The best-selling books at the two best bookstores on shore.
1 Leaders Like You: New Zealand Leaders Share Stories of Courage by Nick Sceats & Andrea Thompson (Catapult Publishing, $40)
Inspirational ra-ra PR.
2 La Belle Sauvage: The Book of Dust by Philip Pullman (David Fickling Books, $35)
Pullman! The master returns with the opening book of his new trilogy. “The hero, Malcolm, a red-haired, good-natured, savvy and inquisitive 11-year-old, works as a potboy in his parents’ pub, The Trout at Godstow, and helps out the nuns living in the priory on the island across the way… Malcolm’s daemons are a twitcher’s dream – kingfisher, greenfinch and, for night vision, an owl. The chief villain, vampire-like in his lust for dust and other things, is a charmer when he wants to be, but a rapist and pederast with a monstrous hyena for a daemon, who is given to howling laughter and pissing in her victim’s path; she loses one leg in her first, frenzied fight with Malcolm and, later, another. This hellhound of twisted gothic fantasy is truly ghastly, and fulfils a point of honour for Pullman: no reader, child or other, need be spared. In imaginative fiction, sentiment, softness and sweetness are simply condescending”: The Guardian.
3 All Our Secrets by Jennifer Lane (Rosa Mira, $30)
YA novel by Wellington writer. Gracie, 11 going on 12, makes a shocking discovery in her small home town.
4 Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders (Bloomsbury, $33)
Winner of the 2017 Man Booker prize. Saunders, in sparkling conversation earlier this year with Hera Lindsay Bird at the Spinoff Review of Books: “I think one of the reasons we’ve got to this path in the States is that for as long as I can remember , there’s been an anti-intellectual, anti-art sort of cloud, that we’ve all operated under – even people like me never believed in anything really. There was always this kind of feeling like don’t mind us, we’re just over here with our berets on you know, doing this masturbatory thing. But then you see that so much of the Trump movement has to do with people who are in poor relation to language, who don’t know how to hear propaganda when they hear it, who are not in their habit of, how do I say this? Specification. Like they talk about immigrants. Well the literary habit of mine is to say ‘which immigrant?’ you know, show me one. Let me hear her name. Let me look at her shoes. I haven’t quite been able to articulate it but I know that the gradual marginalisation of the artistic is somehow contributory to this big sad thing going on over here.”
5 Driving to Treblinka: A Long Search for a Lost Father by Diana Wichtel (Awa Press, $45)
“A moving and powerful story…It breaks your heart”: Margo White, The Spinoff Review of Books.
6 The Sun & Her Flowers by Rupi Kaur (Simon & Schuster, $30)
7 Autumn by Ali Smith (Penguin Books, $26)
Shortlisted for the 2017 Man Booker prize. “At the centre of Ali Smith’s Autumn is a strange and unrequited love story… The light of summer is fading, and the characters long for those bright and golden days now past when the world was kinder”: Louise O’Brien, The Spinoff Review of Books.
8 Munich by Robert Harris (Hutchinson, $38)
9 Explore! Aotearoa by Bronwen Wall (Kennett Brothers, $30)
The stories of New Zealand explorers such as Kupe and Brunner, illustrated; charming kids book, in time for Xmas. Recommended..
10 Inferior: How Science Got Women Wrong by Angela Saini (Fourth Estate, $33)
“A new study suggests that science is rewriting the old theories that ‘explain’ why women are best suited to housework and men are natural philanderers”: The Guardian.
1 La Belle Sauvage: The Book of Dust by Philip Pullman (David Fickling Books, $35)
2 Manhattan Beach by Jennifer Egan (Little Brown, $38)
A Visit from the Goon Squad was one of the most audacious novels published this century; Egan’s long-awaited follow-up is also winning a lot of praise.
3 Munich by Robert Harris (Hutchinson, $38)
4 Driving to Treblinka: A Long Search for a Lost Father by Diana Wichtel (Awa Press, $45)
5 Swing Time by Zadie Smith (Penguin, $26)
UK novel a bit like My Brilliant Friend in some respects.
6 Bird Words: New Zealand Writers on Birds edited Elisabeth Easther (Vintage, $35)
Attractive hardback anthology of varied bird writings from Hone Tuwhare, Janet Frame, Karl due Fresne, Kirsten Warner, Sam Hunt, Steve Braunias, Ngoi Pēwhairangi, Rachael King and others.
7 Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls by Elena Favilli & Francesca Cavallo (Particular Books, $40)
The kids book of the year – of and for girls, but a boy could maybe stomach it, too.
8 Turtles All the Way Down by John Green (Puffin, $30)
The latest novel from the YA and tween master.
9 Aotearoa: The New Zealand Story by Gavin Bishop (Penguin, $40)
The story of the land of the long white cloud, illustrated; charming kids book, in time for Xmas. Recommended.
10 Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders (Bloomsbury, $33)
The Spinoff Review of Books is brought to you by Unity Books.