Getty caption: “Happy woman sits and reads the book with enjoy. Book therapy session.” (Image: Vector Illustration / Getty Images; Design: Tina Tiller)
Getty caption: “Happy woman sits and reads the book with enjoy. Book therapy session.” (Image: Vector Illustration / Getty Images; Design: Tina Tiller)

BooksAugust 5, 2022

The Unity Books bestseller chart for the week ending 5 August

Getty caption: “Happy woman sits and reads the book with enjoy. Book therapy session.” (Image: Vector Illustration / Getty Images; Design: Tina Tiller)
Getty caption: “Happy woman sits and reads the book with enjoy. Book therapy session.” (Image: Vector Illustration / Getty Images; Design: Tina Tiller)

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  The Last Letter of Godfrey Cheathem by Luke Elworthy (Nationwide Book Distributors, $35)

A highly intriguing interview promo from RNZ: “Marlborough-based author Luke Elworthy dives into the life of esteemed New Zealand writer Godfrey Cheathem, who sadly died before publication of his great novel. It’s based on a series of letters, written by Cheathem from Christchurch Men’s Prison to his youngest sister Rosemary, that help detail his relationship with his family of over-achieving siblings and his own succession of failures. The letters also explain Godfrey’s state of mind leading up to – and during – the disastrous events at a family reunion for which he serves time. Except of course, it’s all a work of fiction … mostly. Luke set out to write a memoir, but ended up with a novel, and joins Susie to explain.” 

2  Blue Blood by Andrea Vance (Harper Collins, $37)

Andrea Vance is dishing the dirt on the National Party post-John Key, and everyone’s lining up with their bowls asking for more. Luckily, we’re here to help with a special edition of the Gone by Lunchtime podcast; a review by Toby Manhire; plus an excerpt about the final days of the Todd Muller debacle. 

3  How to Loiter in a Turf War by Coco Solid (Penguin, $28)

A novel set in Auckland by someone much cooler than all of us: Jessica Hansell’s artistic nom de plume Coco Solid. Pip Adam says, “This is one of the most exciting books I’ve ever read. A celebration and a challenge and an impressive work of art and intelligence.” 

4  The Invisible Child: Poverty, Survival and Hope in an American City by Andrea Elliott (Hutchinson, $40)

Pulitzer-winning New York Times journalist Andrea Elliot spent nearly a decade writing about homeless children in New York City, and about one child in particular – Dasani Coates, who is now very much visible. 

In Elliott’s own words to the Guardian: “I read the book to Dasani and her sister Avianna over the course of five days, line by line. It was really tough. We had many moments of deep sadness during it, but also much laughter. They would stop me every once in a while and say: ‘I’m not sure that’s exactly how I’d put it, Drea, maybe it was more like this … ‘ I see this book as an act of witness more than anything else. That is what I did – I witnessed and recorded the reality that faces families like this.”

5  Kurangaituku by Whiti Hereaka (Huia Publishers, $35)

The brilliant story of the bird-woman, and winner of the Jann Medlicott Acorn Prize for Fiction.

6  Invisible Women: Exposing Data Bias in a World Designed for Men By Caroline Criado Perez (Vintage, $24)

The publisher’s blurb for this 2019 bestseller deploys bullet points as well as an all-caps HELL YES to tell us about Invisible Women:

“Imagine a world where …

  • Your phone is too big for your hand
  • Your doctor prescribes a drug that is wrong for your body
  • In a car accident you are 47% more likely to be injured

If any of that sounds familiar, chances are you’re a woman.”

“HELL YES. This is one of those books that has the potential to change things – a monumental piece of research” – Caitlin Moran

7  Lapvona by Ottessa Moshfegh (Jonathon Cape, $35)

New novel by the author of the scorching My Year of Rest and Relaxation. The New York Times gives us their take on Moshfegh’s new “medieval dramedy”:

“Ottessa Moshfegh has, over the course of four previous novels and a short story collection, emerged as a singular American writer. She likes freaks and outsiders, drunken sailors and cranky old women, characters who are defiant and sometimes monstrous, sprawled in the gutter, too bored or wasted or cynical to look up at the stars. Her voice, laconic, flip, with an edge of cruelty, is always entertaining, and in the medieval setting of Lapvona, she’s able to indulge her interest in the grotesque. The novel is a canvas for enthusiastic descriptions of every kind of human degradation, usually played for laughs. A blind man, pulled toward a lake by his seeing-eye dog, trips and dies on its bank. Villiam forces a servant to eat a grape that the master has also instructed Marek to insert into his rectum. When drought and famine strike, we know we’re in for some cannibalism, and soon enough we’re treated to graphic descriptions of corpse butchery as Jude prepares parts of the blind man for Ina, in the hope that she’ll recover enough of her strength to suckle him.”

8  Girls That Invest: Your Guide to Financial Independence Through Shares and Stocks by Simran Kaur (Wiley, $31)

The Auckland-based founder of the world’s number-one stock market podcast – Girls That Invest – has a new book out, aimed at teaching women about building wealth through the stock market. We’re a little dubious about the need for a baby pink book cover on a volume about financial literacy [Ed: also the term “girls”], but c’est la vie, we’re sure it will sell books. 

