BooksAugust 23, 2019

Unity Books bestseller chart for the week ending August 23


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  Te Tiriti o Waitangi: The Treaty of Waitangi by Toby Morris with Ross Calman, Mark Derby, and Piripi Walker (Lift Education, $20)

We make it 10 weeks in the charts, and that’s not even counting the children’s ones. Toby rulz!

2  Three Women by Lisa Taddeo (Bloomsbury, $35)

“Lina became – not overnight, because it had been coming for years, but overnight it rose from under her flesh up to the surface – a woman who wasn’t going to be forgotten. She wasn’t going to be her sisters, fading into the shit greens and browns of winter Indiana. She wasn’t going to be every woman who has children and then cares for them and the house and has hobbies like pottery but nothing that feeds her otherwise. So in a fairy tale one morning she wakes up and her skin is a different tone… She is possessed of self.”

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

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4  Aftermath: Seven Secrets of Wealth Preservation in the Coming Chaos by James Rickards (Portfolio, $40)

Eat the rich.

5  Wild Honey: reading New Zealand women’s poetry by Paula Green (Massey University Press, $45)

“I found myself talking to the women from the past in my study and in the archives – trying to get closer to them as they held their pens and wrote. I wanted to draw them from the shadows without hijacking them in theory” – the author, right here, writing about Sarah Laing’s bright-summer cover.

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

“Towles has a talent for quirky details” – Bill Gates

The Meaning of Trees: the history and use of New Zealand’s native plants by Robert Vennell (HarperCollins, $55)

“Lurking in the New Zealand forest is one of the largest stinging nettles in the world, packed with enough poison to kill a fully grown human, and regarded by some as the world’s most dangerous stinging plant.”

8  Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari (Vintage, $30)

Per Wikipedia, it’s gone down a treat with readers but not so with academics, who have tumbled over themselves to deliver brainy smackdowns that will actually get read. Sample quote: “There’s a whiff of dorm-room bull sessions about the author’s stimulating but often unsourced assertions.” And another: “Much of Sapiens is extremely interesting, and it is often well expressed. As one reads on, however, the attractive features of the book are overwhelmed by carelessness, exaggeration and sensationalism.” 

9  Underland by Robert Macfarlane (Hamish Hamilton, $50)

On caves and catacombs and sewers and sinkholes. 

10 All the Names They Used for God: Stories by Anjali Sachdeva (Penguin Random House, $35)

On caves and sharks and aliens and revenge.



1  Ko Taranaki Te Maunga: My mountain is Taranaki by Rachel Buchanan (Bridget Williams Books, $15)

Us, naming it among the 20 best non-fiction books of 2018: “A whakapapa-memoir which uncovers fresh layers of the old and emblematic story of Parihaka being violently and lengthily smashed by the colony, and tells a moving and elegant tale of Buchanan’s findings on her family and Parihaka. A tiny wee book, but it delivers like an 800-pager.”

2  The New Zealand Wars: Ngā Pakanga o Aotearoa by Vincent O’Malley (Bridget Williams Books, $40)

We make it 15 weeks in the charts. 

3  Te Tiriti o Waitangi: The Treaty of Waitangi by Toby Morris with Ross Calman, Mark Derby, and Piripi Walker (Lift Education, $20)

4  Three Women by Lisa Taddeo (Bloomsbury, $35)

5  The Spy & the Traitor by Ben MacIntyre (Viking, $28)

“Macintyre touches only briefly on the unprecedented ‘download’ of information given by Gordievsky to the west. It included details of the KGB’s attempts to influence western elections through ‘active measures’. In 1985 the KGB circulated a top secret “personality questionnaire”. It set out the characteristics it was looking for in a potential agent: narcissism, vanity, greed and marital infidelity. Soon afterwards, the Soviet government invited a prominent American, Donald Trump, to visit Moscow” – the Guardian.

6  No One Is Too Small To Make A Difference by Greta Thunberg (Penguin, $8)

“Adults keep saying: ‘We owe it to the young people to give them hope.’ But I don’t want your hope. I don’t want you to be hopeful. I want you to panic. I want you to feel the fear I feel every day. And then I want you to act.” – the author, to the World Economic Forum in Davos. 

7  The Bomb by Sacha Cotter & Josh Morgan (Huia, $23)

Ready with the nyaws: Sacha and Josh fell in love while writing and illustrating this slappingly, splashingly great picture book – and their newborn, Finn, was on stage with them to accept the Margaret Mahy Book of the Year Award. Nyaaaw!

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

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9  How to Escape from Prison by Paul Wood (HarperCollins, $38)

“The other prisons I had been to wrapped their sandwiches in Gladwrap, but Gladwrap can easily be turned into an edged weapon – all you need to do is… wrap it tightly around a toothbrush or pen and then melt it and shape it until it is a hard plastic blade. You then sharpen its edges by rubbing it back and forward against a concrete surface…”

10 This Is Going To Hurt: secret diaries of a junior doctor by Adam Kay (Picador, $23)

“I suspect if the book had been entitled ‘A Harrowing Polemic About The State Of The NHS’ then it might not have shifted as many copies, and I wouldn’t have been able to spread the message as widely” – the author, to themedicportal.com. 

The Spinoff Review of Books is proudly brought to you by Unity Books, recently named 2020 International Book Store of the Year, London Book Fair, and Creative New Zealand. Visit Unity Books Wellington or Unity Books Auckland online stores today. 

Mad Chapman, Editor
The Spinoff has covered the news that matters in 2021, most recently the delta outbreak. Help us continue this coverage, and so much more, by supporting The Spinoff Members.Madeleine Chapman, EditorJoin Members

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