BooksSeptember 1, 2017

The Unity Books best-seller chart for the week ending September 1


The best-selling books at the two best bookstores known to science.


1 Strange Beautiful Excitement: Katherine Mansfield’s Wellington 1888-1903 by Redmer Yska (Otago University Press, $40)

“Wellington is revealed as grim, filthy, dangerous to health, and yet, in the course of this idiosyncratic mix of biography and memoir, Yska transforms the terrain into something pleasingly rich and strange: a city of memory, of imagination, of nostalgia – above all, of Katherine Mansfield’s stories”: Charlotte Grimshaw, the Spinoff Review of Books.

2 Legacy of Spies by John Le Carre (Penguin, $37)

After more than 25 years, George Smiley steps back onto the page.

3 The 9th Floor: Conversations with Five NZ Prime Ministers by Guyon Espiner & Tim Watkin (Bridget Williams Books, $40)

“These interviews deserve to persist”: Duncan Greive, on the book of the Radio New Zealand podcast, at the Spinoff Review of Books.

4 The Power by Naomi Alderman (Penguin, $26)

“Speculative fiction set in a future and based on the fascinating premise that women are suddenly able to inflict pain and death at will…An exciting read”: Andra Jenkin, the Spinoff Review of Books.

5 Inferior: How Science Got Women Wrong by Angela Saini (Forth Estate, $33)

“A new study suggests that science is rewriting the old theories that ‘explain’ why women are best suited to housework and men are natural philanderers”: The Guardian.

6 Māori at Home: An Everyday Guide to Learning the Māori Language by Scotty & Stacey Morrison (Raupo, $35)

Kei hea o putu whutupōro? Where are your rugby boots? And: Hōmai te ranu tomato. Pass me the tomato sauce. Also: Kati te whakapōrearea i to tuahine! Stop annoying your sister!

7 Koh-I-Noor: the Story of the World’s Most Famous Diamond by William Dalrymple & Anita Anand (Bloomsbury, $26)

“I loved writing it. Some of it reads like Game of Thrones”: Dalrymple, interviewed in The Hindu.

8 The Ministry Of Utmost Happiness by Arundhati Roy (Hamish Hamilton, $38)

Utmost boringness.

9 Churchill & Orwell: the Fight for Freedom by Thomas E Ricks (Duckworth, $37)

Darkest Hour, the eagerly awaited Churchill movie starring Gary Oldman and written by New Zealand author Anthony McCarten, is given its first screening this weekend at the Telluride film festival in Colorado.

10 Unquiet Time: Aotearoa/NZ in a Fast Changing World by Colin James, Fraser Books, $40)

We hope to provide an extract next week.



1 A Legacy of Spies by John Le Carré (Viking, $37)

2 The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck by Mar Manson (Macmillan, $31)

Sayeth the author: “Fuck positivity. Let’s be honest, shit is fucked and we have to live with it.”

3 Swing Time by Zadie Smith (Penguin, $26)

Will it make the Man Booker shortlist, announced on September 13?

4 Tears of Rangi: Experiments Across Worlds (Auckland University Press, $65)

Up there with Strange Beautiful Excitement and The Man Who Ate Lincoln Road as one of the best books of New Zealand non-fiction of 2017.

5 Sixteen Tree of the Somme by Lars Mytting (Quercus, $38)

“It has already sold over 200,000 copies in Norway and Sweden, and the film rights have been bought by Headhunters director Morten Tyldum. The story concerns a man in his 20s called Edvard Hirifjell. He lives on the family farm with his grandfather, Sverrem who chose to fight on the German side in the Second World War…When Sverre dies, and it transpires that the undertakers already have a beautiful, highly ornate coffin set aside for him, Edvard embarks on a voyage of discovery”: The Scotsman.

6 Koh-I-Noor: The Story of the World’s Most Famous Diamond by William Dalrymple and Anita Anand (Bloomsbury, $26)

7 North Water by Ian McGuire (Simon & Schuster, $22)

He-man whaling novel for Father’s Day. “Subtle as a harpoon in the head, but totally gripping”: The Independent.

8 Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders (Bloomsbury, $33)

“Let’s say you have a world where there’s a bunch of cutlery on a table, and the cutlery is alive and at some point whenever someone says something in a certain vein, all the cutlery starts to quiver with excitement. A shaking metallic noise, right? So now we have several pages of that, someone says something with which the cutlery agrees, and it trembles. Then if you keep just doing that, I’m saying you failed in escalation. But if you say, OK, now what’s the next point on that curve? Maybe the spoon gets up and actually does a dance. It stands up on edge and spins. So now what does that mean? Well, who the fuck knows what that means? But we understand it as an escalation of the primary condition”: George Saunders, in conversation with Hera Lindsay Bird, the Spinoff Review of Books.

9 A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara (Picador, $25)

Return of the hit novel from three years ago.

10 Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls by Elena Favilli and Francesca Cavallo (Particular Books, $40)

Kids book of the year.

The Spinoff Review of Books is brought to you by Unity Books

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