A bookish disaster

Every Monday morning I fly down to Wellington to work, and return on Wednesday evenings. With two flights and two nights away, I always make sure I have 300-400 pages left in the book I’m reading, or I’ll take a new book to start on the trip down. This week, I took The Ships of Merior as I hadn’t had a lot of reading time last week and was barely into it. With the boost of reading time with my commute, I was expecting I could get the book finished this week. But disaster struck on Monday evening. If anyone was staying in the apartment next to mine, they would surely have heard “Noooo! What the hell?” coming through the walls. What was this disaster? A printing error. I had just finished page 392, and the next page was 394. I checked the next few pages to see if they’d just flipped some pages around, alas no. Instead there were two page 399s to make up for absconding with page 393.

Thankfully, I had planned to finish the chapter set I was on then go to sleep, and the despair of the loss of page 393 didn’t wake me up enough to cause trouble sleeping. Also, luckily, I have yet to post my original copies to my friend, so I can at least finish my reread as I know that copy was polite enough to contain all its pages.

But I was now left in the dire straits of not having a book to read for Tuesday night and the flight home. I raced out of work Tuesday evening with 15mins to get to Unity books and buy an emergency book. I decided to pick up a book that I’d been curious about on several previous visits but never picked up and read the back of: A Runner’s Guide to Rakiura by Jessica Howland Kany. It sounded interesting, and different, so I thought why not. So far I’m almost 25% in and enjoying it. And it has made me laugh out loud a few times – including while I was sitting at the airport, but I’ve never minded being considered a weirdo, so the odd looks that engendered didn’t bother me at all.

A Runner's Guide to Rakiura by Jessica Howland Kany

“A Millenial New Yorker, a Stewart Island fisherman, and a WWII veteran walk into a bar…”

Maudie’s on the run – from New York and from her past – but she runs headlong into her future when she ends up on Rakiura Steward Island on assignment to cover Aotearoa New Zealand’s southernmost running trails. Or, as her new fisherman friend Vil puts it: “Giving brainless bucket-listers hard-ons for islands like mine.”

She quickly becomes absorbed into island life and once she hears tales of buried treasure, Maudie embarks on a dogged pursuit of the truth, increasingly hooked by gossipy hints. Clues and waypoints are buried in old SINs (Stewart Island News) and pieces of the puzzle are scrawled on buoys washed up on the pages.

Maudie doesn’t cut a convincing detective figure. She’s an erratic, impulsive, semi-alcoholic millenial, but nothing breaks her stride as she wades into the world of laconic locals and dune grass politics.

Welcome to a tale of romance, adventure, and a treasure hunt which will take you through decades and landscapes, from the beaches of Rakiura Stewart Island to the battlefield of Monte Cassino, to post-war Paris, to the Twin Towers rebuild.

Vast and sweeping in scope, this brilliant debut novel is braided with stories of love and war, loss, relationships, island lore, and the joys of running. A Runner’s Guide to Rakiura is also playful, funny, and romantic, and like any good treasure hunt, there will be reckonings, redemptions, and yes… there will be treasure.


    • So far so good. I have put it aside to finish my other book. I’ll probably take it with me on Monday for my Wellington and commute read.


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