Photograph of a woman wrapped in woollies and a blanket, reading a book and holding a cuppa. Red nails.
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The Unity Books bestseller chart for the week ending July 9

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.

AUCKLAND

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

Flip to any page of an Ishiguro novel and see if you don’t get chills. 

“I think Rick and Josie must have grown up side by side,” I said to Rick. “Just like your houses.”

He shrugged. “Yeah. Side by side.”

“I think Rick’s accent is English.”

“Just a little perhaps.”

“I’m happy Josie has such a good friend. I hope my presence will never come in the way of such a friendship.”

“Hope not. But a lot of things come in the way of friendships.”

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

The author of When God was a Rabbit and Tin Man has a new novel, one which Rachel Joyce winningly described as “a bear-hug of a book”. Still Life begins with an intimate and life-changing conversation between strangers in a wine cellar in 1944 Tuscany. We think that between that description and the bear-hug comment, you have all the information you need.

3  Labour Saving: A Memoir by Michael Cullen (Allen & Unwin, $50)

Ex-Labour Party politician Michael Cullen wrote his new memoir largely in lockdown, after he was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer. A Stuff reviewer says, “Given his famously sharp wit, most of the characters in Cullen’s memoir have probably got off lightly. He apologises for being too harsh on his opponents, and it’s true that much of the book is about setting the record straight on political itches that clearly rankle. But mostly it’s an historical account of a long and successful political career and one that offers a fascinating insight into how politics works – and how the business of government is much more than the daily headlines.”

4  Apeirogon by Colum McCann (Bloomsbury, $23)

A novel based on the real-life friendship between two men, one Palestinian and one Israeli, both of whom are mourning young daughters killed in the Middle Eastern conflict.

5  Noise: A Flaw in Human Judgment by Daniel Kahneman, Olivier Sibony & Cass R. Sunstein (HarperCollins, $40) 

Noise is about the things which shouldn’t shape our judgments, but do – hunger, tiredness, three-thirty-itis, Mercury being in the seventh house. Think of it as bias’s more random, flabbergasting cousin, making a mess of consistency in important areas like medical diagnosis and court sentencing.  

6  Rangikura by Tayi Tibble (Victoria University Press, $25)

This is what I remember.

Rising before daylight but wishing it away.

The sun coming up and the lid going on.

Uncles fucking up the reo they spent ages scraping together.

Faith Wilson has many wonderful things to say about Rangikura.

7  The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller (Bloomsbury, $25)

This 2011 novel has stuck to the charts like a limpet! Not that we mind. Romance, the Trojan War, sex, suspense, mythology – it’s all good stuff. 

8  Best Korean Short Stories Collection by Janet Park (New Ampersand, $25)

A collection of 25 Korean short stories from the 20th century. 

9  Circe by Madeline Miller (Bloomsbury, $22)

It’s not just The Song of Achilles! Another Madeline Miller has risen up the ranks. We suspect (and hope) a group of avid Classics enthusiasts wearing togas visited Unity Auckland this week. 

10  The Frontiers of Knowledge: What We Now Know About Science, History and the Mind by A. C. Grayling (Penguin, $40)

Grayling explores the advancement of science, history and psychology, asking “What do we know, and how do we know it? What do we now know that we don’t know? And what have we learnt about the obstacles to knowing more?” All great questions – thank you, publisher’s blurb.

WELLINGTON

1  Selected Poems: Harry Ricketts by Harry Ricketts (Victoria University Press, $40)

On Wednesday night, Unity Wellington hosted the book launch of Harry Ricketts’ new collection, which comprises 30 years of his poetry. The launch included readings from Nick Ascroft, Anna Jackson, James Brown and Ashleigh Young, and many a book was signed and a drink was drunk in celebration. 

2  Mental Fitness by Paul Wood (HarperCollins, $37)

A new self-help book about developing mental strength by Paul Wood, aka the New Zealand prisoner who became a psychologist who became author of 2019’s hit How To Escape From Prison. The blurb says that readers will learn how to increase their mental strength, “just as you would increase your physical fitness”. Sounds exhausting, but perhaps more virtuous than drinking a bottle of red wine. 

3  Labour Saving: A Memoir by Michael Cullen (Allen & Unwin, $50)

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

Surely we’re a collective consciousness when it comes to imagining a decolonised Aotearoa by now – every person and their guinea pig must have a copy. 

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

6  Rangikura by Tayi Tibble (Victoria University Press, $25)

7  The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett (Dialogue Books, $25)

A mind-boggling 389,879 people have rated The Vanishing Half on Goodreads, and almost all of them love it. One reviewer says, “Sooooo GOOD!!! …Pathos and Pain…Profound Thoughtfulness…Spellbinding prose…Surprises I never saw coming…” Another says, “Unpopular opinion. This book was just ok.” Guess the only thing to do is read it. 

8  Bug Week & Other Stories by Airini Beautrais (Victoria University Press, $30)

This year’s winner of the Jann Medlicott Acorn Prize for Fiction, otherwise known as the biggest fiction prize in our fair country. 

9  Animal: A Novel by Lisa Taddeo (Bloomsbury, $35)

The author of Three Women has come out with her debut novel, focused on female rage against a violent male-dominated society. Our books editor gives a tiny taste here.

10  Shuggie Bain by Douglas Stuart (Picador, $25)

The winner of last year’s Booker, Shuggie Bain is a novel set in Glasgow about growing up surrounded by addiction and abuse. Not exactly “a bear-hug of a book”, shall we say.  




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