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


1 A Richer You by Mary Holm (HarperCollins, $36.99)

Number one in its second week. Holm is a godsend to Kiwis looking for safe, solid financial advice, through her excellent column every Saturday in the Weekend Herald; this is a collection of her tips and cautions. In the main, her audience are older Mums and Dads, looking towards retirement, but there’s an interesting assessment from Claudia Cairns at GoodReads: “As a young person starting out in KiwiSaver and planning for future home ownership, I found this book extremely helpful. With little knowledge in finance, I found that the book explained things in a simple way with no jargon. The layout of the book amongst chapters is easy to follow and you can structure your reading in terms of what is most important to you. Mary provides simple steps to help you achieve your financial goals – I have since passed on this book to friends starting out in KiwiSaver as I am.”

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

3 Missing Persons by Steve Braunias (HarperCollins, $35)

Oho! My book, a collection of 12 true-crime stories of death and disappearance, up one spot from its debut last week at number four on the best-seller chart. Sales were evidently brisk at my launch last Wednesday evening at Time Out’s groovy upstairs loft. As well as literary types (Charlote Grimshaw, Paula Morris, Tayi Tibble) and media types (Finlay Macdonald, Tim Murphy, Tom Dillane), there were also criminal types – that is, four criminal lawyers, all who feature in the book. Julie-Ann Kincade defended Mark Lundy. Gareth Kayes prosecuted Malcolm Rewa. Scott McColgan prosecuted Anna Browne, the pamper-party murderer. Brian Dickey prosecuted Jesse Kempson. I invited Ron Mansfield, who defended Kempson, but he made no reply; I also invited Justice Simon Moore, who presided over the Kempson trial, but he was unable to attend and sent his apologies in a magnificent and sprawling summary.

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

5 Grief on the Run by Julie Zarifeh (Allen & Unwin, $36.99)

From a story in the Herald: “When Christchurch woman Julie Zarifeh lost her husband to pancreatic cancer she never imagined that 16 days later she would also lose her son in a tragic rafting accident. Paul Zarifeh, died on November 23, 2017, and his 27-year-old son Sam drowned while on a rafting trip with workmates on December 9.

“The family’s grief was immense and at the time Julie Zarifeh told the Herald she felt she would not ‘ever truly be happy again’.

“‘To experience both ends of the grief spectrum in a two-week period – the very sad but anticipated bereavement of Paul, but then the acute, tragic, shock loss of eldest son Sam – is truly indescribable,’” she said.

“Just over three years have passed since the double blow rocked the family and Zarifeh has published a book about how she coped with the loss and moved her life forward.”

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

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

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

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

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


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

Back at number one! There is no getting away from Auē, the most sensational New Zealand novel published in the last five, maybe 10 years.

2 Cousins by Patricia Grace (Penguin Random House, $26)

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

4 Everything Changes by Stephanie Johnson (Penguin Random House, $36)

From a review by Rachel O’Connor in Canvas: “When a dog murders the neighbour’s blue-eyed Himalayan cat, it soon becomes apparent that the cat’s bloody demise is just one in a series of violent and troubling events in the novel and one of a long string of reprehensible acts for which there is little retribution…The crime goes unpunished but the neighbourhood disapproves. Col, the dog’s owner, persuades husband Davie they need to change addresses and alter the course of their unhappy life. With pregnant daughter Liv in tow, the couple buys a dilapidated motel and tearooms in the Brynderwyn Ranges…Everything Changes is tragi-comic in its tone and delivery. Its litany of social issues as well as generational chasms, parental failure and loss; marital delusion and disenchantment, form a fraught emotional topography.”

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

A historical novel set in the Otago goldfields which has become one of the great literary successes of 2021. From a piece of memoir writing by the 91-year-old author, published ReadingRoom: “I went south looking for adventure. I didn’t find it. I went to Queenstown for a weekend and stayed for 27 years, during which I got married and had children. I tried to become a 1950s housewife. I wasn’t very good at it. I had never even handled a baby or had much to do with children. My poor kids had to put up with a lot while I learned. I don’t think I learned very well.”

6 Sado by Mikaela Nyman (Victoria University Press, $30)

Novel set in Vanuatu after the devastation caused by Cyclone Pam in 2015.

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

From a wonderful profile of the author by Aimee Cronin, published in ReadingRoom:Remote Sympathy…is set in the Buchwald concentration camp. It’s told from the point of view of three central characters who all need each other: Lenard Weber, the German doctor with a Jewish grandfather who invents a machine meant to cure cancer, Dietrich Hahn, an SS officer and his sick wife Greta Hahn who lives in denial about the fact she lives on the edge of the camp. Chidgey takes great care to avoid ‘too much horror centre stage’, instead she walks the line between suggestions, hints and gestures. She’s damn good at this, creating an enduring sense of heartbreak and horror as the story unfolds.”

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

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

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

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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