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


1 The Mirror Book by Charlotte Grimshaw (Penguin Random House, $38)

Number one in its first week in the shops – of course, because this is the book of the year, everybody is talking about it, and ReadingRoom paid it due respect with coverage all week. On Monday, an extract from her memoir: “I had become alien, charmless and, worst of all, a feminist … They urged me to come to my senses.” On Tuesday, I hedged my bets: “The fact that I’m friends with Charlotte Grimshaw as well as her parents Karl and Kay Stead, who she lovingly, persistently and ferociously hauls over the coals in The Mirror Book, means that any attempt to write about the book requires walking nimbly and fearfully over said hot coals.” On Wednesday, the author gave an update: “Even after The Mirror Book had gone to print my father was demanding (by email as usual) that I cancel it and rewrite my family memoir in a ‘celebratory’ tone.” And yesterday, Philip Matthews wrote an outstanding review:The Mirror Book has appeared at a particular cultural moment, when, to put it crudely, the authority of old white men is being challenged, whether they are fathers, bosses or presidents.”

2 A High Country Life by Philippa Cameron (Allen & Unwin, $45)

Stories of mustering and that kind of thing at Otematata Station, a 40,000 hectare high country station in Otago, along with a collection of recipes.

3 My Mother and Other Secrets by Wendyl Nissen (Allen & Unwin, $36.99)

From my review of the author’s memoir: “The stories Nissen tells includes the time her mother said in front of other people at a dinner on a cruise ship, ‘Look at my daughter, the big slut.’… My mother and other secrets investigates the world we all live in – the domestic world – and brings back a wise, well-told, sympathetic, and highly readable report.”

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

5 Two Shakes of a Lamb’s Tail by Danielle Hawkins (HarperCollins, $37.99)

Diary of a year in the life of a vet on a farm with 1200 sheep, 400 cattle, plus pigs and goats and that kind of thing.

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

A collection of recipes.

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

We await a forthcoming review by New Zealand’s most revered economics historian.

8 Keepers by Cherie Metcalfe (Allen & Unwin, $45)

A new collection of recipes.

9 My Darling Lemon Thyme by Emma Galloway (HarperCollins, $60)

Another new collection of recipes.

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


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

Good old Manawatu will appear at the upcoming Dunedin Writers Festival (May 6-9) alongside authors such as myself (blathering about my true-crime book Missing Persons), Jared Savage (blathering about his true-crime book Ganglands), crime novelist Nalini Singh (see below), and some other writers who work in other genres.

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

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

The best three films adapted from novels by Māori writers, a snap poll: 3) The Whale Rider by Witi Ihimaera 2) Once Were Warriors by Alan Duff 1) Cousins by Patricia Grace.

4 The Quiet People by Paul Cleave (Upstart Press, $37.99)

“In this grisly crime novel, Paul Cleave creates two fictional crime writers accused of a crime and asks the question, can crime writers get away with murder?… Cleave never pulls his punches and when he wants to insert an extra death, an assault, a terrible bit of decision making, he’ll go right on and do it. The effect is a cinematic, raging, rollercoaster of a plot with a wry humour and a great deal of violence. The Quiet People is wildly entertaining and will keep you guessing right to the end”: from a review by Louise Ward, Hawke’s Bay Today.

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

We await a forthcoming review by New Zealand’s most acclaimed memoirist.

6 The Liminal Space by Jacquie McRae (Huia Publishers, $25)

“I would call it a gentle book,” said a reviewer at Radio New Zealand.

7 Spellbound by Catherine Robertson (Penguin Random House, $36)

“A nine-year-old carrying a knife, a 12-year-old with a possibly dodgy martial arts instructor … You alternate between social comedy and social comment, which takes the book considerably above what you might expect from light fiction,”said a reviewer at Radio New Zealand.

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

Shortlisted for the 2021 Ockham New Zealand fiction prize on May 12.

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

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


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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