A man sits in a window seat, headphones on, reading
(Photo: Nazar Abbas Photography via Getty)

The Unity Books bestseller chart for the week ending February 19

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  Access All Areas: The Diversity Manifesto for TV and Beyond by Lenny Henry (Faber & Faber, $27)

“Draws on decades of experience to reveal why recent efforts to diversify media have been thus far ineffective, and why they are simply not enough” – publisher’s blurb.

2  Te Tiriti O Waitangi: The Treaty of Waitangi by Toby Morris (Lift Education, $20)

“If our kids are armed with the basics, the anger and guilt stripped away, then maybe there’s a chance they’ll grow into adults that understand that our differences make us stronger. Anger is useful, until it isn’t. Excellent resources like this one will help to make it a thing of the past.” – Ātea editor Leonie Hayden introducing this exceptional graphic novel.

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

“Aroha is a divine feeling. It is strong and it is never-ending. It comes up out of the ground. We feel it in the warmth of our marae, and with our ancestors, in the places they walked, swam, loved. This ancient love is tangible. We breathe it. We activate and reinvigorate it when we use our pepeha.”

4  Ikigai: The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life by Francesc Miralles and Hector Garcia (Hutchinson, $30)

Publishers Weekly: “This compendium of best practices for a healthy body and mind is loosely organised around the concept of ikigai, a Japanese word García (A Geek in Japan) and Miralles (Love in Lowercase) translate as ‘the happiness of always being busy.'”

5  I Am A Human Being by Jackson Nieuwland (Compound Press, $20)

Longlisted for the Mary and Peter Biggs Award for Poetry; shortlists are out in a couple of weeks.

6  This Pākehā Life: An Unsettled Memoir by Alison Jones (Bridget Williams Books, $40)

Longlisted in the general (read: eclectic) non-fiction section of the Ockham New Zealand Book Awards; god help the judges who have to weigh it up against Vincent O’Sullivan’s bio of Ralph Hotere, Brian Easton’s economic history of Aotearoa, and a book of brilliant personal essays by Madison Hamill, among others.

7  The Devils You Know by Ben Sanders (Allen & Unwin, $33)

Crime in California, by a 20-something engineer from Torbay:

“Vincent stopped and put his elbows on the rail. There was a guy ten feet away with a rod and a box of tackle, baiting a hook with a chunk of something bloody. Ahead of him the waterline stretched west, the boardwalk matching its curve and the palm trees above it like a long rank of pom poms waiting to cheer the wind.”

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

Winner of this country’s top fiction prize, top crime-writing prize, and 2020 more broadly.

9  Letters to Young People by Glenn Colquhoun (OldKing Press, $35)

A new, self-published collection from one of our most acclaimed poets, who also happens to be a GP. Most of these poems were written to real patients, as part of Colquhoun’s radically compassionate approach to medicine.

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

Acclaimed novel about the death of Shakepeare’s son.


1  Tōku Pāpā by Ruby Solly (Victoria University Press, $25)

Solly’s first collection of poetry; in English, the title means “my father”.

Kete books have published an extraordinary review by Arihia Latham, in which she explains she and Solly recently discovered they are second cousins once removed.

“Ruby’s book is full of lyrical archeology,” Latham writes. “She unearths words and feelings buried in the bones of our whakapapa. I don’t know how you, a stranger to us, will read this book. I can only tell you how it is, as whānauka to consume these words like she has translated the braille of clay on rock from our tupuna.”

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

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

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!

5  A Court of Silver Flames by Sarah J Maas (Bloomsbury, $33)

The latest in the bestselling high fantasy series, A Court of Thorns and Roses. “A shimmering erotic romance that probes vulnerability and grief,” said Entertainment Weekly.

6  Shuggie Bain by Douglas Stewart (Picador, $38)

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

7  Land: How the Hunger for Ownership Shaped the Modern World by Simon Winchester (HarperCollins, $40)

From the New Yorker:

“Winchester, a British-American author who has frequented the nonfiction best-seller lists during the past two decades, examines our duelling impulses for appropriation and exploitation, on the one hand, and stewardship and restoration, on the other, tracing our relationship to land from the dawn of agriculture to the current age. Moving across varied histories and geographies, he offers us one case study after another of how the once seemingly inexhaustible surface of the Earth has devolved into a commodity, the ultimate object of contestation and control.”

A primer.

9  Women Don’t Owe You Pretty by Florence Given (Cassell, $38)

See also What a Time to be Alone and How To Get Over A Boy, both by Chidera Eggerue, and this piece on Medium, which does a neat job of outlining the social media shitstorm over whether Given ripped off Eggerue’s books – or whether the similarities boil down to marketing trends.

10 Seven Kinds of People You Find in Bookshops by Shaun Bythell (Profile Books, $17)


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