The best-selling books at the two best bookstores in New Zealand’s two most populous residential centres.
1 Legacy of Spies by John Le Carre (Penguin, $37)
Le Carre’s latest makes it to number one in the same week it was revealed a National Party MP used to teach English to spies in China.
2 Girl Who Takes an Eye for an Eye by David Lagercrantz (MacLehose, $38)
“Damaged, dysfunctional heroines are common in thrillers, as are layers of gendered trauma, but Stig Larson’s Lisbeth Salander was a fabulous, surprising character – a feminist superhero, an Amazonian queen, a Lolita who fought back. Obsessive and antisocial, she was forged in the crucible of violence she experienced as a child. She took the kind of revenge on rapists and paedophiles that most only fantasise about, taking on powerful, corrupt men with righteous but lawless violence”: The Guardian, assessing the heroine of the Millennium series.
3 Māori at Home: An Everyday Guide to Learning the Māori Language by Scotty & Stacey Morrison (Raupo, $35)
“The Morrisons only speak te reo at home and the kids are in the Māori immersion unit at school. Their English skills come from their wider family and TV – which gives them slightly American accents when they first start speaking English”: story by Sarah Harris, the New Zealand Herald.
4 High Road: A Journey to the New Frontier of Cannabis by Colin Hogg (HarperCollins, $37)
One of the best reads of the year. Hogg and a mate drive around America stoned off their fucken asses as they investigate the new frontier of legalized dak.
5 Strange Beautiful Excitement: Katherine Mansfield’s Wellington 1888-1903 by Redmer Yska (Otago University Press, $40)
Also one of the best reads of the year. Yska wanders around Wellington thinking about Katherine Mansfield, and imagining what kind of life – and what kind of mental landscape – she had when she lived in the city.
6 Break by Marian Keyes (Penguin, $38)
Tweet this week from the massively popular author: “Out of nowhere I am obsessed with wallpaper.”
7 Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls by Elena Favilli & Francesca Cavallo (Particular Books, $40)
Smash-hit kids book.
8 My Absolute Darling by Gabriel Tallent (Fourth Estate, $35)
This looks great. From the New York Times: “It’s clear from the first few sentences that the novel’s fierce, vulnerable, semi-feral heroine, Turtle Alveston, is in a precarious situation. The gravel driveway of her decrepit house is littered with bullet casings. The living room window is boarded up, covered with shot up rifle targets….When she gets home from school, Turtle, who is 14, casually picks up a loaded Sig Sauer pistol lying on the counter among empty cans and levels it at the target. Her father, Martin, smiles without looking up. The novel’s ominous opening passages make two things abundantly evident: Turtle is in grave danger, and yet she isn’t the prototypical, passive fictional girl in peril. With its unconventional heroine and unflinching portrayal of an abused girl’s fight to save herself, My Absolute Darling seems poised to become the breakout debut of the year.”
9 The Ministry Of Utmost Happiness by Arundhati Roy (Hamish Hamilton, $38)
10 9th Floor: Conversations with Five NZ Prime Ministers by Guyon Espiner & Tim Watkin (Bridget Williams Books, $40)
Transcripts of interviews with former political leaders.
1 Sleeps Standing by Witi Ihimaera and Hēmi Kelly (Vintage, $35)
“Witi Ihimaera’s fascinating novella mixes fact and fiction in retelling the tragic story of the Battle of Orakau. It also mixes, innovatively, both English and Māori. Ably abetted by translator Hemi Kelly, Ihimaera has produced a parallel text, giving access to both the richness and poeticism of the Māori text and to the gritty realism of the English. Its bifocal perspective lends great depth to the story. A further framing device is the modern story of a returning whanau member seeking a name for his son. Also added are surviving eye-witness accounts”: Steve Walker, Stuff.
2 Tears of Rangi by Anne Salmond (AUP, $65)
3 Driving to Treblinka by Diana Wichtel (Awa Press, $45)
We look forward to Margo White’s forthcoming review of the powerful debut book by the great Listener writer.
4 Tightrope by Selina Tusitala Marsh (AUP, $28)
Striking new collection of verse by the newly minted poet laureate.
5 Tell Me My Name by Bill Manhire, Norman Meehan, Hannah Griffin and Peter Peryer (VUP, $30)
Poetry, music, photographs; all first-rate.
6 The Man Who Ate Lincoln Road by Steve Braunias (Luncheon Sausage Books, $25)
He set out to eat a street and encountered death, a D-hygiene rating, the spirit and people of west Auckland, and a lot of chicken.
7 Black Marks on the White Page edited by Witi Ihimaera and Tina Makereti (Vintage, $40)
Superb anthology of Māori and Pacific Island creative writing.
8 Three Cities by Rod Oram (Bridget Williams Books, $15)
Analysis by the great economist.
9 Everyday Strength by Sam Mannering and Karen McMillian (Beatnik, $45)
Recipes and wellbeing tips for cancer patients.
10 Legacy of Spies by John Le Carre (Penguin, $37)
The Spinoff Review of Books is brought to you by Unity Books.