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


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

“The experience of reading the New Zealand writer Elizabeth Knox’s contemporary fantasy novel The Absolute Book reminded me of how I felt reading [books such as] His Dark Materials…I felt that my position in relation to the book’s capacious intellect and imagination and moral purpose was a vertiginous one. It was thrilling and frightening, reading this book”: Dan Kois, from US site Slate.

2 In the Clearing by JP Pomare (Hachette, $34.99)

“The prose in @JPPomare’s In The Clearing is giving me total writer envy and the story’s been creeping me out from the get-go”: Queenstown author Jane Bloomfield, on the Twitter machine.

3 A Madness of Sunshine by Nalini Singh (Hachette, $34.99)

“I’m a romance genre girl through and through. When I saw that this was Nalini Singh, I knew I needed to give this book a try even though I hesitate at the genre. I’m really glad that I did. From the first chapter this book captured my attention and held. The writing is phenomenal. It doesn’t matter what genre this author writes, she knows how to captivate:” 5-star review by Mindy on GoodReads, where Singh’s latest novel has an average of 3.98 stars and has attracted an incredible 500 reviews. She is huge.

4 Bulibasha by Witi Ihimaera (Penguin Random House, $38)

Winner of the 1995 Montana Book Award for fiction.

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

The biggest-selling New Zealand novel of 2019.

6 Auē by Becky Manawatu (Makaro Press, $35.00)

“It really is immense, a deep and powerful work, maybe even the most successfully achieved portrayal of underclass New Zealand life since Once Were Warriors“: from my review at ReadingRoom, where I named it the best book of 2019. Another reprint of the Westport author’s debut novel has just been whistled up by publisher Makaro to keep up with demand; the book continues to sell by the truckload.

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

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

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

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

Every sentence is as a sharp as the scalpels used in this tense, masterly story of an operation at Wellington Hospital that goes fatally wrong.


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

Fascinating discourse with the author, from a Q&A at Stuff last year: “Q: Are you a paper plates and cups type, or do you risk your real stuff? A: I only have a set of eight plates, so if it’s a larger group then it’s paper or bamboo plates.”

2 The Book of Overthinking by Gwendoline Smith (Allen & Unwin, $24.99)


3 Māori Made Easy Workbook 1/Kete 1 by Scotty Morrison (Penguin Random House, $25)

Te reo self-helper.

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


5 A Māori Phrase a Day by Hemi Kelly (Penguin Random House, $30)

Te reo self-helper.

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

7 Te Tiriti o Waitangi by Ross Calman & Mark Derby & Piripi Walker & Toby Morris (Lift Education, $20)

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


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

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

Te reo self-helper.

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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