Flaming comets falling to Earth, except the comets are all Sally Rooney novels
(Image: johan63 via iStock; design: Tina Tiller)

BooksSeptember 24, 2021

The Unity Books bestseller chart for the week ending September 24

Flaming comets falling to Earth, except the comets are all Sally Rooney novels
(Image: johan63 via iStock; design: Tina Tiller)

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 only had one day back in action before we came nagging for sales figures, which seems a bit silly. We await their triumphant return to the charts next week instead.

1  Beautiful World, Where Are You by Sally Rooney (Faber, $33)

Sally Rooney’s third novel is already the fourth biggest seller at Unity Wellington. For all of 2021. After only one week. 

We predicted this Roonstravaganza, and then we judged it (with so much wit and bite that we may have drawn blood). Bon appetit. 

2  The Magician by Colm Tóibín (Picador, $38)

A novel based on the German author Thomas Mann, whose life spanned both world wars.

The Guardian says: “Tóibín’s cast is large, and there are glittering vignettes. Erika Mann marries WH Auden, not for sex (they are both gay) but for a British passport; in a wonderfully comic scene Tóibín summons up Auden being acidically bitchy about Virginia Woolf … But always behind the parade of characters lours the dark background of Germany’s decline and fall and subsequent division. Tóibín expertly balances the private and public, and he follows Mann’s trajectory from patriotism to disillusion with non-judgmental finesse.”

3 After the Tampa: From Afghanistan to New Zealand by Abbas Nazari (Allen & Unwin, $37)

Incredible new memoir from a New Zealand refugee, whose family escaped from the Taliban in Afghanistan – only to be trapped on a sinking boat, and rescued by freight ship the Tampa during a time of political push-back against refugees in Australia. Nazari and his family were given refuge in Aotearoa, while many others were detained on the island of Nauru. 

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

The myth, the legend, the celebrity favourite.

5  The Women of Troy by Pat Barker (Hamish Hamilton, $37)

Refinery 29 says: “The reimagining of mythological epics is certainly having a moment (think, Circe and Song of Achilles), but renowned British writer Pat Barker’s The Women of Troy stands apart. Barker has already written about Briseis before, in the excellent The Silence of the Girls, and this continuation of the Trojan woman’s story feels like another victory for every person who was silenced by history, their story stolen from them.”

6  The Adventures of Mittens: Wellington’s Famous Purr-sonality by Silvio Bruinsma and Phoebe Morris (Picture Puffin, $20)

When times are grim, you want a purring cat by your side. And if you don’t have a real cat, you buy a picture book about a local celebrity cat. Apparently. 

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

And it’s back! We know that many of you were shook to the core last week when Imagining Decolonisation didn’t make an appearance on the first bestsellers list out of level four; that you went to bed thinking “Has lockdown changed everything after all? Has reality been warped?” Worry not. It’s back, it’s here – you can sleep easy again. 

8  Things I Learned at Art School by Megan Dunn (Penguin, $35)

Fabulous new essay collection from the author of Tinderbox. Here’s an excerpt of a larger excerpt about The Valley of the Horses:

“The novels were recommended to me by other virgins desperate to know how to manipulate a manhood. Sexual Intercourse was like an upcoming exam and no one knew how to swot for it. Read a book? It all seemed ridiculous because it was.

“Yet Jean M Auel wrote compellingly and at length about Jondalar and his manhood, which was also long. ‘Manhood’ is a word I’ve never managed to say in public, let alone in private on the occasions when I’ve been intimate with one. It’s funny how much we laugh at Auel’s choice of diction given so few of us have better alternatives to hand. Dick? Too silly. Cock? Bit harsh. Penis? Why so formal?”

Dunn’s request, as told to Stuff: “I hope people will smash it back like a packet of TimTams.” 

Good readers, you have your orders.

9  Klara and the Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro (Faber, $37)

We’ve always loved Ishiguro, and now we love “Artificial Friend” Klara. 

10  The Night Watchman by Louise Erdrich (Little, Brown, $25)

Set on a North Dakota reservation in a period of Native American dispossession, The Night Watchman is not only the winner of 2021’s Pulitzer Prize, but also recipient of words such as “wonderful”, “beautifully written” and quite a few “excellent”s from the humans of Goodreads. 

Keep going!