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Head and shoulders portrait photo of young Pasifika woman wearing hoop earrings and a tiki, staring off-camera. Picture of her book cover, vibrant in bright colours and black.
Coco Solid and her debut novel (Photo: Todd Karehana; Design: Archi Banal)

BooksJuly 8, 2022

The Unity Books bestseller chart for the week ending 8 July

Head and shoulders portrait photo of young Pasifika woman wearing hoop earrings and a tiki, staring off-camera. Picture of her book cover, vibrant in bright colours and black.
Coco Solid and her debut novel (Photo: Todd Karehana; Design: Archi Banal)

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  How to Loiter in a Turf War by Coco Solid (Penguin, $28)

“I staunchly maintain telemarketing jobs were the best performing arts education I ever had” – just a golden line from a piece Solid (aka Jess Hansell) wrote for Pantograph Punch the summer before last.

2  Happy-Go-Lucky by David Sedaris (Little, Brown, $35)

A collection of essays exploring the celebrated writer’s relationship with his dad. As a taster, might we recommend this fine New Yorker essay – it really nails the rest home vibe, also it will make you cry.

The Netanyahus by Joshua Cohen (New York Review Books, $38)

Taffy Brodesser-Akner in the New York Times: “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.”

4  Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones by James Clear (Random House Business, $40)

Lavishly gushed upon by Arianna Huffington, Mark Hanson, Brené Brown, Gayle King et al.

5  My Annihilation by Fuminori Nakamura (Soho Press, $30)

Described on blurb as “a puzzle box of a narrative in the form of a confessional diary that implicates its reader in a heinous crime”.

6  Horse by Geraldine Brooks (Viking, $28)

A novel that is indeed about a horse.

7  Young Mungo by Douglas Stuart (Picador, $38)

A slightly less dark novel from the writer who won the Booker with his debut, Shuggie Bain.

8  Klara and the Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro (Faber, $37)

“I love a good robot story, and Ishiguro’s novel about an ‘artificial friend’ to a sick young girl is no exception. Although it takes place in a dystopian future, the robots aren’t a force for evil. Instead, they serve as companions to keep people company. This book made me think about what life with super intelligent robots might look like – and whether we’ll treat these kinds of machines as pieces of technology or as something more” – a Goodreads review allegedly by Bill Gates, yes the Bill Gates.

9  Tomb of Sand by Geetanjali Shree (Harper Collins, $36)

The Guardian:

“Geetanjali Shree, the first Hindi writer to win the International Booker prize, seems to have come out of nowhere. Until last month, some very famous Hindi Indian journalists didn’t know her name. At 65, she has been writing for about 30 years, and Tomb of Sand, translated by Daisy Rockwell from her book Ret Samadhi, is her fifth novel.

The invisibility of women is a recurring subject in Shree’s work. It seems to be the natural state of women in India, where, despite modernity, men continue to take social and psychological precedence. Visibility may be returned to us conditionally – on having kids, by proving to be indispensable to men, on winning the Booker prize.”

10 Invisible Child: Poverty, Survival and Hope in New York City by Andrea Elliott (Hutchinson, $40)

The Pulitzer jury, on awarding Elliott this year’s prize in general non-fiction:

“As Dasani comes of age, New York City’s homeless crisis has exploded, deepening the chasm between rich and poor. She must guide her siblings through a world riddled by hunger, violence, racism, drug addiction, and the threat of foster care … A work of luminous and riveting prose, Elliott’s Invisible Child reads like a page-turning novel. It is an astonishing story about the power of resilience, the importance of family and the cost of inequality – told through the crucible of one remarkable girl.”


One Heart, One Spade by Alistair Luke (Your Books, $35)

“One Heart, One Spade is a police procedural set in 1977 and 1978 in Wellington. The running thread through the entire story is the disappearance of a twenty year old woman, Felicity Daniels. The story is told from the perspective of Detective Lucas Cole. His private life is unravelling and his professional life is beginning to unravel as well. Other crimes populate the story. Some maybe connected to her disappearance, some are clearly not. The CIB becomes divided and Cole forms relationships with some of his colleagues that threaten his position with others. The story is about his growing understanding of the complexities of the world he lives in, things he never had to confront before – sexuality, misogyny, racism, colonialism. This is the 1970s” – the author, a Wellington architect, interviewed by NZ Booklovers.

