Steve Braunias edits Newsroom’s books section, ReadingRoom, and is a noted writer at the NZ Herald. He was nominated (alongside ReadingRoom book reviewer Philip Matthews) as Best Reviewer of the Year at the 2022 Voyager Media Awards.
This week’s best-selling New Zealand books, as recorded by the Nielsen BookScan New Zealand bestseller list and described by Steve Braunias
1 Kurangaituku by Whiti Hereaka (Huia Editors, $35)
Oh ! Number one for the third week in a row – a remarkable achievement even given the huge hype it got as the winner of the Jann Medlicott Acorn Prize for Fiction, announced at the Ockham New Zealand National Book Awards last month . Winning is not a guarantee of trading success. Bookstores greeted some previous Ockham Fiction winners with a whimper of “Ugh, whatever” because they knew it wouldn’t make a difference to sales. But not in 2022 – with the added surprise that Kurangaituku is currently outselling a genre that is still catnip for New Zealand book buyers, in the form of two historical novels (Accommodationand The Leonard girls, below). In short: congratulations to the author Whiti Hereaka, for his rereading of the myth of the woman-bird of the island of Mokoia. People love that.
2 Accommodation by Jenny Pattrick (Penguin Random House, $36)
New Zealand, 1839.
3 The Leonard girls by Deborah Challinor (HarperCollins, $36.99)
New Zealand, 1969.
4 Greta and Valdin by Rebecca K Reilly (Victoria University Press, $35)
5 How to hang out in a turf war by Coco Solid (Penguin Random House, $28)
6 Winter hour by Laurence Fearnley (Penguin Random House, $36)
A new Fearnley is always a literary event. Publisher’s blurb: “Back in Mackenzie country to deal with the unexpected death of his brother, Roland has more than enough on his plate. He could do without the demands of a cantankerous neighbor, the complaints from his partner back in Australia and the discovery that someone is impersonating him online, turning the locals against him… A living novel about family love and friendship.
seven The Last Beekeeper (The Vespling 1) by Jared Gulian (Waysout Press, $40)
On a remote island, a reclusive beekeeper uncovers a dark secret that could destroy humanity. Wow! Plus, great coverage.
8 Auē by Becky Manawatu (Makaro Press, $35)
9 larry and vivi by Graeme Lay (Renaissance Publishing, $34.99)
“What a thrill it must have been in 1948 to be able to see performances of three different plays, here in New Zealand, from London’s Old Vic Company. Graeme Lay captures that thrill beautifully in his new novel. larry and vivi“: according to a review by Carole Beu, of the Librairie des femmes.
ten Fish by Lloyd Jones (Penguin Random House, $36)
1 Yum by Nadia Lim (Nude Food Inc, $55)
I made one of Lim’s recipes from Yum at the Queen’s birthday weekend – a boiled chook with celery and split peas. It was a bit yummy but actually also a bit bland. Still a good stock.
2 The Boy from Gorge River by Chris Long (HarperCollins, $39.99)
3 Matariki: star of the year by Rangi Matamua (Huia Editors, $35)
4 The bookstore at the end of the world by Ruth Shaw (Allen & Unwin, $36.99)
5 letters to you by Jazz Thornton (Penguin Random House, $30)
6 A Gentle Radical: The Life of Jeanette Fitzsimons by Gareth Hughes (Allen & Unwin, $39.99)
In my opinion, to ReadingRoom: “The first thing to say about Gareth Hughes as the political biographer of his friend and colleague Jeanette Fitzsimons is that he is obviously and uniformly the wrong person for the job, precisely because he was a friend and a colleague; there is no distance in this warm assessment, no criticism in this brilliant portrait; the heart of the book is a void, a nonsense, because Hughes is unable to function as any objective witness. just can’t trust him. He’s a biographer as a fanboy, and it’s devotional coo biography by a party animal. He’s too close to the point. But closeness has its virtues. Hughes recounts Rod Donald’s death with a quiet power, and it’s that kind of intimacy that gives his book a warmth and, even better, an understanding.”
seven grand by Noelle McCarthy (Penguin Random House, $35)
8 i am autistic by Chanelle Moriah (Allen & Unwin, $29.99)
9 Simple whole foods by Sophie Steevens (Allen & Unwin, $49.99)
ten Robin White by Sarah Farrar & Nina Tonga & Jill Trevelyan (Te Papa Press, $70)
Anyone concerned with this magnificent illustrated book about the life and career of one of our greatest living artists – the three authors, the publisher and their team, and White herself – should take a bow. It is a truly first-class and scrumptious book; and ReadingRoom, amazed, will devote a week to it a little further. Below: Robin White’s painting Sam Hunt and the Hills Across the Harbor (1976), held by the Waikato Museum Te Whare Taonga o Waikato, purchased with assistance from the Hamilton Motorcycle Club.