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Photos of New Zealand politicians and their bookcases are creepily revealing

We are what we read; a bookcase is an X-ray of its owner, their ambitions and fears, their IQ and their desires

A politician anywhere near a book is a rare and incongruous sight. They exist as creatures who act on a range of terrible decisions. It doesn’t do for them to be seen floating around in the nebulous, dreamy world of literature, with its nuances and its conflicting ideas. But all photo opportunities are good photo opportunities when you’re running for office, and I had every confidence that New Zealand’s political leaders would say yes when I approached them this year to pose beside their bookcases.

It was for the series of photographs I run every Friday to illustrate the weekly best-seller chart at Newsroom, where I serve as books editor. For quite a long time I asked authors and various other literary types to send in photographs of their bookcases. Most of the photos appeared without any response. They were kind of interesting at the same time as being kind of really boring. Eventually I realised it might be a better idea to ask the authors to be in the photographs as well, and I extended the idea to invite political leaders in 2020 as an election year carrot.

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