The latest Nielsen BookScan New Zealand bestseller list, described by Steve Braunias


1 Pet by Catherine Chidgey (Te Herenga Waka University Press, $38)

Incredible! To be precise, there are three incredible things. The first incredibility is that Chidgey’s latest novel has shot to number one in its first week in the shops – actually only after two days in the shops. The second, deeper and more historic incredibility, is that this may well be the very first time in New Zealand bestseller history that the same novelist has a novel at number one and another novel at number two in the very same week. The closest precedent was in the chart of November 2, 2013, when Eleanor Catton’s The Luminaries was at number one, and her previous novel The Rehearsal was at number three. Oh and in the December 9, 2017, one novelist had a book at number four, and another of her books at number five: respectively, The Beat of the Pendulum, and The Wish Child, by…Catherine Chidgey.

We’ll get to the third incredbility in a second but first: a free copy of Pet is available in this week’s book giveaway. To win, read the author’s recent short story “Babydoll”, and make any kind of remarks about it, by emailing  with the subject line in screaming caps I WANT TO BE CHIDGEY’S PET. Entries close Sunday midnight, June 18.

2 The Axeman’s Carnival by Catherine Chidgey (Te Herenga Waka University Press, $38)

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

Oh and here’s the third incredibility: this week’s chart marks for the first time, possibly, at least in the memory of Te Herenga Waka University Press publisher Fergus Barrowman, that THWUP (formerly Victoria University Press) has the top three places in the fiction list. “Not that I remember,” he texted, “which means I can’t remember, but our bestsellers don’t usually come so close together.”

4 Everything is Beautiful and Everything Hurts by Josie Shapiro (Allen & Unwin, $36.99)

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

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

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

8 The Deck by Fiona Farrell (Penguin Random House, $37)

9 Tangi by Witi Ihimaera (Penguin Random House, $30)

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


1 Whakawhetai: Gratitude by Hira Nathan (Allen & Unwin, $36.99)

“Te reo, Māoritanga, philosophical thought, hinengaro and rational thought collided like a bull forcing the matador to respect it and Whakawhetai was born”: from a self-portrait by the Hasting-born author of the year’s nicest, most positive book.

2 Billy Bush by Bill Bush (Upstart Press, $39.99)

Memoir by the revered All Black prop, who captained and coached the Māori All Blacks. Sample passage, on joining the 1976 All Blacks tour of South Africa: “We were all strongly criticised by anti-apartheid protestors in New Zealand about the tour going ahead. There was pressure in the media, and I found myself singled out by activists like Trevor Richards and John Minto, who wanted me to pull out.

“But I wanted to find out personally what it was like in South Africa, so I shrugged off the criticism, busted my guts training for the tour, running around the Port Hills of Christchurch in cold southerlies, and focused on my goal of being in the All Blacks and sticking it to the South Africans. As I saw it, I was not likely to get the opportunity again.

“The dispute came right to my workplace. Union delegates from Borthwicks Freezing Works (as it had been renamed) had just been up to China as guests of the Communist Party there, and when they got back home had written on the works’ noticeboard, ‘China YES. . . South Africa NO’.

“A mate and I went into the Belfast Hotel midweek after rugby training, and the local union secretary yelled down the bar to me, ‘If you go on the tour to South Africa you won’t have a job when you get back!’

“‘They can stick the job sideways then,’ was all I said, and my mate told the Union Secretary to keep his trap shut. The secretary jumped up to take my mate on, and my mate decked him.”

3 Fungi of Aotearoa by Liv Sisson (Penguin Random House, $45)

4 This is ADHD by Chonelle Moriah (Allen & Unwin, $32.99)

A guide to understanding ADHD, written and illustrated by Chanelle Moriah (author of the bestselling I Am Autistic) who was officially diagnosed with ADHD at 22. Publisher blurbology: “They hope that by sharing their life and experiences, and helping others to understand, they are reducing the harm and trauma (even if only for one person) that neurodivergent individuals face in existing in a neurotypical world.” Also, importantly: “Chanelle lives in Wellington and enjoys bubble tea, lego and sitting in the rain.”

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

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

7 There’s a Cure for This by Emma Espiner (Penguin Random House, $35)

A self-portrait by the author will appear in ReadingRoom next week; it’s a typically lovely and poised piece of writing, only just on the right side of emotional collapse. Also, and again this is entirely typical, it’s very funny.

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

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

10 Wawata – Moon Dreaming by Hinemoa Elder (Penguin Random House, $30)

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