(Photo: MoMo Productions, via Getty)
(Photo: MoMo Productions, via Getty)

BooksFebruary 12, 2021

The Unity Books bestseller chart for the week ending February 12

(Photo: MoMo Productions, via Getty)
(Photo: MoMo Productions, via Getty)

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  Dare to Lead: Brave Work. Tough Conversations. Whole Hearts. by Brené Brown (Vermillon, $38)

A selection of quotes, via Goodreads:

“Living BIG (boundaries, integrity, and generosity).”

“At the end of the day, at the end of the week, at the end of my life, I want to say I contributed more than I criticized.”

“People, people, people are just people, people, people.”

2  Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood by Trevor Noah (John Murray, $28)

Autobiography by the host of The Daily Show. The New York Times said “his accounts here are less the polished anecdotes of a comedian underscoring the absurdities of life under apartheid, than raw, deeply personal reminiscences about being ‘half-white, half-black’ in a country where his birth ‘violated any number of laws, statutes and regulations.'”

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

Counterpoint: ties.

4  The Devils You Know by Ben Sanders (Allen & Unwin, $33)

Sanders grew up in Torbay. He’s in his mid-20s. Famously, he published his first book, The Fallen, a bestseller about a couple of Auckland detectives, when he was 19 and at Auckland uni studying civil engineering. But his last few novels, including the 2015 bestseller American Blood (which for a minute looked like it might turn into a movie starring Bradley Cooper) have been set resolutely in the US.

“I realised very early on,” he told the Sydney Morning Herald in 2015, “if I wanted to make this my job, I’d have to break out [from NZ]. There’s something of a cultural cringe here; readers don’t want to read about stuff set here. It doesn’t seem that plausible that such a small country could contain such wild stories.'”

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

“He tao rākau e taea te karo, he tao kī e kore e taea / A physical strike can be warded off, a tongue lashing cannot.”

6  Meditations by Marcus Aurelius (Penguin Random House, $30)

From the publisher:

“Originally written only for his personal consumption, Marcus Aurelius’s Meditations has become a key text in the understanding of Roman Stoic philosophy. This Penguin Classics edition is translated with notes by Martin Hammond and an introduction by Diskin Clay.”

7  Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World by David Epstein (Pan MacMillan, $38)

Gentle lol, from Wikipedia:

“…he expands on the points from his previous book The Sports Gene: Inside the Science of Extraordinary Athletic Performance to make a more general argument against overspecialization… ”

8  This Pākehā Life: An Unsettled Memoir by Alison Jones (Bridget Williams Books, $40)

“For [my parents], ignorance was equivalent to innocence, an honourable refuge, and the basis of an even-handed and honest view. The statement ‘I don’t know enough about it, and I want to stay out of it’ provided an imagined moral high ground, above complex political questions. Ignorance was a useful debate-stopper, and my father disliked argument.

My own ignorance was probably strong, too. But admitting that I didn’t know enough was not an option … What I lacked in knowledge I made up for with instinct.”

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

See a dark and wonderful extract here, in which Ihimaera presses for the redemption of Hine-nui-te-pō. And see him discuss this book in person at the year’s newest and best (free!) literary festival, The Garden Party, in Wellington next weekend.

10 Shuggie Bain by Douglas Stewart (Picador, $38)

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


1  Shuggie Bain by Douglas Stewart (Picador $38)

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

Māori Philosophy: Indigenous Thinking From Aotearoa by Georgina Stewart (Bloomsbury, $39)

A primer.

4  This Pākehā Life: An Unsettled Memoir by Alison Jones (Bridget Williams Books, $40)

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

All of Te Whanganui-a-Tara must own this by now.

6  The Overstory by Richard Powers (Vintage, $26)

A novel about trees and epiphanies. Won a Pulitzer. Superb. Powers wrote it after encountering a redwood. Susan Wardell reviewed it for us.

7  Azadi: Freedom. Facism. Fiction. by Arundhati Roy (Hamish Hamilton, $18)

Essays. Arundhati Roy. $18!

Seven Kinds of People You Find in Bookshops by Shaun Bythell (Profile Books, $17)


9  Three Women by Lisa Taddeo (Bloomsbury, $25)

Fellow Taddeo fans: there’s a novel coming in June, it’s called Animal and the pull quote on the cover is “I thought about killing myself but I wanted to meet you first. I am depraved. I hope you like me.”

We have so many books that need reading more urgently but this one’s burning an actual hole in our to-read pile.

10 The Treaty of Waitangi / Te Tiriti o Waitangi: An Illustrated History by Claudia Orange (Bridget Williams Books, $50)

Here’s e-tangata introducing their interview with Orange:

“In a way, it’s comforting that Dame Claudia Orange can surface from her years of studying and writing about the lead-up to, and the aftermath of, the Treaty of Waitangi, and still be confident that it might yet work out okay. Not that it definitely will, but that we have a chance of sorting out an honourable arrangement. Because it’s tempting to assume that the dishonouring will carry on, with the Crown perpetually resistant to delivering what it promised in 1840.”

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. 

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