Readers overwhelmingly choose international books over ‘terrific’ Kiwi fiction, laments Whitcoulls buyer.

Kiwi readers have named international titles as their favourites over local works, to the dismay of a book buyer who says New Zealand has "terrific" fiction.

The latest Whitcoulls Top 100 list was released today from more than 21,000 votes cast by New Zealanders for their favourite books and authors.

Claiming the No 1 spot for the first time is Diana Gabaldon's bestselling Outlander series, attributed to its recent screening on television, which Whitcoulls says is a trend.

Nine of the titles in the top 20 had also been portrayed on screen including A Game of Thrones, Fifty Shades of Grey and Gone Girl.

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Second place went to J. K. Rowling's ever-popular Harry Potter series.

At No 3, for the fourth time in a row, was J.R.R. Tolkien's classic The Lord of the Rings. Tolkien's fantasy trilogy has featured in Whitcoull's Top 100 books every year since the list began in 1996.

The first New Zealand title on the list is Jason Shon Bennett's My 20 Golden Rules, a health guide to "illness-free longevity and exceptional well being".

Despite winning the Man Booker Prize in 2013, Eleanor Catton's The Luminaries did not appear until No 46, between The Alchemist, by Paulo Coelho, and The Lovely Bones, by Alice Sebold.

In last year's list, it was No 10.

The only other New Zealander on the list was Dr Libby Weaver with another non-fiction health book, Beauty from the Inside Out.

The Luminaries comes in at 46.
The Luminaries comes in at 46.

Whitcoulls' head book buyer, Joan Mackenzie, lamented the lack of New Zealand books making the cut this year, saying, "There is some terrific fiction being written here, but it is hard to get visibility for local books when they are competing against so many high-profile international titles.

"That's my one regret about the list, that we are not championing more New Zealand writing."

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Mrs Mackenzie said she believed it was hard for New Zealand fiction to get the cut through it deserved, because for a long time it was fairly literary and worthy and a bit dark, and didn't have a wide appeal, whereas the books on the list tended to be more commercial.

Nutritionist Dr Libby Weaver makes the list.
Nutritionist Dr Libby Weaver makes the list.

She believed that recently our fiction was becoming "lighter" and better packaged.

"You can say don't judge a book by its cover but people do. We are doing a better job of making our books look interesting," she said.

The Luminaries had also helped the profile of New Zealand writing, Mrs Mackenzie said.

Another Kiwi author made the Man Booker long list this week. Anna Smaill found out on Thursday that her debut novel The Chimes was among 13 novels contending for the British literary prize.

Top 10

1

The Outlander

series Diana Gabaldon

2

Harry Potter

series J. K. Rowling

3

The Lord of the Rings

J.R.R. Tolkien

4

The Girl on the Train

Paula Hawkins

5

I Am Pilgrim

Terry Hayes

6

A Song of Ice and Fire

series George R. R. Martin

7

Pride and Prejudice

Jane Austen

8

The Book Thief

Markus Zusak

9

To Kill a Mockingbird

Harper Lee

10

The Millennium

series Stieg Larsson

For the full list go to whitcoulls.co.nz