This week’s best-selling books


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


1 Pull No Punches by Judith Collins (Allen & Unwin, $36.99)

“Toneless”: from my review at ReadingRoom.

2 The Quick and the Dead by Cynric Temple-Camp (HarperCollins, $39.99)

Geoff Levick’s review of the Palmerston North pathologist’s memoir will appear soon at ReadingRoom.

3 This Farming Life by Tim Saunders (Allen & Unwin, $36.99)

“A just-released book by a fifth generation Manawatu sheep and beef farmer takes readers through the joys and harsh realities of working the land”: Farmers Weekly.

4 Into the Unknown by Ian Trafford (Penguin Random House, $38)

Blurbology: “A personal account of WWI from the diaries of a Gisborne farm boy, shaped into a gripping narrative by the diarist’s grandson 100 years later. Follow Alick as he moves from his last night on the farm in early 1916, through enshipment and training, then off to the battle fields of France and Belgium, occupied Germany and back home. His treasured diaries covered the tedium, the mud, the fear and sorrow, the discomfort, the periods of leave and the letters from those back home. See the war unfold through Alick’s eyes and learn about his and his companions’ attitudes to the army, to female company, to the war itself.”

5 Believer by Peter Parussini (Upstart Press, $39.99)

“Parussini makes the case that Moore played a ‘crucial role in the transformational fourth Labour government, became Prime Minister, and then the highest-ranked New Zealander on the global stage as the director-general of the World Trade Organisation’. But Moore was Prime Minister for just 60 days. In those 60 days in the run-up to the 1990 election, the Labour government that had crushed National just three years before, slumped to its worst defeat … Through this particular lens, Moore barely qualifies for the New Zealand political hall of fame. His career failed to push out the boundaries of the better society as he envisaged when he set out in the journey in politics. Indeed is this the stuff of a political tragic?”: Ian Templeton, from his review at ReadingRoom.

6 Vegful by Nadia Lim (Nude Food, $55)

7 The Book of Overthinking by Gwendoline Smith (Allen & Unwin, $24.99)

8 Facing the Haka by Andy Burt & Jamie Wall (Allen & Unwin, $59.99)

Photos and words about the All Blacks haka.

9 Stop Surviving Start Fighting by Jazz Thornton (Penguin Random House, $38)

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


1 The Jacaranda House by Deborah Challinor (HarperCollins, $36.99)

2020 is a vintage year for commercial fiction in New Zealand – a new Pellegrino, the arrival of Rose Carlyle (The Girl in the Mirror), and now the return of Deborah Challinor, the country’s finest writer of historical novels, with her latest book in her series about the fortunes and misfortunes of the Manaia family. The Jacaranda House is set in Sydney’s King’s Cross, in 1964, where Polly Manaia is working as an “exotic dancer”.

2 Auē by Becky Manawatu (Makaro Press, $35)

Shortlisted this week for the 2020 Ngaio Marsh crime fiction award, alongside five other titles, including Whatever it Takes by Paul Cleave, In the Clearing by JP Pomare and The Wild Card by Renée – all of which actually are crime novels. Auē is not a crime novel. But the libertine and indiscriminate rules of the Ngaio Marsh rules pretty much allow any book which has someone being hit or something. Crazy.

3 Tiny Pieces of Us by Nicky Pellegrino (Hachette, $34.99)

Charity Norman’s review will appear soon at ReadingRoom.

4 The Tally Stick by Carl Nixon (Penguin Random House, $36)

“There’s a steady relentlessness to the action in the bent fairy tale of Carl Nixon’s fourth novel. In 1978, the Chamberlains, an English family, are taking a road trip before Dad takes up his new job in this country. The family holiday turns into a family restructuring when they crash in a remote part (aren’t they all?) of the West Coast”: Paul Little, from his review at

5 Best of Auckland by Various (Writers Café, $28)

Anthology of stories set in Auckland from writers including well-known authors Eileen Merriman and Siobhan Harvey.

6 Sprigs by Brannavan Gnanalingam (Lawrence & Gibson, $35.00)

“Brannavan Gnanalingam’s Sprigs, set in and around Wellington’s elite private schools, is decidedly and determinedly not fun. It even posts a trigger warning in its preliminary pages: ‘This book is about sexual violence and features frequent discussions of sexual violence, suicide, violence, misogyny, homophobia, transphobia, racism, anti-Semitism, and Islamophobia. Please take care. At the back of the book, we have listed a number of organisations who provide support’.”: Alec Redvers-Hill, from his review at ReadingRoom. Eligible for next year’s Ngaio Marsh crime awards, obv.

7 How to Be Old by Rachel McAlpine (The Cuba Press, $25.00)

8 The Absolute Book by Elizabeth Knox (Victoria University Press, $35)

Victoria University announced this week that the author will receive an honorary Doctor of Literature.

9 Jerningham by Cristina Sanders (The Cuba Press, $37)

More evidence that 2020 is a vintage year for New Zealand commercial fiction; Sanders’ novel is based on the life and times of deranged colonist Jerningham Wakefield. Neither this, nor the books by Pellegrino, Carlyle or Challinor are likely to be considered for the 2021 Ockham New Zealand national book awards, which is at once kind of fair and kind of deranged. Still, all of them are probably eligible for next year’s Ngaio Marsh crime awards.

10 Nothing to See by Pip Adam (Victoria University Press, $30)

This content was originally published here.


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