In 1963 these badasses wagged class to read Plato in the sun; the paper bags are so the teachers wouldn't recognise them (Photo: Bettman via Getty)

The Unity Books bestseller chart for the week ending 6 November

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  Me, According to the History of Art by Dick Frizzell (Massey University Press, $65)


“The aim of the book was ‘to define my personality and my thinking through art history – the art history that I relate to’, Frizzell said.
He began downloading images of significant works of art from the internet but realised he could ‘get into trouble’ if he reproduced the paintings … He knew he was ‘quite clever at forging and faking’ so he thought ‘maybe I will just re­paint them’.
‘I’ve got this trick that I evolved quite a while ago.’
He would reproduce an image of the painting on a simple desktop printer, and then paint over it.”

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

“What is it that gives you joy? How could you celebrate being alive and being part of nature? In looking out the window, in talking to a small child, in letting the leaves of a plant touch your skin? How can you let nature touch you today?”

3  Inside Story by Martin Amis (Jonathan Cape, $37)

A “baggy, curious book”, says the Guardian.

4  Girl, Woman, Other by Bernadine Evaristo (Penguin, $24)

Joint winner of the 2019 Booker Prize.

5  The Survivors by Jane Harper (MacMillan, $35)

Harper’s advice to aspiring crime writers, via Mary Martin Bookshop:

“Write down all your ideas. Every single time you think of something, take a few seconds and make a note in a folder on your phone. You think you will remember good ideas, but life gets in the way and you’ll be amazed when you go back through your notes what thoughts may have otherwise slipped through your fingers. If nothing else, writing down your ideas frees up your mind for other creative connections to form.”

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

Butternut, orange and sage galette. Tofu meatball korma. Portobello steaks and butter bean mash.

7  Take Your Space: Successful Women Share Their Secrets by Rachel Petero and Jo Cribb (OneTree House, $34)

“It was just before Christmas, I was beyond tired – you know that woozy feeling you get from just doing too much – and I was sitting in front of a pile of presents for my partner’s family ready to wrap them, when it struck me. Why did I need to think about what they needed, buy them, wrap them and even send them?” – Rachel Petero, founder of Rise2025, a “global consultancy aiming to reimagine the futures of 100,000 Indigenous women and their whānau by 2025”.

8  The Sentinel by Lee Child and Andrew Child (Bantam Press, $37)

A stinging explainer from The Spectator:

“Child has handed on the franchise to his younger brother, real name Andrew Grant, a much less successful thriller writer.

It is unclear how much input Lee has had in this supposedly jointly authored work. He loyally maintains: ‘It’s as good as I could have done on my own. Better, in fact, because it has that extra energy.’ ‘Literally we are the same person, just 14 years apart,’ he asserts. Maybe. But not the same writer. Everything about The Sentinel – which sees Reacher battling a ransomware cyberattack in a small town a couple of hours out of Nashville, uncovering a conspiracy that involves both Russians seeking to pervert the elections and American Nazis hoping to recreate the Nuremberg rallies, the sinister mastermind manipulating all this boasting a reversible portrait in his study, Hitler on one side, Stalin on the other – is clumsy.”

9  Eat A Peach by David Chang (Penguin Random House, $48)

“His tale of finding his way in the restaurant world while struggling with bipolar disorder is the literary equivalent of slurping hot broth at a communal table. Full of humor and honesty, it provides nourishment and a sense of solidarity” – the New York Times

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

O’Sullivan interviewed by the Otago Daily Times:

“O’Sullivan spoke to several people to whom Hotere had said his first artistic efforts were as a boy drawing with a stick in the sand on the beach at his isolated west coast home, Mitimiti, north of the mouth of Hokianga Harbour.

‘And there was a curious pleasure, he said, in that the waves came and took it away.’

As a boy, Hotere also liked to ride his horse up and down the beach and see how straight a line he could form with the animal’s hoofprints.

‘When you see his art, you realise how important this meticulous attention to detail and angle and spacing was to him.'”


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


2  Women Don’t Owe You Pretty by Florence Given (Cassell, $38)

They do not.

3  All Our Shimmering Skies by Trent Dalton (HarperCollins, $35)

“She suggests more windows. She suggests more cleaning. She suggests more food to eat. Fewer maggots in the sink. Fewer bloodstains on the kitchen walls. Fewer unwashed forks and dinner plates cooked in old gravy. Fewer weevils in the oats in the pantry. Fewer silverfish crawling through Emily Dickinson and William Butler Yeats and Walt Whitman on Violet’s bookshelf by the front door. Fewer empty whisky bottles filling the space beneath the kitchen sink. Fewer strips of flypaper hanging from the ceiling, turned black with the stuck dead wings, heads and legs of house flies.”

4  Supergood by Chelsea Winter (Penguin Books, $50)

Hedonistic hotcakes. Flash browns. Festive stuffed mushrooms.

5  A Life on Our Planet by David Attenborough (Ebury Press, $45)

“The tone is calm, but the conclusions are not” – the Financial Times

6  Girl, Woman, Other by Bernadine Evaristo (Penguin Books, $24)

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

Fiso featured this week on The Spinoff podcast Dietary Requirements; we’ll have a review of her book up next week.

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

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

“She’s so good and this is way too short” – Mehrsa on Goodreads

10 A Song for the Dark Times by Ian Rankin (Orion Books, $38)

“One key point is a cheeky sort of in-joke: Chekhov famously said ‘if in the first act you have hung a pistol on the wall, then in the following one it should be fired. Otherwise don’t put it there.’ A pistol significantly isn’t there in the local pub in Naver; nor could it be fired since it is both antique, dating from the war, and thoroughly rusted. But it does have significance, if not a bang.” – The Scotsman

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