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Image: Archi Banal
Image: Archi Banal

BooksOctober 20, 2023

The Unity Books bestseller chart for the week ending October 20

Image: Archi Banal
Image: Archi Banal

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.

AUCKLAND

1  Days at the Morisaki Bookshop by Satoshi Yagisawa (Bonnier, $28)

A Japanese bestseller from 2010 – and now an Auckland bestseller. Days at the Morisaki Bookshop is set in a second-hand bookshop in Tokyo, where broken-hearted young Takako goes to work for her uncle. NPR gives a lol review: “Another heartwarmer about how literature helps open up emotionally constipated people who are not good at expressing their feelings.” 

2  Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin (Vintage, $26)

They say tomorrow never comes, but we see much evidence to the contrary. 

3  The Bee Sting by Paul Murray (Hamish Hamilton, $37)

A really fabulous new read from Irish author Paul Murray – shortlisted for the 2023 Booker Prize, and in fact the novel we’ve been compulsively reading all week. Set in a small town in Ireland, The Bee Sting is a witty domestic drama about a family as they lose their wealth in the 2008 crash, told from the perspectives of husband and wife Dickie and Imelda, and their two teenage children, Cass and PJ. It’s a hefty novel; our only wish is that it would last even longer. 

4  Meet You at The Main Divide by Justine & Geoff Ross (HarperCollins, $50)

In 2017, Justine and Geoff Ross – founders of vodka business 42 Below – moved to a run-down sheep station at Lake Hawea, with the goal of making the land both profitable and sustainable. 

Rural journalist Sarah Perriam writes, “The honest portrayal of the Ross’s farming journey shares many similarities to passionate NZ farming families who are all searching for intergenerational identity, relevance, and prosperity in the face of rapid change.”

5  The Wren, The Wren by Anne Enright (Jonathan Cape, $37)

The new novel from another brilliant Irish author. 

6  Fungi of Aotearoa: A Curious Forager’s Field Guide by Liv Sisson (Penguin, $45)

Anyone feeling curious?

7  Prophet Song by Paul Lynch (Bloomsbury, $37)

May we introduce yet one more Irish Booker-shortlisted novel for 2023? The Guardian writes, “If there was ever a crucial book for our current times, it’s Paul Lynch’s Prophet Song. The Limerick-born author’s fifth novel imagines the Republic of Ireland slipping into totalitarianism after the rise of the rightwing National Alliance party which seizes total control in response to trade unionists lobbying for increased teachers’ wages. Civil liberties erode and civil war breaks out. Like a lobster in a boiling pot, people don’t realise their freedoms have been obliterated until it’s too late: ‘All your life you’ve been asleep, all of us sleeping and now the great waking begins.’”

8  Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus (Doubleday, $26)

Just released on Apple TV as a drama miniseries. 

9  The Financial Colonisation of Aotearoa by Catherine Comyn (Economic and Social Research Aotearoa, $30)

In her new book, researcher Catherine Comyn explores the intersection between colonisation and finance in Aotearoa. The Spinoff’s Charlotte Muru-Lanning interviewed the author.

10  Lola in the Mirror by Trent Dalton (HarperCollins, $37)

A new novel from the bestselling Australian author of Boy Swallows Universe. Lola in the Mirror is even more popular in our little capital, but not everyone is waving the Trent Dalton flag…

WELLINGTON

1  Transposium by Dani Yourukova (Auckland University Press, $30)

A local debut poetry collection (always the best thing to crown the Wellington Unities). From the publisher’s blurb: “Part philosophy thesis and part psychosexual Ancient Greek fever dream, Dani Yourukova’s Transposium adapts Plato into poetry, featuring queer longing, a choose-your-own-adventure apocalypse, Les Misérables slash fiction and love poems about dead philosophers.”

2  In the Temple by Catherine Bagnall & L. Jane Sayle (Massey University Press, $35)

A lovely new collection of nature poems and watercolours, from the creators of On We Go. 

3  Lola in the Mirror by Trent Dalton (HarperCollins, $37)

4  Untouchable Girls: The Topp Twins’ Story by Jools & Lynda Topp (Allen & Unwin, $50)

The definitive story of the country’s favourite lesbian comedy duo, the Topp Twins. Kete Books writes, “It is far from inevitable that the Topp Twins would become beloved icons of New Zealand culture. No one was casting for country-singing political-activist feminist lesbian twins from Huntly when they arrived on the entertainment scene in the late 1970s.  Any one of those identifiers is still polarising for much of New Zealand and taken together ought to be anathema for mainstream family entertainment.”

5  The Running Grave by Robert Galbraith (Sphere, $40)

The newest Cormoran Strike novel. 

6  The Fraud by Zadie Smith (Hamish Hamilton, $37)

Zadie Smith’s new historical novel is bringing in mixed reviews. Goodreads reviewer Fatma writes, “The last thing I want to feel about a 464-page novel after I finish it is lukewarm. Sadly, though, that was my general impression of Zadie Smith’s latest offering.” Ouch.

7  The Bee Sting by Paul Murray (Hamish Hamilton, $37)

8  The Last Devil to Die by Richard Osman (Viking, $37)

The Thursday Murder Club, back for more murder, mystery, and shenanigans. 

9  Doppelganger: A Trip into the Mirror World by Naomi Klein (Allen Lane, $42)

From the author of No Logo and This Changes Everything, new nonfiction about being confused for The Other Naomi (that is, conspiracy theorist Naomi Wolf), and our politically divided world. 

10  Emergency Weather by Tim Jones (The Cuba Press, $38)

Local and shiny-new climate fiction by climate activist and journalist Tim Jones. Aotearoa New Zealand Review of Books writes, “Tim Jones’ Emergency Weather, is Cli Fi, but a thriller. It’s still apocalyptic, but more like a scaled-down version of the disaster movies of the 1970s. It probably deserves a prize for being one of the least boring novels set in Wellington in the last 20 years. At times, though, the novel seems unsure whether it wants to be a thriller or some kind of polemical allegory.”

Keep going!