This week’s Top 10 NZ books

Here are this week's biggest books, as recorded by the Nielsen BookScan New Zealand bestseller list and described by Steve Braunias.

NZ Fiction

1 When It All Went to Custard by Danielle Hawkins (HarperCollins, $35)

Top 10 interesting things about Otorohanga: 1) It’s where Danielle Hawkins, the best-selling novelist in New Zealand in 2019, lives and works 2) It’s got a Kiwihouse 3) It’s near Kawhia 4) It’s where a haulage truck rolled in the early hours of a Friday morning in January. It rolled on a corner and into a ditch so wasn't blocking the road, Senior Sergeant Tina Shaw told Stuff. The driver was transported to Waikato Hospital with minor injuries. The truck was carrying a lot of old paper thought to be products for recycling. 5) [That’s enough – Ed.]

2 A Dream of Italy by Nicky Pellegrino (Hachette, $34.99)

The author lives in Pt Chevalier with her husband Carne Bidwill and their dogs Lucy (German short haired pointer) and Charlie (standard poodle).

3 Wolf Rain by Nalini Singh (Hachette, $29.99)

Born in Fiji in 1977, Singh was educated at Mt Roskill Grammar, and is the author of over two dozen novels. Many have appeared on The New York Times best-seller list for romance and paranormal romance.

4 This Mortal Boy by Fiona Kidman (Penguin Random House, $38)

ReadingRoom looks forward to AUT journalism graduate Khalia Strong’s background feature on the subject of Kidman’s novel – the hanging of Albert Black at Mt Eden prison in 1957.

5 A Mistake by Carl Shuker (Victoria University Press, $30)

Reading Room has received a most remarkable personal essay by the author describing the making of his novel about medical failure, and will publish it at the earliest opportunity.

6 Loving Sylvie by Elizabeth Smither (Allen & Unwin, $36.99)

“I'd like to jump down a bank, even tumble and roll,” wrote the New Plymouth author, born in 1941, in an essay published in Stuff, on the subject of growing old. “But it might mean a broken femur.”

7 Poūkahangatus by Tayi Tibble (Victoria University Press, $20)

She kisses him goodbye with her eyes still wet and alight from their

last swim in the Awatere River. At the train station celebration, she

leads the kapa haka but her voice keeps breaking under and over itself

like waves...

8 What You Wish For by Catherine Robertson (Penguin Random House, $38)

Extract, from the Wellington author’s entertaining novel: “Gene was short and round, with a neat salt and pepper beard and a penchant for Pasifika-patterned shirts. When Ash had first met him, he'd thought him a cheery kind of bloke. He now knew that Gene's smile was the equivalent of the click heard when your foot came down on a landmine — a signal that you were in mortal peril and there wasn't a single thing you could do about it.”

9 The Gulf Between by Maxine Alterio (Penguin Random House, $38)

“Before we had the ability to articulate what we knew, felt and thought,” wrote Alterio, for the Higher Education Authority, “we learned to make sense of the world through stories.”

10 The Unreliable People by Rosetta Allan (Penguin Random House, $38)

Strong contender for the 2020 Ockham New Zealand national book award for fiction.

NZ Non-Fiction

1 The Note Through the Wire by Doug Gold (Allen & Unwin, $36.99)

“My book The Note Through the Wire is the love story of Josefine Lobnik, a Slovene resistance fighter, and Bruce Murray, a Kiwi prisoner of war. They met by chance when she passed a note through the wire of a POW camp seeking information on her brother Leopold who had been captured by the Nazis. Years later, they became my parents-in-law”: the author, in a personal essay at ReadingRoom.

2 Te Tiriti o Waitangi by Toby Morris & Ross Calman & Mark Derby & Piripi Walker (Lift Education, $20)

The Treaty.

3 Rich Enough? by Mary Holm (HarperCollins, $36.99)


4 The Book of Knowing by Gwendoline Smith (Allen & Unwin, $24.99)


5 What the Fat Recipes by Grant Schofield & Caryn Zinn & Craig Rodger (Blackwell and Ruth, $49.99)

Includes low-carb sausage rolls made with mozzarella, ground almonds, cream, pork mince, fennel seeds, sesame seeds and something called Psyllium Husk.

6 The New Zealand Wars by Vincent O'Malley (Bridget Williams Books, $39.99)

The author will appear onstage at the Marlborough Book Festival held in Blenheim from July 7-9. Other writers at one of New Zealand’s most charming literary locations include Shayne Carter, Kate de Goldi, Owen Marshall and Chessie Henry.

7 Maori Made Easy by Scotty Morrison (Penguin Random House, $38)

Morrison is a judge at this year’s Pikihuia Awards, staged by the Māori Literature Trust; his category is First-time Writer in te Reo Māori, and the shortlist was announced this week. The three writers he has chosen are Pine Campbell (Ngāti Porou / Kahungunu ki Te Wairoa) of Tokomaru Bay; Hineteahurangi Merenape Durie Ngata (Ngāti Kauwhata, Te Aitanga ā Hauiti, Ngāti Porou, Rangitāne) of Palmerston North; and Amiria Stirling (Te Whānau a Apanui) of Wellington

8 The Billion Dollar Bonfire by Chris Lee (Projects Resources, $40)

Insider’s account of the collapse of Allan Hubbard’s SCF empire; a fascinating and poignant excerpt of Hubbard’s last days appears at ReadingRoom.

9 Whitiki! Whiti! Whiti! E!: Māori in the First World War by Monty Soutar (David Bateman, $69.99)

Nell Atkinson, Ministry of Culture and Heritage: “With land confiscations and the treatment meted out to Māori at places like Parihaka, Rangiaowhia and Ōrakau still raw in the minds of their elders, many young men from these areas could not be moved to serve. This book tells all of their stories in detail for the first time.”

10 Purakau by Witi Ihimaera & Whiti Hereaka (Penguin Random House, $38)

Māori legends retold and set in modern New Zealand, by writers such as Patricia Grace, Keri Hulme, Paula Morris, Hone Tuwhare – and Kelly Ana Morey, whose brilliant story, set in the former Kingseat asylum for the mentally ill, appeared at ReadingRoom.

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