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BooksApril 20, 2018

Unity Books best-seller chart for the week ending April 20


The week’s best-sellers at the Unity Books stores in Willis St, Wellington and High St, Auckland.


1 Plundering Beauty: A History of Art Crime During War by Arthur Tompkins (Lund Humphries UK, $70)

“There is a surprising amount of art crime in New Zealand,” Tompkins recently said in an interview in Lawtalk, the Law Society newsletter. “A few years back I co-founded the New Zealand Art Crime Research Trust, and annually we run a day-long Art Crime Symposium, in Wellington. One of my fellow trustees, Ngarino Ellis, from Auckland University’s Art History department, teaches every second year what I think is the only university-level course in art crime available at an Australasian university, focusing on art theft, fraud, forgery, smuggling and vandalism.”

2 Song for Rosaleen by Pip Desmond (Massey University Press, $30)

Affecting New Zealand memoir of a family coping with their mother’s dementia.

3 Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies, and Leadership by James Comey (MacMillan, $38)

Fake news.

4 Temptation of Forgiveness by Donna Leon (William Heinemann, $35)

The 27th Commissario Guido Brunetti novel.

5 Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman (HarperCollins, $25)

“From pop-star crushes to meals for one, the life of an outsider is vividly captured in this joyful debut novel, discovered through a writing competition and sold for huge sums worldwide”: The Guardian.

6 Towards Democratic Renewal: Ideas for Constitutional Change in New Zealand by Geoffrey Palmer & Andrew Butler (Victoria University Press, $40)

Ideas for constitutional change in New Zealand.

7 In Search of Consensus: New Zealand’s Electoral Act 1956 and its Constitutional Legacy by Elizabeth McLeay (Victoria University Press, $40)

New Zealand’s electoral act 1956 and its constitutional legacy.

8 Go Girl: A Storybook of Epic New Zealand Women by Barbara Else (Puffin, $45)

“My son has been completely captivated by the stories of Ahumai Te Paerata and Dame Mira Szászy, Farah Palmer and the other incredible Māori women featured…We talked about exactly what the ‘troubles’ of Bastion Point were after reading the story of Merata Mita, and Tainui land confiscation after reading  the story of Te Puea Herangi. There were interesting discussions about being a missionary and why fighting the Government is a good thing”: Emily Writes, The Sapling.

9 Driving to Treblinka: A Long Search for a Lost Father by Diana Wichtel (Awa Press, $45)

It could be that judges will be of a light-hearted mood and select Tom Scott’s jocular memoir as winner of the non-fiction prize at the 2018 Ockham New Zealand national book awards on May 15. Or they might feel awed by all the sturdy little footnotes in Anne Salmond’s latest New Zealand history, and go for her book. Or they might see the cultural merit in Michael Belgrave’s study of the King Country in the mid-19th century, and go for his book. The hope, though, is that they will see sense, and bow down to the majesty and tragedy of Diana Wichtel’s family memoir, and give her the award with bells on.

10 Factfulness: Ten Reasons We’re Wrong About the World and Why Things Are Better Than You Think by Hans & Ola Rosling (Sceptre, $30)

The world, argue the authors in their slim book, is in a much better state than we might think. “One of the most important books I’ve ever read – an indispensable guide to thinking clearly about the world”: Bill Gates.



1 The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck by Mark Manson (MacMillan, $35)

Manson took to Twitter last week, and posted, “6 Things People Should Give Fewer Fucks About.” They included mass shootings, and Trump.

A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles (Windmill Books, $26)

Entertaining airport trash.

12 Rules for Life by Jordan Peterson (Allen Lane, $40)


Mazarine by Charlotte Grimshaw (Penguin Random House, $38)

“Grimshaw takes a dysfunctional family drama that could easily play out around Auckland dining tables and cafes, but makes it richer, more clever, and more deranged, by weaving in dangers on a global scale…Masterful”: Charlotte Graham-McLay, The Spinoff Review of Books.

Educated: A Memoir by Tara Westover (Hutchinson, $38)

“Tara Westover was raised by radical survivalist parents in rural Idaho and never went to school – but she taught herself to write well and wrote a book about her extraordinary life”: Cambridge News.

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

Frances and Bobbi are lovers. Frances and Bobbi meet Melissa and Nick. Melissa and Nick are married. Frances and Nick have an affair. Literary fiction.

Greeks Bearing Gifts: A Bernie Gunther Thriller by Philip Kerr (Quercus, $38)

A Bernie Gunther thriller.

8 Days Without End by Sebastian Barry (Faber & Faber, $25)

Warmly reviewed novel set in 19th century America where an Irish immigrant falls in love with a guy, cross-dresses and marries him. Barry told the Guardian, “Three years ago, when he was 16 and I was doing the reading for this book, [my son] Toby was very unhappy, and when a young man is unhappy we must take note. I was desperately trying to find out what was wrong, but you can’t ask him directly. You have to be a sleuth, a kind of Sherlock Holmes of his unhappiness….He came into our bedroom and said, ‘The thing is Dad, I’m gay.’ I can’t describe to you the immense sense of relief and freedom in the very speaking of the words. His unhappiness fell away, my unhappiness fell away, and from that moment on we entered into this extraordinary period where he was instructing me in the magic of gay life.”

The Diary of a Bookseller by Shaun Bythell (Profile Books, $35)

Popular memoir by the owner of a second-hand bookstore in Wigtown, Scotland. The author’s ex-girlfriend Jessica Fox, a former NASA employee, has bought her own second-hand bookstore in Wigtown, and rents it out as a holiday experience for travelers. It’s booked up on Airbnb until 2021, and there’s an extensive waiting list.

10 Stories for Boys Who Dare to be Different by Ben Brooks (Hachette, $40)

Bedtime stories for rebel boys.

The Spinoff Review of Books is brought to you by Unity Books

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