BooksMarch 6, 2020

The Unity Books bestseller chart for the week ending March 6


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  Before the Coffee Gets Cold by Toshikazu Kawaguchi (Picador, $20)

Six weeks at the top of the Auckland chart, now. “There’s not especially much to talk about, it’s somewhere between “just fine” and “not very good”, and I have no idea why so many people are buying it,” wrote culture editor Sam Brooks in his review, published this week.

2  Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid (Bloomsbury, $33)

Tiny slights and insights – on race, class, gender, age, social media, socioeconomics, everything – all tangled and felted together.

3  Head Girl by Freya Daly Sadgrove (Victorian University Press, $25)

“The idea that Freya might someday write kids books seems inevitable to me, but when I ask her about it she says, “I definitely want to write for children and I always have, but I’ve never been kind enough. You have to be so kind to write for children, and part of that is being kind to yourself, to all of your selves throughout time, and I’ve been so mean to myselves for ages. I think I’m much much closer to embodying the kindness that writers for children have to have than I’ve ever been before, so hopefully that means I can start working towards that in, I don’t know, the next few years. I’m not in a huge rush.” – from Extremely Cool Party Diva, an extremely cool piece by Hera Lindsay Bird over at The Pantograph Punch. 

4  Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari (Vintage, $30)

“This is one of the most inspiring books I have ever read. I hope we will all take this message to heart.” – Harari, in a blurb for The Future We Choose: Surviving the Climate Crisis, aka probably the definitive book about our potentially brief future.

5  The Actress by Anne Enright (Jonathan Cape, $35)

“Actress is especially good in its evocation of an Ireland and a Dublin that is vanished, highly developed in civility and language, voracious for gossip, sociable, religious, hypocritical, louche, drunken and with a sensitivity to the nuances of speech.” – the Evening Standard.

6  The Absolute Book by Elizabeth Knox (Victoria University Press, $35)

“Judges make their decisions independent of a book’s commercial success or otherwise. Their overarching focus is on each book’s literary merit.” – the Ockhams people, attempting to explain the inexplicable.

7  Why We Sleep: Unlocking the Power of Sleep and Dreams by Matthew Walker (Penguin Random House, $28)

Sleep books just fuck you off so much when you’re a new parent, eh? Like how is it that people need a whole book to tell them about the luscious restorative healthgiving wonder that is sleep.

8  The Overstory by Richard Powers (Vintage, $26)

Struggling to articulate the solace this book provides – it’s a place to put all your eco-anxiety and grief and fear, and to see those things taken seriously, and to see that maybe it won’t all be OK but that also, in the end, it will be.

9  Girl, Woman, Other by Bernardine Evaristo (Hamish Hamilton, $40)

Winner of the 2019 Booker Prize.

10 Normal People by Sally Rooney (Faber & Faber, $23)

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1  The Absolute Book by Elizabeth Knox (Victoria University Press, $35)

2  Specimen: Personal Essays by Madison Hamill (Victoria University Press, $30)

We’ve snaffled from this an excellent essay on masculinity and drinking and flatting, coming this weekend.

3  Don’t Hold My Head Down by Lucy-Anne Holmes (Unbound, $27)

Subtitle: “In search of some brilliant fucking.”

4  City of Trees: Essays on Life, Death & the Need for a Forest by Sophie Cunningham (Penguin, $24)

“These fine essays convey what factual reporting on the threat of climate change and the loss of habitat cannot: something beautiful is dying, something precious and monumental may be lost forever … while Cunningham’s essays are accounts of her intimate encounters with trees, her gift is in making them feel like they are our stories as well.” – Australian Book Review.

5  We Are Here: An Atlas of Aotearoa by Chris McDowall & Tim Denee (Massey University Press, $70)

A finalist, and our favourite to win, in the illustrated non-fiction category of the Ockham New Zealand Book Awards.

6  Fifteen Million Years in Antarctica by Rebecca Priestley (Victoria University Press, $40)

Didn’t make the cut in the general non-fiction category; arguably this is a sign of unusual excellence.

7  New Transgender Blockbusters by Oscar Upperton (Victoria University Press, $25)

“I like the ironic distance between what the title promises and, potentially, what you might get.” – the poet, interviewed on RNZ.

8  Shakti by Rajorshi Chakraborti (Penguin Books, $36)

Struggling to get into this one but will go back to it soon – it’s a fantasy by a NZ writer, set in India, certain women have superpowers which is a pretty cool premise.

9  A Conversation With My Country by Alan Duff (Random House, $38)


10 Head Girl by Freya Daly Sadgrove (Victoria University Press, $25)

Keep going!