This week's bookcase star is Wellington City Councillor Tamatha Paul, right now campaigning to return for a second term. Spotted in the bookcase of her Aro Valley home: biographies of Muhammad Ali and Malcolm X, Capital by Thomas Piketty, a Ranginui Walker, and Pūrākau: Māori Myths Retold, edited by Witi Ihimaera and Whiti Hereaka.

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


1 Kāwai by Monty Soutar (David Bateman, $39.99)

Number one for the third consecutive week; Soutar’s historical novel, set in 18th Century Aotearoa before the arrival of Cook, deals with kaitangata, or cannibalism, a subject that the author addressed in a fascinating essay for ReadingRoom. 

2 Harbouring by Jenny Pattrick (Penguin Random House, $36)

Historical novel set in 19th Century settler New Zealand.

3 The Wrong Woman by J.P. Pomare (Hachette, $36.99)

4 Eddy, Eddy by Kate De Goldi (Allen & Unwin, $29.99)

5 Miracle by Jennifer Lane (Cloud Ink Press, $29.99)

Publisher’s blurbology: “Born in the middle of Australia’s biggest-ever earthquake, Miracle is fourteen when her world crumbles. Thanks to her dad’s new job at Compassionate Cremations – which falls under suspicion for Boorunga’s spate of sudden deaths – the entire town turns against their family.”

6 Kāwai by Monty Soutar (David Bateman, $49.99)

The hardback version.

7 Nightshades and Paperwhites by Sophie Rogers (Sophie Rogers, $38)

Another historical novel set in 19th Century settler New Zealand. In the author’s words: “Alexandra, 1866. The Gold Rush has been and gone. Alexandra is fast becoming a town of dwindling opportunities, especially for Ginny Doyle, an intelligent, young Irish woman with dreams of painting her way through Europe. New life is breathed into the town as Chinese miners arrive to rework the old claims. Curiosity draws Ginny down to the Chinese camp by the river, where she meets translator and miner Deming Yang…There’s gold…a mystery illness…a shared kiss and a dark family secret with the power to destroy everything Ginny thought she knew.”

8 Tarquin the Honest by Gareth Ward (David Bateman, $34.99)

Zombies and giants and an evil order of necromancers. Awesome cover.

9 Poor People With Money by Dominic Hoey (Penguin Random House, $37)

One of the year’s best novels – and likely the very best crime novel, which follows the adventures of Auckland barmaid Monday Wooldridge who gets into selling drugs on the dark web until bad people come for her and she takes off to the Far North.

10 Greta and Valdin by Rebecca K Reilly (Te Herenga Waka University Press, $35)


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

Good news for bookstores, and good news for Elder fans: her latest book is due to go on sale on October 12. Wawata: Moon Dreaming “shows us”, in the blurbology of publishers Penguin, “how to reclaim intimacy with others, with ourselves, and with our planet, using the energies of Hina, the Māori moon. Hina, the Māori moon goddess, has 30 different faces – a different face and a different energy for each day of the month. Dr Hinemoa Elder guides us through the 30 days and nights of a lunar cycle, explaining the ancient wisdom of the elders. Their reminders are a source of strength in our strange modern world, where we have been stripped of much of the connection and the relationships we need for our wellbeing.”

2 The Bookseller at the End of the World by Ruth Shaw (Allen & Unwin, $36.99)

Memoir of a bookseller published last year and still going strong. Charming cover.

3 Needs Adult Supervision by Emily Writes (Penguin Random House, $35)

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

5 Ross Taylor: Black & White by Paul Thomas (Upstart Press, $49.99)

6 Miss Polly’s Kitchen by Polly Markus (Allen & Unwin, $45)

7 Yes, Minister by Christopher Finlayson (Allen & Unwin, $36.99)

The author would make a very lively interview subject for the otherwise very boring podcast interview series conducted by Simon Bridges at Stuff but somehow I don’t think the former National leader and his former caucus colleague would wish to spend so much as a second in each other’s company; Finlayson writes of the leaked Jami-Lee Ross tapes in his Yes, Minister memoir, “I never spoke to Simon Bridges again after that.”

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

9 Everyday Favourites by Vanya Insull (Allen & Unwin, $39.99)

10 Sons of a Good Keen Man: Life in the Shadow of Barry Crump by The Crump Brothers (Penguin Random House, $38)

“A blathering, often unhappy collection of oral histories told by Crump’s six sons. The most constant voice belongs to second eldest son Martin Crump, who has inherited the rights to his father’s literary estate – the text is © Bush Media, which he administers to produce ongoing items of Crumpania and ensure that we will never be free of Crumpy”: from my review in Reading Room.

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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