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)

Number one for 10 weeks!

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

Number two for nine weeks!

3 Kurangaituku by Whiti Hereaka (Huia Publishers, $35)

Debut appearance in the chart for a spectacular fantasy novel by the spectacularly plumed author, photographed by Tabitha Arthur, below. Radio New Zealand reports, “For almost a decade writer Whiti Hereaka has been fleshing out the mythical story of a monster bird woman. The novel is called Kurangaituku – a name and story Whiti’s known since childhood. But that story has traditionally been told from the perspective of Hatupatu, the man she loved desperately but who ultimately betrayed her. Whiti tells Kurangaituku’s story in the first person – from when birds called her into existence to her love for Hatupatu, the upheaval that ravaged her world, and her time roaming the underworlds of Raohenga.”

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

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

An excellent interview with the author at e-tangata this week included a reminiscence about his childhood: “I’ve actually just been writing about the time I was sent to Tolaga Bay to stay with a Māori fulla called Coke. He used to drive the Coke truck up the East Coast and he had a horse called Cracker. Then Coke got diabetes and lost one leg. So, he had a prosthetic. He’d whistle and Cracker would lie down, because Coke couldn’t get on with his one leg. So, Cracker would just lie down for him. I went and stayed out there with Coke and we went pig hunting on horses…So, yes, I did go through a phase, in my early teens, of wanting to be a cowboy.”

6 Out HereAn Anthology of Takatāpui and LGBTQIA+ writers from Aotearoa, edited by Chris Tse & Emma Barnes (Auckland University Press, $49.99)

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

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

Tara Black drew the book launch of the year’s most entertaining novel, below; she does a particularly finely tendrilled Fergus Barrowman.

9 Rangikura by Tayi Tibble (Victoria University Press, $25)

The year’s best five collections of poetry: 5) How to Live with Mammals by Ash David Jane: “the bees emerging/ from their wooden house/ mistake me for/ a flower and for/ a moment I am one/ hopelessly lacking in pollen”  4) Poetry New Zealand Yearbook: Excellent selection by Tracey Slaughter 3) After Hours Trading & The Flying Squad, Jeffrey Paparoa Holman: “entering the silence that is not a silence/ remains of a shoe by the mouth of a shaft/ rusted boiler at a fork in the creek/ pond of eels where the dredge dismantled/ ended its song in a valley of tailings/ entering the silence that is not a silence” 2)  Out Here edited by Chris Tse & Emma Barnes: Number 6 this week, marking its third consecutive week in the top 10  1) Rangikura by Tayi Tibble: The best collection of poetry in 2021 by a long stretch. The wildly talented Wellington writer’s second book is an explosion of language and Indigenous baddie attitudes.

10 Middle Distance by Craig Gamble (Victoria University Press, $35)

Long short stories! It’s an audacious idea, and it works really well. Personal favourite: a story set at a tangi by J Wiremu Kane. It’s worth the price of the book; this guy is a writer to watch.


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

From George Henderson’s wide-ranging review at ReadingRoom: “Margo and Rosa Flanagan’s best-seller Salad: 70 delicious recipes for every occasion will give you a lot of options for using a wide variety of plants, both raw and, where necessary, slow-cooked, together in delicious combinations, taking special care for those of us who are intolerant of gluten or FODMAPs, and including dishes for vegetarians and meat-lovers alike. There may well be, I expect, many other salad books in the shops, but Salad has the strong selling point for me that its authors’ interest in food arose from dealing with their health problems. These included poor mental health due to iron and B12 deficiencies, so although their book uses the now-obligatory ‘raw food’, ‘vegetarian’ and ‘plant-based’ wording and includes vegan desserts and salads (even I eat vegan desserts and salads) their interpretation of those terms is preferable to the irresponsible interpretations behind their use by malnutrition zealots or the processed food industry.”

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

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

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

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

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

7 Gone Bush by Paul Kilgour (HarperCollins, $39.99)

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

9 Voices of World War II by Renée Hollis (Exisle Publishing, $69.99)

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

From George Henderson’s wide-ranging review at ReadingRoom:   “The Edible Backyard: A practical guide to growing organic fruits and vegetables all year round explains how to grow vegetables at home, and to do so organically (using the permaculture method) unaffected by the price of Roundup or anything else of that ilk. A lifetime’s lore of gardening experience is in here…But enough of the lore of plants and gardens. 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.”

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.

Leave a comment