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Ian McEwan: bestseller (Design: Tina Tiller)
Ian McEwan: bestseller (Design: Tina Tiller)

BooksOctober 7, 2022

The Unity Books bestseller chart for the week ending 7 October

Ian McEwan: bestseller (Design: Tina Tiller)
Ian McEwan: bestseller (Design: Tina Tiller)

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.

Special honorary mention today to French author Annie Ernaux who has just been awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature 2022, “for the courage and clinical acuity with which she uncovers the roots, estrangements and collective restraints of personal memory”.

Ernaux’s books mine her own life to place herself and everything that happens to her within the wider contexts of place, cultural history and politics. Her writing about sex and love is among the most unashamed and vivid feminist storytelling of our time. You can order her books from Unity Books Wellington or Unity Books Auckland online stores today. 


1  Lessons by Ian McEwan (Jonathon Cape, $37)

The most beloved (or at least purchased) book across the board, second week running! Ian McEwan knows how to entice a crowd to a bookstore. Lessons has been compared to William Boyd’s Any Human Heart and John Boyne’s The Heart’s Invisible Furies for its focus on an ordinary man’s life, and its sweeping timeframe which covers 70 years of history.

These strong, mixed words from the Guardian: “McEwan’s 17th novel is old-fashioned, digressive and indulgently long; the hero is a gold-plated ditherer, and the story opens with a teenage wank (few books are improved by an achingly sentimental wank). But Lessons is also deeply generous. It’s compassionate and gentle, and so bereft of cynicism it feels almost radical.”

2  Towards a Grammar of Race in Aotearoa New Zealand edited by Arcia Tecun, Lana Lopesi and Anisha Sankar (Bridget Williams Books, $40)

A tidbit from Tze Ming Mok’s essay, recently published on The Spinoff: “How can Asians be white? Or, for that matter, Black? It was a statement about perceived hierarchy and alignment, dovetailing neatly with colour, which is what ‘race’ boils down to: a concept that can be used as a ‘master category’ that encompasses ethnicity and hints at superseding it, as structure swallows agency.”

3  Atomic Habits by James Clear (Random House, $40)

You know what’s a good habit? Reading. We advocate.

4  Piranesi by Susanna Clarke (Bloomsbury, $23)

An absolute gem of a novel from 2020, which won the Women’s Prize for Fiction (and our hearts). Short, dreamy, mysterious, gorgeously written – a wonderful escape to a strange labyrinthine world.

5  The Netanyahus by Joshua Cohen (Fitzcarraldo Editions, $25)

A wondrous summary from the New York Times: “Joshua Cohen’s new novel … is a generational campus novel, an unyielding academic lecture, a rigorous meditation on Jewish identity, an exhaustive meditation on Jewish-American identity, a polemic on Zionism, a history lesson. It is an infuriating, frustrating, pretentious piece of work — and also absorbing, delightful, hilarious, breathtaking and the best and most relevant novel I’ve read in what feels like forever.”

6  Shifting Grounds: Deep Histories of Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland by Lucy Mackintosh (Bridget Williams Books, $60)

Lucy Mackintosh spoke to Auckland Museum about the inspiration for her book. Here is a gathering of her words: “I found that there were deep, complex and difficult histories embedded in certain places in the city that still resonate in local communities and across the city yet have not made it into the city’s monuments, history books or collective memory. … Looking at three places across time – from early human arrivals to the present day – it considers how histories told from particular places, at particular moments of time, might open up new stories and perspectives that can challenge and even change the way we currently tend to think about Auckland’s past and its present.”

7  All the Broken Places by John Boyne (Doubleday, $37)

The highly anticipated follow up to The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas, which follows Bruno’s elder sister Gretel as she tries to forget her past. 

8  The Myth of Normal: Trauma, Illness & Healing in a Toxic Culture by Gabor Maté with Daniel Maté (Vermilion, $40)

New non-fiction about the connections between personal suffering and modern living, linking high prescription drug usage, high blood pressure, and mental illness with workaholism and the pressures of Western culture. The publisher’s blurb states that Maté views “disease as a natural reflection of a life spent growing further and further apart from our true selves. But, with deep compassion, he also shows us a pathway to health and healing.”

9  Decolonizing Methodologies: Research and Indigenous Peoples by Linda Tuhiwai Smith (Bloomsbury, $44)

First published in 1999, the updated third edition of Decolonizing Methodologies by Maōri professor Linda Tuhiwai Smith remains a seminal text in indigenous studies.

10  The Body Keeps the Score: Mind, Brain and Body in the Transformation of Trauma by Bessel van der Kolk (Penguin Press, $30)

If The Myth of Normal isn’t quite enough for you, this is the perfect pairing.


1  Lessons by Ian McEwan (Jonathon Cape, $37)

2  Greta & Valdin by Rebecca K Reilly (Te Herenga Waka University Press, $35)

Aotearoa’s favourite fictional Russian Catalonian Māori siblings are still very much in favour. Books editor Claire Mabey will be speaking with Rebecca K Reilly about this widely loved novel at Tauranga’s Escape Festival of ideas next week. 

3  The Marriage Portrait by Maggie O’Farrell (Knopf, $38)

“Lucrezia is taking her seat at the long dining table, which is polished to a watery gleam and spread with dishes, inverted cups, a woven circlet of fir. Her husband is sitting down, not in his customary place at the opposite end but next to her, close enough that she could rest her head on his shoulder, should she wish; he is unfolding his napkin and straightening a knife and moving the candle towards them both when it comes to her with a peculiar clarity, as if some coloured glass has been put in front of her eyes, or perhaps removed from them, that he intends to kill her.”

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

Wondrous news! Hinemoa Elder’s new book, Wawata: Moon Dreaming, is entering bookshops and our lives in a few short days. Everyone is getting excited and buying Aroha again in preparation. 

The publisher’s blurb tells us that Wawata “shows us how to reclaim intimacy with others, with ourselves, and with our planet using the energies of Hina, the Māori moon.”

5  Towards a Grammar of Race in Aotearoa New Zealand edited by Arcia Tecun, Lana Lopesi and Anisha Sankar (Bridget Williams Books, $40)

6  The Bullet That Missed by Richard Osman (Viking, $37)

The new novel in the Thursday Murder Club series, full of wit, mystery, and your favourite senior citizens. This time, Elizabeth and the gang focus on the 10-year-old case of Bethany Waites, a television reporter whose car went off a cliff while investigating major tax fraud.

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

Sam Brooks’ favourite novel of 2020 is still living it up in the charts, after the third instalment Before Your Memory Fades was released a few weeks ago.

8  Bunny by Mona Awad (Head of Zeus, $32)

A kooky 2020 novel, brought back to popularity by the Powers That Be (social media) – as the publisher exclaims, “TikTok made me buy it!”

Bunny is a dark, weird, funny campus novel about a tight group of girlfriends, reminiscent of the 1988 cult film Heathers. 

9  All the Broken Places by John Boyne (Doubleday, $37)

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

Welly’s forever love. 

Keep going!