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


1 To Italy, With Love by Nicky Pellegrino (Hachette, $34.99)

Straight in at number one in its first week, and billed thus: “A shamelessly escapist and uplifting read, that will take you to Italy, with love.”

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

3 The Last Guests by JP Pomare (Hachette, $34.99)

“Cain and Lina Phillips narrate most of the novel. He’s an ex-SAS soldier whose failed business isn’t helping a rocky return to civilian life that includes increasingly pointed questions about his role in civilian deaths in Afghanistan. She’s a paramedic whose own career is about to blow up after a call goes tragically bad.  Both have secrets that come to light when they’re not as good at scrubbing their internet histories as they think”: from a rave review by Craig Ranapia, at ReadingRoom.

4 Pounamu, pounamu by Witi Ihimaera (Penguin Random House, $30)

A new edition of the 1972 collection of short stories. It’s regarded as a modern classic but the author later turned on his first book, in  a 1981 essay, when he wrote that for post-war Māori, “It was if we’d all been given sleeping pills, tranquilisers. Even the literature we were writing lacked strength and direction. It was illustrative, pictorial… [and] what I have termed ‘the pastoral tradition of written Māori literature’. The work lacked anger or political thought…[My] books Pounamu, pounamu, Tangi and, to a certain extent, Whanau, in 1972, 1973 and 1974 are tender, unabashedly lyrical evocations of a world that once was. But they are a serious mismatch with the reality of the times…The basic purpose of [my] writing had been to establish and describe the emotional landscapes of the Māori people. The landscapes of the heart…[But] I had created a stereotype. Of warm caring relationships. Of a people who lived in rural communities. But what was the reality? The reality in 1974 was a hardening of attitudes. By 1975 I felt my vision was out of date. I made a conscious decision to stop writing. I said that I would place a ten year embargo on my work. It was the right decision to make.”  

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

“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, at ReadingRoom.

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

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

“A remarkable novel, beautifully and sensitively written, which demonstrates how the secrecy of the past may so unfairly encroach on the present”: from a rave review by Paddy Richardson, at ReadingRoom. 

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

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

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

Award-winning short story collection; includes “Psycho Ex”.


1 Lost and Found by Toni Street (Allen & Unwin, $36.99)

Surrogacy memoir.

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

“If I was writing for political motivation, I wouldn’t be telling New Zealanders about how un-coordinated I am, that I’m religious, that I’ve been beaten up a lot, that I don’t feel particularly masculine at times,” the author said recently on Q + A, not very convincingly.

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

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

5 Still Standing by Jessica Quinn (Allen & Unwin, $36.99)

6 The Accidental Teacher by Tim Heath (Allen & Unwin, $36.99)

Matt Heath’s uncle! Another teacher, University of Canterbury’s Dr Jarrod Gilbert, posted a nice photo on Twitter this week to mark his school visit to Villa Maria: “A terrific bunch of young women interested in criminal justice.”

Also on Twitter this week, Scottish author Jane Feaver posted this photo, and wrote, “This is the best photo of a teacher I have ever seen.”

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

8 Salad by Margo Flanagan & Rosa Flanagan, (Allen & Unwin, $45)


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

10 The Edible Backyard by Kath Irvine (Penguin Random House, $50)

More vegetables.

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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