This week’s top 10 NZ best-sellers

This week's biggest-selling New Zealand books, as recorded by the Nielsen BookScan New Zealand bestseller list and described by ReadingRoom literary editor Steve Braunias.


1 The Absolute Book by Elizabeth Knox (Victoria University Press, $35)

Named in every top 10 books of the year list in existence.

2 Family Instructions Upon Release by Elizabeth Kirkby-McLeod (The Cuba Press, $25)

The author’s father took his own life; her poems are a kind of response.

3 Scented by Laurence Fearnley (Penguin Random House, $38)

“When Sian loses her job as a lecturer in the American Studies department, she finds herself adrift. The novel charts her construction of herself as a perfume. It begins with her ‘base notes’, taking us into her childhood with her grandparents and their gritty house where the air is damp and smells of gas and blood and bone, through to her heart notes – the future”: from a review by Heidi North, NZ Booklovers.

4 Words of a Kaumātua by Haare Williams (Auckland University Press, $49.99)

A kind of biography told in prose and poetry of his life growing up with his Tuhoe grandparents near Opotiki.

5 Auē by Becky Manawatu (Mākaro Press, $35)

Tough, intensely felt novel of life lived on the margins, told by two brothers, an eight-year-old orphan sent to live with his auntie, and his teenage brother who goes looking for trouble and finds it. Recommended.

6 A Dream of Italy by Nicky Pellegrino (Hachette, $24.99)

7 Rivers Ran Red by JA Grierson (Cloud Ink Press, $34.99)

The plot, as revealed at GoodReads: “In a whirlwind of fire and carnage, Attila the Hun wheels half a million horsemen towards Roman territory...One war will decide the fate of civilisation.”

8 Caging Skies by Christine Leunens (Penguin Random House, $38)

9 Call Me Evie by JP Pomare (Hachette, $24.99)

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

Recommended in the New York Times for heaven’s sake. It wrote, “This novel from a noted New Zealand author recreates the 1955 murder case that helped overturn her country's dearth penalty. As the book’s title implies, Kidman’s focus is on frailty: the weaknesses of youth and the cracks in society that let fear, panic and punishment thrive. 'When Kidman shows us [the killer] at his most vulnerable, he and the novel are magnetic,’ reviewer Damien Cave writes. ‘His letters from prison and final visits with friends perfectly capture the dark humour, omissions and shame of young men more broken than they can admit.’”


1 Straight 8 by Kieran Read & Scotty Stevenson (Upstart Press, $49.99)

As-told-to sports hero bio of the All Blacks skipper who didn’t win the World Cup.

2 Vegful by Nadia Lim (Nude Food, $55)

3 All of This is for You by Ruby Jones (Penguin Random House, $24)

4 The Feel Good Guide by Matilda Green (Allen & Unwin, $39.99)


5 Jacinda Ardern by Michelle Duff (Allen & Unwin, $39.99)

"Duff...attempts to catch and analyse the sensation that something in New Zealand has changed since Ardern became Prime Minister. Her emphasis is on gender. And this is where the book has purpose and meaning. She places Ardern in the context of the #Metoo movement, and looks at her significance as a role model for New Zealand women. 'I hope that she knows,' she concludes, 'what it has meant to so many of us.' It’s an effective and searching argument, wide-ranging, passionate, thoughtful": from my review at ReadingRoom.

6 Two Raw Sisters by Margo & Rosa Flanagan (David Bateman, $39.99)

7 Taming the Wild by Kelly Wilson (Penguin Random House, $45)

8 Shit Towns of New Zealand Number Two by Rick Furphy & Geoff Rissole (Allen & Unwin, $24.99)


9 The Invisible Load by Dr. Libby Weaver (Little Green Frog Publishing, $39.95)

10 How to Walk a Dog by Mike White (Allen & Unwin, $35)

The author in ReadingRoom, going crazy about Cooper, the woofy subject of his book: “We got my current dog, Cooper, from the SPCA. When we saw him, he was in a cage with a much more desperate and demonstrative cellmate who leapt at the wire and squirmed and pissed himself with eagerness to get our attention. Cooper sat at the back of the cage, either bemused or bored. We took him for a walk and when we stopped, he sat on my partner’s lap. Well, there wasn’t going to be any debate about getting him after that. I like to think he’s had a good life in the 10 years since. We certainly have. I know it sounds soppy, but I spend much of my day smiling because of the dog. You can’t walk a dog and see their joy sniffing at a world of thrilling possibilities, and not share their happiness.”

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