Back at the hostel, after tramping the Abel Tasman (Photo: Matthew Micah Wright via Getty)
Back at the hostel, after tramping the Abel Tasman (Photo: Matthew Micah Wright via Getty)

BooksNovember 26, 2021

The Unity Books bestseller chart for the week ending November 26

Back at the hostel, after tramping the Abel Tasman (Photo: Matthew Micah Wright via Getty)
Back at the hostel, after tramping the Abel Tasman (Photo: Matthew Micah Wright 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.


1  Shifting Grounds: Deep Histories of Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland by Lucy Mackintosh (Bridget Williams Books, $60)

Shifting Grounds reveals the stories of Pukekawa/Auckland Domain, Maungakiekie/One Tree Hill and the Ōtuataua Stonefields at Ihumātao. Beautiful aesthetically, and an essential read for Aucklanders wanting to learn more about their home.

From Kete Books: “In Shifting Grounds, Lucy Mackintosh explores three places in Tāmaki Makaurau-Auckland where she says, ‘the landscape is an archive’ … We begin our hikoi with Lucy at the entrance to the Ōtuataua Stonefields Historic Reserve, a wooden farm gate, an unprepossessing start to the exploration of one of Tāmaki Makaurau’s oldest and most complex cultural landscapes. The name of the road we have travelled along to get to the entrance tells another conflicted story, Ihumātao Quarry Road. This is Auckland, a place where landscapes set in thousands of years of geological time and hundreds of years of human history have roads named jointly for a Māori deity and the agency of its destruction.”

2  Oh William! by Elizabeth Strout (Viking, $35)

Oh Auckland! You’ve cottoned on that a new Lucy Barton novel has arrived. 

3  The Promise by Damon Galgut (Chatto & Windus, $37)

The winner of this year’s Booker is a darkly funny novel about a white family in post-apartheid South Africa. Galgut’s prose has been likened to not only Virginia Woolf and William Faulkner, but also Nabokov and James Joyce. Big boots, to say the least!

4  Taste: My Life Through Food by Stanley Tucci (Fig Tree, $45)

Stanley Tucci, who you may know as the diva from The Devil Wears Prada, the lovable father from Easy A, or that monstrous killer from The Lovely Bones (what a chameleon!), has a new memoir, told through his love of food. From the publisher’s blurb: “Taste is an intimate reflection on the intersection of food and life, filled with anecdotes about growing up in Westchester, NY, preparing for and filming the foodie films Big Night and Julie & Julia, falling in love over dinner, and teaming up with his wife to create conversation-starting meals for their children.”

5  Cloud Cuckoo Land by Anthony Doerr (Simon & Schuster, $35)

NPR says, “Of all our contemporary literary fiction writers, Anthony Doerr is the one whose novels seem to be the purest response to the primal request – tell me a story.” (And does a darn good job of it, we hasten to add).

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

The novel that’s dividing millennials into two camps: the Rooneyites and the … non-Rooneyites. 

7  Too Much Money: How Wealth Disparities Are Unbalancing Aotearoa New Zealand by Max Rashbrooke (Bridget Williams Books, $40)

The title says it all really, doesn’t it?

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

New fiction about master novelist Thomas Mann, by master novelist Colm Tóibín. 

9  The Dawn of Everything: A New History of Humanity by David Graeber and David Wengrow (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $68)

A whopping 700-page read that according to Science News, “rewrites 40,000 years of human history”. The authors poke holes in common notions about the supposedly primitive nature of our human ancestors, and suggest that reimagining our past would lead to a very different understanding of the origins of civilisation and our current ways of life.   

Borrowing from Science News once more: “Some social systems featured ruling elites, working stiffs and enslaved people. Others emphasised decentralised, collective decision making. Some were run by men, others by women. The big question — one the authors can’t yet answer — is why, after tens of thousands of years of social flexibility, many people today can’t conceive of how society might effectively be reorganised.”

10  The Lincoln Highway by Amor Towles (Hutchinson, $37)

New novel by the author of A Gentleman in Moscow and Rules of Civility, set during a road trip in 1950s America. It has been described by the citizens of Goodreads as a “winner”, a “gem”, a “five-star read” and a “madcap adventure story”. 


1  Too Much Money: How Wealth Disparities Are Unbalancing Aotearoa New Zealand by Max Rashbrooke (Bridget Williams Books, $40)

2  Mana of the Pacific: Wisdom from Across Oceania by Regina Scheyvens and Apisalome Movono (Potton & Burton, $40)

“Mana of the Pacific brings together inspirational proverbs and beautiful photographs that highlight the strength, resilience, wisdom and innovation of people from across the Pacific … ​​Movono and Scheyvens say that for too long Indigenous peoples of the Pacific have been made to feel that their culture is outdated, their traditions lack value, and that the only way they can develop is by drawing on external ideas and resources. Mana of the Pacific challenges that thinking and shows another way; one that is sustainable and resilient.” (Thanks again Kete Books!)

3  Tikanga: An Introduction to Te Ao Māori by Keri Opai (Upstart Press, $40)

The perfect first step for those wanting to understand the Māori world.

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

Back in June, Aroha had already sold 25,000 copies – then it got Oprahed, and it’s scarcely left the bestseller list since.

5  Ottolenghi Test Kitchen: Shelf Love by Yotam Ottolenghi and Noor Murad (Ebury Press, $55)

The cookbook that helps you turn that stuff hidden in your freezer and at the back of the cupboard into an Ottolenghi-level meal. If you’re a foodie, expect to get three copies of OTK in your Christmas stocking this year. 

6  Cloud Cuckoo Land by Anthony Doerr (Simon & Schuster, $35)

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

The real MVP.

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

9  Oh William! by Elizabeth Strout (Viking, $35)

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

One of our favourite local books of the year (and since it’s shockingly close to December, we can say that with total confidence). A funny, down-to-earth memoir in essays, which you can sample at leisure here for something heartbreaking and here for something hilarious and sexy. Yes, this book contains multitudes.

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. 

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