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BooksMay 4, 2018

Unity Books bestseller chart for week ending May 4

Senior couple reading on adjacent garden chairs

The best-selling books this week at the Unity Books stores in Willis St, Wellington and High St, Auckland.


1 No One Home: A Boyhood Memoir in Letters & Poems by Keith Westwater (Makaro Press, $25)

Publisher’s blurbology: “No One Home tells the story of Keith Westwater growing up in 1950s New Zealand. At age seven
 he loses his mother to a botched operation…Keith and
 his brother take to the road with a gambling father, staying with relatives when their father can’t have them and enduring a stepmother who like a fairy-tale witch ‘disappears’ the boys when she’s had enough of them. As the boys make their way through ‘the motherless woods’, Keith draws mental maps of all the places they call home, from Oruru in the far north to halfway down Auckland’s Dominion Road.”

2 Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman (HarperCollins, $25)

Smash-hit debut novel, a sort of higher Marianne Keyes.

3 Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies, & Leadership by James Comey (MacMillan, $38)

We asked Danyl Mclauchlan to review it but he ran screaming for the hills.

4 Temptation of Forgiveness by Donna Leon (William Heinemann, $35)

The 27th Carlo Brunetti franchise.

5 Go Girl: A Storybook of Epic New Zealand Women by Barbara Else (Puffin, $45)

The author, writing in The Sapling: “The point of the stories in Go Girl is to show how someone becomes successful. Many of the stories are about failure and heartbreak as well as success. I found it hard to write some of the sadder stories. Could I include Beatrice Tinsley’s heartache for a readership that included seven-year-olds? (Yes.) How to write about Janet Frame’s formative experiences of family tragedy? The story of Ahu-mai te Paerata – the violence – but then her sense of fairness – oh my goodness, such a shattering story.”

6 All This by Chance by Vincent O’Sullivan (Victoria University Press, $35)

In truth, 2017 was a bit of an underwhelming year for New Zealand fiction, as the shortlist for next week’s Ockham awards might suggest. But 2018 has already witnessed the publication of Lloyd Jones’s latest, powerful novel The Cage, Charlotte Grimshaw’s layered and exciting Mazarene – and, possibly the wisest of the lot, All This by Chance, a brilliant generational saga by the always interesting, always masterly Vincent O’Sullivan.

7 Idiot by Aluf Batuman (Penguin USA, $32)

“The narrator, heroine, and titular numbskull of Elif Batuman’s first novel The Idiot is Selin Karadag, a six-foot-tall, New Jersey–born daughter of Turkish immigrants who arrives as a freshman at Harvard in the fall of 1995 and spends a year connecting and failing to connect with a cast of kooks before decamping impetuously for a summer teaching English in Hungarian villages”: Vulture.

8 Built by Roma Agrawal (Bloomsbury, $30)

Publisher’s blurbology: “Structural engineer Roma Agrawal takes a unique look at how construction has evolved from the mud huts of our ancestors to skyscrapers of steel that reach hundreds of metres into the sky. She unearths how engineers have tunnelled through kilometres of solid mountains…and tells vivid tales of the visionaries who created the groundbreaking materials in the Pantheon’s record-holding concrete dome and the frame of the Eiffel Tower.”

9 Dear Oliver: Uncovering a Pākehā History by Peter Wells (Massey University Press, $40)

Popular family memoir.

10 Song for Rosaleen by Pip Desmond (Massey University Press, $30)

Popular dementia memoir.



1 Poetry Magazine edited by Don Share (Poetry Foundation, $16)

The book of verse to get in 2018 – it features many of the best living New Zealand poets – until Victoria University Press publish the eagerly awaited debut collection by Tayi Tibble.

Less by Andrew Sean Greer (Lee Boudreaux Books / Little, Brown and Company, $49)

“Greer is an exceptionally lovely writer, capable of mingling humor with sharp poignancy. His books are frequently constructed around some clever conceit. You may remember his breakout bestseller, The Confessions of Max Tivoli (2004), about a man who ages backward. His new novel doesn’t share that fantastical element, but it’s just as preoccupied with aging. In the opening pages, a mid-list novelist named Arthur Less is clinging to 49 like it’s the lip of a volcano. And now he’s pretty sure he’s ‘the first homosexual ever to grow old’.”: Washington Post.

12 Rules for Life by Jordan Peterson (Allen Lane, $40) 


The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck by Mark Manson (MacMillan, $35)


The Power by Naomi Alderman (Penguin Random House, $26)


A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies, and Leadership by James Comey (Macmillan, $38)

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman (HarperCollins, $25)

8  We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (HarperCollins, $13)

The book of the TED talk, cheaply priced.

Born A Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood by Trevor Noah (John Murray, $28)

By the host of The Daily Show.

10 All This by Chance by Vincent O’Sullivan (Auckland University Press, $35)

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

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