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

Huzzah to Catton, whose book has held off the challenge of two determinedly commercial novels (see below) to remain at number one for the eighth consecutive week. Her thriller, too, is commercial fiction, and genre fiction, of a kind, and Easter is the ideal time to go out and buy it and take a journey into its escapist world of good and evil being fought out in the South Island between complicated do-gooders and an uncomplicated psychopath.

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

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

This week’s book giveaway is a copy of Reed’s commercial fiction debut set among the fretting, busy, sweetly incomed middle classes. “A winning contemporary tale,” wrote Stephanie Johnson in her ReadingRoom review. “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.” I interviewed the author last week, and asked her whether she owned a Dyson vacuum cleaner or a Bosch fridge, and she mentioned friends who owned a Womanizer vibrator; to enter the draw to win a free copy of One of Those Mothers, email with the subject line in screaming caps I WANT THIS NOVEL SET AMONG THE FRETTING, BUSY, SWEETLY INCOMED MIDDLE CLASSES, and describe some kind of middle-class appliance or contraption that you own. Entries close midnight on Tuesday, April 11.

Meanwhile we have a winner of last week’s book giveaway of The South Island of New Zealand from the Road by the late Robin Morrison (Massey University Press, $75). Readers were asked to take a photograph  that in some way qualified as their very own take or pastiche or imitation of “a Robin Morrison moment”. The judge was none other than the artist’s son, Jake Morrison. He has chosen Wendy Brandon for her shot of some kind of structure in the middle of nowhere (below).

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

5 The Last Days of Joy by Anne Tiernan (Hachette, $36.99)

Debut novel by a Tauranga writer born in Zambia and raised in Ireland, who studied psychology at Trinity College and then worked in banking. The Last Days of Joy is commercial fiction about a family reeling in the wake of a devastating act; her publishers throw around names such as Liane Moriarty, Marian Keyes, and Meg Mason; Jacqueline Bublitz claimed, “This book broke my heart a little.”

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

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

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

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

10 How to Get Fired by Evana Belich (Penguin Random House, $37)

Short story collection; one of the stories will appear in ReadingRoom next Saturday.


1 Second Chances: Facing My Demons and Finding a Better Me by Hayley Holt (HarperCollins, $39.99)

Harrowing but inspirational story of the TV presenter who lost her baby Frankie in the third trimester. Herald journalist Jenni Mortimer writes, “It was the support of family that got her through – the couple took Frankie home to Holt’s parents’ home in Warkworth, where he lay for several days and even had a family photoshoot – something the couple now cherish alongside the tōtara tree they planted for him. Holt hopes that in revealing the true tragedy of the events of those days – including her admission that instead of changing nappies, she was changing icepacks to keep her son’s body cool – she can help others.”

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

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

4 Not Set in Stone: The passion and consequence of a mountain life by Dave Vass (Potton & Burton, $39.99)

Mountaineering memoir. Stuff journalist Olivia Caldwell writes, “He lived through a fall that broke his neck, surviving a night in the cold elements which gave him hypothermia and brought him close to death….He’s accepted his disability and this is where the fascinating part of his altered life begins…He likens depression to a pit, and the only way to get out of it is to climb the ladder upwards. You start at the first rung, he says.”

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

6 Privilege in Perpetuity by Peter Meihana (Bridget Williams Books, $17.99)

A critique of the mistaken notion that Māori somehow lead lives of awesome privilege. From Vincent O’Malley’s review: “As Meihana notes, most of the New Zealand history denialists claim to be pro-Treaty of Waitangi. It’s just that the Treaty they rely on is one where Māori acknowledged Crown sovereignty in return for all the rights and privileges of British subjects. It’s the kind of version that might have taught up until the 1960s. Unsurprisingly, perhaps, many of the anti-Treatyists are older Pākehā men.”

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

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

My favourite Rihanna song is “Drink to That”, which goes

Cheers to the freakin’ weekend

I drink to that, yeah

Oh, let the Jameson sink in

I drink to that, yeah

Don’t let the bastards get you down

Turn it around with another round

There’s a party at the bar

Everybody put ya glasses up, and I drink to that.

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

10 Fear by Byron C Clark (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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