Bernardine Evaristo, a couple of days before winning the Booker. (Photo: David Levenson/Getty)
Bernardine Evaristo, a couple of days before winning the Booker. (Photo: David Levenson/Getty)

BooksJune 19, 2020

The Unity Books bestseller chart for the week ending June 19

Bernardine Evaristo, a couple of days before winning the Booker. (Photo: David Levenson/Getty)
Bernardine Evaristo, a couple of days before winning the Booker. (Photo: David Levenson/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  Girl, Woman, Other by Bernadine Evaristo (Penguin Classics, $24)

Winner of the 2019 Booker Prize. This week it became the first novel by a black woman to hit number one on the Sunday Times bestseller list.

Evaristo recently wrote for British Vogue on the importance of inclusive publishing:

“My Booker win and the success of a handful of others shouldn’t be taken to mean that the battle is won. Far from it.”

2  Normal People by Sally Rooney (Faber & Faber, $23)

Sally Rooney Sally Rooney

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

Winner of the 2020 Jann Medlicott Acorn Prize for Fiction. Likely to be a strong contender in the Ngaio Marsh Awards, too – the longlist will be announced later this month.

4  You Have a Lot to Lose: A Memoir, 1956 – 1986 by CK Stead (Auckland University Press, $50)

“I’ve suggested in a third volume, still being written and taking me up to the present, that we’re now in the age of the image and the internet; of a pictorial rather than a verbal culture. It’s one in which I’m an alien, a book man, looking on but from a distance.” – Stead, in a Q&A with Emily Simpson.

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

Is this on a required reading list for NCEA or something? Or is everyone buying it because it’s cheap?

6  Colin McCahon: Is This the Promised Land Vol. 2 1960-1987 by Peter Simpson (Auckland University Press, $80)

“I have been reviewing books for national radio for a number of years now and this may be the most impressive work that I have ever talked about on radio … I think that Auckland University Press has done a splendid job of publishing this … and Peter Simpson has spent years researching, writing – his coverage is comprehensive, it’s compassionate, towards this increasingly tormented man. And Simpson’s text is just so wonderfully accessible.” – David Hill on RNZ’s Nine To Noon.

7  Humankind: A Hopeful History by Rutger Bregman (Bloomsbury, $34)

Non-fiction; bound to be a bestseller; opens with that quite bizarre essay that the Guardian ran about a group of Tongan boys stranded on an island, and how they didn’t turn on one another, and how that disproves the man-is-cruel premise of Lord of the Flies.

Neatly and passionately unpacked for you here.

8  Landfall 239 ed. by Emma Neale (Otago University Press)

This issue features the essay by Grace Lee that won the 2020 Charles Brasch Young Essay Writers’ Competition. Landfall editor and judge Emma Neale said Lee’s essay, about her anorexia, was “deft, elegant, intelligent”, and included nods to Bowie and Keats.

9  Why We Sleep: The New Science of Sleep and Dreams by Matthew Walker (Penguin Random House, $28)

After conducting extensive research in the field I can confirm that we sleep because if we do not, everything goes completely to shit.

10 Conversations with Friends by Sally Rooney (Faber & Faber, $23)

Sally Rooney Sally Rooney


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

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

3  Nothing to See by Pip Adam (Victoria University Press, $30)

We’ll have a review up as soon as possible. In the meantime, here is an extremely great extract about a group of flatmates making a quiche.

4  Humankind by Rutger Bregman (Bloomsbury, $35)

5  Three Women by Lisa Taddeo (Bloomsbury, $25)

Only $5 more than Before the Coffee Gets Cold, just saying.

6  The Mirror and the Light by Hilary Mantel (Fourth Estate, $50)

“A shoo-in for the Booker prize” – Guardian headline.

7  Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens (LittleBrown, $25)

Recommended. A calming, saturating sort of story about a woman growing up wild in an American marsh.

8  Falastin: A Cookbook by Sami Tamimi and Tara Wigley (Random, $60)

“The dishes overflow with bold flavours: hummus is layered with toasted pita, drizzled with parsley oil, and sprinkled with sumac in a chapter of hearty breakfast choices; preserved baby eggplants stuffed with walnuts and spicy peppers are ideal appetizers. Signatures such as “upside down” rice—inverted so that the beans, squash, and lamb baked underneath rest on top when served—are represented, and London-dwelling Tamimi also freely pairs nontraditional items like beets and sweet potatoes with pistachio and bulgur.” – Publishers Weekly.

9  The Ratline: Love, Lies and Justice on the Trail of a Nazi Fugitive by Philippe Sands (Orion, $38)

“Picture the scene. You’re staying at a dilapidated baroque castle in the Austrian countryside, with thick stone walls and an overgrown moat. The septuagenarian owner, Horst, a tall, friendly man with an ’embracingly guttural, warm, hesitant, gentle voice’, makes you feel thoroughly at home. Over tea he tells you about his family history: his parents’ youthful love affair; his memories of his wartime childhood; the sad loss of his father when he was still a boy.

Then, almost idly, you pick out a book from the shelves, ‘black cover, no title, a gilded eagle astride a swastika’. Inside is a heartfelt inscription, from Horst’s mother to his father in 1931: ‘Through struggle and love to the finish.’ The book’s title is Mein Kampf.” – from a Times review.

10 Not in Narrow Seas: The Economic History of Aotearoa New Zealand by Brian Easton (Victoria University Press, $60)

“Not in Narrow Seas was sent to the printers before the lockdown – before the government had even made up its mind – so Covid-19 did not make the history … The book does deal with previous major epidemics. Surprisingly, the most important epidemics in New Zealand’s histories have been hardly mentioned in recent months.” – Easton, for

Keep going!