December 20, 2013 posted by Kiran Dass

Unity Books Auckland Staff Picks for 2013

Unity Books Auckland Staff Picks for 2013

At Unity Books Auckland, we’ve read so many terrific books this year that it has been difficult for each of us to pick our final shortlist. Here are our staff picks (new books and old) for 2013.


Escape from Camp 14: One Man’s Remarkable Odyssey from North Korea to Freedom in the West – Blaine Harden
Shin Dong-hyuk is the only person known to have escaped Kaechon slave labour camp in North Korea. Read his story and feel overwhelmed with gratitude.

Strange Weather in Tokyo – Kawakami Hiromi
This sweet yet sad novel reminds us that good company and a bottle of hot sake can help ease the burden of any heart. The perfect read for a romantic foodie.

Eat your Vegetables: Bold Recipes for the Single Cook – Joe Yonan
This cookbook is suitable for vegetarians who are feeling at a loss growing up in a meat-eating family. These single serve recipes are created for those who like to make the effort of cooking but are eating alone.

The Goldfinch – Donna Tartt
I started this on the weekend and I’ve been engaged since page one.


Eyrie – Tim Winton
My favourite novel of the year. Tim Winton will break your heart!

Last Days of the National Costume – Anne Kennedy
A naughty and charming novel set during the power crisis in Auckland.

The Goldfinch – Donna Tartt
Believe the hype! The 770 pages fly by. Everyone will love it.

Mortal Fire – Elizabeth Knox
Elizabeth Knox can do no wrong! I loved both Mortal Fire and Wake. Be warned, Wake is truly horrific at times but utterly wonderful.


Stoner – John Williams
This is it. My literary find of the year. Written in the blackest and coldest ink, this is a beautiful love letter to literature.

The Goldfinch – Donna Tartt
Tartt’s writing is elegantly refined and while some people might quibble, I liked The Goldfinch even more than her superb The Secret History.

The Interestings – Meg Wolitzer
What a wonderfully smart and gutsy New York satire!

KLF: Chaos, Magic and the Band who Burnt a Million Pounds – John Higgs
Remember when those visionary nutcases and legendary high-charting pop/art duo the KLF burnt a million quid in 1994? This is a crack-up account of the wild incident.

Wake in Fright – Kenneth Cooke
I can’t believe Ted Kotcheff, the director responsible for the film confection Weekend at Bernies also made the quietly terrifying and brilliant film adaptation of this book. A perfectly menacing, dusty and beer-soaked Ocker chiller.


Dirty Love – Andre Dubus III
Four linked novellas about real people, whose gritty lives are portrayed with real feeling, by a wonderful writer.

The Son – Philip Meyer
An epic, multigenerational story, set in Texas, spanning 200 years. My book of the year.

The Stories of Breece D’J Pancake
I loved this when I read it in the 1980s, and I love it even more, now. Set in rural West Virginia, these are achingly beautiful stories, by a writer whose life ended too soon. Read him!

All that Is – James Salter
A beautifully told post WWII literary novel, using the spare and elegant prose that he is known for. At 87 years of age, James Salter is a “stone genius.”




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Kiran Dass has been a bookseller at Unity Books (now in Auckland but previously in Wellington) since 2005. Kiran is an Auckland based writer and reviewer who has written about music, film and books for the NZ Listener, The Wire, Sunday Star-Times, Metro, Landfall, Real Groove, Rip it Up, NZ Musician, NZ Herald, Dominion Post, No, Pavement and Staple. She sometimes produces music features for Radio New Zealand and reviews books on RNZ's Nine to Noon show and reviews music books fortnightly for the 95bFM Breakfast slot Loose Reads.

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