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BooksMarch 12, 2021

The Unity Books bestseller chart for the week ending March 12

Woman in cardigan and trackpants reads book with cat in lap and cup of tea.
(Photo: cunfek via Getty Images)

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  Klara and the Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro (Faber & Faber, $37)

New Ishiguro! New Ishiguro! It really should be shouted from the rooftops. (As should the fact that he’s appearing via livestream at the Auckland Writers Festival, in May.)

The Nobel Prize and Man Booker winner’s eighth novel is narrated by Klara, an android or “Artificial Friend” bought as a companion for an ill young woman in a strange future version of America. Ishiguro delves back into themes he explored in Never Let Me Go – and yes, it stacks up, and yes, you should read it. 

2  A Crooked Tree by Una Mannion (Faber & Faber, $33)

From the Guardian: “Don’t be misled. While Una Mannion’s debut ably fulfils the promise of its suspenseful start, providing carefully orchestrated lawlessness, bare-fisted violence and a long-haired predator sinisterly named ‘Barbie Man’, this is no crime novel. As the story unfurls, its deeper menace and mystery will derive not from child abduction but from secretive family dysfunction and the ever-confounding travails of adolescence.”

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

It’s Shuggie again! 

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

We could just say “It’s week two million of Auē stealing our hearts, no surprise at all, etc,” but instead we’ll remind you why Manawatu’s novel is still topping the charts with an excerpt:

“Taukiri said that – ‘Home now, buddy’ – but he wouldn’t look at me. He looked around me, at the toaster, at a dead fly on the windowsill, at the door handle. He said something dumb, ‘You’ll love it, there are cows.’

You’re an orphan. I’m leaving. But cows.”

5  The Neil Gaiman Reader: Selected Fiction by Neil Gaiman (Headline Publishing, $60)

Fifty-two pieces of fiction, spanning 750 pages, from award-winning fantasy and sci-fi author Neil Gaiman. Heaving with complete short stories and novellas, plus excerpts from Neverwhere, Stardust, American Gods, Anansi Boys and The Ocean at the End of the Lane. 

Just announced: Gaiman’s appearing on stage with Amanda Palmer at the AWF; the two are reunited, apparently, and will be talking with Lucy Lawless about “how writing through a pandemic, together and apart, has helped them remain productive, creative and steady, and what their plans are for the days ahead”.

6  Land: How the Hunger for Ownership Shaped the Modern World by Simon Winchester (HarperCollins, $40)

A history of our relationship with land since the agricultural revolution, and according to Wikipedia, Simon Winchester’s 28th book. 

7  Cousins by Patricia Grace (Penguin Random House, $26)

We’re only telling you what you already know here, but… A modern classic from one of New Zealand’s most celebrated Māori novelists. Here on the back of the new film, no doubt. 

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

“Ki te kotahi te kākaho ka whati, ki te kāpuia, e kore e whati / When we stand alone we are vulnerable but together we are unbreakable.”

Plus 51 more Māori proverbs for a content and balanced life. 

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

Something to read as an antidote to the news. 

10  Last One at the Party by Bethany Clift (Hodder & Stoughton, $38)

Brilliant new post-apocalyptic fiction where the solo heroine gets high, drinks champagne and watches Gilmore Girls at the end of the world. Spinoff-reviewed a few weeks ago by Catherine Woulfe. 


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

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

3  Tranquillity and Ruin by Danyl McLauchlan (Victoria University Press, $30)

Excerpt from Alie Benge’s recent Spinoff review: “As I sat down with Tranquillity and Ruin in the work lunch room, I wondered what I’d say if someone asked what I was reading. I could say it was a book about existence and meditation, but that’s not quite right. Maybe about mood disorders and trying to feel better, or how to be good, how to be conscious, how to live a moral life. Maybe it’s about trying to hack suffering – how to find its source and pluck it out like a splinter. But none of those quite get to the heart of what this book is.” 

4  Love You: Public Policy For Intergenerational Wellbeing by Girol Karacaoglu (Tuwhiri Project, $27)

Reasons for prioritising the environment, equity, personal freedoms, social cohesion and political voice across generations – rather than just economic growth – in policy decisions. 

5  Land: How the Hunger for Ownership Shaped the Modern World by Simon Winchester (HarperCollins, $40)

6  Klara and the Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro (Faber & Faber, $37)

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

8  Pathway of the Birds: The Voyaging Achievements of Māori and Their Polynesian Ancestors by Andrew Crowe (Bateman, $50)

The incredible story of Polynesian migration across 28 million square kilometres of the Pacific Ocean. Plus! Over 400 maps, illustrations and photographs. 

9  Ngā Kete Mātauranga: Māori Scholars at the Research Interface edited by Jacinta Ruru and Linda Waimarie Nikora (Otago University Press, $60)

Excerpt from the introduction by Jacinta Ruru: “Today, there are still only about 10 Māori teaching and researching in the now six law schools. It isn’t just law. The tertiary sector across all disciplines employs about a static five percent Māori. It is well past time that our country seriously commits to decolonising the tertiary workforce, curriculum and research agenda. This book is an important contribution to this call for action.”

10  Tōku Pāpā by Ruby Solly (Victoria University Press, $25)

Solly’s debut, full of gorgeous poems like this one:

When you first told me

that you gave me the name of our tupuna

so that I would be strong enough

to hold our family inside my ribcage,

I believed you.

Here you are.

Here is how I saw you,

trapped in your own amber.

Now it’s time

for you to believe me.

Keep going!