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BooksApril 2, 2021

The Unity Books bestseller list for the week ending April 2

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The only published and available best-selling indie book chart in New Zealand is the top 10 sales list recorded every week at Unity Books’ stores in High St, Auckland, and Willis St, Wellington.


1  Shuggie Bain by Stuart Douglas (Pan Macmillan, $38)

Winner of the 2021 Booker Prize.

2  How to Avoid a Climate Disaster by Bill Gates (Allen Lane, $48)

From the New York Times review: “Power comes in many forms, from geothermal and nuclear to congressional and economic; it’s wonderful that Gates has decided to work hard on climate questions, but to be truly helpful he needs to resolve to be a better geek — he needs to really get down on his hands and knees and examine how that power works in all its messiness. Politics very much included.”

3  Klara and the Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro (Faber & Faber, $37)

A dying girl is matched with an AI carer/toy/servant, programmed to “slow fade” alongside her.

“As in The Remains of the Day and Never Let Me Go, Ishiguro has created a kind of human simulacrum (a butler, a clone) in order to cast an estranging eye on the pain and brevity of human existence” – the New Yorker

4  The Midnight Library by Matt Haig (Canongate, $33)


5  The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse by Charles Macksey (Ebury Press, $40, all ages)

Sweet sketches a la Winnie the Pooh. This book is a stalwart of the children’s lists, especially in Unity’s Wellington store. Maybe it’s popped up here due to Easter? Do kids get books for Easter now?

6  One: Pot, Pan, Planet: A Greener Way to Cook for You, Your Family and the Planet by Anna Jones (4th Estate, $55)

Here at The Spinoff we’re Anna Jones fans for life. The other day we published her recipe for aubergine and peanut stew with pink onions; you might also try a late summer corn and tomato curry.

7  Missing Persons by Steve Braunias (HarperCollins, $35)

New nonfiction from the founding editor of The Spinoff Review of Books. Via the publisher: “Former journalist Murray Mason, found dead in the Auckland Domain; the mysterious death of Socksay Chansy, found dead in a graveyard by the sea; the tragic disappearance of backpacker Grace Millane, victim of public enemy #1; the enduring mystery of the Lundy family murders … These are stories about how some New Zealanders go missing – the wrong person in the wrong place at the wrong time.”

8  Aroha: Māori Wisdom for a Contented Life Lived in Harmony with our Planet by Hinemoa Elder (Penguin Random House, $30)

A beautiful, solid little hardback; just holding it in your hand feels good.

9  Beyond Burnout: How to Spot It, Stop It and Stamp It Out by Suzi McAlpine (Random House, $38)

Oh no I have Stop, Drop and Roll in my head.

Now you have it in yours.

10 The Basic Laws of Human Stupidity by Carlo M. Cipolla (Ebury, $23)

Number one: always and inevitably everyone underestimates the number of stupid individuals in circulation.


1  Klara and the Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro (Faber & Faber, $37)

2  More Favourable Waters: Aotearoa Poets Respond to Dante’s Purgatory edited by Marco Sonzogni & Timothy Smith (The Cuba Press, $25)

From the publisher: “Each of the 33 poets has written a poem of 33 lines inspired by and including a short passage from one of the 33 cantos of Dante’s Purgatory, the second part of his epic The Divine Comedy.”

3  The Soul of a Woman by Isabel Allende (Bloomsbury Circus, $25)

Kim Hill interviewed Allende on Saturday Morning at the start of last month, and the author shared this story about a 1992 trip to India:

“‘We were in the middle of nowhere, it was very hot and the engine of the car was hot. The driver stopped to cool it with some water or something.’

In that deserted spot that had no village or well, they saw a group of women under a tree with children and approached them. The group become curious of the foreigners, and Allende gave them some bracelets they’d bought at the market.

‘They were very happy … when we were leaving, one of the women gave me a little parcel of rags. I thought she was trying to give me something back for the bracelets. I said ‘no, no, it’s not necessary’. I tried to give it back. But she insisted.

‘I sort of separated the rags and inside was a newborn baby. The baby, I don’t think it was a day old, the umbilical cord was fresh raw … the baby, I tried to give it back, but she wouldn’t take it.

‘And then the driver came running … took the baby and gave it to, I don’t know if it was the mother or somebody else … and pushed me back to the car.’

She asked the driver later why the woman was giving her a baby.

‘The driver said ‘it was a girl, who wants a girl?’ I think that about that girl all the time, she haunts me. I don’t know if she would be alive today, maybe not. I couldn’t do anything for her. But I knew what I was going to do when I returned home. And I created a foundation whose mission is to help women, like that mother, and girls, like that baby.'”

4  Aroha: Māori Wisdom for a Contented Life Lived in Harmony with our Planet by Hinemoa Elder (Penguin Random House, $30)

5  One: Pot, Pan, Planet: A Greener Way to Cook for You, Your Family and the Planet by Anna Jones (4th Estate, $55)

6  The Midnight Library by Matt Haig (Canongate, $33)

7  Imagining Decolonisation by Rebecca Kiddle, Bianca Elkington, Moana Jackson, Ocean Ripeka Mercier, Mike Ross, Jennie Smeaton and Amanda Thomas (Bridget Williams Books, $15)

Unity have been so struck by this book’s remarkable run – it’s on its fourth printing, and in the charts almost without fail – that they’re putting on a special event next Thursday to celebrate. Highlight: Moana Jackson, speaking at length.

Here’s how the contributors explain the book:

“The release of Imagining Decolonisation has coincided with a worldwide awakening around issues of race, white supremacy and cultural justice as exemplified by the Black Lives Matter movement in the US. People in Aotearoa want to know more about similar injustice here, and to understand how we as a country might move forward acknowledging the injustices of colonisation and imagining a decolonised future which is good for both Tiriti partners.

Imagining Decolonisation came out of a project, Imagining Decolonised Cities, a collaboration between Te Puna Mātauranga – Ngāti Toa Rangatira and Te Herenga Waka, Victoria University of Wellington, where we explored with rangatahi what decolonisation might mean for the physical design of our towns and cities. The word decolonisation at times seems a bit nebulous and, for some, even a bit intimidating so we decided to write something that was easy to read and that explained the key terms. We included our own anecdotes and experiences and tried to offer practical suggestions around how one might support decolonisation efforts. The book ends with a hopeful look to the future.”

8  Mission Economy: A Moonshot Guide to Changing Capitalism by Mariana Mazzucato (Allen Lane, $40)

“The case for a new approach is overwhelming and Mariana Mazzucato’s project is ambitious. By focusing on the immense power of governments to shape markets, she argues that capitalism itself can be remade. Mazzucato aims to infuse capitalism with public interest rather than private gain” – the Guardian

9  Auē by Becky Manawatu (Mākaro Press, $35)

Early in the morning it’s all good to

Stop drop and roll

And in the evening it’s all good to

10 What Abigail Did That Summer by Ben Aaronovitch (Orion, $30)

A Rivers of London novella.

Keep going!