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


1 Tell Me Lies by J.P. Pomare (Hachette, $29.99)

Every January, there’s a new best-selling crime thriller by the New Zealand-born author who lives in Melbourne. Pomare is a class act, and his latest sounds like another cracker. Publisher’s blurbology: “Psychologist Margot Scott has a picture-perfect life: a nice house in the suburbs, a husband, two children, and a successful career. On a warm spring morning, Margot spots one of her clients on a busy train platform. He is looking down at his phone, with his duffel bag in hand as the train approaches. That’s when she slams into his back and he falls in front of the train. Suddenly, one tragedy leads to another leaving her, her family, and her patients in danger. As misfortune unfolds, listeners will soon question Margot’s true role in all of these unfortunate events….”

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

Manawatu is about to take up the Burns Fellowship at the University of Otago to work on her second novel.

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

Auckland novelist Amy McDaid (Fake Baby) read Nixon’s novel over summer, and says, “Nixon adds to the rich canon of New Zealand gothic with his haunting mystery set on the remote West Coast. A child’s body is found at the bottom of a cliff, showing he lived for four years after his family disappeared. Gripping, sad, clever, a don’t-you-dare-put-me-down novel that plunges you right in from its devastating opening line: The car containing the four sleeping children left the earth. I recommend reading The Tally Stick like I did: in a bush-set tepee. This will give you the full sense of New Zealand’s menace as you creep to the composting toilet at night.”


4 The Whale Rider by Witi Ihimaera (Penguin Random House, $26)

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

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

7 The Villa Girls by Nicky Pellegrino (Hachette, $19.99)

8 Landmarks by Grahame Sydney & Owen Marshall & Brian Turner (Penguin Random House, $75)

This is essentially a picture book of Sydney’s paintings; Owen Marshall’s stories very much play second fiddle, or support, to the Otago vibe of the book. It doesn’t belong in the fiction category.

9 Addressed to Greta by Fiona Sussman (David Bateman, $34.99)

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


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


2 Bella: My Life in Food by Annabel Langbein (Allen & Unwin, $49.99)


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

Memoir, named one of the 10 best books of 2020 at ReadingRoom.

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


5 Note to Self by Rebekah Ballagh (Allen & Unwin, $24.99)


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

7 Gangland by Jared Savage (HarperCollins, $36.99)

The book they won’t allow in prisons; named one of the 10 best books of 2020 at ReadingRoom.

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


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

This should have been named one of the 10 best books of 2020 at ReadingRoom.

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

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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