A still life of Unity Wellington during Level Three. Image in centre panel by Vanessa Williams of Unity Wellington, design work by Tina Tiller.

The Unity Books bestseller chart for the week ending May 8

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  The Mirror & the Light by Hilary Mantel (Fourth Estate, $50)

The author, to Vulture: “When I got towards the end, I thought to myself, this is the best of the trilogy... ”

2  Auē by Becky Manawatu (Mākaro Press, $35)

We absolutely and rabidly back Auē to win the country’s biggest fiction prize on Tuesday night.

3  Circe by Madeline Miller (Bloomsbury, $22)

“His skin is familiar as my own beneath my fingers. I listen to his breath, warm upon the night air, and somehow I am comforted. He does not mean it does not hurt. He does not mean we are not frightened. Only that: we are here. This is what it means to swim in the tide, to walk the earth and feel it touch your feet. This is what it means to be alive.”

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

The Booker-winner creates a narrator who is trying to write the true story of her mother, and in doing so shows us her own. Captivating, lissome, intimate, said The New Yorker.

5  Apeirogon by Colum McCann (Bloomsbury, $33)

The true story of a friendship between an Israeli man and a Palestinian man, each of whom is mourning a daughter. Stephen Spielberg has the film rights; this Al Jazeera piece by a Palestinian, Susan Abulhawa, is extremely worth your while.

6  Things I Learned From Falling by Claire Nelson (Hachette, $30)

A New Zealander’s account of lying alone in a California desert for four days after a fall. “Vibrantly physical,” said the Guardian.

7  Banking Bad: How Corporate Greed and Broken Governance Failed Australia by Adele Ferguson (ABC Books, $37)

Ferguson’s investigative journalism lead to the 2018 Royal Commission that recommended a dramatic overhaul of Australian banking practice. She told RNZ’s Kathryn Ryan:

“Trust me, getting that Royal Commission did not come easy. It was many years of scandals, building upon scandals, and it was thanks to whistleblowers.

“So, if you [in New Zealand] haven’t had whistleblowers coming forward, you really don’t know what’s going on. What I’m saying is, if you’ve got these scandals going on in the big banks in Australia, and they’ve got subsidiaries in New Zealand, it’s hard to not draw a connection that there are similarities.”

8  Education of an Idealist by Samantha Power (HarperCollins, $37)

A Telegraph reviewer really fucking hated this memoir by Barack Obama’s former ambassador to the United Nations. Overly long, she wrote, maddeningly earnest, remarkably naive, and then a final kiss-off: “Even Obama, she admits, called her sanctimonious. In this, at least, he is not wrong.”

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

“The real art of conversation is not only to say the right thing at the right place, but to leave unsaid the wrong thing at the most tempting moment.”

10 The Silence of the Girls by Pat Barker (Hamish Hamilton, $26)

The Iliad, but not.


1  The Mirror & the Light by Hilary Mantel (Fourth Estate, $50)

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

Winner of the 2019 Booker Prize; see Himali McInnes’ review here.

3  Weather: A Novel by Jenny Offill (Granta, $33)

From the Guardian: “The narrator of Weather adopts a hapless, helpless stance in the face of the onslaught of modern life. She is Lizzie Benson, a librarian on a university campus, married to a man who once had other ambitions but now works in IT. Their marriage is the subject of more endearing smart observation: “‘I can only imagine what it would be like to be this age and in love,’ I tell Ben. ‘You are in love,’ he corrects me.”

4  The Dutch House by Ann Patchett (Bloomsbury, $33)

Ann Patchett, again.

5  Normal People by Sally Rooney (Faber, $23)

Now a thirsty-as TV show, apparently, which we will very not watch.

6  Boy Swallows Universe by Trent Dalton (Fourth Estate, $25)

Misery and mayhem in Brisbane.

7  Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens (Hachette, $25)

Escape to the marshes, wade through a childhood of neglect and near-starvation, and spend the rest of your life being very brainy and blissfully watching birds and sketching seashells.

8  Educated: A Memoir by Tara Westover (Windmill, $28)

Kind of the non-fiction version of the above.

9  The Burning River by Lawrence Patchett (Victoria University Press, $30)

Notably the only local book in the Wellington list; a thickly textured, swampy, sensitive take on post-apocalyptic New Zealand. We reviewed it here and poet Ben Brown wrote the most glorious review of it for Landfall. (We will publish his response to Auē this weekend.)

10 Celestial Bodies by Jokha Alharthi (Allen & Unwin, $28)

Winner of the 2019 International Booker Prize.

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