The magnificent Anahera Gildea, whose book of poetry Sedition just hit the charts. (Design: Tina Tiller)
The magnificent Anahera Gildea, whose book of poetry Sedition just hit the charts. (Design: Tina Tiller)

BooksJune 17, 2022

The Unity Books bestseller chart for the week ending 17 June

The magnificent Anahera Gildea, whose book of poetry Sedition just hit the charts. (Design: Tina Tiller)
The magnificent Anahera Gildea, whose book of poetry Sedition just hit the charts. (Design: Tina Tiller)

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  How to Loiter in a Turf War by Coco Solid (Penguin, $28)

We begin at a bus stop:

Te Hoia knows the concrete wall has already started to boil under the sun. Her denim ass predictably caramelises as she leans against it anyway. She is inattentive and sick of using both knees. 

She touches her earrings. Buses involve a lot of waiting. Squinting. Whenever she touches her jewellery it sounds like a cutlery drawer up close. 

2  Things We Lost to the Water by Eric Nguyen (Vintage, $37)

A debut novel about a Vietnamese woman and her two sons who immigrate to New Orleans, leaving their husband / father behind. It’s already gained the accolade of one of President Obama’s Favourite Books of the Year – which shows real confidence, as it’s only June!

3  How to Be a Bad Muslim and Other Essays by Mohamed Hassan (Penguin, $35)

New Zealand poet and journalist Mohamed Hassan combines narrative, humour, memoir and journalism to describe the experience of being Muslim. National treasure John Campbell said, “Sometimes his writing is gently observational, sometimes sad, sometimes justly angry, but always important, timely and true”, while poet and champion of poets Paula Green says, “Kaleidoscopic in tone, [the essays] sear at both the personal and the political level, and open up the immigrant experience.” We particularly liked the one about his audition for a certain blockbuster pirate movie.

4  A Gentle Radical: The Life of Jeanette Fitzsimons by Gareth Hughes (Allen & Unwin, $40)

New biography of the late Jeanette Fitzsimons, who was co-leader of the Green Party 1995 to 2009. Anissa Ljanta wrote a funny and tender review for The Spinoff: “Thankfully, Gareth Hughes’ A Gentle Radical is no ploddy personal saga. The story of his friend and mentor Jeanette Fitzsimons’ life and work features dollops of parliamentary dysfunction, an epic love story and a supporting cast of quirky and dastardly characters. There are comedic interludes, glimpses into the inner machinations behind historical moments and a dash of scandal – albeit with more compost toilets and lentils than the usual Hollywood offering.”

5  Pure Colour by Sheila Heti (Harvill Secker, $35)

The newest, quirkiest novel by the author of Motherhood. Want to spend 40 pages reading about a young woman trapped in a leaf? Sheila’s got you.

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

The hot apple crumble of reading – comforting and feels like home, with a tendency to make you snort with laughter and burn your tongue on its searing smart wit. (We bake comedic apple crumbles with high IQ.)

Get a taste of Reilly in her recent Spinoff essay about New Zealand’s favourite TV show. Obviously, we mean Shortland Street.

7  Great Circle by Maggie Shipstead (Doubleday, $37)

A 2021 novel that follows the lives of two women – Marian, an aviator who disappears near New Zealand in an attempt to fly around the globe in 1950, and Hadley, a Hollywood actress who is starring as Marian in a film. The lush writing has been compared to that of many greats: Donna Tartt and Anthony Doerr, plus the Guardian says, “It is rare to read a novel that is as beautifully built as it is elegantly written. Sarah Waters is another writer who combines those gifts, but not many spring to mind; let’s say Barbara Kingsolver, too.” 

8  Sea of Tranquillity by Emily St. John Mandel (Picador, $38)

The newest science fiction novel by the author of Station Eleven, which is now a miniseries starring Mackenzie Davis. 

9  Shuggie Bain by Stuart Douglas (Picador, $25)

The winner of the 2020 Booker Prize. Read it and weep.

