Image: Tetra Images, Getty
Image: Tetra Images, Getty

BooksDecember 6, 2019

Unity Books bestseller chart for the week ending December 6

Image: Tetra Images, Getty
Image: Tetra Images, Getty

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

Superlative superlative superlative. 

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

Time travel and intimate tragedies. 

3  McCahon Country by Justin Paton (Penguin, $75)

“Look for that physical response — and it might be adoration, it might be arousal, it might be revulsion — but I think that those bodily cues … those ungovernable responses are exactly what should make us look twice.” – the author, to ABC Arts. 

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

It’s like when you dive into a cold pool and then pop up for air, fucking cold to the bones but exhilarated. 

5  Agent Running in the Field by John le Carré (Viking, $38)

“Over a 56-year career [le Carré] has virtually single-handedly elevated spy novels from genre fiction into works of high literature” – the New York Times. 

6  The Body: A Guide for Occupants by Bill Bryson (Doubleday, $55)

“When a levelheaded guy such as Bryson gets worried, it’s probably wise to worry too. If there’s one part of this book everyone should read, it’s the five pages on the antibiotic crisis. It will light up your amygdala.” – the New York Times. 

7  Wolfe Island by Lucy Treloar (Picador, $35)

“The erosion of Wolfe Island is a metaphor for so much: the crumbling of the USA (and Australia), ‘civilisation’, capitalism, the West, decency, justice, human rights, Kitty’s family, people’s ways of life, and so on.” – the author, to Queensland Reviewers Collective. 

8  Lady in Waiting: My Extraordinary Life in the Shadow of the Crown by Anne Glenconner (Hachette, $35)

“ … the author, aged 87 and completely untutored in book-writing, has produced a candid, witty and stylish memoir. It is as richly spiced with malice — I doubt if Bianca Jagger will relish the put-down of her own princessy ways, or Jerry Hall the spiky comments on her lack of social grace — as it is darkened by the tragedies that befell the author’s three sons, two of whom predeceased her.”  – the Financial Times

9  Strong Words 2019: The Best of the Landfall Essay Competition selected by Emma Neale (Otago University Press, $35)

We ran this taster by Tracey Slaughter last week; we also loved Tobias Buck’s chronicle of a small-town sauna, and Becky Manawatu’s essay Mother’s Day

10  Te Tiriti o Waitangi: The Treaty of Waitangi by Toby Morris with Ross Calman, Mark Derby, and Piripi Walker (Lift Education, $20)

Toby rulz! 



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

2  No Friend But The Mountains: Writing from Manus Prison by Behrouz Boochani (Picador, $25)

“Behrouz Boochani spent almost five years typing passages of his book into a mobile phone. The result resists classification.” – a review slash backstory at the Guardian

3  The Body: A Guide for Occupants by Bill Bryson (Doubleday, $55)

4  Girl, Woman, Other by Bernadine Evaristo (Hamish Hamilton, $40)

Winner of the 2019 Booker Prize.

5  How to Walk a Dog by Mike White (Allen & Unwin, $35)

“Miffy was a giant snowball, a blindingly white Samoyed, who appeared to be just a nose and eyes peering out of an exploded pillow.”

6  No One Is Too Small To Make A Difference by Greta Thunberg (Penguin, $8)

A very happy young girl looking forward to a bright and wonderful future.

7  The Testaments by Margaret Atwood (Chatto & Windus, $48)

Winner of the 2019 Booker Prize.

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

“Auckland spread out along an isthmus. From the air it appeared less built than grown, like coral on the bones of a volcanic cone. It was green, wet, sunny, its atmosphere white with water vapour rather than traffic fumes.”

9  Lady in Waiting: My Extraordinary Life in the Shadow of the Crown by Anne Glenconner (Hachette, $35)

10  Acid for the Children by Flea (Headline Books, $38)

Merry Christmas, Dad. 

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. 

Image: Tina Tiller

Concussions don’t just happen on TV

Concussion headlines are focusing on professional rugby players, but what about the playing fields where there are no cameras?
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

Get The Spinoff
in your inbox


The Sport OGs, photographed in 1988. Clockwise from left: Nigel Cox, Fergus Barrowman, Damien Wilkins, Elizabeth Knox. (Photo: Supplied)

Long live Sport, 1988-2021

One of our great literary magazines is no more. Its publisher looks back on what it achieved, and muses on the long-gone golden age of New Zealand publishing.