(Photo: Johner Images via Getty)
(Photo: Johner Images via Getty)

BooksOctober 23, 2020

The Unity Books bestseller chart for the week ending October 23

(Photo: Johner Images via Getty)
(Photo: Johner Images via 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.


 Aroha: Māori Wisdom for a Contented Life Lived in Harmony with our Planet by Hinemoa Elder (Penguin, $30)

There was a typo there before: “contended” instead of “contented”. Which is very 2020.

Paul Dibble X: A Decade of Sculpture 2010–2020 by Paul and Fran Dibble (Bateman, $100 hardback, $69.99 paperback)

“This is actually the third book on Paul’s work but they have all been really different. The first, produced in 2000 was really a monograph and it was assembled chronologically with a writer that was involved with Paul’s work in some way in each time block, writing a chapter. The Large Works, from 2012, was entirely different, put together with chapters that looked at understanding the role of sculpture (like in civic spaces, schools, private works, and so on). This book featured the New Zealand Memorial at Hyde Park in London which is probably Paul’s most well-known work. But the book X is a more intimate portrayal, it is a study of the last 10 years, giving a great deal of insight of the working studio.” – Fran, to NZ Booklovers

3  Mauri Ora: Wisdom from the Maori World by Peter Alsop & Te Rau Kupenga (Potton & Burton, $40)

Something of a precursor to Elder’s version above, this was published in 2016. It’s less wordy, instead featuring beautifully-curated photography alongside whakataukī covering six themes. “I was transfixed,” said a reviewer for Booksellers NZ.

4  Apeirogon by Colum McCann (Bloomsbury, $32)

Longlisted for this year’s Booker; dipped out. Here’s how they sum it up on bookerprizes.com:

“Colum McCann crosses centuries and continents, stitching time, art, history, nature and politics into a tapestry of friendship, love, loss and belonging. Musical, muscular, delicate and soaring, it is a book for our times from a writer at the height of his powers.”

5  Humankind: A Hopeful History by Rutger Bregman (Bloomsbury, $35)

Counterpoint: Twitter.

6  Burnt Sugar by Avni Doshi (Hamish Hamilton, $35)

Shortlisted for this year’s Booker.

Random passage: “My mother sets an eggplant alight on the stove, and we watch the flames feed on its purple skin. The beige flesh inside is smoking. She separates the seeds and throws them in the bin. It’s a marvel her fingers don’t burn. On a white plastic board, she chops chillies and young green onions. The board is stained with turmeric, and there is still a little earth stuck in the rounds of onion stalk, but she tells me not to nitpick about small things.”

Winner(s??) to be announced next month.

Ottolenghi: Flavour by Yotam Ottolenghi and Ixta Belfrage (Ebury, $60)

Chilled avocado soup with crunchy garlic oil. Spiced plantain with coconut, apple and ginger salad. Poached apricots with pistachio and amaretti mascarpone.

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

The fact that this is still in the charts is driving Sam Brooks bananas. “There’s not especially much to talk about, it’s somewhere between ‘just fine’ and ‘not very good’, and I have no idea why so many people are buying it,” he wrote back in March.

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

Joint winner of the 2019 Booker Prize; reviewed here.

10 Breath: The Lost Art and Science of Our Most Misunderstood Function by James Nestor (Penguin, $38)

In, out.


1  Five O’Clock Shadows by Richard Langston (Cuba Press, $25)

Director of Country Calendar by day, poet by… well, whenever not at work. One might say Richard Langston is living the dream.

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


3  Life On Our Planet: My Witness Statement and Vision for the Planet by David Attenborough (Ebury Press, $45)

Cannot stop thinking of that ancient solitary tortoise, Lonesome George, which died in 2012.

4  Women Don’t Owe You Pretty by Florence Given (Cassell, $38)

From the Evening Standard: “[an] illustrated manifesto/zine, which covers (literally) everything from gender to internalised misogyny, queerness to body hair, slut shaming, emotional labour and masturbation.”

5  Girl, Woman, Other by Bernardine Evaristo (Penguin, $24)

6  All Our Shimmering Skies by Trent Dalton (HarperCollins, $35)

New from the celebrated Brisbane author of Boy Swallows World.

“She blows gently on the stick insect, and the lanky creature raises its head and tail and moves its wings to make a hissing sound and that movement reveals its great treasure, its glorious spoils: a vivid pink at the base of its hind wings, a pink so deep and appealing to Molly that it makes her giggle. ‘You’re all right, mate,’ she says. ‘Don’t be scared. This is Greta Maze and I’m Molly Hook. We’re heading deep into your scrub now because I gotta find Longcoat Bob. But don’t worry about us, okay. Greta and me. We’re the good people. We’re the good guys.'”

7  Invisible Women: Exposing Data Bias in a World Designed for Men by Criado Caroline Perez (Vintage, $24)

“Gender-blindness in tech culture produces what Criado Perez calls the ‘one-size-fits-men’ approach. The average smartphone – 5.5 inches long – is too big for most women’s hands, and it doesn’t often fit in our pockets. Speech-recognition software is trained on recordings of male voices: Google’s version is 70% more likely to understand men. One woman reported that her car’s voice-command system only listened to her husband, even when he was sitting in the passenger seat. Women are more likely to feel sick while wearing a VR headset. Another study found that fitness monitors underestimate steps during housework by up to 74%, and users complain that they don’t count steps taken while pushing a pram.” – the Guardian, and holy shit how about that last bit, eh?

8  Victory Park by Rachel Kerr (Mākaro Press, $35)

New from the makers of Āue (well, the publishers anyway). Victory Park comes with our absolute highest recommendation – it’s a confident, compassionate novel starring a good person who happens to be a single mum.

9  Jack by Marilynne Robinson (Little, Brown, $38)

“Readers of the previous novels – Gilead (2004), Home (2008) and Lila (2014) – have seen Jack through the eyes of other characters, whose stories mesh, contradict and complicate one another in patterns so beautifully intricate that I envisioned Robinson drafting the series from an enormous storyboard. (Astonishingly, however, as she explained in an interview, she “never actually planned to write a second Gilead novel,” let alone four.) In the latest book, we get Jack’s story from his own perspective and learn what happened during the first decade of his exile.” – the New York Times

10 Ottolenghi: Flavour by Yotam Ottolenghi and Ixta Belfrage (Ebury, $60)

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
Aotearoa continues to adapt to a new reality and The Spinoff is right there, sorting fact from fiction to bring you the latest updates and biggest stories. Help us continue this coverage, and so much more, by supporting The Spinoff Members.Madeleine Chapman, EditorJoin Members

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