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


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

The author, who is bound to know Barry Soper (above), has hit gold with his spirited telling of the story of war hero Charlie Upham; the book is at number one for the fifth consecutive week.

2 Raw & Free by Sophie Steevens (Allen & Unwin, $45)

Food, no meat.

3 Māori Made Fun by Scotty Morrison & Stacey Morrison (Penguin Random House, $25)

Moe atu nga ringa raupo: Marry a man with calloused hands.

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

Kāore te kumara e kōrero mō tōna ake reka: The kumara does not say how sweet he is.

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

Food, no meat.

6 Hiakai by Monique Fiso (Penguin Random House, $65)

Food, includes meat.

7 Dark Side of the Brain by Lance Burdett (David Bateman, $39.99)

Reverend Frank Ritchie’s review will appear at ReadingRoom next week.

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

He kai iana ta te tou e hoake? Will squatting (at home) on your haunches bring you food?

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


10 Tree of Strangers by Barbara Sumner (Massey University Press, $35)

Linda Burgess emailed me this week and remarked in passing of this new book about the author’s search for her birth mother, “It’s truly wonderful. SO GOOD.” Her review will appear at the site of the Academy of New Zealand Literature quango, and in Canvas.


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

How the blazes was it that Allen & Unwin was judged publisher of the year at last week’s 2020 NZ Book Trade Industry Awards for its fairly average list of cookbooks, self-helpers, and that piece of shit by Judith Collins (her memoir Pull No Punches has disappeared from this week’s top 10 list), and Makaro Press was completely overlooked, despite the small independent publisher absolutely smashing the sales chart and the Ockham awards with its discovery of Becky Manawatu and her novel Auē? Auē dear.

2 The Jacaranda House by Deborah Challinor (HarperCollins, $36.99)

There are seven reviews at bloody old GoodReads of Challinor’s popular novel, set in King’s Cross in 1964, and for what it’s worth their opinions range from “engrossed” to “rushed, at times glib, stereotyped in its characters and not all together believable, too many themes, and worst of all predictable” to “brilliant” to “absolutely fantastic” to “I made it to the halfway point of The Jacaranda House. It wasn’t enthusing me, so I gave up.”

3 State Highway One by Sam Coley (Hachette, $34.99)

“Hey look,” raved John Campbell, when he interviewed the author on Breakfast, “it occurred to me, in a way, not literally, but kind of figuratively, you’re really prescient. Because there’s lots of New Zealanders coming home at present because of a shock event and in this case, in State Highway One, it’s twins losing their parents. And they’re kind of taking stock of what home is. And that’s the theme of this book, right?” The author said, “Yeah.”

4 The Silence of Snow by Eileen Merriman (Penguin Random House, $36)

“I cried actual page-blurring tears”: Nicky Pellegrino, from her review at ReadingRoom.

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

“We’re living in pandemic days, and Nicky Pellegrino’s latest was written long before anyone had heard of Covid-19 – yet it resonates in these uncertain times, since it’s about a group of people who live with a constant, inescapable awareness of their own mortality”: Charity Norman, from her review at ReadingRoom.

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

7 Te Kaieke Tohora by Witi Ihimaera (Penguin Random House, $26)

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

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

10 The Second Chance of Joshua Messer by Rodney Strong (Rodney Strong, $29.99)

Author biography: “Rodney Strong quit a 9–5 job in 2016 to finally pursue his lifelong dream of becoming a writer. He lives in Porirua, is a member of the New Zealand Society of Authors, and chairs his neighborhood residents group.”

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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