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BooksSeptember 7, 2018

Unity Books best-seller chart for the week ending September 7


The week’s biggest-selling books at the Unity stores in Willis St, Wellington, and High St, Auckland.


1 Women, Equality, Power: Selected Speeches from a Life of Leadership by Helen Clark (Allen & Unwin, $45)

“Helen Clark continues to assert her toughness, time after time. When she faced off against Sir Ray Avery over his proposed charity concert at Eden Park in July, she boasted: ‘He’s probably picked the wrong person to try to bully in directly attacking me.’ And Clark’s high opinion of her own toughness extends now to claiming that she was too strong a personality for the UN to accept as Secretary-General…In fact, rightly or wrongly, many of us who aren’t devotees of the Cult of Helen remember just how often she was frightened by a goose hissing at her in New Zealand. We remember her timid reforms to the Employment Contracts Act that saw the union movement further weakened under her watch; her backing away from the Closing the Gaps programme to lift Māori; and her blocking Māori from taking their case over the foreshore and seabed to the Māori Land Court…Perhaps more than anything else, we remember her unwillingness to follow Jim Anderton’s lead when he was suspended from the Labour caucus for voting against selling the BNZ in 1989. Her famous line that she ‘hadn’t come this far to go down in a hail of bullets with Jim Anderton’ was for many a vivid reminder of the narrow limits of her courage”: Graham Adams, Noted.

2 Less by Andrew Sean Greer (Little, Brown, $25)

Almost certainly the year’s biggest-selling novel at Unity.

3 Matter of Fact: Talking Truth in a Post-Truth World by Jess Berentson-Shaw (Bridget Williams Books, $15)

“What is the trick to presenting facts on controversial issues?”, The Nation‘s Simon Shepherd asked Berentson-Shaw; she replied, “It’s not simple. One of the things which we talk about is the importance of being able to tap into the values that are important to people. What we know is that logic comes very late in the process. When people get new information, what they first filter it through is, ‘Does this matter to me?’ and ‘Does it fit with my beliefs that I already have?’ So one of the things that we can do is think about what are the helpful values at the base of this information. So an example of that is climate change. Doing something about climate change is a really important activity for human survival. So we need to talk about that mattering and looking after the climate is mattering and looking after each other is mattering. That’s one way to start engaging with people’s values before we talk about the facts.”

4 Silence Of The Girls by Pat Barker (Hamish Hamilton, $37)

The great city of Troy is under siege as Greek heroes Achilles and Agamemnon wage bloody war over a stolen woman, etc.

5 Parallel Lives: Four Seasons in the French Pyrenees by Jennifer Andrewes (Jennifer Andrewes, $35)

Four seasons in the French Pyrenees.

6 Big Weather: Poems of Wellington edited by Gregory O’Brien and Louise St John  (Penguin, $30)

I saw the Maori Jesus
Walking on Wellington Harbour.
He wore blue dungarees,
His beard and hair were long.
His breath smelled of mussels and paraoa.
When he smiled it looked like the dawn.
When he broke wind the little fishes trembled.
When he frowned the ground shook.
When he laughed everybody got drunk.

(James K Baxter)

7 We Can Make a Life: A Memoir of Family, Earthquakes & Courage by Chessie Henry (Victoria University Press, $35)

“It was like scrambling up the rock wall along the esplanade in Sumner, you know, big chunks of rock you had to climb up. As I was scrambling up I slipped over something, something slippery, and fell down onto my knee. And as I looked down I realised it was someone’s smashed head. And then you have that moment, I suppose, that terrible moment of looking around and seeing what’s really there. And when I looked at the rubble, dotted all over the place were these sorts of clues—a vest here, or a jacket or a hat. Bits of stuff I initially thought had blown about over the rubble. But then I saw someone’s arm, and it dawned on me that these were bodies. Real people. And I guess that’s when I realised how truly, catastrophically bad it was”: Excerpt, The Spinoff Review of Books.

8 21 Lessons for the 21st Century by Yuval Noah Harari (Jonathan Cape, $38)

We look forward to the forthcoming review by Danyl Mclauchlan.

9 Warlight by Michael Ondaatje (Jonathan Cape, $35)

Almost certainly the year’s second-biggest selling novel at Unity.

10 Flights by Olga Tokarczuk, translated by Jennifer Croft (Text, $37)

Quite a lot of people have bought this novel, too.


1 Warlight: A Novel by Michael Ondaatje (Jonathan Cape, $35)

The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck by Mark Manson (MacMillan, $35) 

Personal engineering.

Exactly: How Precision Engineers Created the Modern World by Simon Winchester (William Collins, $37)

Mechanical engineering.

12 Rules for Life by Jordan Peterson (Allen Lane, $40)

Philosophical engineering.

Less by Andrew Sean Greer (Little, Brown and Company, $35)

Diary of a Bookseller by Shaun Bythell (Profile Books, $33)

Very possibly the year’s most charming book.

Factfulness by Dr Hans Rosling (Sceptre, $30)

More personal engineering.

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


Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan (Allen & Unwin, $25)

The 2013 novel that inspired the 2018 movie.

10 Coming To It: Selected Poems by Sam Hunt (Potton & Burton, $30)

I call my mother

thirteen years dead


the phone says there’s

nobody home.


The phone is right.

My mother hung it up


thirteen years ago, then died…

The Spinoff Review of Books is brought to you by Unity Books.

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