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)

‘Hawkins writes knowingly of the fresh mornings, the freezing rain, and the rolling hills and gullies of the fictional settlement of Tipoi. A story of betrayal and struggle, the novel follows the main character Jenny, after she gives her cheating husband the boot and juggles a sheep farm, council job and a coterie of well-meaning friends, all the while looking after her two children’: from an exceptional profile written by Wintec j-school student Oskar Howell, at ReadingRoom.

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

From the author’s website: ‘If you love the Italy of my novels why not come with me and experience it for real? I’m putting together a tour to take small numbers of guests to experience some of the flavours and locations featured in my novels. It’s still early days but I’m hoping my first tour will happen in 2020 and I can promise wonderful food, local knowledge and warm, friendly people. It will be like stepping through the pages of one of my stories!’

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

Shortlisted for the 2019 Ngaio Marsh crime writing awards.

4 Whatever It Takes by Paul Cleave (Upstart Press $37.99)

More crime fiction: a seven-year-old girl is kidnapped, then found; 12 years later, she goes missing.

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

‘Writing parts of A Mistake, especially the opening surgery sequence, was sometimes most glorious fun. When I knew what to do – when I had sufficient research to know what happened when and how to say it, and I simply had to hang on long enough to get it down and get to the end Because I Knew What I Was Going To Say – doing it was simply the most exciting thing I know of to do’: the author, in a remarkable personal essay at ReadingRoom.

6 Call Me Evie by J.P. Pomare (Hachette, $34.99)

Shortlisted for the 2019 Ngaio Marsh crime writing awards.

7 Moonlight Sonata by Eileen Merriman (Penguin Random House, $38)

No other novelist in the world has a LinkedIn profile like this: ‘I am a consultant haematologist and lead thrombosis clinician at North Shore Hospital. I am conducting a multi-centre Australasian trial examining the role of an abbreviated period of anticoagulation for isolated distal vein DVT (TWISTER trial). Other research interests include antiphospholipid syndrome and pregnancy-related VTE.’

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

ReadingRoom has received an exceptional profile of the author by AUT j-school student Khalia Strong, and shall publish it at the nearest opportunity.

9 Necessary Secrets by Greg McGee (Upstart Press, $37.99)

‘On his 70th birthday Dennis Sparks contemplates his own mortality – and then his three adult children narrate the year ahead – each with their version of their family’s story of love, loss, money worries, drugs, domestic violence, and the myriad things that make up Kiwi lives. It’s really good; set in Auckland’: Joan’s Picks, Newstalk ZB.

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


NZ Non-Fiction

1 How to Escape from Prison by Paul Wood (HarperCollins, $37.99)

Ex-con Arthur Taylor’s review of of this ex-con’s life advice manual will appear next week at ReadingRoom.

2 A Conversation with my Country by Alan Duff (Penguin Random House, $38)

‘It might more correctly be titled A Conversation with Myself, given how often he returns to previous proclamations – Māori must stop blaming colonialism for their ills, cultural tradition is no solution in and of itself, all that – and makes space for arguments he might once have dismissed, quite possibly derided’: from a review by Finlay Macdonald, at ReadingRoom.

3 The Roar by Alan Stevens (Imagination Press, $39.99)


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


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

Pages 206-207, 446, and 482 refer to Ihumātao.

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

Financial advice.

7 Many a Close Run Thing by Tom Enright (HarperCollins, $39.99)


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

War story.

9 Māori Made Easy by Scotty Morrison (Penguin Random House, $25)

The language.

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

The Treaty.

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