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 Jacaranda House by Deborah Challinor (HarperCollins, $36.99)

Yes, bravo to the Hamilton author for her latest historical novel (set in seedy King’s Cross, Sydney, in 1964) laying claim as the best-selling novel in New Zealand for the second consecutive week – but everyone knows that the real best-selling novel in New Zealand is The Girl in the Mirror by Auckland author Rose Carlyle. It’s at number one on the international chart as compiled by Nielsen, but not the local chart; I emailed Nevena Nikolic, Nielsen’s New Zealand Territory Manager (what a job title! I want one like that!) and asked why this was so, and she said, “The publisher chose to use an Australian ISBN hence it found itself at the top of the International fiction charts (not NZ). Publishers use either an NZ or an international ISBN and that determines its place on the lists. You’d have to ask Allen & Unwin directly why they made that decision.” So I DM’d Allen & Unwin’s territory manager (lol), publisher Jenny Helen to ask her why she made that decision, and she explained, “We decided to publish Rose’s book out of our Australian office because they’ve had such great experience with breaking out debut thriller writers in recent years. It’s worked brilliantly! I thjought it was the right thing to do for the book and for Rose.” Then she sent another DM with the correctly but less magically spelled word, “thought”.

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

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

4 The Tally Stick by Carl Nixon (Penguin Random House, $36)

5 The Telling Time by PJ McKay (Polako Press, $34.95)

6 Sprigs by Brannavan Gnanalingam (Lawrence & Gibson, $35)

7 Far-Flung by Rhian Gallagher (Auckland University Press, $24.99)

New collection of poetry from the Timaru-born writer who first came to attention with her debut book Salt Water Creek (2003) which included the amazing poem “Burial.” She said of it at the time, “My father came out from Ireland in his twenties, worked on building the hydro dams down south and then in the freezing works, hard manual labour. The physical act of burying him was my brothers’ and my eulogy to him. The poem comes from these real events. There is a nod in the poem to something of the ritual involved in a Catholic ceremony…I am no longer a practising Catholic but it is impossible to escape such an inheritance. In Ireland it is often the men of the family who do the burial, so my joining in pushed a little at the traditional male-only role.”

The shovels stood in a sticky underbelly of earth

as we stepped from the sidelines for him,

peeling our jackets, the boys loosening their ties.

Soon there was clay on our church-going gear

and his voice coming out of our childhood

coaching us to put our backs into it.

Flowers and fine words had never touched the man

like work, grunts behind a shovel’s bite,

the clean sound of clods as we heaved them in. Digging,

we bowed in memory of his stooped solid shape.

The dark damp weight of earth,

a provision, a very last word.

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

9 AUP New Poets 7 by by Anna Jackson, Rhys Feeney, Ria Masae and Claudia Jardine (Auckland University Press, $29.99)

The exuberant poetry of Wellington writer Claudia Jardine has long deserved its own published collection; in the meantime, bravo to AUP for featuring her work in its latest anthology. Her poems include “High Functioning”:

I’m being eaten by my feelings

face down in the mud

like a farmer with a brain aneurysm

surrounded by piglets

face down in the mud

nudged and kneaded

hither! the scoffing piglets


fat pheasant flushed from the thicket

nudged and kneaded

tossed mid-air between kārearea

flat present smushed under a winglet

ex-lab rat on pingers on a treadmill

receiving Aro Park autopsy by absent-minded accipiter

like a farmer with a brain aneurysm

chewed by swine and birds and rodents

I’m being eaten by my feelings

10 Fake Baby by Amy McDaid (Penguin Random House, $36)

Sparkling novel about Auckland misfits, now in its tenth week on the Nielsen chart.


1 Searching for Charlie by Tom Scott (Upstart Press, $49.99)

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

3 Into the Unknown by Ian Trafford (Penguin Random House, $38)

4 This Farming Life by Tim Saunders (Allen & Unwin, $36.99)

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

6 Tough Country by Mike Bellamy (HarperCollins, $36.99)

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

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

9 Facing the Haka by Andy Burt & Jamie Wall (Allen & Unwin, $59.99)

10 Automania by Don Jessen (David Bateman, $49.99)

Cars! 320 beautifully illustrated A4 landscape pages of cars, held in private and public collections throughout New Zealand – we’re talking Yank tanks, English saloons, sports cars, rare military vehicles, plus hogs. The enterprising Jessens are the authors of numerous handsome picture books about various things on wheels, such as the classic Vintage and Retro Caravans Downunder; last year, they received an order from a fellow in Belgium who owns seven vintage caravans (including a 1966 WaWa Edelweiss made in Belgium, a Thomson Miniglen 1968 made in UK, and a Notin Goelette 1960s made in France) towed with a 1959 Chev Apache Pickup. Cool! Below are three pictures from Automania.

2006 Ford GT
Omaka Classic Car Museum near Blenheim
AC Cobra Replica

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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