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)

‘I really like getting dialogue right in books. I was reading a book a few years ago and at the end the characters got together and the guy takes her in his arms and says, “I want to make babies with you! Lovely babies!” No man would ever say that’: the author, in an exceptional profile written by Wintec j-school student Oskar Howell, published last week at ReadingRoom.

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

An earlier novel by the author, A Year at Hotel Gondola, was ranked number 37 in the 100 favourite books of New Zealanders who filled out a form at Whitcoulls this year.

3 Ransack by essa may ranipiri (Victoria University Press, $25)

4 Where We Land by Tim Jones (The Cuba Press, $22)

Synopsis: A New Zealand Navy frigate torpedoes a boat full of refugees fleeing a drowning country and Nasimul Rahman is one of the few survivors. First he has to reach the shore alive and then he has to avoid the trigger-happy Shore Patrol, on alert to stop climate change refugees entering the country.

5 Lay Studies by Steven Toussaint (Victoria University Press, $25)

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

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

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

9 Black Marks on the White Page by Witi Ihimaera and Tina Makereti (Penguin Random House, $40)

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

The author is also a master short story writer; her wonderful story Baking night has appeared at ReadingRoom.


NZ Non-Fiction

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

ReadingRoom looks forward to a review of an ex-con’s self-help book by an ex-con who actually, unlike the author, did in fact escape from prison – Arthur Taylor.

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

ReadingRoom recently asked the great author of Once Were Warriors if he’d fancy writing a short story that we would gladly publish but he said no, he doesn’t write fiction anymore.

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

‘The book has the potential to support young people in examining their thinking and giving them a sense of control over what often seems uncontrollable in adolescence, their thoughts and feelings’: Louisa Woods, from a review at the excellent site of children’s literature, Sapling.

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

Ranked number 33 in the 100 favourite books of New Zealanders who filled out a form at Whitcoulls this year.

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

Huntin’ deer.

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

Countin’ money.

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

Drivin’ cars.

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

Flyin’ planes.

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

Bakin’ macaroons.

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

‘There are many deep and broad stories behind this selection of plants both ordinary and spectacular and if you remember a quarter of what’s in this thing you’ll get so much more from any excursion into the bush or even your yard or local park. When taking a trip into our wild places I always wish DoC would chain a local botanist to the info sign. For 20 bucks you’d get the code to unchain them, feed them a biscuit, put them on a leash and off you go’: from a sensational review by Graeme Hill, at ReadingRoom.

Steve Braunias is the literary editor of Newsroom's books section ReadingRoom, a noted writer at the NZ Herald, and the author of 10 books.

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