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

“The new novel by Eleanor Catton is at once deep and meaningless. It’s a thriller where just about the most thrilling scene is a debate, hard to put down but easy to walk away from once it’s over, a fast read with a serious intellectual core…The pages fly by towards a climax you will never guess that is at once totally shocking – Birnam Wood, a novel of contrasts – and completely insane”: from my review at ReadingRoom.

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

Everything she writes is loved and adored and bought by a hell of a lot of readers; her latest love story is about Belle and Enrico, set in southern Italy. The author’s beautiful pet is this week’s pin-up, above.

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

A free copy of Reed’s entertaining debut novel set among the fretting, busy, sweetly incomed middle classes was up for grabs in last week’s ReadingRoom weekly giveaway. Readers were asked to describe some kind of middle-class appliance or contraption in their household. There was a huge response – people really want this book. The most entertaining of the bunch included Sarah, who wrote, “I won a Makita battery operated leaf blower in a competition five years ago and it has changed my life”; John, who wrote of buying an Ozito hedge trimmer form Bunnings, “I went home and trimmed my little hedge 1 hour faster than it took with hedge snippers which felt much more satisfying than it should be. It’s a hedge for fuck sake. Life in the suburbs eh? One adrenaline fuelled adventure after another”; and Karin, who wrote of moving from Christchurch to Wellington, and her need to “bring my red Sunbeam cake mixer with me – the appliance I thought I couldn’t live without. Jokes on me in the end – there’s nowhere I can keep it in my flat so It’s living with my sister in middle class Karori.”

The winner is: Megan Noyce of Paraparaumu, who wrote, “Is there anything more sweetly middle class than my teenage daughter currently making macarons with my Empire Red Kitchenaid, to bake in my Smeg oven, while I sit in the spa reading Newsroom on my iphone?” Plus she sent a photo, below. Aw!  Congrats to Megan; the novel by her namesake is in the post.

Empire Red Kitchenaid, Smeg, spa pool and awesome daughter.

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

Publisher’s blurbology: “When Joy’s children receive the news that she has only days to live, they rush to her side. Each is at a crossroads in their lives – but there’s one last secret they need to know about Joy….”

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

Shortlisted for the fiction prize at this year’s Ockham New Zealand book awards.

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

Shortlisted for the fiction prize at this year’s Ockham New Zealand book awards.

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

Shortlisted for the fiction prize at this year’s Ockham New Zealand book awards.

8 Landed by Sue McCauley (David Bateman, $37.99)

“Bette Davis got it right when she famously once said, ‘Old age is not for sissies.’ With her latest novel Landed, Sue McCauley has created an empathetic portrait of a naïve and vulnerable older woman who struggles to reinvent herself after a tragedy leaves her bereft. This character-driven novel shows just how hard it can be to keep picking yourself up and dusting yourself off when traumatic and unexpected events just keep rolling in…Now in her early 80s herself, McCauley explores the ageing process with a sensitive touch. She doesn’t pull her punches about what old age has in store for us all – the eventual relinquishment of those dearest to us”: from a review by Sue Reidy this week at ReadingRoom.

9 Twelve Hours of Murder by Rodney Strong (Rodney Strong, $38.99)

Hm! A self-published collection of short stories featuring 12 “light-hearted murder mysteries”, as the author describes them; he’s a very prolific writer, going by his website, and his latest book revisits one of his favourite characters, a 95-year-old former conartist called Alice, who remains on full alert as a resident at the Silvermoon Retirement Village.

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

It won just about every prize going and charmed a generation of readers, and continues to find new audiences, retaining a constant place in the bestseller chart since Reilly’s comedy set in Auckland was published way back in October 2021.


1 Second Chances by Hayley Holt (HarperCollins, $39.99)

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

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

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

5 A Forager’s Life by Helen Lehndorf (HarperCollins, $39.99)

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

Filled with mingled cream and amber,

I will drain that glass again.

Such hilarious visions clamber

Through the chamber of my brain.

Quaintest thoughts, queerest fancies

Come to life and fade away.

What care I how time advances;

I am drinking ale today.

–  Edgar Allan Poe, 1848

7 Winter Warmers by Philippa Cameron (Allen & Unwin, $49.99)

This week’s giveaway is a free copy of the latest book of recipes and yarns by Phiippa Cameron, whose 2022 book A High Country Life was a bestseller. The cover is one of the worst designed products I’ve seen in my life but the contents of Winter Warmers do the business, with recipes for over 70 hearty meals, such as her incredible yellow duck curry which demands not one but two ducks. Gee! Anyway, to enter the draw, email with the subject line in screaming caps I REALLY WANT THESE RECIPES FROM THE HIGH COUNTRY SNOWS and detail your own original winter warming recipe. Must include meat. Entries close at midnight, Monday, April 17.

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

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

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

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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