Top 10 NZ books of the week

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

New Zealand Fiction

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

We look forward to publishing the forthcoming review by Leah McFall of the Otorohanga novelist’s latest best-seller.

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

We also look forward to publishing Leah McFall’s forthcoming review of the Auckland novelist’s latest best-seller.

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

Winner of the 2019 Ockham New Zealand national book award for fiction.

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

We look forward to publishing an essay by the Wellington writer on the theme of his latest best-seller – the tragic consequences of medical misadventure.

5 Poukahangatus by Tayi Tibble (Victoria University Press, $20)

Poetry by a Wellington writer; nominations for the next poet laureate of New Zealand are open now at the National Library website.

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

Novel set in Russia by the Putaruru writer.

7 Conventional Weapons by Tracey Slaughter (Victoria University Press, $25)

Poetry by a Thames writer; nominations for the next poet laureate of New Zealand are open now at the National Library website.

8 Selected Poems by Brian Turner (Victoria University Press, $40)

Greatest hits by the Oturehua writer, and former poet laureate of New Zealand.

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

Enticing extract: “Sirens are wailing in the distance, a rarity in Queenstown, at any hour, day or night. I’m inside my home on the rise, surrounded by mountains and the commanding vista of Lake Wakatipu, about to wash the breakfast dishes, feeling sleep-deprived and out of sorts. A deep-rooted nightmare ensnared me in the early hours. I’d woken drenched to the skin, the top sheet wound around my neck, tight as a noose....”

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

Rich, beautifully drawn novel by the New Plymouth writer, and a former poet laureate of New Zealand.

New Zealand Non-Fiction

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

Claim: Allen & Unwin are the best, craftiest, most effective publisher in New Zealand. Supporting evidence: Elizabeth Smither’s novel Loving Sylvie, the forthcoming memoir by Linda Burgess, this week’s appointment of former Canvas editor Michelle Hurley as publisher, and this, Doug Gold’s best-selling love story of a New Zealand soldier and a Slovene resistance fighter both fighting for freedom in Hitler-occupied Europe.

2 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.

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


4 The Political Years by Marilyn Waring (Bridget Williams Books, $39.99)

We look forward to publishing a review by the evidently really prolific Leah McFall.

5 Dead People I Have Known by Shayne Carter (Victoria University Press, $40)

2019 is a high-water year for great autobiography or memoir in New Zealand letters, with the cancer diary Hello Darkness by the late Peter Wells, the forthcoming memoir Someone’s Wife by Linda Burgess, and Shayne Carter’s dry, tragic, funny, assertive, cracked self-portrait.

6 Magnolia Kitchen by Bernadette Gee (Allen & Unwin, $45)


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


8 The Recipe by Josh Emett & Kieran Scott (Upstart Press, $49.99)


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

History lesson.

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

Te reo.

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