One Question Quiz
A purple background strewn with huge garlic cloves and full bulbs; on top a copy of Ottolenghi's Test Kitchen, a bright pink and red design triumph.
Welcome to the garlic show (Design: Tina Tiller)

BooksOctober 8, 2021

The Unity Books bestseller chart for the week ending October 8

A purple background strewn with huge garlic cloves and full bulbs; on top a copy of Ottolenghi's Test Kitchen, a bright pink and red design triumph.
Welcome to the garlic show (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.


1  Beautiful World, Where Are You by Sally Rooney (Faber, $33)

The New Rooney, destined for months of number one-dom. 

2  The Raffles Affair: A Victoria West Mystery by Vicki Virtue (Penguin Random House, $37)

A cosy murder mystery in the vein of Agatha Christie. Victoria West, an attractive ex-MI6 agent, is pulled into the world of crime once again when her friend’s fiancé is kidnapped just before their wedding in Singapore. A rollicking good time. 

3  Cloud Cuckoo Land by Anthony Doerr (Simon & Schuster, $35)

A new Doerr novel has been released upon the world! Doerr is author of All the Light We Cannot See, which the publisher rather pompously and accurately calls “perhaps the most bestselling and beloved literary fiction of our time”. 

Here are some more words from the publisher, this time about Cloud Cuckoo Land: “Set in Constantinople in the 15th century, in a small town in present-day Idaho, and on an interstellar ship decades from now, Anthony Doerr’s gorgeous third novel is a triumph of imagination and compassion, a soaring story about children on the cusp of adulthood in worlds in peril, who find resilience, hope – and a book.” 

4  After the Tampa: From Afghanistan to New Zealand by Abbas Nazari (Allen & Unwin, $37)

“The Palapa was taking on water. Men from the lowest level began bailing with buckets and plastic bags, forming a human chain up the ladder. Someone fashioned a pump out of engine parts. Others worked to seal the hole in the deck using ropes and a tarp, and some used more broken engine parts to hammer posts back in place. It would seem we were making good progress until another big wave crashed over us, undoing all our work.”

Read the full extract here, or read the full book by, you know … going to Unity (virtually).

5  Things I Learned at Art School by Megan Dunn (Penguin, $35)

Personal essays by the brilliant, funny, quirky New Zealand writer Megan Dunn. You can read excerpts from her debut novel Tinderbox and from one of the essays. After that, just try and stop yourself buying a copy.

6  Still Life by Sarah Winman (Fourth Estate, $35)

The bestselling novel that starts with a chance meeting in Florence during World War Two. On Goodreads, Still Life gathers phrases like “Simply magnificent!” and “Oh, my heart is full.”

7  Ottolenghi Test Kitchen: Shelf Love by Yotam Ottolenghi and Noor Murad (Ebury Press, $55)

No idea why garlic breath has a bad rep, to us it’s the mark of a right-thinking person.

Old mate Ottolenghi clearly feels the same – here are four recipes from his new book, in ascending order of garlicky goodness:

Magical chicken and Parmesan soup with pappardelle (one head of garlic). Sticky sweet and sour plums and sausages (two heads of garlic). Very giant couscous cake (two large heads of garlic, plus two cloves). Vampire-slaying toum (100g garlic cloves, about three heads).

8  Great Circle by Maggie Shipstead (Doubleday, $37)

Great Circle tells the story of fictional aviator Marian Graves and the Hollywood starlet who is drawn to playing her in a biopic. Marian mysteriously disappears in 1950 near New Zealand (New Zealand!) while attempting an unprecedented circumnavigation of the Earth. Fifty years later, ingenue Hadley Baxter tries to recover her damaged reputation (damaged because she cheated on her co-star boyfriend in a Twilight-esque film series) by starring as Marian, and becomes obsessed with the pilot’s fate. 

Shipstead has been compared to Barbara Kingsolver, Donna Tartt, William Boyd, Anthony Doerr and Sarah Waters for her talent at both plot and language. Not to mention, Great Circle was shortlisted for the Booker. Basically … high chances of a very enjoyable reading experience.

9  The Sweetness of Water by Nathan Harris (Tinder Press, $35)

From the Guardian: “Harris’s novel weaves together two different tales set in the wake of the [American Civil War] – that of a pair of Confederate soldiers whose love for each other must be kept from the prying eyes of the small Georgia town around them, and the story of two formerly enslaved brothers for whom emancipation brings questions as well as opportunities.” 

10  The Paper Palace by Miranda Cowley Heller (Viking, $37)

On a summer day in Cape Cod, “Elle will have to decide between the life she has made with her much-loved husband, Peter, and the life she imagined would be hers with her childhood love, Jonas, if a tragic event hadn’t forever changed the course of their lives.” 

Darn it, publisher’s blurb – now in one sentence we’re hooked and have to buy yet another novel.


1  Beautiful World, Where Are You by Sally Rooney (Faber, $33)

2  Cloud Cuckoo Land by Anthony Doerr (Simon & Schuster, $35)

3  Ottolenghi Test Kitchen: Shelf Love by Yotam Ottolenghi and Noor Murad (Ebury Press, $55)

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

The one and only, the jewel of the bestseller list.

5  The Man Who Died Twice by Richard Osman (Viking, $37)

New sequel to the bestselling Thursday Murder Club, about a group of septuagenarians (that is, 70-somethings, for those who don’t have a dictionary in their laps) who solve deadly mysteries.

6  Things I Learned at Art School by Megan Dunn (Penguin, $35)

7  The Dark Remains by William McIlvanney and Ian Rankin (Canongate, $33)

William McIlvanney, the godfather of Scottish crime fiction, left behind the handwritten beginnings of a novel when he died in 2015. It’s the prequel to his famous Jack Laidlaw series – and it has now been completed by Ian Rankin. 

The Guardian heartwarmingly reports that “​​Rankin first met McIlvanney in 1985 at the Edinburgh book festival, two years before [Rankin’s] first Rebus novel was published. He asked McIlvanney to sign one of his books for him, and told him he was writing his own novel that was ‘like Laidlaw but set in Edinburgh’. McIlvanney inscribed his novel: ‘Good luck with the Edinburgh Laidlaw.’” Be still our sentimental hearts.

8  The Magician by Colm Tóibín (Picador, $38)

A new novel based on the great German writer Thomas Mann, spanning the politics of the World Wars and Mann’s personal life.

9  The Women of Troy by Pat Barker (Hamish Hamilton, $37)

The brutal sequel to bestselling The Silence of the Girls, set in the aftermath of the Trojan War. “It is grim. The words ‘filthy’ and ‘stained’ recur. Even the sea is foul, yellowish-grey and full of dead things. War is dirty and ugly and smelly and Barker never lets us forget it. Men may set out in the morning oiled and glorious as Phoebus Apollo, their chariots glittering, but at nightfall ‘ash-grey men driving dirty horses would emerge from the clouds of dust’.” Be warned, the Guardian tells us.

10  Harlem Shuffle by Colson Whitehead (Fleet, $35)

After the Pulitzer Prize-winning seriousness of The Underground Railroad and The Nickel Boys, Whitehead has released an entertaining noir thriller about a man who unwittingly gets too deep in the world of heists and gangsters in 1960s Harlem. 

Keep going!