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

“Over 10,000 copies of the short but mighty book Imagining Decolonisation have now been sold, the book’s publisher BWB Texts has announced … Published in March 2020, Imagining Decolonisation became a word-of-mouth hit. It was the biggest selling book of 2021 at Unity Books Wellington and is such a fixture on The Spinoff’s weekly Unity bestsellers list that finding new ways to describe it has become a running gag” – good news via The Spinoff live updates, from last weekend.

3  Wellington Architecture: A Walking Guide by John Walsh & Patrick Reynolds (Massey University Press, $25)

Left foot, right foot ..

4  Grow: Wāhine Finding Connection Through Food by Sophie Merkens (Beatnik, $60)

First let us introduce the author, via the publisher:

“Sophie Merkens is a photographer, writer and foodie. To her amazement and utter delight she has made eating and being surrounded by foodie folk her career, working as a recipe developer and food stylist. For Sophie, morning coffee is non-negotiable, she goes wild for anything with rose in it, and she’s partial to a glass of warm fermented horse milk (a Kyrgyz delicacy). In food and in life, curiosity is her North Star. When she’s not experimenting in the kitchen, she’s gardening, foraging, hiking, attempting to surf, or on roadies in her van Zephyr Florence. She happily calls Aotearoa home.”

Merkens’ book is “a journey across Aotearoa meeting 37 inspiring women who find meaning and connection through food. From mothers, gardeners, hunters, chefs and hobbyists, their conversations dive deep into how food influences their lives.”

The Book of Form and Emptiness by Ruth Ozeki (Text, $40)

The Guardian:

“American-Canadian author Ruth Ozeki is a film-maker, a Zen priest and a teacher of writing. Her third novel, A Tale for the Time Being, was shortlisted for the 2013 Booker prize. In this, her fourth, everything possesses – everything is made up of – language. Every single thing is, in some sense, writing a book.”

Fragments from a Contested Past: Remembrance, Denial and New Zealand History by Joanna Kidman, Vincent O’Malley, Liana MacDonald, Tom Roa and Keziah Wallis (Bridget Williams Books, $15)

Don Rowe interviewed Kidman (Ngati Maniapoto/Ngati Raukawa) about this book, noting that “visiting historical sites of bloodshed and trauma across the country was both intellectually and emotionally intensive, necessitating discussions around cultural safety for the team.

‘For the Māori team members, this wasn’t just a straightforward academic research project, we each of us were caught up in these histories in one way or another, so it was an extraordinarily powerful experience going to places where for some of us our tupuna had fallen,’ says Kidman.”

7  Harbouring by Jenny Pattrick (Black Swan, $36)

There was something absolutely charming about Kim Hill’s interview with Pattrick, in which the 85 year-old writer was extremely OK with not having another book on the go just yet:

“I’ve had two good careers already, I mean the jewelling one and the writing one, and I know by the time your book comes out, which is now it’s just out now, that’s a good year since I first sent the manuscript draft up to the publishers.

“I should have another book well on the way by now but I haven’t and so I’m thinking ‘why haven’t I? Has that fire gone out now, is it time to start a new career? Or is it time to just be a grandmother and a great-grandmother which I am now.'”

8  Horse by Geraldine Brooks (Viking, $28)

9  Eddy, Eddy by Kate De Goldi (Allen & Unwin, $30)

Classic De Goldi, full of lovely chewy words, starring a teenager with a vibrant inner life:

“How very good it was to sit in a plush chair in an empty house with only a princely frog and a book for company. He felt about forty-five years old and fully sagacious. It was the sitting that did it – at home he lay down to read, on his bed or the couch, or along the window seat, or in front of the wood burner – like a child.”

10 The Island Of Missing Trees by Elif Shafak (Viking, $26)

Now in paperback, and therefore back in the charts.

Keep going!