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(Photo: Sharondipity Photography via Getty; Design: Tina Tiller)

BooksDecember 10, 2021

The Unity Books bestseller chart for the week ending December 10

Beach scene, kids playing at the water's edge, person on deck chair reading.
(Photo: Sharondipity Photography via Getty; 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  Ottolenghi Test Kitchen: Shelf Love by Yotam Ottolenghi and Noor Murad (Ebury Press, $55)

This week, many people bought a gift for their mother-in-law. Evidence above.

In case that sounded like shade, please note that we have big, long-term love for Ottolenghi. And are fond of most mothers-in-law. 

2  Shifting Grounds: Deep Histories of Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland by Lucy Mackintosh (Bridget Williams Books, $60)

From RNZ: “Tāmaki Makaurau has a complicated and busy history. But it’s a past that has been constantly built over, dug up or destroyed. Historian, author and curator at Auckland Museum Lucy Mackintosh has spent decades poring over the landscapes of Auckland.”

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

We’ve kept a close and preferential eye on which novel is winning Christmas this year, and are happy to see Doerr coming out ahead of the new Rooney.  

4  The Promise by Damon Galgut (Chatto & Windus, $37)

This year’s Booker winner, about a white family in post-apartheid South Africa.

5  These Precious Days by Ann Patchett (Bloomsbury, $33)

A brand-spanking collection of sparkling essays and memoir by the author of Bel Canto and The Dutch House. The Guardian gives big thumbs up, saying that “In the best of these essays – Flight Plan, about her husband’s passion for flying airplanes, and How to Practice, the one about cleaning out her closets – uncomfortable truths are papered over with disarming wit.”

6  Oh William! by Elizabeth Strout (Viking, $35)

A newly widowed Lucy Barton strikes up a complex and nuanced friendship with her ex-husband, William. 

7  The Lincoln Highway by Amor Towles (Hutchinson, $37)

The author of Rules of Civility and A Gentleman in Moscow is back with a new novel, which was recently named Amazon’s Best Book of 2021. A 1950s road trip through the States, a boy who has just completed a sentence at a work farm for involuntary manslaughter, and a colourful cast of characters make this a rollicking read. 

8  The Fortune Men by Nadifa Mohamed (Viking, $37)

One from this year’s Booker shortlist, which fictionalises the true story of a Somali man falsely accused of murder in 1952 Cardiff. The Guardian calls the novel evocative and searing, ending with this: “In her determined, nuanced and compassionate exposure of injustice, Mohamed gives the terrible story of Mattan’s life and death meaning and dignity.”

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

The aforementioned new Rooney.

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

A local literary delight. Dunn shares stories of her upbringing and 20s in a series of funny, grounded, honest, poignant essays. We heartily recommend it, and offer not just one but two essay excerpts as an amuse-bouche. 


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

Number one, once again. Imagining Decolonisation’s star will never fade. 

2  The Promise by Damon Galgut (Chatto & Windus, $37)

3  Too Much Money: How Wealth Disparities Are Unbalancing Aotearoa New Zealand by Max Rashbrooke (Bridget Williams Books, $40)

From Scoop: “Max Rashbrooke’s widely anticipated new book shows how wealth disparities are unbalancing Aotearoa New Zealand – and why we should care. Presently, someone in the wealthiest 1% of adults – now a roughly 40,000-strong club – has a net worth 68 times that of the average New Zealander. Possessing such wealth opens up opportunities to live in certain areas, get certain kinds of education, make certain kinds of social connections, exert certain kinds of power. And when access to these opportunities becomes alarmingly uneven, the implications are profound.”

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

5  Aroha: Māori Wisdom for a Contented Life Lived in Harmony with our Planet by Hinemoa Elder (Penguin Random House, $30)

Desperate for a secret Santa gift that didn’t come from the chocolate aisle of your local supermarket? Look no further. 

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

7  Silverview by John le Carré (Viking, $35)

Le Carré’s final novel, published after his death. One last, sweet return to the land of spies. 

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

9  A Cook’s Book by Nigel Slater (4th Estate, $60)

Oh no, you’ve found out that another family member has already gifted your mother-in-law the new Ottolenghi? Lucky for you, Nigel Slater has come in to bat.

10  Entangled Life: How Fungi Make Our Worlds, Change Our Minds and Shape Our Futures by Merlin Sheldrake (Vintage, $24)

Excellent name – Merlin Sheldrake – and an excellent book, which just won the Royal Society Science Book Prize. The chair of the judging panel said, “Entangled Life is a fantastic account of the world of fungi, which to the uninitiated might seem unpromising as a topic, but which Merlin Sheldrake brings alive in the most vivid of ways. We learn all kinds of interesting things about fungi, from how they helped plants colonise land (which means without them we wouldn’t be here) to how they form huge networks allowing trees to communicate (in the form of the ‘Wood Wide Web’), to stories of fungus-gathering enthusiasts, how fungi might help save the planet by digesting plastic, and even how they can manipulate our minds … Entangled Life is an important, scientifically rigorous and most of all entertaining read.”

Keep going!