1 Birnam Wood by Eleanor Catton (Te Herenga Waka University Press, $38)

Number one for the seventh consecutive week; but, I think, maybe for the last time, or at least until the author returns to New Zealand in May for a PR blitz, including an appearance at the Auckland Writers Festival, chaired by Noelle McCarthy. The author will also appear at literary festivals in Wellington and Christchurch. Interest will be high and should spur another round of sales. But in the meantime I predict the novel that will top the charts is:

2 P.S. Come to Italy by Nicky Pellegrino (Hachette, $36.99)

My understanding – based on a vaguely reliable source, someone who knows someone who knows someone who works for the publisher of Pellegrino’s latest novel – is that sales of only 36 copies separate Birnam Wood from P.S. Come to Italy. Only 36! Next week’s chart will, I think, see Pellegrino overtake Catton – and there’s a slim possibility that so will the book at number five in this week’s chart. You never know.

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

4 The Axeman’s Carnival by Catherine Chidgey (Te Herenga Waka University Press, $35)

5 One of Those Mothers by Megan Nicol Reed (Allen & Unwin, $36.99)

Oho! Number five with a bullet, in its first few days in the shops; it will be interesting to see where it falls next week, after a full week of sales. ReadingRoom got on board with Nicol Reed’s trashy entertaining novel this week in the only way ReadingRoom ever gets on board with anything: overboard. We devoted all week to it. Monday: the explosive opening chapter. Tuesday: the author’s thoughts on sex. Wednesday: An interview with the author about Dyson vacuums, Bosch fridges, Womanizer vibrators and other middle class possessions. Thursday: Stephanie Johnson’s review. “A winning contemporary tale,” she wrote. “Contemporary woes – children spending too much time online, the ubiquitous and worsening exposure to pornography, terror of the climate crisis, alcohol and substance use and negotiating modern marriage – are entertainingly evoked.”

6 Mrs Jewell and the Wreck of the General Grant by Cristina Sanders (The Cuba Press, $37)

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

8 How to Loiter in a Turf War by Coco Solid (Penguin Random House, $28)

9 The Doctor’s Wife by Fiona Sussman (David Bateman, $37.99)

10 Harbouring by Jenny Pattrick (Penguin Random House, $37)


This week’s book giveaway contest is a continuation of last week’s book giveaway contest: which is to say that entries are still open to win a free copy of a masterpiece, The South Island of New Zealand from the Road by the late Robin Morrison (Massey University Press, $75). One of the great classics of New Zealand publishing – it first appeared in 1981 – has been honoured with a beautiful new edition as masterminded by Nicola Legat, that peerless publisher at Massey University Press (and Te Papa Press). To enter the draw to win a free copy, you need to take a photograph in the manner of Robin Morrison – and the judge is none other than the artist’s son, Jake Morrison.

Last week I asked readers to take a photograph of something that in some way qualifies as their very own take or pastiche or imitation of “a Robin Morrison moment”. I received a great many pictures and some of them were amazing; two or three qualified as good imitations of a “Robin Morrison moment”. They were all exciting to look at and I really want to look at more. And so the contest is now open until midnight on Tuesday, April 4; images are to be emailed to with the subject line in screaming caps I REALLY WANT THIS ROBIN MORRISON MASTERPIECE.

A shortlist will be sent on to Jake Morrison. His decision is final even if it’s completely different to what I would have chosen. Jake knows “a Robin Morrison moment” better than I ever could; he lived those moments, he travelled with his Dad and family to the South Island in 1979, when the book was photographed.

Think big wide empty distressing spaces. Think old people by themselves in beautiful but melancholic settings. Think public architecture (houses, statues, rotundas) in sad light. Think Robin Morrison; channel Robin Morrison; you can’t be Robin Morrison, but you can approach his spirit, his genius, and take a photograph that is adjacent to his spirit and genius. Good luck! The book is amazing. All you have to do to win it is impress Jake Morrison – and create a work of art.

1 Straight Up by Ruby Tui (Allen & Unwin, $36.99)

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

3 Be Your Best Self by Rebekah Ballagh (Allen & Unwin, $32.99)

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

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

6 The Drinking Game by Guyon Espiner (Allen & Unwin, $36.99)

Sobriety! Is it a disease, and do publishers enable it?

7 Fear by Byron C Clark (HarperCollins, $39.99)

8 The Bookseller at the End of the World by Ruth Shaw (Allen & Unwin, $38.99)

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

10 Tales of a Vet Nurse by Jade Pengelly (HarperCollins, $39.99)

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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