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May 2020, Merthyr Tydfil, the UK: week 10 of lockdown (Photo: Matthew Horwood via Getty Images)
May 2020, Merthyr Tydfil, the UK: week 10 of lockdown (Photo: Matthew Horwood via Getty Images)

BooksSeptember 25, 2020

The Unity Books bestseller chart for the week ending September 25

May 2020, Merthyr Tydfil, the UK: week 10 of lockdown (Photo: Matthew Horwood via Getty Images)
May 2020, Merthyr Tydfil, the UK: week 10 of lockdown (Photo: Matthew Horwood via 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  Rage by Bob Woodward (Simon & Schuster, $55)

“A better title for Rage, perhaps, would be Rabid … He remains a menace to public health, so shouldn’t the poor deranged creature be put down?” – the Guardian, potentially skating close to the line.

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

Chickpea pancakes with mango pickle yoghurt. Sweet potato in tomato, lime and cardamom sauce. Asparagus salad with tamarind and lime.

3  Troubled Blood by Robert Galbraith (Hachette, $35)

“News broke a few days ago that [JK Rowling’s] latest Galbraith-penned novel, Troubled Blood, features a murder-mystery whose culprit is a serial-killing crossdresser. Combined with the non-passing trans woman Pippa from 2014’s The Silkworm, Rowling has now published the holy duopoly of lazy and harmful media portrayals of trans* fems: the deceitful and the pathetic trans fem respectively.” – Jade Winterburn, in an essay we published last week.

4  The Lying Life of Adults by Elena Ferrante (Europa Editions, $37)

“Had this been a young writer’s coming-of-age story, one could praise its abundant flashes of brilliance and forgive its excesses. Coming from a master, its puerility is a mystery.” – The New Yorker, in a review that’s otherwise largely positive.

5  Searching for Charlie: In Pursuit of the Real Charles Upham VC & Bar by Tom Scott (Upstart Press, $50)

“A brilliant biography … The question really is: what turned this shy, retiring man who hated a fuss into a true warrior who didn’t just ignore danger, but seemed to actively seek it?” – Harry Broad, for RNZ

6  Auē by Becky Manawatu (Mākaro Press, $35)

Most recent winner of the country’s biggest fiction prize. If you loved it you might also love The Tally Stick, by Carl Nixon.

7  Māori Made Fun by Stacey and Scotty Morrison (Penguin, $25)

“Contains over 200 word games, puzzles and activities – a jam-packed box of te reo tricks for everyone.” – Penguin

8  The Actress by Anne Enright (Jonathan Cape, $35)

“It is striking how often reviews of Enright’s work return to the phrase ‘at the level of the sentence’. Certainly, she writes ‘the most extraordinary sentences’, but reading or isolating her at this level, as many critics seem tempted to do, risks overshadowing how her sentences are pleated throughout, risks undermining the musicality of the entire composition.” – the Times Literary Supplement

9  The Midnight Library by Matt Haig (Canongate, $33)

Announced just the other day: a movie is in the works, with Haig as executive producer.

10 Humankind: A Hopeful History by Rutger Bregman (Bloomsbury, $34)

Counterpoint: see picture above.


1  Bill & Shirley: A Memoir by Keith Ovenden (Massey University Press, $35)

“Some people, daring to be duplicitous and manipulative, can nevertheless escape censure by adopting a hail-fellow, well-met style that serves as moral camouflage. Both intentions and actions are obscured by the facade of agreeable bonhomie that amuses even as it dissembles, and is protected by family discretion. The camouflage thus thrown over the surface of family life can obscure the malicious moral transgressions that lead to lasting suffering. Shirley tried to believe there was good in everyone … It meant she could be deceived, but once aware of the deception she was quick to remedy her position and only really ready to blame herself for the original mistake.”

2  Troubled Blood by Robert Galbraith (Little, Brown, $35)

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

4  More Than a Woman by Caitlin Moran (Ebury Press, $35)

“Even a partner who does 40 per cent of the childcare and housework – who you’d think was a good guy! 40 per cent! That’s nearly half! – is leaving 10 per cent of their shit for you to sort out. Their trousers to wash, their kids to raise, their meal to prepare. Here’s what that would look like, if it were a picture: a woman pulling a sledge on which was her career and her children – with her partner occasionally jumping on, 10 per cent of the time, ‘to chill’.”

5  The Lying Life of Adults by Elena Ferrante (Europa Editions, $37)

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

Joint winner of the 2019 Booker Prize; recently pipped at the post for the Women’s Prize by Maggie O’Farrell, for Hamnet.

7  Rage by Bob Woodward (Simon & Schuster, $55)

8  Hiakai: Modern Māori Cuisine by Monique Fiso (Godwit, $65)

Weka with pumpkin and boil-up broth. Manono-poached pears, horopito ice cream, almond soil. Pickled supplejack tips.

9  Piranesi by Susanna Clarke (Bloomsbury, $30)

“Its narrator, though deprived of both company and reliable memories, seems curiously content with his lot. He wanders empty halls and courtyards, cataloguing in his meticulous journal entries their bewildering array of statuary. He documents with satisfaction – and with no trace of despair – how he has sustained himself with meagre catches of fish and staved off the cold by burning dried seaweed.” – the Guardian

10 Entangled Life: How Fungi Make Our Worlds, Change Our Minds and Shape Our Futures by Merlin Sheldrake (Bodley Head, $40)

Merlin Sheldrake.

Keep going!