This week’s best-selling NZ books (ft. review by legendary ex-con Arthur Taylor)

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

“I think this is one of his best and most accessible books to date – about a US deputy who rescues a young girl who’s been kidnapped, and promises her that he will never let anything bad happen to her again. Many years later he’s called on to honour that promise”: Joan’s Picks, Newstalk ZB.

2 The Ash, the Well and the Bluebell by Sandra Arnold (Makaro Press, $35)

Publisher’s blurbology: “Losing her daughter to the Christchurch earthquake sends Lily back to her childhood village in Northern England to scatter Charlie’s ashes. It’s a place of ghosts for Lily after the mysterious drowning of a school friend at the old village well – a tragedy somehow linked to the death of a local woman accused of witchcraft 300 years earlier.”

3 The Boyfriend by Laura Southgate (Victoria University Press, $30)

Arguably the three most outstanding New Zealand novels published in 2019 are Loving Sylvie by Elizabeth Smither, A Mistake by Carl Shuker, and now Southgate’s debut, a cautionary tale about that common species known as the Bad Boyfriend. “Sexual desire, romance and violence are tangled up in a coming-of-age story full of 90s nostalgia”: Linda Herrick, New Zealand Listener.

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

5 Nailing Down the Saint by Craig Cliff (Penguin Random House, $38)

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

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

8 The Whale Rider by Witi Ihimaera (Penguin Random House, $26)

9 Heloise by Mandy Hager (Penguin Random House, $38)

10 The Bad Seed by Charlotte Grimshaw (Penguin Random House, $38)

The excellent, beautifully crafted novels that inspired the kind of garish but not entirely awful TV series.

NZ Non-Fiction

1 Brothers in Black by Jamie Wall (Allen & Unwin, $36.99)

2 The Shearers by Ruth Entwistle Low (Penguin Random House, $45)

The author, interviewed by Chris Tobin, in the Otago Daily Times: “Shearing is a hard-working environment; you move from shed to shed and after shearing one sheep you pull a cord, put the sheep down the porthole, wipe your brow and then take your next sheep. The sheep can be up to 60kg. No-one can travel New Zealand and see what is being done and not admire it.”

3 Perform Under Pressure by Ceri Evans (HarperCollins, $39.99)

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

Review by legendary ex-con Arthur Taylor, writing exclusively if not at considerable length for ReadingRoom: “Dr Wood invites the reader to undergo his personal journey. It starts when he recognises he was an angry teenager seeking high-sensation experiences. One fateful night, acting on impulse, he commits a crime that sees him sentenced to a life term. His lag was spent in three New Zealand jails, the worst of which I refer to as being The Belly of the Beast –Auckland Prison, Paremoremo. Wood’s big discovery inside was that he was in a prison within himself before he was ever physically locked up. He reveals the five major steps for freedom that steered him towards personal redemption. Nowadays he’s much in demand as a facilitator and inspirational speaker, armed with a BA and a double major in philosophy and psychology. Wood turned adversity to his advantage with a passion for helping others – just as I did and continue to do today.”

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

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

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

8 The Meaning of Trees by Robert Vennell (HarperCollins, $55)

9 The Roar by Allan Stevens (Imagination Press, $39.99)

10 Historic New Zealand Racing Cars by Steve Holmes (David Bateman, $39.99)

We asked some comms guy at Bateman to send a review copy to fast-car enthusiast and GC Mark Sainsbury but nothing ever arrived and that’s a bit useless, really. Comms guy! Can you pull finger, please?

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