Friday, December 4, 2009

Metro Magazine's The Best of Auckland 2009

It’s getting to that time of year where everyone is reflecting on what has occurred in 2009, and compiling various lists. “Best ofs”, “Top 10s” and “Year’s Bests” dealing with a wide variety of subjects are coming to the fore. Some of these, of course, relate to the books world.

One of the most well-known magazines in New Zealand is Metro – “Auckland's magazine”, a metropolitan monthly featuring a mix of current affairs and investigative journalism, profiles, lifestyle features, restaurant and bar reviews and a range of lively columns. Given around one third of New Zealand’s population is contained in the Greater Auckland region, Metro is fairly influential, in comparison to other ‘regional’ magazines. It has been in existence for more almost thirty years (it was launched in 1981).

At the end of each year Metro has an annual “Best of Auckland” issue, covering everything from personalities, to food and drink, to arts and culture, to architecture, to shops, to fashion and beauty, to children-related stuff, to media, to outdoors, to business, to sport. The December issue, with the “Best of Auckland” for 2009, has recently hit the shelves, and I picked up a copy today.

Books-related highlights from the list:
  • The Auckland Writers Festival missed out on the ‘Best Festival’ award, to the arts-focused Auckland Festival;
  • Best Bookshop went to Time Out in Mt Eden, described as having “charm as well as an extraordinary range of books”. Methinks they will have to be added to my list of stores to be ‘Bookstore Review-ed’ by moi. I wonder whether they will have a good range of Kiwi crime?
  • Radio New Zealand, which does a great job promoting reading and books with its daily book reviews on Nine to Noon, and plenty of author interviews on the same show, as well as Arts on Sunday and others, missed out on best radio station to talkback-centric Radio Live;
  • Best Bookshop for Kids went to the Children’s Bookshop in Ponsonby.
There were no best 'Auckland' book, or best author categories (although there are plenty of best actor, up-and-coming actor, best news reader, best columnist, best radio host, best sports columnist, best business commentator, best overlooked musician, best stage director, etc categories). If there had been, Alix Bosco's CUT & RUN might have been a great choice, given that the debut thriller captures and evokes modern-day Auckland very well, from the shops and restaurants of High Street, to the richer suburbs, to the realities of South Auckland (drug houses mixed in with loving family homes), to restaurant-rimmed Ponsonby, to the attitudes of many in various professions on show here, in New Zealand's biggest city.

For those of you in New Zealand who pick up a copy of the December issue of Metro, there is also a “Best of Auckland 2009” reader card included, which will get you discount at many of the stores mentioned, including a 15% discount on purchases over $50 at Time Out bookstore in Mt Eden (for those looking to do some pre-Xmas book-buying in Auckland).

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