Wellington, city of architecture and walking (Photo Getty Images)
Wellington, city of architecture and walking (Photo Getty Images)

BooksApril 22, 2022

The Unity Books bestseller chart for the week ending April 22

Wellington, city of architecture and walking (Photo Getty Images)
Wellington, city of architecture and walking (Photo Getty Images)

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  Young Mungo by Douglas Stuart (Picador, $38)

Douglas Stuart won the Booker for his brilliant debut novel Shuggie Bain, and now he’s back for round two, treading similar ground – a young homosexual man in Glasgow, growing up in poverty. The Guardian gives some chuckles, describing Young Mungo as “another weepy” which “proves his debut was no fluke”.  But the Guardian isn’t just there for the lols: “If Young Mungo doesn’t raise the same immediate thrill as Shuggie Bain – the sense of discovering a new voice of coruscating brilliance – there’s a richer, deeper pleasure to be gleaned here. Young Mungo is a finer novel than its predecessor, offering many of the same pleasures, but with a more sure-footed approach to narrative and a finer grasp of prose. There are sentences here that gleam and shimmer, demanding to be read and reread for their beauty and their truth.”

2  Grand: Becoming My Mother’s Daughter by Noelle McCarthy (Penguin, $35)

Noelle McCarthy wrote an essay for us recently about the creation of her new memoir. Here’s an excerpt:

I wrote Grand at a desk lined with photos of my mother: as a young girl on holiday in Kerry, in a pub lounge in Cork sometime in the 80s with rouged cheeks and her best friend next to her, as a grandmother with a giant pink dahlia, me getting married and her standing next to me. Those photos froze her in single moments, trapped under glass like a butterfly. They kept me honest, or as close to honest as I could get, a reminder that she was always more than what I saw of her. More than just my mother; a young woman in a bar with frosted lipstick and every anticipation of a good night in front of her, a teenager with long hair and long legs and an arm full of irises posing self-consciously. A complicated woman, a daughter, a friend, a wife, a personality of some force and depth and mystery. I looked at the photos and tried to get as much of her as I could into our story.

3  Greta & Valdin by Rebecca K Reilly (Te Herenga Waka University Press, $35)

A local novel, shortlisted for the Jann Medlicott Acorn Prize for Fiction. We loved it, and so did the Herald, who call Greta & Valdin a “big stew of a story” and a “joyful examination of love in its many forms.” Go pick it up for some comfort reading this long weekend.

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

It’s small, it’s affordable, and it’s beloved by star-struck superfans from Auckland to Welly.

5  Klara and the Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro (Faber & Faber, $23)

An “artificial friend”, an unwell young girl, a dystopian world and a desperate mother – serve over ice and you’ve got yourself another spine-tingling wonder by Ishiguro. No surprise that the new, smaller edition has slid easily back into the bestsellers.

6  Invisible Child: Poverty, Survival and Hope in New York City by Andrea Elliott (Hutchinson, $40)

Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Andrea Elliott followed a young Brooklyn girl, Dasani Coates, for eight years. Dasani lived with her family in homeless shelters, navigating hunger, parental drug addiction, violence, housing instability, segregated schools and the child-protection system. Get ready to have your heartstrings pulled. 

7  Sea of Tranquillity by Emily St. John Mandel (Picador, $38)

The bestselling author of Station Eleven, a novel about a pandemic, has released a new novel about a pandemic. The Financial Times provides a truly damning review: “Sea of Tranquillity is a book where every new element subtracts from the reader’s experience. The characters are simplistic, the dialogue flat, the descriptive passages exercises either in gauzy wonder at nature or dreary despair about the dehumanised technoscape. A book like Sea of Tranquillity is a sign of a genre’s exhaustion.” Serious, lemon-juice-in-wound-ish ouch. 

8  The Candy House by Jennifer Egan (Simon and Schuster, $38)

A Visit from the Goon Squad author Jennifer Egan returns with a sequel, and it’s another novel full of experimental writing styles, multiple narrators, leaps through time and space, and the dark side of technology. The New York Times is a fan: “The Candy House is a trim 334 pages, but it has a dwarf-star density. Inside, 15 or 20 other novels are trying to climb out. The chapters are short; the tone is aphoristic; the eye for cultural and social detail is Tom Wolfe-like.”

9  The Leviathan by Rosie Andrews (Bloomsbury, $33)

“Norfolk, 1643. With civil war tearing England apart, reluctant soldier Thomas Treadwater is summoned home by his sister, who accuses a new servant of improper conduct with their widowed father. By the time Thomas returns home, his father is insensible, felled by a stroke, and their new servant is in prison, facing charges of witchcraft.

“Thomas prides himself on being a rational, modern man, but as he unravels the mystery of what has happened, he uncovers not a tale of superstition but something dark and ancient, linked to a shipwreck years before.” Thanks for dishing up the magic and intrigue, Bloomsbury!

10  A Single Rose by Muriel Barbery (Text Publishing, $30) 

A new novel translated from French and set in Tokyo, by the author of The Elegance of the Hedgehog. If you’re overwhelmed by all of the new fictional goodness at this point, you are not alone.


1  Wellington Architecture: A Walking Guide by John Walsh & Patrick Reynolds (Massey University Press, $25)

A treat for any Wellingtonian who loves to walk around, read, and gaze at buildings (i.e. all of you).

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

3  Sticky: The Secret Science of Surfaces by Laurie Winkless (Bloomsbury, $33)

So many intriguing things about this new non-fiction. The chewing gum-stepping on the cover, the concept of a book about surface tension and friction, and best of all, the author’s surname: Winkless. Honestly. There is nothing not to love here. 

4  Greta & Valdin by Rebecca K Reilly (Te Herenga Waka University Press, $35)

5  Young Mungo by Douglas Stuart (Picador, $38)

6  Amongst Our Weapons by Ben Aaronovitch (Gollancz, $38)

The ninth and newest novel in Ben Aaronovitch’s urban fantasy series. If you’re new to Rivers of London, this is a series about a detective and apprentice wizard who solves magical crimes in London. In Amongst Our Weapons, someone has been murdered in the London Silver Vaults and Peter Grant has to solve the case – and quickly, because his partner Beverley is expecting twins! Obviously, it’s amazing. 

7  Grand: Becoming My Mother’s Daughter by Noelle McCarthy (Penguin, $35)

8  Sea of Tranquillity by Emily St. John Mandel (Picador, $38)

9  The Bookseller at the End of the World by Ruth Shaw (Allen & Unwin, $37)

In this case, the end of the world is Manapōuri and the bookseller in question is Ruth Shaw of Wee Bookshops. This is her memoir, which includes adventure, tragedy, and bookshop anecdotes. As told by Stuff, Ruth’s life has included “Deserting from the Navy. Life sailing the Pacific and Indian oceans. Life with the sex workers and drug addicts of Kings Cross. The son she had to give up, the son she lost at birth, the four husbands.” Those are just the dull moments.

10  Kurangaituku by Whiti Hereaka (Huia Publishers, $35)

We’re sending our thoughts into the universe (and hopefully into the minds of the judges) that Kura wins the Acorn Prize for Fiction on May 11th. Recently essa may ranapiri wrote a double-thumbs-up sort of review for us, which you can peruse at will.

Keep going!