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Scream into the festive void with Young Macaulay Culkin (Image: Home Alone)
Scream into the festive void with Young Macaulay Culkin (Image: Home Alone)

BooksDecember 11, 2020

The Unity Books bestseller chart for the week ending 10 December

Scream into the festive void with Young Macaulay Culkin (Image: Home Alone)
Scream into the festive void with Young Macaulay Culkin (Image: Home Alone)

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

Counterpoint: go spend 20 minutes in Westfield St Lukes. Actually any Westfield.

2  Shuggie Bain by Stuart Douglas (Picador, $38)

Winner, all by itself, of the 2020 Booker Prize.

3  Trio by William Boyd (Viking, $37)

“William Boyd is one of those authors I always mean to read more of, but when I check my reading spreadsheets (yes, I have them) there are never as many of his novels there as I expect. So in an attempt to rectify that, I jumped on Trio shortly after release” – Sam Still Reading, on Goodreads

4  Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell (Tinder Press, $38)

O’Farrell is a stunning writer and this one’s apparently a triumph, plus it’s just won the Women’s Prize for Fiction … but we cannot bring ourselves to read it, because it’s about the death of a child. Maybe next year, eh? When everything’s fresh and new and not quite so despondent.

5  Ottolenghi: Flavour by Yotam Ottolenghi & Ixta Belfrage (Ebury Press, $60)

“My favourite recipes include the spicy mushroom lasagne, lime and coconut potato gratin, white bean mash with garlic aioli, chickpea pancakes with mango pickle yoghurt, butternut, orange and sage galette, Romano pepper schnitzels, stuffed aubergine in curry and coconut dal, oyster mushroom tacos and miso butter onions” – NZ Booklovers

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

Jealous of everyone who’ll be racing through Auē on Boxing Day.

7  A Promised Land by Barack Obama (Viking, $70)

“Barack Obama is as fine a writer as they come. It is not merely that this book avoids being ponderous, as might be expected, even forgiven, of a hefty memoir, but that it is nearly always pleasurable to read, sentence by sentence, the prose gorgeous in places, the detail granular and vivid. From Southeast Asia to a forgotten school in South Carolina, he evokes the sense of place with a light but sure hand” – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie for the New York Times.

8  Ralph Hotere: The Dark is Light Enough by Vincent O’Sullivan (Penguin, $45)

The book that was nearly “sabotaged by [Hotere’s] Pākehā ‘minders’”, as O’Sullivan put it in an interview with the Academy of New Zealand Literature.

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

Strongly recommend Sapiens over Humankind, by the way. Largely because of this.

10 Burnt Sugar by Avni Doshi (Hamish Hamilton, $35)

On losing a neglectful mother to dementia: “This is long and drawn-out loss, where a little bit goes missing at a time. Perhaps, then, there is no other way besides waiting, waiting until she is no longer there inside her shell, and the mourning can happen afterwards, a mourning filled with regret because we never truly had closure.”


1  Shuggie Bain by Douglas Stuart (Picador, $38)

2  Hiakai: Modern Māori Cuisine by Monique Fiso (Godwit, $65)

Via RNZ: “Not many ingredients in Māori cuisine are ready to use straight off the tree and most require infusion or dehydration, Monique says. The Hiakai team discovered this with red matipo – a common shrub with a red stem, thick glossy leaves and a crisp apple flavour. They first tried dehydrating the leaves and blending them into a powder but the flavour wasn’t coming through. Then by chance, they had an idea of adding some fresh branches to a batch of simple syrup (sugar and water) and letting it sit for a week.

‘When we came back the syrup had taken on an apple flavour and it had gone from being a light syrup to quite thick. We took that and turned it into sorbet.'”

3  A Promised Land by Barack Obama (Viking, $70)

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


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

6  Ottolenghi: Flavour by Yotam Ottolenghi & Ixta Belfrage (Ebury Press, $60)

7  Searching for Charlie: In pursuit of the real Charles Upham VC and Bar by Tom Scott (Upstart Press, $50)

See also Soldiers, by Tom Remiger, published by Text after winning the Michael Gifkins Prize.

8  The Best of Me by David Sedaris (Little, Brown, $38)

“One of the funniest – and truest – books in recent memory and a must-have for fans of the poet laureate of human foibles” – Kirkus Reviews

9  Women Don’t Owe You Pretty by Florence Given (Cassell, $38)


10 Navigating the Stars: Māori Creation Myths by Witi Ihimaera (Vintage, $45)

We’ve published an extract from this one; if you’re in the market for destruction myths, see Ihimaera’s contribution to the new collection Scorchers: A Climate Fiction Anthology.

Keep going!