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)

Incredible news story from Italy this week: Richard Gere will testify against far-right leader Matteo Salvini, on trial for blocking the arrival of a migrant rescue ship. Salvini barred the NGO ship Open Arms from docking on an island in Sicily  as part of his tough immigration policies. Migrants were trapped onboard for 19 days in poor sanitary conditions; some threw themselves overboard in desperation. Gere boarded the ship in a show of solidarity with the 147 stranded migrants. Good guy, great actor (American Gigolo, Internal Affairs).

2 She’s a Killer by Kirsten McDougall (Victoria University Press, $30)

She’s a Killer is such an engrossing page-turner that 200-odd pages passed me by in a flurry before I even realised. And the action hadn’t even started yet. It’s no mean feat to sustain a reader’s attention over 399 pages but McDougall does just that by smartly eking out tension and deftly unfolding the narrative at a sly pace, all the while keeping us on our toes. I never quite knew where she was about to take us and it’s a heart-pumping thrill of a ride from start to finish”: from a rave review by Kiran Dass, published on Thursday.

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

Well-known novel by well-known author Becky something or other.

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

The Ngaio Marsh crime writing awards will be announced this weekend, and Pomare’s  previous novel Tell Me Lies (at number 10 on this week’s list) has been shortlisted for the best crime novel, alongside The Murder Club by Nikki Crutchley, Sprigs by Brannavan Gnanalingam, The Tally Stick by Carl Nixon and The Secrets of Strangers by Charity Norman. Good luck to all the authors, especially JP: this guy writes better crime fiction than any living New Zealand novelist by a long stretch.

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

Loop Tracks germinated just after noon on a Friday, late in 2016, in a swish Japanese restaurant in Auckland. We were old friends having a rare catch up… We talked about the shame and the rage and deceit of our own teenaged years, how girls at school sometimes disappeared, without explanation, for six months… Someone mentioned 1978, when politicians closed the abortion clinics in New Zealand and girls had to fly to Australia for legal, safe terminations. Then one of my friends said this. ‘I had to fly to Sydney. The plane was delayed on the tarmac. For hours.’ This is how a novel begins: a tingle in the spine, like shorting electrics desperate to earth”: from an origins essay by the author, published on Wednesday.

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

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


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

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

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


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

The author with help from her daughters recently posted a “hilarious” Covid-parody of “The Sound of Music” on Instagram.

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

3 Sonny Bill Williams by Sonny Bill Williams & Alan Duff (Hachette, $49.99)

“Someone will write an authorised biography on SBW,” someone once wrote in the Herald, “and it’s going to be a grotesque piece of puffery.” But it’s received a very positive notice in the Guardian.

4 Dish by Sarah Tuck (McKenzie Publishing, $45)

5 Dan Carter 1598 by Dan Carter (Upstart Press, $69.99)

“Good old still comely Dan has written a book. Well, he’s helped write a book and his publisher is thrilled to announce its imminence. Richie McCaw, another cutie, has written an introduction. Which does remind me. In my DomPost days I used to have a lot to do with TV publicists, oh how we loved to chat, and one of them recalled going to a hotel to interview Richie. The door to his room was open and he called out a genial Hi, followed by a Do come in, and there he was, door to the bathroom open, just at final shake point, then it’s a flush, and he comes straight out, blokishly offering his hand. Ahh, I love that story”: from a “review” by Linda Burgess, in good old ReadingRoom.

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

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

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

9 Tikanga by Keri Opai (Upstart Press, $39.99)

Publisher’s blurbology: “The book we’ve all been needing for decades – a unique explanation of the Māori world for Pākehā, and for Māori people wishing to learn more about tikanga. With simple lucidity and great expertise, Keri Opai shares the spirit and meaning of what it is to be Māori in the 21st century, dispelling myths and misconceptions and providing a solid introduction to the Māori way of life.”

10 How to Take a Breath by Tania Clifton-Smith (Penguin Random House, $30)

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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