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(Photo: Beau Lark/Corbis/VCG via Getty)
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BooksDecember 18, 2020

The Unity Books bestseller chart for the week ending 18 December

(Photo: Beau Lark/Corbis/VCG via Getty)
(Photo: Beau Lark/Corbis/VCG via Getty)

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  Troy: The Siege of Troy Retold by Stephen Fry (Michael Joseph, $37)

Would read absolutely anything retold by Stephen Fry.

2 Shuggie Bain by Stuart Douglas (Picador, $38)

Winner, all by itself, of the 2020 Booker Prize.

3  Humankind: A Hopeful History by Rutger Bregman (Bloomsbury, $35)

Counterpoint: the Wellington rental market.

Ottolenghi: Flavour by Yotam Ottolenghi & Ixta Belfrage (Ebury Press, $60)

A few days ago Ottolenghi announced plans to visit Wellington and Auckland in June, “to reveal his next-level approach to cooking explored in his stunning new book Ottolenghi FLAVOUR. It will be an exclusive opportunity to hear directly from the man himself about the taste sensations and ingredients that excite him and will inspire your own cooking”. Tickets here.

5  Entangled Life: How Fungi Make Our Worlds, Change Our Minds and Shape Our Futures by Merlin Sheldrake (Bodley Head, $40)

Merlin Sheldrake

6  Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell (Tinder Press, $38)

A novel about Shakespeare’s son who died aged 11. Here’s a snippet from an interview O’Farrell gave the Guardian: “Strangely, given how devastatingly she writes about bereavement, she has never lost anyone close to her: ‘What informed the novel is the peril we live in with my daughter.’ Her middle daughter suffers from anaphylaxis, a potentially lethal allergic reaction, and can go into shock just sitting next to someone eating peanuts. ‘It’s every parent’s worst and most visceral fear that you will lose your child. That – and the idea you couldn’t save them or weren’t able to safeguard them. I cannot imagine the agony of having to bury a child. It must be unlike anything else.'”

7  A Promised Land by Barack Obama (Viking, $70)

From an exclusive interview with the Atlantic: “A Promised Land is an unusual presidential memoir in many ways: unusually interior, unusually self-critical, unusually modern (this is the first presidential memoir, I believe, to use the term ethereal bisexual to describe an unrequited love interest), and unusually well written. The book does suffer at times from a general too-muchness, and it has its arid stretches, although to be fair, no one has yet invented a way to inject poetry into extended explanations of cap-and-trade, or Mitch McConnell’s motivations.”

8  Auē by Becky Manawatu (Makaro Press, $35)

Meri Kirihimete!

9  Burnt Sugar by Avni Doshi (Hamish Hamilton, $35)

“They watch my face as I hold the baby for the first time. The child has the sweet smell of amniotic fluids on her face. She looks serene – she has passed through something dark and come into the light. The light is halogen, and moths knock against the bulbs.

I don’t feel anything much as I hold her, but when they take her away I know something is missing.”

10 Apeirogon by Colum McCann (Bloomsbury, $33)

“Colum McCann’s odd and ambitious book contains almost 500 pages of fact and fiction about the Israel‑Palestine conflict, combined with various quotations, asides, remarks, insights, musings and statements of fact on all manner of subjects, including the working habits of Picasso, the invention and manufacture of rubber bullets, the work of senator George Mitchell during the Northern Ireland peace talks and the correspondence between Einstein and Freud” – the Guardian


1  Aroha: Māori Wisdom for a Contented Life by Hinemoa Elder (Penguin, $36)

“Listening to others, without interrupting them, without thinking about my response before they have even finished, is a useful discipline.”

2  Shuggie Bain by Douglas Stuart (Picador, $38)

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


4  Hiakai: Modern Māori Cuisine by Monique Fiso (Godwit, $65)

Reviewed for us by Māori chef Te Tangaroa Turnbull: “I consider being a chef a sacred task and approach my craft with awe, reverence and zeal. In several places Fiso drew tears to my eyes at the way she described a foodstuff – its flavour, environs and use – something Redzepi failed to achieve with his odes of love for Nordic cooking that are the Noma cookbooks.”

5  A Promised Land by Barack Obama (Viking, $70)

6  Ottolenghi: Flavour by Yotam Ottolenghi & Ixta Belfrage (Ebury Press, $60)

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

8  Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell (Tinder Press, $38)

9  Troy: The Siege of Troy Retold by Stephen Fry (Michael Joseph, $37)

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

Winner, with Margaret Atwood for The Testaments, of the 2019 Booker Prize.

Keep going!