One Question Quiz
(Image: Archi Banal)
(Image: Archi Banal)

BooksNovember 3, 2023

The Unity Books bestseller chart for the week ending November 3

(Image: Archi Banal)
(Image: Archi Banal)

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.

AUCKLAND

1  The Woman in Me by Britney Spears (Simon & Schuster, $55)

Oops, she made number one again – but this time, Britney’s done it with her brand new memoir. 

From the New Yorker: “The Woman in Me is Spears’s most substantial address to the public outside of social media since she was released from the conservatorship, in 2021. Physically, it is a slight object—two hundred and eighty-eight pages, with plenty of white space therein—and as I read I wondered how it could possibly withstand the enormity of expectations. The memoir arrives at a time when patience for Spears’s behavior is waning once again. … That is to say, there is the sense that this memoir must answer to, if not for, quite a lot. Meanwhile, before the book had even hit shelves, it was being combed for salacious sound bites, which circulated on blogs naked of context, intensifying the sense that a major revelation was afoot. Readers taken in by the frenzy may find themselves disappointed. ‘The Woman in Me’ (written with the assistance of the journalist Sam Lansky) is not the last word. It is not even a tell-all. Spears, too, is still searching.”

2  Remember Me: Poems to Learn by Heart from Aotearoa New Zealand edited by Anne Kennedy (Auckland University Press, $45)

A collection of over 200 poems by local writers, including Sam Hunt, Selina Tusitala Marsh, Hone Tūwhare and Hera Lindsay Bird. Editor Anne Kennedy writes in the introduction, “There’s a reason we say ‘off by heart’ when we commit words to memory: to remember a poem is to hold that poem close to your heart.” 

3  Doppelganger: A Trip into the Mirror World by Naomi Klein (Allen Lane, $42)

New nonfiction by the author of No Logo and This Changes Everything. 

4  Notes on Grief by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (Fourth Estate, $13)

“Grief is a cruel kind of education. You learn how ungentle mourning can be, how full of anger. You learn how glib condolences can feel. You learn how much grief is about language, the failure of language and the grasping for language.”

5  Rewi: Āta haere, kia tere by Jade Kake & Jeremy Hansen (Massey University, $75)

The life and work of late architect Rewi Thompson is celebrated in this beautiful hardback. In an interview with NZ Booklovers, co-author Jade Kake spoke of Rewi’s national importance: “Although Rewi resisted the easy categorisation of ‘Māori architect’, he has had an undeniable impact on our architectural identity as a nation, which is inextricably linked to Te Tiriti o Waitangi: the relationships between people and to land that this establishes, and the manifestation of these relationships spatially. In terms of architecture, we are seeing a genuine maturing in this space (as our Treaty relationships develop and mature), and we have Rewi, and other trailblazing Māori architects (and the clients and communities they have worked with), to thank for laying down the foundations.” Look out for our review, coming soon.

6  The Creative Act: A Way of Being by Rick Rubin (Canongate, $50)

Let’s get creative.

7  The Axeman’s Carnival by Catherine Chidgey (Te Herenga Waka University Press, $35)

The novel that won this year’s Jann Medlicott Acorn Prize for Fiction… and is narrated by a magpie. 

8  Don Binney: Flight Path by Gregory O’Brien (Auckland University Press, $90)

A big, beautiful hardback on the life and work of Don Binney, one of the country’s most iconic artists. Painter Robin White writes, “Meticulously researched, beautifully written and richly illustrated, Flight Path takes us to those regions of an artist’s life hidden from the viewer’s gaze. Told with empathy and truthfulness, this is the story of a man, brilliant and flawed, whose distinctive art practice and his concern for the environment will ensure his relevance for generations to come.”

9  The Wager by David Grann (Simon & Schuster, $40)

An historic naval adventure, by the author of Killers of the Flower Moon. 

10  Pacific Arts Aotearoa edited by Lana Lopesi (Penguin, $65)

Spanning six decades, more than 120 multidisciplinary artists, and over 300 images, Pacific Arts Aotearoa is a comprehensive volume on the contributions of Pacific artists. Lana Lopesi told Stuff, “I think if people haven’t been a part of these things directly themselves, I hope they have a new kind of appreciation for the amazing Pacific artists who have been a part of this country and maybe a renewed or a new kind of love of Pacific arts in the way that all of us that are involved love it. I think there is something there for everyone.”

WELLINGTON

1  Ultrawild: An Audacious Plan to Rewild Every City on Earth by Steve Mushin (Allen & Unwin, $37)

A big, beautifully illustrated children’s book about rewilding the world’s cities. Climate scientist Professor James Renwick said, “If this book does not fire your imagination, nothing will. Steve Mushin doesn’t hold back when thinking about our green future; humanity needs all the ideas it can get to bring climate change under control, and this book is packed with them!”

2  Snorkelling the Abyss by Jan Jordan (The Cuba Press, $35)

“Emerita Professor Jan Jordan: successful academic and passionate advocate for survivors of sexual violence. Janet Robinson: despairing cutter and overdoser, excluded from university ‘for failure to make satisfactory progress’.

“Snorkelling the Abyss explores the two worlds of one woman and the apparently unnavigable void between them. With searing honesty, Jan Jordan shows how she fought to free herself from an inner culture of self-loathing and the external culture of a suburban childhood that repressed ‘feelings’ and ignored psychic pain – and only then could she work towards transforming the rape culture and gender inequities of Aotearoa.”

Thanks, publisher’s blurb!

3  Bunny by Mona Awad (Head of Zeus, $25)

A gothic-flavoured campus novel published in 2019, and catapulted into stardom by BookTok. 

4  The Woman in Me by Britney Spears (Simon & Schuster, $55)

5  Untouchable Girls: The Topp Twins’ Story by Jools & Lynda Topp (Allen & Unwin, $50)

Who doesn’t love a spot of Camp Mother and Camp Leader?

6  Hidden Potential: The Science of Achieving Greater Things by Adam Grant (WH Allen, $42)

Psychologist Adam Grant’s new book to help you raise – and exceed – your expectations. The Financial Times writes, “Grant takes the reader on a whistle-stop tour of the factors that lead to success: being a sponge for information; ignoring the siren call of perfectionism; and making the inevitable compromises. This is essential for more than learning a skill or a language; these attributes are what he says take individuals to the pinnacle of their industry.”

7  The Running Grave by Robert Galbraith (Sphere, $40)

The seventh Cormoran Strike detective novel. 

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

Such a controversial novel. It was shortlisted for the Booker and is still selling strong since being published in 2015. It’s also been called “trauma porn” and is the novel which Top leader Raf Manji named as the book he wishes he’d never read (“It was grim and made me so angry”) in a recent edition of The Spinoff Books Confessional. 

9  Trust by Hernan Diaz (Picador, $28)

This year’s winner of the Pulitzer Prize and the Kirkus Prize. 

10  Everything I Know About Books: An Insider Look at Publishing in Aotearoa edited by Odessa Owens & Theresa Crewdson (Whitireia Publishing, $35)

A new book full of essays, wisdom, and advice from 75 writers on the local publishing industry. We published Allen and Unwin NZ publishing director Jenny Helen’s chapter, which delves into  the tools of the publishing trade – it’s well worth a read. Enjoy and prosper!

Keep going!