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


1 Remote Sympathy by Catherine Chidgey (Victoria University Press, $35)

The author, not backwards in coming forwards on the Twitter machine: “My new novel Remote Sympathy has gone straight to number 1 two days after its release.”

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

Excellent news for the author this week, when  it was announced she has been awarded the 2021 Burns Fellowship at the University of Otago. I asked her for a comment, and she replied, “I’m just really happy and excited and can’t wait to learn and learn then write and write and write. When I’m not writing or learning I’ll spend awesome time with my kids, take road trips to my marae (Murihiku), read stuff and walk around the city, sometimes aimlessly, sometimes in search of the best pub. I also want to take my daughter to see the Otago Spirit play in the Farah Palmer Cup when the season starts later in the year, cause she plays/loves rugby now. I’m pretty excited about being in a University environment, cause I haven’t done that yet. While there, I’m also going to study Te Reo Māori – the university’s website says it offers a course. I feel extremely honoured to be listed among the other incredible writers who have been a Robert Burns Fellow. Chur the Fellows!”

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

The review by Lydia Wevers has arrived at ReadingRoom, and we will publish it at the earliest opportunity; it’s a brilliant piece of writing and thinking, and sheds fascinating light on Challinor’s novel set in King’s Cross in 1964.

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

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

6 The Perfection of Snails by Linley Jones & Lesley Keane (AM Publishing, $28)

The short story! It’s everywhere these days, with ReadingRoom leading the charge by publishing a new story by new and established writers every Saturday, the University of Waikato forking out very good cash for the annual Saregson Short Story Award, two very, very good collections published this year (Bug Life by by Airni Beautrais, and Laura Borrowdale’s Sex, with animals) and a new collection due next year by a master of the form, Owen Marshall. The subjects of the stories in Half Moon Bay writer Linley Jones’s book The Perfection of Snails are described thus, in the blurbology: “The love of family when coping with the joys and despairs of an autistic child; making difficult decisions about ageing parents; managing serious health issues; and the anguish of revisiting the old family home.”

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

Coley’s debut novel has done very, very well since it was published a couple of months ago; it’s about a brother and sister who return to New Zealand and take a road trip. The author told Vic Books, “I’m a huge fan of road trips. One time I was driving with my then-boyfriend and we got very lost on our way to Whanganui. It was the middle of the night and raining very hard, we missed a turn off and ended up crashing the car and almost driving off the side of a cliff. When I started writing State Highway One I just knew a version of that incident had to end up in the book…Another time was driving down the Desert Road with two friends in my old Corolla hatch. One of them plugged his iPod into the tape converter and put on the 17 minute long live version of Land by Patti Smith. I’d never heard it before, and if you haven’t, you should.” Personally I think it’s horrible, lol.

8 Victory Park by Rachel Kerr (Makaro Press, $35)

Debut novel launched this week by Emily Perkins.

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

10 South D Poet Lorikeet by Jenny Powell (Cold Hub Press, $29.95)

Poems, viz:

I am the bird who appears in your dreams
I am the bird whose song you hear
I am the flash of feathered blaze
I am still a surprise to you


1 Supergood by Chelsea Winter (Penguin Random House, $50)

From Jesse Mulligan’s wildly entertaining review at ReadingRoom: “The Chelsea Winter ingredient palette doesn’t quite fit with Michael Pollan’s famous advice to ‘eat food, not too much, mostly plants’. The ‘eat food’ part of his slogan is shorthand for eating real ingredients – ‘food your grandmother would recognise’ – and Supergood has a little too much of the processed stuff to gel well with the wholefood ethos which generally comes hand in hand with a move towards vegetarianism. Many of her recipes include Frankenfoods like ‘vegan cheese’ and ‘dairy-free spread’ and while the former is often listed as optional, it’s hard to imagine that margherita pizza tasting of much without it. If you’re changing your diet because of health, you might wonder what you’ll achieve by baking a caramel slice which replaces butter with margarine…. But the recipes are mostly great, and the book will do some good.”

2 Impossible: My Story by Stan Walker (HarperCollins, $39.99)

Tell-all memoir, as told to Margie Thompson; one hell of a read. This is the new New Zealand book you want to go out and get this long weekend.

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

4 Aroha by Hinemoa Elder (Penguin Random House, $30)

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

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

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

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

9 City at the Centre by Margaret Tennant, Geoff Watson and Kerry Taylor (Massey University Press, $60)

Everything you ever wanted to know about Palmerston North! Craig Cliff is working on a review for ReadingRoom this very second.

10 Wild at Heart by Miriam Lancewood (Allen & Unwin, $36.99)

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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