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 Last Guests by JP Pomare (Hachette, $34.99)

The latest crime novel by the Melbourne-based New Zealand writer.

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

Becky Manawatu’s CV, abridged: Worked in a seafood factory. Sold Lotto tickets. Cooked on her dad’s boat. Reported for Westport News. Won the Jann Medlicott Acorn Prize for Fiction at the 2020 Ockham New Zealand Book Awards, and the best crime novel award at the 2020 Ngaio Marsh Awards.

3 Double Helix by Eileen Merriman (Penguin Random House, $36)

“Jake Heremaia knows he has a high likelihood of having inherited a fatal illness. Huntington’s disease killed his mother and has plagued his extended family. Double Helix, the latest novel by best-selling author Eileen Merriman, asks us to consider: how do you learn to live with the knowledge that your genetics may be a ticking time bomb? How do you plan for the future, build a relationship, and think about having a family, with a genetic sword of Damocles forever dangling above your head?…An entertaining and quite adorable love story, a riveting medical drama, and a thought-provoking dive into contemporary ethical issues”: from a rave review by Tiffany Matsis, this week at ReadingRoom.

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

Pomare’s previous novel, named this week on the shortlist of the 2021 Ngaio Marsh award for best book of crime fiction. It’s an especially strong field this year. Pomare is up against literary novels The Tally Stick by Carl Nixon and Sprigs by Brannavan Gnanalingam, and more conventional crime novels The Murder Club by  Nikki Crutchley and The Secrets of Strangers by Charity Norman.

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

From a semi-macroned New York Times review of the film based on Grace’s 1992 novel: “The Maori family at the heart of Cousins greet each other by pressing their foreheads and noses together. The camera does the same: It peers deep into the characters’ faces, as if imprinting them onto its lens…. The film trembles with sound, color and feeling, deriving much of its power from an excellent ensemble cast (particularly Te Raukura Gray and Ana Scotney as the child and adult Mata). Not only do the actors who play different versions of each character bear striking resemblances to one another, but an ache — for their whānau (extended family), for their home and heritage — carries through their performances. They powerfully embody the Maori belief that genealogical ties can never be severed.”

6 Loop Tracks by Sue Orr (Victoria University Press, $35)

Eileen Merriman and her chicken are reading it.

7 Bug Week by Airini Beautrais (Victoria University Press, $30)

A short story collection featuring a modern classic, “Psycho Ex”.

8 Greta and Valdin by Rebecca K. Reilly (Victoria University Press, $35)

“The best novel of the year:” Ash Davida Jane, Stuff.

9 The Author’s Cut by Owen Marshall (Penguin Random House, $36)

A kind of greatest-hits collection of short stories by the South Island maestro.

10 Crazy Love by Rosetta Allan (Penguin Random House, $36)

Love story, which features a soliloquy by the main character: “Everyone of us has vices to get through the tough times. We seek solutions and help. Personally, I’ve tried friends, Lotto, tears, blame, prayer, sulking, hiding in closets with my dog, running away, staying in bed, a little alcohol, a lot of alcohol, marijuana, fights and storming out. All of it works. None of it works.”


1 After the Tampa by Abbas Nazari (Allen & Unwin, $36.99)

Memoir of a refugee who fled the Taliban.

2 National Identity by Simon Bridges (HarperCollins, $37.99)

Essays by the former and possibly next National Party leader.

3 Imposter by Matt Chisholm (Allen & Unwin, $36.99)

Memoir of a TV presenter who battled depression and alcohol.

4 Steve Hansen: The Legacy by Gregor Paul (HarperCollins, $49.99)


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

As reported in Gulf News, the Waiheke Island resident’s best-seller has been recommended by Oprah’s Book Club. “It’s amazing,” Dr Elder told the newspaper. “Part of me is still in shock. I think I’m one of the few people from Aotearoa to have been on her book list. What it means to me is, it does feel like following in the footsteps of our tūpuna, following the ancestors of Te Wharehuia Milroy. To go forth and share our culture and share these aspects of our reo and tikanga, it feels like I am on the right track, that this is what I am supposed to be doing….My whanau are so excited for me, for the book and for our cultural approaches to be acknowledged in this way. It’s incredible, it feels very special. Oprah is an amazing woman, an extraordinary pioneer in her field, I think she’s amazing. To be associated with her book club is incredibly prestigious. It’s an amazing and quite mindblowing time for me and my whanau.”

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

Māori Language Week is every week.

7 Labour Saving by Michael Cullen (Allen & Unwin, $49.99)

Cullen died on August 19. Chris Trotter wrote on the Interest site, “Those who place themselves on the centre-left will miss Michael Cullen. They’ll miss his prodigious intellect and his wickedly witty tongue. They’ll miss his wisdom. He has, however, left them with an enigma. Who was he? This radical history lecturer who…went on to accept a knighthood? This MP with a left-wing reputation  who was willing to sell Rogernomics to a confused and dismayed Labour Party? This Labour Finance Minister who left state housing underfunded and beneficiaries’ children unassisted by Working For Families?”

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

Māori Language Week is every week.

9 She is Not Your Rehab by Matt Brown (Penguin Random House, $35)


10 Māori Made Easy Workbook 1/Kete 1 by Scotty Morrison (Penguin Random House, $25)

Māori Language Week is every week.

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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