BooksOctober 11, 2019

Unity Books bestseller chart for the week ending October 11


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  A Sharp Left Turn by Mike Chunn (Allen & Unwin, $45)

“Oh bugger it! I might as well just pour it all out” – Chunn to radio station The Sound. 

2  The Book of Dust: The Secret Commonwealth by Philip Pullman (Penguin Random House, $35)

Michelle Langstone, on Twitter: “Sometimes I think about the part in the His Dark Materials trilogy when you realise the children are being forcibly cut away from their daemons, and I remember how I cried so hard that I spewed. Good times. After that I didn’t let my cat out of my sight for months.”

3  Rebuilding the Kāinga: Lessons from Te Ao Hurihuri, by Jade Kake (Bridget Williams Books, $15)

“I looked over to the port, to the city, to our mountain Parihaka, and to Manaia. And I thought: “The future is going to be very different, because I’m going to rebuild our kāinga so we can reoccupy our whenua, and together we’re going to change the built environment for the better so that the mauri of our harbour is restored, and our identity as tangata whenua is evident in our city.””

4  The Testaments by Margaret Atwood (Chatto & Windus, $48)

Potentially, quite possibly, a day away from winning the Booker. 

5  The Body: A Guide for Occupants by Bill Bryson (Doubleday, $55)

“The single most astounding thing I found was that if you took all your DNA and formed it into a single fine strand, it would stretch to Pluto. I don’t think I’ve ever come across a fact that blew me away more than that – that there’s enough of me or you or anyone else to stretch to Pluto. There’s 10 billion miles of DNA inside you. That just seems unbelievable.” – the author, interviewed by The Washington Post.

6  The Year of the Monkey by Patti Smith (Bloomsbury, $33)

“At her best, her prose reads like Smith verbally riffing between songs onstage with her guitarist pal Lenny Kaye, burning up nights with rock poetry.” – the New York Times.

7 Before the Coffee Gets Cold by Toshikazu Kawaguchi (Picador, $20)

“Think magical realism set in a Tokyo cafe. But in classic Japanese fashion, the magic is hemmed in by protocol.” – the Japan Times.

8  Talking to Strangers: what we should know about the people we don’t know by Malcolm Gladwell (Allen Lane, $40)

“Gladwell often builds his arguments from other peoples’ sketchy statistical manipulations and the far-fetched results he’s managed to cull from social-science journals. The data, taken uncritically, served to buttress anecdotes that were intended to dramatize some general truth about the human animal. What’s new in Talking to Strangers is that Gladwell doesn’t use these bits of pseudo-science to point to any larger lessons. It seems he’s no longer trying to explain much of anything.” – the Atlantic, in an exquisitely savage review that is well worth reading in full

9  Cockroach by Ian McEwan (Vintage, $20)

“The set up is that a cockroach wakes up in No 10 after a big night, finds it is a hungover and very Boris-like prime minister, and, once it gets used to the unpleasant feeling of having an internal skeleton and a fleshy tongue in its mouth, sets about steering the UK into a popularly acclaimed national disaster. The bug is helped by the intuitive discovery – something to do with the pheromonal cockroach hivemind, I guess – that most of the cabinet are also now secretly cockroaches.” – whaaaaaat TAF, via the Guardian.

10  Lifespan: Why We Age and Why We Don’t Have To by David Sinclair (HarperCollins, $35)

I read that as a quite terrifying title?



1  We Are Here: An Atlas of Aotearoa by Chris McDowall & Tim Denee (Massey University Press, $70)

Data as poetry, as art, as cartography. A revelation. Buy it for everyone for Christmas.

2  The Book of Dust: The Secret Commonwealth by Philip Pullman (Penguin Random House, $35)

3  The Testaments by Margaret Atwood (Chatto & Windus, $48)

4  The Year of the Monkey by Patti Smith (Bloomsbury, $33)

5  The Body: A Guide for Occupants by Bill Bryson (Doubleday, $55)

6  The Dutch House by Ann Patchett (Bloomsbury, $33)

“The book was going to be called Maeve, and because I own a bookstore, I really did understand that The Dutch House was a much better title. The words Dutch and house have the same number of letters; I knew it would look really good. To me, the house is just symbolic of the life. It’s a book about wealth and poverty, and the sort of whiplash of going back and forth between those two states.” – the author, to Time.

7  The Absolute Book by Elizabeth Knox (Victoria University Press, $35)

“Much of the forest was now only a mass of crisscrossing heaps of live coals. Some oaks still stood, shorn of all but their thickest limbs. Others leaned like fallen warriors on their branch arms, as if trying to get up again … There was nowhere to stand in all those seething, smoking miles. The riverbed stank of scorched waterweed.”

8  The Anarchy: the relentless rise of the East India Company by William Dalrymple (Bloomsbury, $33)

“A resonant denunciation of corporate rapacity and the governments that enable it.” – the Guardian.

9  No One Is Too Small To Make A Difference by Greta Thunberg (Penguin, $8)

A very happy young girl looking forward to a bright and wonderful future.

10 Three Women by Lisa Taddeo (Bloomsbury, $35)

“And that’s when it happens, the most romantic kiss in the history of the world. He moves his palm to her cheek, slowly and unsurely, like the boy that he still is even though he’s more of a man than anyone else she knows, and she gets hot across her whole face …

Aidan, she breathes into his mouth.

What’s up, Kid.”

The Spinoff Review of Books is proudly brought to you by Unity Books, recently named 2020 International Book Store of the Year, London Book Fair, and Creative New Zealand. Visit Unity Books Wellington or Unity Books Auckland online stores today. 

Mad Chapman, Editor
The Spinoff has covered the news that matters in 2021, most recently the delta outbreak. Help us continue this coverage, and so much more, by supporting The Spinoff Members.Madeleine Chapman, EditorJoin Members

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