A photograph of a zebra crossing and a very long billboard for Kazuo Ishiguro's novel Klara and the Sun
A billboard in the UK (Photo: Faber Books via Twitter)

The Unity Books bestseller chart for the week ending March 27

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

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

Both Auckland and Wellington are giving Ishiguro number-one-level love this week, and so is the New York Times: “For four decades now, Ishiguro has written eloquently about the balancing act of remembering without succumbing irrevocably to the past. Memory and the accounting of memory, its burdens and its reconciliation, have been his subjects. With Klara and the Sun, I began to see how he has mastered the adjacent theme of obsolescence. What is it like to inhabit a world whose mores and ideas have passed you by? What happens to the people who must be cast aside in order for others to move forward?”

2  How to Avoid a Climate Disaster: The Solutions We Have and the Breakthroughs We Need by Bill Gates (Allen Lane, $48)

Want to avoid a climate catastrophe but not quite sure how? Well, Bill Gates and a league of experts have a plan. Technology, government policies, individual efforts – the whole shebang. As the blurb tells us: “achieving zero emissions will not be simple or easy to do, but if we follow the plan [Gates] sets out here, it is a goal firmly within our reach.” 

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

Can’t help but wonder whether Aroha and Bill Gates’ book are commonly paired in the same paper bag, one complementing the other, like peanut butter and jam.   

4  One: Pot, Pan, Planet: A Greener Way to Cook for You, Your Family and the Planet by Anna Jones (4th Estate, $55)

If you’re looking for some inspiration in the kitchen, Anna Jones’ new cookbook is here for you. Hearty, full of flavour and light on the planet, One is full of weeknight dinners that won’t leave every pot and pan you own sitting in the sink. The Spinoff has published the corn and tomato curry recipe from One, and there are two more vegetarian goodies to come. 

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

The Midnight Library is unstoppable! Christchurch City Library has written this excellent summary: “Nora Seed’s life started to fall apart in high school, and by the age of 35 she’s lost her parents, her dreams, her job, her cat, and her will to live. When her regrets become so crippling that she decides to end her life, Nora finds herself not dead, but instead the only visitor in a vast library full of endless shelves of green books. Each book represents a possible life she could be living. With the help of the librarian, Mrs Elm, Nora tries to undo her regrets and find the perfect life.”

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

Speaking of unstoppable … 

7  The Soul of a Woman by Isabel Allende (Bloomsbury Circus, $25)

“When I say that I was a feminist in kindergarten, even before the concept was known in my family, I am not exaggerating. I was born in 1942, so we are talking remote antiquity. I believe that the situation of my mother, Panchita, triggered my rebellion against male authority. Her husband abandoned her in Peru with two toddlers in diapers and a newborn baby. Panchita was forced to return to her parents’ home in Chile, where I spent the first years of my childhood.”

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

Look what’s snuck its way back onto the Auckland chart! Sam Brooks wrote a review/investigation just over a year ago attempting to discover why this novel is so popular in Auckland. 

His conclusion? The book is “somewhere between ‘just fine’ and ‘not very good’, and I have no idea why so many people are buying it.”

9  The Daily Stoic: 366 Meditations on Wisdom, Perseverance and the Art of Living by Ryan Holiday and Stephen Hanselman (Profile Books, $28)

For those wanting a daily pick-me-up that doesn’t involve caffeine. 

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

The go-to non-fiction book of 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017 … and apparently also 2021. 

WELLINGTON

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

2 Towards Compostela: Walking the Camino de Santiago by Catharina van Bohemen (The Cuba Press, $38)

The Ockham longlisted memoir by Auckland writer Catharina van Bohemen, described by Kate De Goldi as a blend of “personal memoir – particularly influential childhood experiences and the importance of family – travel writing, and spirituality”. You can hear the author speak alongside Michelle Langstone at the Auckland Writers Festival this May. 

3  Love You: Public Policy For Intergenerational Wellbeing by Girol Karacaoglu (Tuwhiri Project, $27)

Victory University Professor Girol Karacaoglu asks (and presumably answers) the question: “How would we design, implement and evaluate public policy if it were based on our love for future generations?”

4  One: Pot, Pan, Planet: A Greener Way to Cook for You, Your Family and the Planet by Anna Jones (4th Estate, $55)

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

Who wants to place a bet on whether Imagining Decolonisation will ever stop? No? Bad odds? 

All right. Instead, a short excerpt from Moana Jackson’s essay in the book: “Colonisation had no time for the niceties of tikanga. It fractured the hoped-for interdependence and denied the possibility of continuing Māori independence. The colonisers’ need to impose their laws and institutions on people who already had their own allowed no room for an honourable relationship with iwi and hapū. Instead colonisation fomented injustice: a systemic privileging of the Crown and a relationship in which it assumed it would be the sole and supreme authority.”

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

7  Where We Swim by Ingrid Horrocks (Victoria University Press, $35)

In The Spinoff’s inaugural Book Report, Catherine Woulfe had this to say: “Where We Swim, a collection of fine-boned, intuitive essays set in the vicinity of water. There’s a whale in Days Bay; baby manatee in the Amazon; life and death on Waiheke; Horrocks’ two little girls desperate for a swim in Colombia; the impossibility of Phoenix, a city in the middle of a desert. I loved it. And it didn’t make me desperately sad, as I thought might be the case. More kind of … weightless.”

8  Māori Philosophy: Indigenous Thinking From Aotearoa by Georgina Stewart (Bloomsbury, $39)

“One of my aims below is to point out examples of everyday ‘factual knowledge’ or ‘common sense’ about Māori identity that turn out to be based of Eurocentric myths or ideologies, distortions of science, in particular the regimes of evolutionism, which are central in the edifice of scientific racism upon which New Zealand was first established in Aotearoa.” 

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

10  The Soul of a Woman by Isabel Allende (Bloomsbury Circus, $25)




The Spinoff is made possible by the generous support of the following organisations.
Please help us by supporting them.