(Photo: Henglein and Steets, via Getty)
(Photo: Henglein and Steets, via Getty)

BooksOctober 2, 2020

The Unity Books bestseller chart for the week ending October 2

(Photo: Henglein and Steets, via Getty)
(Photo: Henglein and Steets, via Getty)

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  Ottolenghi: Flavour by Yotam Ottolenghi and Ixta Belfrage (Ebury, $60)

Charred peppers and fresh corn polenta with soy-cured yolk. Potato salad with Thai basil salsa. Coconut ice cream with lychee and passion fruit.

2  Hope in Hell: A Decade to Confront the Climate Emergency by Jonathon Porritt (Simon & Schuster, $38)

The pōhutukawa near our place was in full rampant bloom by the start of September.

3  Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup by John Carreyrou (Picador, $25)

From the New York Times:

“In Theranos’s brief, Icarus-like existence as a Silicon Valley darling, marquee investors including Robert Kraft, Betsy DeVos and Carlos Slim shelled out $900 million. The company was the subject of adoring media profiles; it attracted a who’s who of retired politicos to its board, among them George Shultz and Henry Kissinger. It wowed an associate dean at Stanford; it persuaded Safeway and Walgreens to spend millions of dollars to set up clinics to showcase Theranos’s vaunted revolutionary technology.

And its founder, Elizabeth Holmes, was feted as a biomedical version of Steve Jobs or Bill Gates, a wunderkind college dropout who would make blood testing as convenient as the iPhone.

This is the story the prizewinning Wall Street Journal reporter John Carreyrou tells virtually to perfection … “

4  Dune by Frank Herbert (Ace Books, $28)

The film opens here just before Christmas; the trailer looks absolutely epic and makes us want to re-reread the entire series, right now.

5  Searching for Charlie: In Pursuit of the Real Charles Upham VC & Bar by Tom Scott (Upstart Press, $50)

Reprinting now, as the Fathers Day rush rolls over into Christmas.

6  Apeirogon by Colum McCann (Bloomsbury, $32)

“Apeirogon takes its inspiration from the real-life friendship between a Palestinian, Bassam Aramin, and an Israeli, Rami Elhanan: ‘An Israeli, against the occupation. A Palestinian, studying the Holocaust.’ The men are united in their grief – they lost their daughters: Smadar, turned into ‘a scattered human jigsaw’ at the age of 13 by a suicide bomber, and Abir, assassinated aged 10 by a trigger-happy member of the Israeli army. Both men join the Parents Circle, a group of the fellow-bereaved who unite in their sorrow to press for a peaceful resolution to the conflict: ‘This became their jobs: to tell the story of what had happened to their girls.'” – the Guardian

7  Normal People by Sally Rooney (Faber and Faber, $23)

Sally Rooney Sally Rooney

8  The Girl From Revolution Road by Ghazaleh Golbakhsh (Allen and Unwin, $37)

“Uncle Amir decided to leave Iran for good. He received a visa to one of the very few places still handing them out to Iranians: New Zealand. No one had really heard of it but as my dad says, ‘They speak English and have good lamb.’

We all then make our way to the end of the world.”

9  Entangled Life: How Fungi Make Our Worlds, Change Our Minds and Shape Our Future by Merlin Sheldrake (Bodley Head, $40)

Merlin Sheldrake.

10 Piranesi by Susanna Clarke (Bloomsbury, $30)

Clarke’s first novel after her long and mysterious hiatus. Reviews are many and rapturous, eg this from Vox: “It establishes Clarke not just as one of the great fantasy novelists of her generation, but as one of the greatest novelists of any genre currently writing in English.”


1  Te Papa to Berlin: The Making of Two Museums by Ken Gorbey (Otago University Press, $40)

Gorbey helped to found Te Papa, and in 1999 he was headhunted to salvage a museum in Berlin.

“Finally, on 11 September 2001, the Jewish Museum Berlin is done. A few hours before the doors will be opened to the general public we meet to assure ourselves that everything is as it should be. Instead, in despair, we see planes slam into two towers a continent away. The army runs razor wire around the building. We know this to be a turning point, but towards what?”

2  Hiakai: Modern Māori Cuisine by Monique Fiso (Godwit, $65)

Time magazine named Fiso’s Wellington restaurant one of 2019’s “Greatest Places”. Not just restaurants, mind: places, full stop.

3  Women Don’t Owe You Pretty by Florence Given (Cassell, $30)

“Remember that anyone who tells you you’re ‘too’ anything is using the word because they are threatened by your capacity to grow, evolve and express your emotions.”

4  Bill & Shirley: A Memoir by Keith Ovenden (Massey University Press, $35)

“An intimate and candid look at the lives of his parents-in-law, the Wellington power couple, Bill Sutch and Shirley Smith.” – Nine to Noon

5  Burnt Sugar by Avni Doshi (Hamish Hamilton, $35)

Shortlisted for this year’s Booker; a story about a mother and daughter, and dementia.

6  The Lying Life of Adults by Elena Ferrante (Europa Editions, $37)

“What a relief it is when an author who has written a masterpiece returns to prove the gift intact.” – the New York Times

Ottolenghi: Flavour by Yotam Ottolenghi and Ixta Belfrage (Ebury, $60)

8  The Evening & the Morning by Ken Follett (Macmillan, $50)

A prequel to the Kingsbridge series that opened in 1989 with The Pillars of the Earth. Publishers Weekly did not like it: “The prose is often stilted and overwrought (‘This was the funeral of his hopes’), and the plot elements are derivative of Follett’s past work, adding up to an epic full of romance tropes rather than a reimagined time and place. This is only for series completists.”

9  This Pākehā Life: An Unsettled Memoir by Alison Jones (Bridget Williams Books, $40)

“I am the daughter of English immigrants, a child born into this land and haunted by ghosts of foreign hills. I became who I am here … I realise that I cannot imagine living anywhere else. The needle on my built-in compass would always be swivelling towards home.”

10 Māori Philosophy: Indigenous Thinking from Aotearoa by Georgina Stewart (Bloomsbury, $39)

“A significant, groundbreaking and fascinating book that examines Māori philosophy in a meaningful and contemporary way. It will become a core text for the many courses that draw on Indigenous knowledge and Mātauranga Māori, educating and challenging the way we think.” –  Linda Tuhiwai Smith

The Spinoff Review of Books is proudly brought to you by Unity Books, recently named 2020 International Book Store of the Year, London Book Fair, and Creative New Zealand. Visit Unity Books Wellington or Unity Books Auckland online stores today. 

Mad Chapman, Editor
Aotearoa continues to adapt to a new reality and The Spinoff is right there, sorting fact from fiction to bring you the latest updates and biggest stories. Help us continue this coverage, and so much more, by supporting The Spinoff Members.Madeleine Chapman, EditorJoin Members

Get The Spinoff
in your inbox