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


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

“She wrote a lot of Auē in a family friend’s house at the moody mouth of the Mokihunui River, 20km north of Westport, where there was no wi-fi but a little pub across the road for lunch. The novel’s heart, of loss, family violence, love, and pain, has emerged out of some of her own experiences growing up, principally the death of her cousin Glen Bo Duggan, who lived with her family for a time but was later murdered by his stepfather. Manawatu was 11, and felt deep, helpless rage when he died. Her mother gave her a book in which she could write about him – but she also gave her an axe, so she could go out the back of their house and smash it into a dead log, over and over”: from Naomi Arnold’s great profile, published last year at good old ReadingRoom.

2 Quiet in Her Bones by Nalini Singh (Hachette, $34.99)

A new Singh is always a good thing; her latest thriller is blurbed thus: “When socialite Nina Rai disappeared without a trace, everyone wrote it off as another trophy wife tired of her wealthy husband. But now her bones have turned up in the shadowed green of the forest that surrounds her elite neighborhood, a haven of privilege and secrets that’s housed the same influential families for decades…No one is ready for the murderous secrets about to crawl out of the dark.”

3 Sister to Sister by Olivia Hayfield (Hachette, $34.99)

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

5 Tell Me Lies by JP Pomare (Hachette, $29.99)

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

7 The Disinvent Movement by Gendall Susanna (Victoria University Press, $30)

“Gendall knows how to make magic. The novel is structured into eighty-one fragments, none longer than three or four pages (most are only a few paragraphs long). This carefully crafted series of miniature stories form a web of meaning we are invited to decipher. Simple statements are twisted and turned to examine their multitudes of meaning: as the nameless narrator herself says in regards to throwaway remarks, ‘People threw away so much these days.’ Not Gendall. Even the most mundane can be transformed under her gaze. She gathers together her threads of story like precious treasure with skill and a confident dexterity”: from a review by Josie Shapiro at the Read Close review site.

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

Shortlisted this week for the 2021 Ockham New Zealand book award for fiction.

9 The Nine Lives of Kitty K by Margaret Mills (Mary Egan, $34.99)

Debut novel from the 91-year-old author, who talked to the NZ Booklovers site about the novel’s real-life heroine: “Kitty Kirk was a strong woman in a time when a woman alone had to struggle to survive. She had an interesting childhood, very typical of pioneering life in Otago except that when at the age of 12 she met horses for the first time and discovered that she was a horse whisperer. Her new-found skill brought her both fame and money but estranged her from her mother who strongly believed in ‘keeping your place’ so much that Kitty, at the age of 15, rushed into a disastrous marriage with John Craig (pronounced Kregg) a timber worker who needed a wife to get the job. He also was a heavy drinker who kept his family short of money so Kitty had to find ways of earning her own secret stash. They had four children, three daughters and one son, who died at the age of eight, and the marriage became impossible. When two of her daughters died in a boating accident Kitty left Kinloch. Her remaining daughter stayed with her father. Kitty never saw either of them again…She became an alcoholic and very probably a prostitute but she still had friends and she is still membered fondly today, 90 years after her death.”

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

It’s a picture book; it doesn’t belong in the fiction category.


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

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

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

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

5 The Book of Angst by Gwendoline Smith (Allen & Unwin, $24.99)

6 Maori Made Easy by Scotty Morrison (Penguin Random House, $38)

7 Destitute Gourmet by Sophie Gray (Penguin Random House, $35)

8 My Journey Starts Here by Jazz Thornton & Genevieve Mora (Penguin Random House, $30)

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

10 Farm for Life: Mahi, Mana and Life on the Land by Tangaroa Walker (Penguin Random House, $38)

Publisher’s blurbology: “Tangaroa Walker’s early years were pretty rough. Adopted twice, he went to six different schools by the time he was six. He never read a book in his life and lived to play rugby. But he had a dream, and he knew how to do the mahi. Today, T is a true community and industry leader running a successful 500-cow dairy farm and reaching millions as the much-loved face of Farm4Life with his practical, inspiring, crack-up videos on everything from farming to fishing, finance to whanau, management to mental health. This is the story of how he did it – the good and the bad times – and all the lessons learned along the way.”


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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