BooksNovember 5, 2021

The Unity Books bestseller chart for the week ending November 5


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  Cloud Cuckoo Land by Anthony Doerr (Simon & Schuster, $35)

A whole two months ago, books editor Catherine Woulfe wrote: “Jo McColl of Unity Books in Auckland is picking this one [Cloud Cuckoo Land, obvs] to beat Sally Rooney in the Christmas charts. I was sceptical, then I read it – and yes, absolutely, if there is justice in the world then Rooney’s about to get gazumped.”

This week, Cloud Cuckoo Land is number one in both Auckland and Wellington.

2  EM-PA-THY: The Human Side of Leadership by Harold Hillman (Bateman, $30)

The business book we expect to make an appearance in every middle manager’s Christmas stocking.

3  Crossroads by Jonathan Franzen (4th Estate, $35)

After scolding other Franzen novels for deploying “bells and whistles” (crime syndicates, crooked politicians, murderous hackers) to compensate for their focus on the minutiae of the festering American family, The Atlantic calls Crossroads “marvellous” for jumping all in on the domestic:

“Its protagonists could not be less glamorous, its intrigues less international. Its action is concentrated within a crumbling community, its focus trained on a family’s everyday recriminations. Though its stakes are high, psychically speaking, its core predicament is modest and emotional. Here we wonder not whether a bird species will go extinct, but whether any of the Hildebrandts can shed their selfishness and muster some measure of goodness.”

4  Silverview by John le Carré (Viking, $35)

Master spy novelist John le Carré has a final, posthumously-published book. The Guardian asks, and answers, what we want to know: “is Silverview any good? Thankfully, the answer is yes.”

5  The Magician by Colm Tóibín (Picador, $38)

A novel about famous German writer Thomas Mann. The Economist calls the novel “a grave homage flecked with irony and mischief”; the Irish Times says it’s “a lucid look at German history in its most dramatic period”. We say, go forth and enjoy, dear reader. 

6  Beautiful World, Where Are You by Sally Rooney (Faber, $33)

The book being gazumped, and even a bit thrashed, by Cloud Cuckoo Land.

7  Ottolenghi Test Kitchen: Shelf Love by Yotam Ottolenghi and Noor Murad (Ebury Press, $55)

What differentiates this Ottolenghi from all of its fantastic predecessors? Well, the publisher describes it as “unplugged”, which makes us think that the leftovers won’t clog your sink, but then explains: “The Ottolenghi Test Kitchen team takes you on a journey through your kitchen cupboards, creating inspired recipes using humble ingredients … This book is all about feeding ourselves and our families with less stress and less fuss, but with all the ‘wow’ of an Ottolenghi meal.” 

Featuring curried cauliflower cheese filo pie; soda bread with figs, star anise and orange; and smoky, creamy pasta with burnt aubergine and tahini.

8  Cover Story: 100 Beautiful, Strange and Frankly Incredible New Zealand LP Covers by Steve Braunias (Oratia Books, $50)

New offering from our ex-Books editor! As advertised on the cover (get it?), Braunias’ new book comprises 100 beautiful, strange and frankly incredible New Zealand LP covers. Not on the cover: the LPs date from between 1957 and 1987, and the book includes quirky tidbits from the stories behind the artwork.

9  Dune by Frank Herbert (Hodder, $28)

The classic-est of sci-fi classics, published in 1965. It features betrayal, space travel, and giant sandworms. Recently the film version was released, shooting it up into the stars once again.

10  Harlem Shuffle by Colson Whitehead (Fleet, $35)

People ask Google pressing questions, like “How does Harlem Shuffle end?” Spoilers. “How long is Harlem Shuffle?” Two minutes and 35 seconds says Google, because Harlem Shuffle is also an R&B song. “Who is Colson Whitehead’s wife?” Nosy buggers. 


1  Cloud Cuckoo Land by Anthony Doerr (Simon & Schuster, $35)

2  Silverview by John le Carré (Viking, $35)

3  Ottolenghi Test Kitchen: Shelf Love by Yotam Ottolenghi and Noor Murad (Ebury Press, $55)

4  She’s a Killer by Kirsten McDougall (Victoria University Press, $30)

One of our absolute favourite novels of the year, thoughtfully summarised with “it’s awesome”. You can read an excerpt here, where the nearly-genius, possibly psychopathic protagonist goes supermarket shopping.

5  Crossroads by Jonathan Franzen (4th Estate, $35)

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

The one and only. 

7  After the Tampa: From Afghanistan to New Zealand by Abbas Nazari (Allen & Unwin, $37)

The memoir of 2021. Get a taster here.

8  Woman in Love: Katherine Mansfield’s Love Letters edited by Nicola Saker (Katherine Mansfield House & Garden, $30)

A beautiful little book which the Katherine Mansfield House & Garden website reports has already sold out of its first print run (don’t worry, a second is coming soon). They also have this to say: “There are letters to lovers, but also to family, friends, and fellow creatives, including Virginia Woolf. The letters paint an intimate picture of Mansfield’s relationships and capture her love of nature, art, the details of daily life, and Life itself – always with a capital ‘L’.”

9  Beautiful World, Where Are You by Sally Rooney (Faber, $33)

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

You can’t buy love … but you can buy Aroha. 

(So can Oprah).

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
The Spinoff has covered the news that matters in 2021, most recently the delta outbreak. Help us continue this coverage, and so much more, by supporting The Spinoff Members.Madeleine Chapman, EditorJoin Members

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