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


1 Pull No Punches by Judith Collins (Allen & Unwin, $36.99)


2 The Quick and the Dead by Cynric Temple-Camp (HarperCollins, $39.99)

Geoff Levick has been commissioned to review the pathologist’s memoir. It will appear at ReadingRoom soon.

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

The author’s own favourites dishes in her vegetarian cookbook are butternut and lentil lasagne, tacos with walnut and almond chilli and guacamole, and pumpkin and cinnamon donuts.

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

5 Stop Surviving Start Fighting by Jazz Thornton (Penguin Random House, $38)

6 Know Your Place by Golriz Ghahraman (HarperCollins, $39.99)

From my review at ReadingRoom: Know Your Place is the film Golriz Ghahraman has made of herself, as the director and the star, winning arguments, resolving issues, brave, principled, resourceful, a campaigner at home on the world stage but adept, too, on the mean streets of K Rd and its revolutionary hub, Coco’s Cantina…She [also] lays out her anxieties and her unhappinesses. It gives her book an emotional core. Far from merely or exclusively presenting herself as some sort of boorish saviour, she provides a complex psychological portrait.”

7 Matariki by Rangi Matamua (Huia Publishers, $35)

8 Metamorphosis: A Scientist’s Story by Glen Metcalf (The Cuba Press, $30)

The story of one woman’s transformation from a traditional Kiwi housewife of the 1950s into a Career Fellow of the New Zealand Medical Research Council.

9 The Final Choice by Caralise Trayes (Capture & Tell Media, $29.99)

Judy Bailey has been commissioned to review this study of euthanasia. It will appear at ReadingRoom soon.

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


1 Tiny Pieces of Us by Nicky Pellegrino (Hachette, $34.99)

Charity Norman has been commissioned to review Pellegrino’s latest best-seller. It will appear at ReadingRoom soon.

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

The winner of the 2020 Ockham New Zealand national book award for best novel is working on her second book. She took to the Twitter machine this week and tentatively remarked: “I feel like this novel is about kindness.”

3 Jerningham by Cristina Sanders (The Cuba Press, $37)

Vivid historical novel about the wastrel son of New Zealand’s ur-colonist, Edward Gibbon Wakefield; he had an interesting and weird life, and his entry in Te Ara comes to a shuddering halt: “His later life was clouded by alcoholism and disgrace, and he died in obscurity in the Ashburton Old Men’s Home on 3 March 1879.”

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

5 Nothing to See by Pip Adam (Victoria University Press, $30)

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

One of the finest collections of short stories ever published in New Zealand. It was judged third place in the 1973 book awards – behind Strangers and journeys by Maurice Shadbolt, and Daughter Buffalo by Janet Frame – and has outlasted both as an enduring New Zealand classic.

7 Alpha Night by Nalini Singh (Hachette, $34.99)

From a four-star review by Corina on Goodreads: “I loved that we finally got a female alpha, with her own wolf pack. Selenka was tough, strong, smart, and that she mated on first sight was the most unconventional and unique part of the book. Different. Intriguing. Fascinating. Her relationship with Ethan was something refreshingly new, which long standing series sometimes are lacking. The combination of Alpha wolf and Arrow Psy was a love-story that this series hasn’t seen yet, and I loved it….A Nalini Singh book will always be on the very top of my tbr. I’ll drop everything to read it, and most often than not, it’s a one-sitting kind of read – as it was with Alpha Night.”

8 Fragments from an Infinite Catalogue by John Tane Christeller (The Cuba Press, $30)

From a review by Nicholas Reid, at Reid’s Reader: “The poem ‘Te Poho / Fronting Up’, published in both Māori and English, calls upon Māori gods as it reconstructs the poet’s experience in undergoing coronary artery bypass surgery. In other poems, afflicted cabbage trees, a dying red beech and a stripped kawakawa are seen as images of human mortality…. And there is a prose poem in which the old man recalls his rugby-playing days on the Petone Rugby Club grounds. Almost inevitably, the last two poems in the book refer to death, the unavoidable end of old age, with their reference to piwakawaka and Cape Reinga.… I enjoyed reading many parts of this very varied collection. I enjoyed the colourful artwork. But I could find no consistent tone or thread of thought to fully engage me. A matter of pure taste.”

9 How to Be Old by Rachel McAlpine (The Cuba Press, $25)

Poems about ageing to mark the author’s 80th birthday. I published one of her poems in The Friday Poem (Luncheon Sausage Books, 2018); it ends:

I asked my sister, When

will I be ready to die?

She answered, When you die.

10 The Reed Warbler by Ian Wedde (Victoria University Press, $35)

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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