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BooksDecember 4, 2020

The Unity Books bestseller chart for the week ending December 4

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

Meri kirihimete!

2  A Promised Land by Barack Obama (Penguin Random House, $70)

Shiny new memoir from US president #44; reviewed for us by Danyl McLauchlan.

3  Shuggie Bain by Douglas Stewart (Picador, $38)

Shiny new winner of the Booker prize; reviewed for us by the Papercuts crew.

4  Aroha: Māori Wisdom for a Contented Life Lived in Harmony with our Planet by Hinemoa Elder (Penguin Random House, $30)

“Saying a karakia mō te kai is a simple way that our family takes a moment to breathe and slow down to express gratitude for our food. We use an ancient prayer that acknowledges the Māori deities of our earth mother, sky father, those that protect the oceans and gardens. It really brings us together and makes us stop and notice each other’s presence and the delicious kai before us. My hypothesis is that it is good for the digestion too. Someone needs to do that research, the impact of prayers before food on digestion and relaxation.”

5  Troy: The Siege of Troy Retold by Stephen Fry (Michael Joseph, $37)

The wonderful thing is that when you read anything written by Stephen Fry you magically hear it at the same time in his great kind hug of a voice.

6  Trio by William Boyd (Viking, $37)

“What a pleasure it is to read a novel by an author who not only knows what he is doing and how to bring it off, but also remembers that people mostly read novels for enjoyment” – The Scotsman

7  Ralph Hotere: The Dark is Light Enough by Vincent O’Sullivan (Penguin Random House, $45)

“It certainly had a bumpy ride … principally my feeling is one of relief” – O’Sullivan, interviewed by Kathryn Ryan the other day.

8  Ko Aotearoa Tātou / We Are New Zealand edited by Michelle Elvy, Paula Morris and James Norcliffe (Otago University Press, $40)

A wonderful anthology for gifting. Poetry, essays, stories, artworks – some of it howls with grief and injustice (this book was pulled together in the wake of March 15) but there are also loads of sweet scenes of food and family, dotted throughout with moments that speak to New Zealand right now.

9  I Know This To Be True: Ruth Bader Ginsburg by Geoff Blackwell and Ruth Hobday (Nelson Mandela Foundation, $20)

Part of a series that also features Gloria Steinem, Greta Thunberg, and Simone Biles.

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

Ben Brown reviewed Auē for us just before it won the biggest prize in NZ fiction:

“Ārama is eight years old and recently an orphan, which sounds strangely like a word whose place and time is past. Like there shouldn’t be such things as orphans anymore. Like there should be more than enough love to go round. Place and time of course will tell us otherwise. Just look around today and know that sometimes love has sweet fuck all to do with it.

But he’s not quite alone in the world. Not yet. Not when we meet him, delivered to his Aunty’s house on a dairy farm near Kaikōura by the boy he knows of as his brother, Taukiri, a teenager haunted by more than Ārama can possibly know. Except that he knows this; Taukiri is drifting away from him somehow. Through the tragedy that brings them here, we will learn among other things that lives however short are full of endings and beginnings.”


1  A Promised Land by Barack Obama (Penguin Random House, $70)

2  Shuggie Bain by Douglas Stewart (Picador, $38)

3  Hiakai: New Māori Cuisine by Monique Fiso (Godwit, $65)

4  Troy: The Siege of Troy Retold by Stephen Fry (Michael Joseph, $37)

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


6  Letters to Young People by Glenn Colquhoun (Old King Press, $35)

A poetry collection that might just restore your faith in primary healthcare. Or make you despair that there’s only one Glenn Colquhoun, and he works in Levin.

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

8  Ottolenghi: Flavour by Yotam Ottolenghi & Ixta Belfrage (Ebury Press $60)

“Looking at the cookbooks released this autumn, there is a definite trend towards flavour… ” – nonsense, from someone on Goodreads

9  Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell (Tinder Press, $38)

Winner of the 2020 Women’s Prize for Fiction; a novel about Shakespeare’s son, who died of plague aged 11.

10 The Best of Me by David Sedaris (Little, Brown, $38)

The New York Times: “Ordinary readers (and I am the most ordinary of readers) will be expecting a flamboyance of favorites, from his leap to NPR stardom with Santaland Diaries and his quarter-century rock-star journey from 1994’s Barrel Fever to 2018’s Calypso. Ordinary readers, however, will be wrong. This is not some Sedarian immaculate collection; instead, as he himself writes in the introduction, the pieces ‘are the sort I hoped to produce back when I first started writing, at the age of 20’. They are what he hoped he would be. They are the best of him.”

Keep going!