BooksJuly 10, 2020

The Unity Books bestseller chart for the week ending July 10


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

Joint winner of the 2019 Booker prize. That was in October and we’re pretty sure she’s not been out of these charts since.

2  Humankind: A Hopeful History by Rutger Bregman (Bloomsbury, $34)

Counterpoints: Hamish Walker, Michelle Boag, Countdown Guy.

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

Winner of this country’s biggest prize for fiction. We continue to foist it upon all our friends.

4  Pull No Punches: Memoir of a Political Survivor by Judith Collins (Allen & Unwin, $37)

Reviewed, witheringly, by Toby Manhire, eg “At times you feel you’re holding the book up; as if it’s got someplace else to be. And then all of a sudden it does want to linger, such as for one unbroken page-and-a-half long paragraph on parliamentary standing orders.”

5  The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead (Hachette, $35)

Winner of the Pulitzer Prize for fiction (Whitehead’s second); reviewed for us by Aaron Smale, whose reporting on reform schools here led to a Royal Commission of Inquiry, eg “It doesn’t matter what period, what country, what group of people the school is aimed at, the culture and behaviour within such schools is uncannily the same.”

6  Not in Narrow Seas: The Economic History of Aotearoa New Zealand by Brian Easton (Victoria University Press, $60)

It was sent to the printers just before lockdown so there’s no Covid 19 in there – but Easton has pointed out that the book does deal with previous epidemics, eg flu, whooping cough, measles.

7  Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari (Vintage, $30)

The Guardian ran this very good piece where they asked a billion authors, including Harari (and Evaristo, and Mantel, and honestly 87,000 others) to recommend books during lockdown.

8  Conversations with Friends by Sally Rooney (Faber & Faber, $23)

None of them said Sally Rooney, just btw.

9  Boy Swallows Universe by Trent Dalton (Harper Collins, $25)

Brisbane, drugs, childhood, a very cool impressionistic style, reminds us of D.B.C. Pierre.

10 Not That I’d Kiss a Girl by Lil O’Brien (Allen & Unwin, $37)

Valuable memoir by an Auckland woman about how she realised she was gay, and how she was outed to her family, and how badly that played out. Sam Brooks reviewed it for us and O’Brien wrote about lesbian fiction, and the lack of, just the other week.


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

2  Nothing to See by Pip Adam (Victoria University Press, $30)

Structurally, we kept thinking of the bucket fountain. It fills up, it fills up, it fills up – all prosaic and clear – and then, wait for it, splosh.

3  Pull No Punches: Memoir of a Political Survivor by Judith Collins (Allen & Unwin, $37)

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

Fifteen bucks!

5  Not in Narrow Seas: The Economic History of Aotearoa New Zealand by Brian Easton (Victoria University Press, $60)

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

Sally Rooney Sally Rooney.

7  Not That I’d Kiss a Girl by Lil O’Brien (Allen & Unwin, $37)

8  Humankind: A Hopeful History by Rutger Bregman (Bloomsbury, $35)

9  The Dutch House by Ann Patchett (Bloomsbury, $23)

“A paradise lost tale dusted with a sprinkling of Cinderella, The Little Princess and Hansel and Gretel” – NPR

10 Jerningham by Christina Sanders (Cuba Press, $37)

On Sanders’ blog, she describes Jerningham Wakefield as “a founding colonist of Wellington. He died 140 years ago today, aged 58, penniless and alone, in an alms-house in Ashburton. But before the drink got him, in his early 20s, he had been an extraordinary young man, a journalist, a rip roaring adventurer, the Wellington wild boy of his time.”

Keep going!