the people who devote their lives to them, it’s a surprisingly informative introduction to these special places, which are often the heart of smaller communities. It’s also a great idea for a road trip to visit your favourites.

Blue Duck Station
Nicola McCloy
Bateman Books
$69.99

A truly unique and remarkable slice of New Zealand, the iconic Blue Duck Station in Ruapehu is one of the country’s most environmentally significant stations. Combining traditional farming practices with tourism and conservation, the evolution of Blue Duck Station is a fascinating read.

This visually stunning book is a captivating portrait of one of the country’s most environmentally significant stations and it captures the magnificence of the landscape, along with the challenges and rewards of owning and managing this legacy property.

Discover the beating heart of the majestic outdoor playground and prepare to be impressed.

Untouchable Girls
Jules & Lynda Topp
Allen & Unwin
$49.99

It’s hard to think of a more iconic Kiwi duo than the irrepressible Topp Twins. Untouchable Girls is a delicious feast of a book infused with their charm and personality, with their honesty and, of course, sense of humour. It shares their upbringing, their rise to success, and their remarkable life adventures.

It’s part memoir, part laugh-out-loud anecdotes, and as well as being peppered with special family photos and mementos, also has the odd recipe and other quirky additions. It’s pure enjoyment and threaded through with some fairly important life messages.

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