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)

News from Italia this week, apposite to the author’s hugely popular latest novel about love and food in Italy: Rising prices in Italy for tomatoes, pasta and olive oil means cooking the average spaghetti dish has just gotten more expensive. The cost for tomatoes increased 12% last month compared to a year ago, and pasta saw an almost 5% spike due to a drought that reduced North American production of durum wheat, the grain used to make flour for staples such as spaghetti.

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

The author of the much-praised ecothriller spoke with Ash Davida Jane at Unity Books in Wellington this week; Tara Black was on hand to draw the action, below.

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

Nice photo by the author, below, which illustrated Talia Marshall’s genius essay this week at ReadingRoom.

Parliament, by Becky Manawatu

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


5 The Last Guests by J.P. Pomare (Hachette, $34.99)


6 The Savage Coloniser Book by Tusiata Avia (Victoria University Press, $25)

Winner of this year’s Ockham New Zealand book award for best book of poetry; it surely won by a country mile.

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


8 Out Here by Chris Tse & Emma Barnes (Auckland University Press, $49.99)

Queer New Zealand voices.

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


10 The Tally Stick by Carl Nixon (Penguin Random House, $36)

Shortlisted for this year’s Ngaio Marsh award for best crime novel; really good book.


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

A review of this timely and important volume is due to appear any minute now at ReadingRoom by food scientist George Henderson; here’s a preview from his analysis: “What everyone really wants to know is, will salad cure Covid? And, will I get a better, longer-lasting vaccine response if I’ve been eating my greens?

“The answer is – at least to the second question – probably. Supplementing antioxidants like the ones found in plants usually produces higher antibody levels after a vaccination, and there is very strong evidence that taking probiotic bacteria and the prebiotic fibres they feed on greatly enhances the response rate to the flu vaccine in free-living elderly people, in whom it’s pretty poor otherwise. Probiotics and prebiotics can be found together in fermented veges like sauerkraut and kimchi (as well as yoghurt) but raw salads may be useful sources of bacteria as well as fibre. Should you also take a probiotic supplement? Probably – that’s what most of the vaccine studies were testing, and probiotics also independently reduce the overall risk of upper respiratory tract infections.

“Plants can be valuable sources of selenium, as are fatty meats, organ meats, and seafood. A scientific paper published recently restates something that’s been said many times since May 2020: ‘Interestingly, a link between Se status and the outcome of COVID-19 patients has also been identified [113,114,115,116,117]. Overall, the available data so far strongly suggest that Se is essential for prevention of SARS-CoV-2 infection and may negatively impact on COVID-19 outcome particularly in populations where Se intake is low.’

“…The single best selenium source in the NZ diet is the Brazil nut, with two a day being enough to raise your levels by a useful amount. If, God and Pfizer forbid, I catch Covid I’ll be taking a higher dose – you might not want to do this forever but it seems to be perfectly safe within the short time-frame of a respiratory infection. Plants of the allium family – garlic, onions, leeks and shallots as well as a thing called the ramp I have yet to experience, are good at concentrating selenium if it’s present in the soil. And they have those prebiotic fibres. Selenium, in the context of Aotearoa New Zealand, gets a definitely from me.”

I should also have asked George to review the book at number 10.

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

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

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

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

6 The Joy of Gardening by Lynda Hallinan (Allen & Unwin, $45)

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

8 Note to Self Journal by Rebekah Ballagh (Allen & Unwin, $29.99)

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

10 Fish Of the Day by Mike Bhana & Clarke Gayford (Penguin Random House, $55)

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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