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 History Speech by Mark Sweet (Huia Publishers, $32)

Coming of age story. The author sounds like an interesting cove; his publishers describe him thus: “Mark Sweet (Ngā Māhanga, Tītahi, Taranaki) was born in Napier and grew up in Waimarama. In the 1980s, he lived in Hong Kong and travelled extensively in China, returning in 2007 to study Tai Chi and Quigong. After careers in the property sector and restaurants, Mark is now devoting his time to writing.”

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

37 ratings, 4.22 stars as measured by the essentially meaningless calculus of GoodReads.

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

393 ratings! And 4.12 stars.

4 Auē by Becky Manawatu (Makaro Press, $35)

From the author’s amazing personal essay backgrounding her novel, at ReadingRoom: “People have asked me about my gang research. I told them that I imagined a man who was given no love – which is not to say all gang members are drawn to a gang for lack of love. I imagined him not as a quintessential gang member and not as the stereotype of every gang member, but just as a fucked-up guy who could, in a mythical gang-like house, become someone’s worst nightmare….All I did was ask questions of a mythical man in a mythical gang but for the sake of magical realism I stamped a bulldog on one man’s neck.”

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

10 ratings, 4.2 stars.

6 We are Tiny Beneath the Light by Heidi North (The Cuba Press, $25)

Portrait of the end of a marriage, told in poems.

7 Pounamu Pounamu by Witi Ihimaera (Penguin Random House, $30)

Classic reissue of short stories from the master.

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

3,092 ratings!!!! (Pomare’s crime novel is big in Australia.) And 3.64 stars.

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

The JoJo book.

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


NZ Non-Fiction

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

As-told-to sports hero bio of the All Blacks skipper. “A fascinating character study….Read comes across as a decent bloke in public and he comes across that way in the book. There’s a quality of goodness about him – someone kind, thoughtful, gentle. Stevenson goes further; he’s got close to Read, and there are times when his book is a portrait of the athlete as a crack-up, a head-case”: from my fairly enthusiastic review, at ReadingRoom.

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)

“Our uniqueness is the beautiful foundation of what it means to be human”, etc.

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

Ra-ra for Ja-Ar.

6 Puppy Zen by Mark Vette (Penguin Random House, $45)

Canine training.

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

Equine training.

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


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


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


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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