BooksAugust 4, 2017

The Unity Books best-seller chart for the week ending August 4


The best-selling books at the two best bookstores you ever did see.


1 The 7th Function of Language by Laurent Binet (Harvill Press, $35)

Pretentious bullshit.

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

Trash, damningly reviewed by Marion McLeod at the Spinoff Review of Books.

3 The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood (Vintage, $26)

Margo White, one of New Zealand’s best book reviewers, offered to write about Atwood’s classic about two or three months ago. Wish we’d said yes. Margo! It’s not too late, still want to?

4 Call Me By Your Name by André Aciman (Picador, $35)

The love affair between an intellectually precocious 17-year-old American-Italian Jewish boy and a visiting 24-year-old American Jewish scholar in 1980s Italy. Trash.

5 The Great New Zealand Robbery by Scott Bainbridge (Allen & Unwin, $33)

True-crime that sounds like it could be really good. Publisher’s blurbology: “It should be remembered as New Zealand’s answer to Britain’s Great Train Robbery: in the dead of the night, robbers broke into the Waterfront Industry Commission’s offices and made off with an audacious loot equivalent to almost $1 million today. This 1956 heist was executed with military precision and the robbers left nothing but a smoking office and an empty safe behind them. The crime was eventually pinned on small-time crook Trevor Nash but to this day uncertainty remains about whether Nash alone was responsible. Could he really have pulled it off all by himself?”

6 Black Marks on the White Page edited by Witi Ihimaera & Tina Makereti (Vintage, $40)

Exciting new anthology of Māori and Pasifika writing, the subject of a lengthy essay by Paula Morris at the Spinoff Review of Books.

7 The Cause of Death by Cynric Temple-Camp (HarperCollins ,$40)

More Kiwi true-crime: a memoir of various cases, including the Lundy murders, by a Palmerston North pathologist. Approach some of his claims with skepticism; you may experience the sensation of sensing bullshit.

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

The children’s book of 2017.

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

The story of the world’s most famous diamond.

10 The Daily Stoic by Ryan Holiday & Stephen Hanselman (Profile Books, $28)

New Age fortune cookie bullshit.


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

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

Brilliantly written psychogeography sort of thing in which Yska retraces KM’s footsteps. One of the most original New Zealand books of the year.

3 The New Zealand Project by Max Harris (Bridget Williams Books, $40)


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

5 Puriri Tree & the Little Houhere Tree by Carol Jenkins (Lemonwood Hills $20)

Charming picture book.

6 Sky High Jean Batten by David Hill (Puffin, $25)

With illustrations by Phoebe Morris; beautiful, topical picture book about the great aviatrix, who features in Rebel Girls. David! We’d love to post something by you about your latest book, can you get in touch por favor?

7 Underground Railroad: A Novel by Colson Whitehead (Orbit, $25)


8 Dictionary of the Maori Language by H W Williams (Legislation Direct, $36)

First published in 1844 and still widely regarded as the most important Māori-English dictionary.

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

One of the best novels of the year, incisively reviewed by Andra Jenkin at the Spinoff Review of Books.

10 Black Marks on the White Page edited by Witi Ihimaera & Tina Makereti (Vintage, $40)

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

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

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