10  Toi Tu Toi Ora: Contemporary Māori Art by Nigel Borell (Penguin, $65)

The companion book to Auckland Art Gallery’s sublime 2020-21 exhibition Toi o Tamaki, which tells the story of 70 years of Māori art. It will be right at home on your coffee table.

(We published an excerpt of the introduction by the late Moana Jackson, here.)


1  Things I Remember, Or Was Told by Carol Shand (Writes Hill Press, $40)

Via the publisher: “The memoir of outspoken Wellington GP Carol Shand, who since the early 1960s has spent her life fighting for change in medical, social and legal issues that she considered important: maternity care, access to contraception, abortion law change, and improved response to sexual assault complaints.”

2  Sedition: Poems by Anahera Marie Gildea (Taraheke | BushLawyer, $30)

Two of Welly’s bestsellers this week are debut poetry collections from Taraheke | BushLawyer, a new publishing collective of “indigenous women and their allies from Aotearoa and so-called Australia”. All profits from their projects are donated to #landback. 

Gildea’s a force and she has been writing for ages – poetry and essays, reviews and fiction – but has until now resisted publishing a book. She dedicates Sedition thusly:

Ki ngā whaea katoa, for all the mothers.

For Papatūānuku, te puna whaea, my own formidable mother, the mothers flying solo, the step ones, those in convents, the ones whose options have been foiled by biology or chronology, the godmothers, the ones stuck in crap relationships, the total goddesses, the mothers-in-law, the grandmothers, the mothers who feel close to giving up, and the ones whose children are lost.

E ngā toka tū moana, e ngā toka mīrei, e ngā māreikura, nā koutou i whāngai mai ō mātou hinengaro, me iri ki ngā pātū o te whare kōrero ēnei kupu mihi mō koutou katoa.

3  Mrs Jewell and the Wreck of the General Grant by Cristina Sanders (The Cuba Press, $37)

New historical fiction, based on the shipwreck at the Auckland Islands in 1866. 

4  Surrender: Poems by Michaela Keeble (Taraheke | BushLawyer, $30)

The pre-mentioned second poetry collection published by Taraheke|BushLawyer. From the blurb: “Surrender is Michaela Keeble’s remarkable first full-length collection of poems. It responds to the call of indigenous and other radical poets – as well as to the deafening silence in white poetry – to face our colonial past and our increasingly appropriative present. In challenging herself, Michaela’s poems also challenge other white poets, writers and readers to consider the potential for violence in our voices, language choices and poetic positions. When is white poetry transformative? When it goes beyond whiteness as confession and instead dares the reader to sift it, strain it, dig it over.”

5  Freezing Order: A True Story of Money Laundering, Murder, and Surviving Vladimir Putin’s Wrath by Bill Browder (Simon & Schuster, $38)

We wonder what’s top of Putin’s to-read pile? 

6  Happy-Go-Lucky by David Sedaris (Little, Brown, $35)

Just what the doctor ordered! A laugh. 

Dozens of thumbs-up from The Atlantic: “Sublimely funny … Sedaris is back, doing the thing his readers have come to adore: offering up wry, moving, punchy stories about his oddball family … The pieces range widely, following the path of Sedaris’s travels and his eccentric mind, but a through line involves his nonagenarian father … This is one of the more complicated relationships of Sedaris’s life, and he is unflinching as he tries to understand who his enigmatic father was, and how living with him altered the shape of his own existence.”

7  Wellington Architecture: A Walking Guide by John Walsh & Patrick Reynolds (Massey University Press, $25)

These Wellingtonians, they love to walk.

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

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

One little BWB text to rule them all. 

10  The Island Of Missing Trees by Elif Shafak (Viking, $26)

The smaller, cuter, cheaper edition of Elif Shafak’s novel about star-crossed lovers in Cyprus and a watchful fig tree is now available.

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
Aotearoa continues to adapt to a new reality and The Spinoff is right there, sorting fact from fiction to bring you the latest updates and biggest stories. Help us continue this coverage, and so much more, by supporting The Spinoff Members.Madeleine Chapman, EditorJoin Members

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