One Question Quiz
Battle of the sublimely beautiful cookbooks (Images: Supplied)
Battle of the sublimely beautiful cookbooks (Images: Supplied)

BooksSeptember 4, 2020

The Unity Books bestseller chart for the week ending September 4

Battle of the sublimely beautiful cookbooks (Images: Supplied)
Battle of the sublimely beautiful cookbooks (Images: Supplied)

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

“There are big problems in the telling … Scott travelled to many sites of Upham’s war experience – Greece, Crete, North Africa, Italy, Germany. But while he tells us the sights he saw, and the scant surviving evidence of a long-ago war, little of the travelogue illuminates anything new about Upham himself.” – Nicholas Reid, in a beautifully done review over at the Academy of New Zealand Literature.

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

Do read Simon Day’s review of Fiso’s Wellington restaurant – here’s a taster:

“The tītī fat butter that I smeared thickly on the bread tasted like the marrow my grandma taught me to scoop out of the chop bones. The kelp butter reminded me of cooking tuatua on an open fire barbecue at our far north bach in summer. A fresh oyster tastes like body surfing, the saltiness of the ocean washing through your mouth. Hiakai’s oyster, dressed in a creamy oyster emulsion garnished with beach spinach, was even more intense; like wading through a mangrove estuary on a school trip.”

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

Includes a list of 20 pantry essentials, “from miso, anchovies and mango pickle, to lesser-known black lime, cascabel chillies and Korean fermented chilli paste gochujang”. – Delicious

4  Humankind: A Hopeful History by Rutger Bregman (Bloomsbury, $34)

Counterpoint: all you dicks not wearing masks in Pak’n’Save.

5  Intimations: Six Essays by Zadie Smith (Penguin, $16)

Some of which were written approximately yesterday, during what Smith calls the “the global humbling”.

Via the New York Times:

“Smith herself left New York early on in the pandemic’s course, and she expresses guilt about this without over-performing it. She bemoans, when thinking about the apocalypse or anything even approaching it, her lack of a survival instinct. ‘A book like The Road is as incomprehensible to me as a Norse myth cycle in the original language,’ she writes. ‘Suicide would hold out its quiet hand to me on the first day — the first hour.'”

6  The World Aflame: The Long War, 1914-1945 by Marina Amaral and Dan Jones

Amaral, a Brazilian artist, specialises in colourising black-and-white photographs; she worked with Jones, a British historian, on 2018’s The Color of Time, of which reviewers said things like “stunning”, “breathtaking”, “dazzling”, “shimmering”.

That project was a collection of historical iconic images. This time, they focus on conflict.

7  The Girl in the Mirror by Rose Carlyle (Allen & Unwin, $33)

“Summer truly is a thing of beauty. She’s put on a kilo or two since I saw her in New Zealand, but it’s gone on in the right places. She’s as curvy and golden as a peach and, as always, unconscious of her charm. She wears faded denim shorts and a cotton shirt that shows a glimpse of bronze midriff. Even in casual clothes, she looks like a girl in a catalogue; I feel overdressed in my red miniskirt and heels.”

8  The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead (Hachette Australia, $25)

“Though the story had been hiding in plain sight for decades, it was not until 2014 that Colson Whitehead stumbled upon the inspiration for his haunted and haunting new novel … As he explains in his acknowledgments, he learned through The Tampa Bay Times about archaeology students at the University of South Florida who were digging up and trying to identify the remains of students who had been tortured, raped and mutilated, then buried in a secret graveyard, at the state-run Dozier School for Boys in the Panhandle town of Marianna. Dozier’s century-plus reign of terror ended only in 2011, and graves were still being discovered after Whitehead’s novel went to press. New evidence disinterred in March may raise the fatality count above 80. We will never learn the exact number, any more than we will ever have a full accounting of all the other hidden graves where crushed black bodies have been disposed of like garbage since the birth of the nation.” – the New York Times

9  The Discomfort of Evening by Marieke Lucas Rijneveld (Faber & Faber, $33)

Winner of the 2020 International Booker Prize; a novel about the unravelling of a devout farming family in the Netherlands.

“Discomfort is putting it mildly,” begins the Guardian review.

10 Marti Friedlander: Portraits of the Artists by Leonard Bell (Auckland University Press, $75)

See the portraits in person: an exhibition curated by the author is on display until early November at the New Zealand Portrait Gallery, in Wellington.


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

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

This + Auē = $50!

3  Summer by Ali Smith (Hamish Hamilton, $34)

“With her seasonal quartet of novels, she is a latter-day, Scottish Vivaldi, sounding out the cycles of our lives with unnerving, musical beauty.” – Los Angeles Review of Books

4  The Girl in the Mirror by Rose Carlyle (Allen & Unwin, $33)

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

Michelle Langstone, on Twitter: “I didn’t know what I was saving Auē for, but it turns out that this particular week was the one where I needed it. Waking up in the early dark to read it before starting work, going into the day with the characters talking to me, and adding Bandaids to the grocery list for Ārama.”

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

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

Florence Given is a British feminist queer illustrator and social activist, born in Plymouth and now based in London. She is known for her popular slogan designs which address social issues surrounding sexuality … As of August 3, 2020, she has a following of 506k on Instagram and uses this platform and Twitter to raise awareness of issues of sexuality, race and gender.” – Wikipedia

8  Intimations: Six Essays by Zadie Smith (Hamish Hamilton, $16)

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

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

“Twenty-seven hours before she decided to die, Nora Seed sat on her dilapidated sofa scrolling through other people’s happy lives, waiting for something to happen. And then, out of nowhere, something actually did.”

Keep going!