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

“Knox’s writing has an extreme, dramatic intensity, both visual and emotional, an exactness, and an elegance of expression which result in an effect that is utterly convincing and at times profoundly alarming….The Absolute Book is a tour de force”: from Jane Stafford’s rave review at ReadingRoom.

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

3 The Strength of Eggshells by K. Powell (Cloud Ink Press, $29.99)

Publisher’s blurbology: “She’s six feet tall and handles a motorbike like a professional, but Kate has insecurities that match her height and she ignores her past by pushing her fingers into her ears. With a mother who communicated only through poetry and a grandmother who lived in an isolated valley, this is a great story of discovery and revelation.”

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

5 They of Star by Mervyn Noel Whitley Jnr (Elefante Books, $42)

The author’s somewhat immodest, capitalised and not entirely grammatical assessment on his website: “Emotive, Unique, Stunning, They of Star, my debut novel, is an offering which the literary world has yet to see its like.”

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

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

8 The Friday Poem edited by Steve Braunias (Luncheon Sausage Books, $25)

Oho! My book, which I edited and published this time last year, when it shot to the number-one spot on the best-seller list for five consecutive weeks; it was the poetry anthology to get for Xmas, and its return to the best-seller chart confirms its vast and popular appeal, featuring the work of New Zealand poets who include Hera Lindsay Bird, Ashleigh Young, Sam Hunt, Kevin Ireland, Ian Wedde, Elizabeth Smither, Selina Tusitala Marsh and Colin Craig. Yes, Colin Craig. Bonus feature: a lengthy yet LOL Introduction.

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

One of the poets whose work features in The Friday Poem.

10 Waterline by Chris Else (Quentin Wilson Publishing, $34.99)

“Imagine a world 50 or even 100 years from now where all the dire predictions about sea-level rise and coastal erosion have come true and where personal devices run our lives. Such is the tension-filled environment of Chris Else’s imaginative new novel. It’s a compelling mix of suspense, black comedy, domestic drama and unorthodox romance, set some time in the future to provide an unsettling yet convincing backdrop to some very familiar themes”: Felicity Price, Stuff.


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

Chickpea and mushroom burgers, etc.

2 Rachel Hunter’s Tour of Beauty by Rachel Hunter & Emma Clifton (David Bateman, $39.99)

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

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

Pea, mint and chickpea crepes, etc.

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

“Michelle Duff, as author of the strange new book Jacinda Ardern: The story behind an extraordinary leader, sets out to find what Ardern means to her. The book kind of functions as a personal essay. The author is an excellent journalist – Duff works for Stuff – but her book doesn’t much function as a work of journalism. It doesn’t actually tell the story behind an extraordinary leader; it’s not a biography; it sits at home and thinks a lot, but seldom goes out and reports; and the absence of fresh information makes it really quite often ZZZZZ”: from my less than rave review, ReadingRoom.

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

But sometimes the pressure is too, too much, and  too, too intense, and applied too, too early and kept at such a relentless space that it’s too, too late to perform at all…It would be interesting to hear Evans’s views on the All Blacks’ loss in the semi-final.

7 Mid-Century Living by Christine Fernyhough  (Penguin Random House, $60)

Fabulous illustrated book of the author’s art collection; includes painted mussel shells by the great Len Hollobon.

8 People of New Zealand by Sam Moore (Allen & Unwin, $24.99)

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

10 The New Everyday by Heinz Wattie’s (Hachette, $39.99)

Baked beans, etc.

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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