The weekly Unity Books best-seller list – July 1, featuring photo of Emma Cline

A weekly feature at the Spinoff Review of Books: The best-selling books at the Wellington and Auckland stores of Unity Books.



1 In Love with These Times: My Life with Flying Nun Records (HarperCollins, $37) by Roger Shepherd

The Nun man’s memoir is number one for the fourth week in a row; it was intelligently appraised at the Spinoff by Gary Steel.

2 The Lonely City: Adventures in the Art of Being Alone (Canongate, $40) by Olivia Laing

Hell has frozen over and we still haven’t received the essay on this crucial book as promised us by Ashleigh Young.

3 The Vegetarian (Portobello Books, $23) by Han Kang

One of the two most interesting novels of the year, recently acclaimed by Wyoming Paul.

4 The Romanovs: 1613 – 1918 (Weidenfeld & Nicolson, $50) by Simon Sebag Montefiore

Review in the Guardian: “Peter the Great was transfixed by decapitation as biological experiment. And he wasn’t the worst of them. It was remarked that Muscovites were addicted to sodomy not only with boys but with horses…Simon Sebag Montefiore’s journey through 300 years of the Romanov dynasty is a study of brutality, sex and power.”

5 Barkskins (Fourth Estate, $37) by Annie Proulx

Charlotte Grimshaw said in the Listener that it deserved an award from God; writing in the Spinoff, Elspeth Sandys said that “everyone who is serious about the state of the planet should read this novel”.

6 The Sympathizer (Corsair, $28) by Viet Thanh Nguyen

The other most interesting novel of the year.

7 The Silk Roads: A New History of the World (Bloomsbury, $33) by Peter Frankopan

It’s not that new.

8 East West Street: On the Origins of Genocide and Crimes Against Humanity (Weidenfeld & Nicolson, $40) by Philippe Sands

Part memoir, part analysis of Nuremberg.

9 In Order to Live: A North Korean Girl’s Journey to Freedom (Penguin, $28) by Yeonmi Park 

Review in the New York Times: “Twenty-two-year-old Park — who has been nicknamed ‘the Paris Hilton of North Korea’ — describes how her early life of privilege vanished when her father was jailed for smuggling. After fleeing to China, she watches her mother being raped and sold. At 13, she becomes the mistress of a violent Chinese human trafficker…”

10 High Rise (Fourth Estate, $23) by JG Ballard

The 1975 novel of the 2016 movie.


1 Chasing a Dream (Upstart Press, $40) by John Dunmore

The latest book by the great expert on French exploration of the Pacific; the author was ably profiled this week by Graeme Lay.

2 In Love with These Times: The Flying Nun Story (HarperCollins, $37) by Roger Shepherd

3 The Vegetarian: A Novel (Portobello Books, $23) by Han Kang

4 Love From Boy: Roald Dahl’s Letters to his Mother (Hodder & Stoughton, $40) by Roald Dahl, compiled by Donald Sturrock

Sample letter: “This evening I had a bath and a shave and drove out to have dinner with Ginger Rogers.”

Emma_Cline copyright Neil Krug

Above: Emma Cline

5 Girls: A Novel (Chatto & Windus, $37) by Emma Cline

Emma Cline is the next big thing in American fiction – 27 years old, with a $2m, three-book advance, and a stunning prose style. The Girls might turn out to be the best novel of the year. Set in 1969, Cline’s debut novel fictionalises the murderous nut-bar chicks of the Manson Family. The notices have been excellent; we await the Spinoff review by Saran Laing. In the meantime, here’s her brilliant, chilly, poised memoir from the Paris Review.

6 Global Investing: A Guide for New Zealanders (Bateman, $40) by John Ryder

23 top investment strategies by the former head of Ryland Healthcare.

7 Mysterious Mysteries of the Aro Valley (Victoria University Press, $30) by Danyl Mclauchlan

Mysteries and comedies by the esteemed Wellington writer, who contributed an alarmingly good essay about his book for the Spinoff in June.

8 Vinegar Girl (Hogarth Press, $34) by Anne Tyler

A reworking of The Taming of the Shrew. Pointless, really.

9 Silencing Science (Bridget Williams Books, $15) by Shaun Hendy

New Zealanders, argues the author, have few scientific institutions that feel secure enough to criticise the government.

10 The Sympathizer (Little Brown, $28) by Viet Thanh Nguyen

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