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The staff of Unity Books Auckland raise a glass to their huge win (Photo:
The staff of Unity Books Auckland raise a glass to their huge win (Photo:

BooksMarch 13, 2020

The Unity Books bestseller chart for the week ending March 13

The staff of Unity Books Auckland raise a glass to their huge win (Photo:
The staff of Unity Books Auckland raise a glass to their huge win (Photo:

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  The Mirror and the Light by Hilary Mantel (Fourth Estate, $50)

Toby Manhire: If someone’s self-isolating, what’s your recommendation, as owner of the best bookshop in the world, of the book they should take with them?

Jo McColl of Unity Books Auckland: If they’re not afraid of a big fat novel, I would definitely say The Mirror and the Light, by Hilary Mantel, the third part in the Thomas Cromwell trilogy. It’s even more extraordinary than the other two. Just absolutely unbelievable.

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

“It’s so calculated, in fact, that it feels like the author is quietly cutting onions in the same room as you: this is where you cry, reader … These moments are almost effective enough to make you forget that, on a sentence-by-sentence, phrase-by-phrase level, the novel is shockingly simplistic.” – Culture editor Sam Brooks reviewing this weirdo surprise hit.

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

Yes, well.

4  Girl, Woman, Other by Bernardine Evaristo (Hamish Hamilton, $40)

Winner of the 2019 Booker Prize. Announced this week: Evaristo will make three appearances at the Auckland Writers Festival in May: she’ll tell a story on Gala Night, teach a fiction workshop (!!!), and in another session “expound on her work, her activism, and the revolution sweeping through British publishing, of which she is a marker”.

Important note from Nicola Strawbridge, the Programme Manager:

First, and most importantly, the health and well-being of our writers and our audience is, and will always be, our paramount concern. As such, the Board and staff are in daily contact on these issues, closely monitoring all official health and public safety advice and working with venues and all other stakeholders to ensure all best practice steps are being followed.

As there is currently no community transmission in NZ and no governmental / Ministry of Health restrictions on public gatherings, we are continuing with our plans to deliver the Festival. Should things change we will of course take all necessary steps and let you know immediately.

5  Adults by Emma Jane Unsworth (HarperCollins, $33)

Read it a couple of months ago and have almost no memory of it. Except that it was fun to read and stars a young woman who’s obsessed with a social media influencer.

6  Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid (Bloomsbury, $33)

This one sticks: it’s awkward as hell and has all these spiky, perfect little scenes – racism, class, inequality, etc – to make you suck in your breath.

7  Auckland Architecture: A Walking Guide by John Walsh & Patrick Reynolds (Massey University Press, $20)

Back again for autumn strolls.

8  House of Earth and Blood: Crescent City by Sarah J. Mass (Bloomsbury, $33)

Slimmest little fantasy blockbuster you ever did see.

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

Fairly grim timing but cool, cool.

10 Going Dark by Julia Ebner (Bloomsbury, $33)

“It’s going to blow your mind. It’s beyond exceptional.” – Chloe Blades of Unity Books Auckland, which did you know is the best bookstore in the world?


1  The Mirror & The Light by Hilary Mantel (Fourth Estate, $50)

2  Celestial Bodies by Jokha Alharthi (Allen & Unwin, $28)

Winner of the 2019 International Booker Prize. Resurgence no doubt due to Alharthi’s appearance in Wellington last weekend as part of the New Zealand Festival.

3  How Emotions Are Made by Lisa Feldman Barrett (Pan, $25)

“If you think about it from a brain’s standpoint, it’s trapped in a dark, silent box called your skull, and has no access to the causes of the sensations it receives. It only has the effects, and it has to figure out what caused them. So how does it do this? There’s one other thing it can use, and that’s past experience. The idea is that your brain is constantly predicting what sensory inputs to expect and what action to take, based on past experience. Then it uses the incoming input to either confirm its prediction, or change it. It works this way for vision, hearing, taste – for every sense. I think the way emotions are made is not special: your brain makes an emotion by using prior experiences of emotion to predict and explain incoming sensory inputs, and guide action.” – the author, to Wired a few years back.

4  Cut Out Girl by Bart Van Es (Fig Tree, $28)

“Bart van Es – an Oxford English professor who has lived in Britain since the age of three – had always known that his grandparents had sheltered Jewish children. But it was only after the death of his uncle in 2014 that he began to ask questions and made contact with Lien, now in her 80s and living in Amsterdam.” – the Guardian.

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

6  Crazy Brave by Joy Harjo (Norton, $29)

“I understood why women went back to their abusers. The monster wasn’t your real husband, he was a bad dream – an alien of sorts – who took over the spirit of your beloved one. He entered and left your husband. It was your real love you welcomed back in.”

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

“The colonisers’ need to impose their laws and institutions on people who already had their own allowed no room for an honourable relationship with iwi and hapū. Instead colonisation fomented injustice: a systemic privileging of the Crown and a relationship in which it assumed it would be the sole and supreme authority.” – Jackson’s essay, published on the Spinoff last week.

8  The Way Through the Woods by Long Litt Woon (Scribe, $40)

A memoir in which one woman, undone by the sudden loss of her love, finds solace in mushrooming. The New York Times loved it: “Long tells the story of finding hope after despair lightly and artfully, with self-effacement and so much gentle good nature that we forgot how sad she (and we) are.”

9  Conflict Resolution for Holy Beings by Joy Harjo (Norton, $29)

Harjo, the US Poet Laureate, also appeared at the New Zealand Festival last weekend.

10 Girl, Woman, Other by Bernadine Evaristo (Penguin Books, $24)

Keep going!