Moana Jackson at Unity Wellington’s celebration for the book Imagining Decolonisation (Photo: Unity Wellington via Facebook)
Moana Jackson at Unity Wellington’s celebration for the book Imagining Decolonisation (Photo: Unity Wellington via Facebook)

BooksApril 16, 2021

The Unity Books bestseller chart for the week ending April 16

Moana Jackson at Unity Wellington’s celebration for the book Imagining Decolonisation (Photo: Unity Wellington via Facebook)
Moana Jackson at Unity Wellington’s celebration for the book Imagining Decolonisation (Photo: Unity Wellington via Facebook)

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.

AUCKLAND

1  The Mirror Book by Charlotte Grimshaw (Vintage, $38)

It’s the book everyone’s talking about – and writing about. Emma Espiner on The Spinoff, Kiran Dass in Metro, Steve Braunias at Newsroom and Rachael King for the ANZL all have truckloads of clever, thoughtful things to say about Grimshaw’s new family memoir. You aren’t just reading a book with this one; you’re immersing yourself in a nation-wide conversation. 

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

Excerpt from a review in The New Republic: “Klara inspires the humans in the book to muse about whether science can transcend death. Her owner grapples with the ramifications of choosing to have her own children genetically modified in order to enhance their potential. That this novel serves up these bigger questions so explicitly feels at first like a miscalculation, or a flaw in the narrative design, which locks us in Klara’s perspective. But I don’t think Klara aims to wrestle with these questions at all. Klara is a machine, but she’s also a contrivance, the perfect metaphor for parenthood.”

3  A Swim in a Pond in the Rain (In Which Four Russians Give a Master Class on Writing, Reading, and Life) by George Saunders (Penguin Random House, $37)

“George Saunders” on the front cover of anything is reason enough to be excited. If his name was used to endorse packet soup, we’d be hyped – and expecting something brilliantly weird.  

A Swim in a Pond in the Rain is even better than soup. Saunders has paired seven essays with iconic short stories by Chekhov, Turgenev, Tolstoy, and Gogol, exploring why great fiction works and how it lives in the minds of writers and readers. 

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

Wisdom that you can purchase and put in your pocket. (To fully absorb the benefits, we also recommend opening the book, directing your gaze toward the pages, and reading the words).

5  Value(s): Building a Better World for All by Mark Carney (Harper Collins, $40)

A critique of free market economics by an ex-Bank of England governor. From the Guardian: “In a mix of rich analysis mixed with pages that read like a dry Bank of England minute, [Carney] blames the three great crises of our times – the financial crash, the pandemic and the climate emergency (he is the UN’s special envoy on climate action and finance) – on twisted economics, an accompanying amoral culture, and degraded institutions whose lack of accountability and integrity accelerate the system’s dysfunction.”

6  Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell (Tinder Press, $25)

Historical fiction about Shakespeare’s son, Hamnet, who died at 11 years old and presumably (based on the logic of rhymes) inspired the writing of Hamlet. 

7  Shuggie Bain by Stuart Douglas (Pan Macmillan, $38)

Half a million copies of the Booker-winning novel have now been sold globally. One hundred thousand of those copies were bought at Unity. 

8  Apeirogon by Colum McCann (Bloomsbury, $23)

Look who’s back! Apeirogon, a beautiful novel based on the true story of two men, one Palestinian, one Israeli, who each lost a daughter in the Middle Eastern conflicts. And not to cheapen it, but now it’s in a smaller, cheaper package. 

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

Auē never gets a “look who’s back” – because it never leaves. 

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

Tenth on the Auckland list and first on the Wellington list – it’s almost as if the two Imagining Decolonisation piles are attempting to kiss. 

WELLINGTON

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

2  How to Live with Mammals by Ash Davida Jane (Victoria University Press, $25)

New poetry collection from Wellington-based bookseller Ash Davida Jane. From the publisher’s blurb: “All around us, life is both teeming and vanishing. How do we live in this place of so many others and so many last things? How to Live With Mammals is not a book of instruction but a book of reimagining and a book of longing. In these funny and often poignant poems, Ash Davida Jane asks how we might reorient ourselves, and our ways of loving one another, as the futures that we once imagined grow ever more precarious.”

3  The Mirror Book by Charlotte Grimshaw (Vintage, $38)

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

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

Philosophy and also mythbusting: “My grandmother inherited significant lands through her whakaheke rangatira (chiefly descent lines), and I was told her arranged marriage to my grandfather, who was of mixed Scottish/English and Māori heritage, was seen by her mother as being beneath her, in Māori social terms. The ‘no full-blood Māori’ myth operated in inverted form in my own family history.”

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

7  Raids and Settlements: Seamus Heaney as Translator edited by Marco Sonzogni and Marcella Zanetti (The Cuba Press, $30)

A collection of essays all written in appreciation of Seamus Heaney as a translator of poetry. He translated from 15 different languages, including Old and Middle English, Scots, Italian and French, so we’d say the appreciation is pretty well deserved. 

8  One: Pot, Pan, Planet: A Greener Way to Cook for You, Your Family and the Planet by Anna Jones (4th Estate, $55)

The cookbook of the year – at least until Ottolenghi comes in to pitch.  

Not sure what to cook now that it’s getting decidedly wintry? Well, three of the hearty, warming recipes from One are available on the Spinoff – arepas with black beans and salsa verde, aubergine and peanut stew with pink onions, and late summer corn and tomato curry. You’re welcome. 

9  Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell (Tinder Press, $25)

10  Women Don’t Owe You Pretty by Florence Given (Octopus Publishing, $30)

Ending this list on a firm “yep” today. 

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. 

Mad Chapman, Editor
The Spinoff has covered the news that matters in 2021, most recently the delta outbreak. Help us continue this coverage, and so much more, by supporting The Spinoff Members.Madeleine Chapman, EditorJoin Members

Get The Spinoff
in your inbox