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Image: Archi Banal
Image: Archi Banal

BooksOctober 14, 2022

The Unity Books bestseller chart for the week ending 14 October

Image: Archi Banal
Image: Archi Banal

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  Jumping Sundays: The Rise and Fall of the Counterculture in Aotearoa New Zealand by Nick Bollinger (Auckland University Press, $50)

What is a “jumping Sunday”, you ask? Kiran Dass recently wrote for the Guardian, “Jumping Sundays were a series of weekly ‘happenings’ that took place in Auckland’s Albert Park in the late 1960s. In a kaleidoscope of guitars, bongos, ponchos, beads and kaftans swirling among wafts of joss sticks and marijuana, hippies – derogatively referred to as freaks, weirdies, radicals and dropouts – would come together to enjoy live music and dance, listen to anti-war speeches and find a sense of community in a shared rejection of the monochromatic conservative landscape of New Zealand at the time.”

2  I’m Glad My Mom Died by Jennette McCurdy (Simon & Schuster, $45)

Look, it’s a provocative title. But Jennette McCurdy’s memoir (focusing on her dysfunctional child stardom – she starred in Nickelodeon’s iCarly and Cat & Sam) has been lauded as “a layered account of a woman reckoning with love and violence at once” by the Atlantic, and “measured, heartbreakingly poignant, and often laugh-out-loud-funny” by Shondaland. Hook ‘em in with controversy, make ‘em stay with darn good storytelling.

3  Towards a Grammar of Race in Aotearoa New Zealand edited by Arcia Tecun, Lana Lopesi and Anisha Sankar (Bridget Williams Books, $40)

We recently published an essay excerpt from this new BWB collection for your reading pleasure.

4  Klara and the Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro (Faber & Faber, $23)

A cool douse of Ishiguro, featuring robots, neurotic mothers, sick children, technology and the desire for perfection gone sour… What more could you want from a dystopian novel?

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

Every week of the past two years this gem has been on this very bestsellers list (every week, bar maybe two). 

6  Straight Up by Ruby Tui (Allen & Unwin, $37)

If you’re ready to be inspired, Ruby Tui’s new memoir should do the trick. The publisher writes, “After a childhood filled with neglect Ruby yearned for another path. Determined not to let her upbringing limit her, she survived abuse, drugs and tragedy to become one of the most successful women’s rugby players in the world.”

7  Shrines of Gaiety by Kate Atkinson (Doubleday, $37)

New Atkinson! Everyone, applause.

Shrines of Gaiety is set in 1920s London – Soho nightlife, gangsters, jazz, and the dark reverberations of the Great War. Almost every reviewer is comparing Kate Atkinson to Dickens after this, so, a mighty feat. An example from Slate: “A wondrously intricate piece of narrative clockwork…The Jazz Age London of Shrines of Gaiety is nearly as merciless as Dickens’ Victorian metropolis and even more rife with crime and intrigue…Irresistibly pleasurable.”   

8  Exiles by Jane Harper (Macmillan, $38)

The third instalment in Jane Harper’s Aaron Falk mystery series. 

9  Best of Friends by Kamila Shamsie (Bloomsbury Circus, $33)

New novel from the author of Home Fire, which won the Women’s Prize for Fiction in 2018. Some alluring words of praise for Best of Friends:

“…an epic story that explores the ties of childhood friendship, the possibility of escape, the way the political world intrudes into the personal” – Observer

“The spirit of Elena Ferrante haunts this tale of a friendship forged in Karachi” – Sunday Times

“A profound novel about friendship. I loved it to pieces” – Madeline Miller

“A shining tour de force” – Ali Smith

10  Greta & Valdin by Rebecca K Reilly (Te Herenga Waka University Press, $35)

Why are readers still gobbling up Greta & Valdin? Stacey from Goodreads says, “The author of the book seems like a GC. It’s a good book in my opinion, and I like it that everyone is gay. I give it a nine out of nine Matariki stars.” Very well said.


1  I’m Glad My Mom Died by Jennette McCurdy (Simon & Schuster, $45)

2  The Story of Russia by Orlando Figes (Bloomsbury, $35)

The New York Times tidily summarises, “Orlando Figes provides valuable lessons about the importance of mythologizing the country’s past in his sweeping new survey of Russian history. A British historian whose previous books include social and cultural histories of Russia, Figes aims in this primer to explain how central narratives used to justify the current leadership have been shaped and exploited over centuries.”

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

The book that won’t leave us alone. It’s been two and a half years since Sam Brooks’ investigation and we still don’t know why.

4  The Marriage Portrait by Maggie O’Farrell (Knopf, $38)

The newest historical fiction from the author of Hamnet.

5  Lessons by Ian McEwan (Jonathon Cape, $37)

“This was insomniac memory, not a dream. It was the piano lesson again—an orange-tiled floor, one high window, a new upright in a bare room close to the sickbay. He was eleven years old, attempting what others might know as Bach’s first prelude from Book One of The Well-tempered Clavier, simplified version, but he knew nothing of that. He didn’t wonder whether it was famous or obscure. It had no when or where. He could not conceive that someone had once troubled to write it. The music was simply here, a school thing, or dark, like a pine forest in winter, exclusive to him, his private labyrinth of cold sorrow. It would never let him leave.”

6  Shrines of Gaiety by Kate Atkinson (Doubleday, $37)

7  Ottolenghi Test Kitchen: Extra Good Things by Yotam Ottolenghi & Noor Murad (Ebury Press, $55)

There’s a new Ottolenghi on the shelves, which indicates one crucial thing: Christmas season has officially begun. 

This new offering focuses on delicious extras (harissa butter… tamarind dressing… mouth watering…) that you can use to boost multiple meals. The Telegraph says, “You could cook out of this for years and never eat a dull meal.” 

8  Straight Up by Ruby Tui (Allen & Unwin, $37)

9  Babel, or the Necessity of Violence: An Arcane History of the Oxford Translators’ Revolution by R F Kuang (Voyager, $35)

New standalone fantasy novel by the author of The Poppy War Trilogy. Humans of Goodreads are divided, so we bestow a representative from each side of the aisle:

Sofia wrote, “By the end of Babel, I was shaking. Maybe out of grief, maybe out of awe; I felt as if I had watched something monumental flourish and collapse. And, for a minute, the world seemed so still, like the last few pages were a clip from a silent film. … I think, at some point in the near future, the enormity of what I have just read will come slamming into me. But for now, I will type away and try, in vain, to express the shockwave that I know is about to hit the literary world.”

Emily May wrote, “To me, it felt very much like reading a textbook. Dry regurgitation of a linguistics or postcolonial lecture. The author uses Oxford as a setting and the later Industrial Revolution as a historical template, adding very little that was new to any of it. The protagonist, Robin, is a very passive unmemorable character, surrounded by characters who are either equally benign and forgettable, often serving as mouthpieces for what feel like jarringly modern views, or else one-dimensional EVIL imperialist racists. Where is the unique fantasy flair? Why are all the characters lacking in nuance?”

10  He Reo Tuku Iho: Tangata Whenua and Te Reo Māori by Awanui Te Huia (Te Herenga Waka University Press, $30)

From the publisher’s blurb: “Drawing upon findings from the national research project Manawa Ū ki te Reo Māori, which surveyed motivations and barriers for Māori language acquisition and use, Te Huia encourages readers to explore how they can journey back towards te reo Māori in daily life. … At the heart of He Reo Tuku Iho is the knowledge that it is possible for Māori to return te reo to minds, hearts and mouths.”

Keep going!