9  Tomb Of Sand by Geetanjali Shree (Tilted Axis Press, $36)

This year’s winner of the International Booker is the first Hindi writer to win the award. Here’s an excerpt: 

A tale tells itself. It can be complete, but also incomplete, the way all tales are. This particular tale has a border and women who come and go as they please. Once you’ve got women and a border, a story can write itself. Even women on their own are enough. Women are stories in themselves, full of stirrings and whisperings that float on the wind, that bend with each blade of grass. The setting sun gathers fragments of tales and fashions them into glowing lanterns that hang suspended from clouds. These too will join our story. The story’s path unfurls, not knowing where it will stop, tacking to the right and left, twisting and turning, allowing anything and everything to join in the narration. It will emerge from within a volcano, swelling silently as the past boils forth into the present, bringing steam, embers, and smoke.

10  Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin (Penguin Random House, $37)

A new novel about love, but also about video games. The New York Times postulates on the latter element: “Delightful and absorbing … Zevin burns precisely zero calories arguing that game designers are creative artists of the highest order. Instead, she accepts that as a given, and wisely so, for the best of them plainly are … Expansive and entertaining … Dozens of Literary Gamers will cherish the world she’s lovingly conjured. Meanwhile, everyone else will wonder what took them so long to recognise in video games the beauty and drama and pain of human creation.”


1  Blue Blood by Andrea Vance (Harper Collins, $37)

2  On the Farm: New Zealand’s Invisible Women by David Hall (Atuanui Press, $40)

Truly amazing how many invisible women feature in this week’s bestsellers. But we digress – here’s a little about On the Farm, in the words of the publisher:

“It reveals the daily routines, the various roles women held on farms: from mother to teacher, baker to accountant, cleaner to farm worker, and how their extraordinarily busy work loads were carried out largely unacknowledged and unseen.

“It shows how women struggled for greater recognition for their contributions to farming, tracing a time from when it was impossible for a woman to get a bank loan to own or operate a farm, to a period when women were often considered equal partners in the running of a farm and regularly became individual farm owners.”

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

Imagination never goes out of style.

4  You Probably Think This Song Is About You by Kate Camp (Te Herenga Waka University Press, $35)

“Camp deals with some tough subjects. In one of my favourite essays, ‘This wheel’s on fire’, she lays out some disastrous early relationships she had with men, all of them toxic and brutal; the kinds of relationship you never want to admit to having had or worse, having wanted. Throughout the collection sexual assault is skirted around, domestic violence, infertility, substance abuse, suicide – but it’s all looked at from the vantage point of a woman looking back. The Russian doll has clearly got her life together, meaning these painful things can be seen as part of the story, not the whole story, the way tragedy can feel when it’s told fresh.”

Do read the rest of Heidi North’s recent Spinoff review, then this excerpt from the book’s final essay.

5  Greta & Valdin by Rebecca K Reilly (Te Herenga Waka University Press, $35)

Novel about an Auckland brother-sister duo that’s still lighting up all of our lives with wit and humour. If you’re hanging out for more from the author, Reilly has written a couple of great Sunday Essays for this very website.

6  Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus (Doubleday, $37)

“Chemist Elizabeth Zott is not your average woman … [she] finds herself not only a single mother, but the reluctant star of America’s most beloved cooking show Supper at Six. Elizabeth’s unusual approach to cooking (‘combine one tablespoon acetic acid with a pinch of sodium chloride’) proves revolutionary. But as her following grows, not everyone is happy. Because as it turns out, Elizabeth Zott isn’t just teaching women to cook. She’s daring them to change the status quo.

“Laugh-out-loud funny, shrewdly observant, and studded with a dazzling cast of supporting characters, Lessons in Chemistry is as original and vibrant as its protagonist.”

Thanks, publisher’s blurb! 

7  Eddy, Eddy by Kate De Goldi (Allen & Unwin, $30)

New novel by a legend – the author of The 10pm Question. A gem of a description from Louise Ward at the Herald: “Eddy is a conundrum. A sweet 19-year-old soul, brought up by his Uncle Brain (yes, Brain), recently bereaved of their dog, Marley. Stuff is going on for Eddy: some kind of catastrophic exit from his Catholic high school, a caustically clever but needy best friend in Thos More, a series of unsatisfactory jobs. Eddy is a deep teenaged sigh come to life.”

8  Fragments from a Contested Past: Remembrance, Denial and New Zealand History by Joanna Kidman, Vincent O’Malley, Liana MacDonald, Tom Roa and Keziah Wallis (Bridget Williams Books, $15)

What version of history do we choose to remember? Five top researchers reflect. 

9  Wellington Architecture: A Walking Guide by John Walsh & Patrick Reynolds (Massey University Press, $25)

Trot along to buy a copy and then keep on trotting.

10  Harbouring by Jenny Pattrick (Black Swan, $36)

New local novel, based during the 1830s colonial settling of Wellington. We do love a novel set in our own little place in the world, don’t we?

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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