The Girl in the Mirror, in Queenstown (Photo: Jane Bloomfield)
The Girl in the Mirror, in Queenstown (Photo: Jane Bloomfield)

BooksAugust 28, 2020

The Unity Books bestseller chart for the strange week ending August 28

The Girl in the Mirror, in Queenstown (Photo: Jane Bloomfield)
The Girl in the Mirror, in Queenstown (Photo: Jane Bloomfield)

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  The Girl in the Mirror by Rose Carlyle (Allen & Unwin, $33)

“We are left, breathless, at the last, game-changing sentence.” – Sally Blundell, reviewing for the Academy of New Zealand Literature.

2  Into the Unknown: the Secret WWI Diary of Kiwi Alick Trafford No. 25/469 by Ian Trafford (Penguin, $38)

Alick made it home, scarred inside and out. When it got really bad he’d take himself off to the haybarn to sleep.

Eventually he asked his son to climb up to the attic, get his old war diaries – and burn them.

Ian wrote for us about how they wound up as a book instead.

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

“Destined to be the book of 2020.” – Newstalk ZB.

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

Counterpoint: Newstalk ZB.

5  Girl, Woman, Other by Bernardine Evaristo (Penguin Classics, $24)

Joint winner of the 2019 Booker Prize. Reviewed for us by Himali McInnes.

6  Hidden Hand: Exposing How The Chinese Communist Party Is Reshaping The World by Clive Hamilton and Mareike Ohlberg (Hardie Grant, $37)

“This book’s convincing message is plain. Don’t be gulled by soft talk of global harmony, or the prospect of access to the world’s second-biggest market. The Chinese Communist party aims to construct a world in which Enlightenment values are subordinate to its own.” – the Guardian.

7  Believer: Conversations with Mike Moore by Peter Parussini (Upstart Press, $40)

“Moore’s chemotherapy started on New Year’s Eve and Yvonne snuck a bottle of champagne into the cancer ward, which the two drank quietly together.

Within three days the poison of the chemotherapy treatment was having an impact. Moore was constantly vomiting, lost most of his hair which he covered with a cap, and quickly dropped a third of his body weight. He was too weak to do anything – go to the toilet, wash, talk, eat and, worst of all, read – and Yvonne had to wheelchair him around.”

8  Where The Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens (Little, Brown Book, $25)

A novel about one woman’s extraordinary life in the marshes of North Carolina. Extreme recommend.

9  Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones by James Clear (Penguin, $37)

This sounds like the absolute worst. Supporting that hypothesis, it’s been blurbed by Mark Manson:

“A supremely practical and useful book. James Clear distills the most fundamental information about habit formation, so you can accomplish more by focusing on less.”

10 Simple by Yotam Ottolenghi (Ebury Press, $65)

“Why the hell do people buy recipe books? Someone should do their PhD on the number of people who buy one, use it three times, then go back to the usual 10 things they make. But if you’re going to buy one, it may as well be by Ottolenghi.” – Linda Burgess, brilliantly.


1  The Girl in the Mirror by Rose Carlyle (Allen & Unwin, $33)

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

3  Summer by Ali Smith (Hamish Hamilton, $34)

Stunning cover, again. Here’s the New York Times:

“The concluding volume in her immersive, prickly and politically ardent seasonal quartet. The previous novels in the series,  ‘Autumn’, ‘Winter’ and ‘Spring’, appeared in 2017, 2018 and 2019, respectively.

Each has been on the beat of the world’s news, from Brexit to Trump to wildfires in Australia to immigrant detainees to, now, the arrival of Covid-19. (You imagine her at the printing plant, dictating final touches as the presses churn.) Each has been like a push notice that clicks open in your mind.”

4  Intimations: Six Essays by Zadie Smith (Hamish Hamilton, $16)

“The pathogen leaks into our lives, our dreams. Uncontained, it has held up a mirror to inequitable systems, our disregard for fellow humans on the margins. Perhaps the antidote to these fragile times, of distancing and isolation, is a spirit of generosity as embodied in a literary work.” – Australian Book Review

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

This + the Zadie Smith = $31.

6  Invisible Women: Exposing Data Bias in a World Designed for Men by Caroline Criado Perez (Vintage, $24)

“There is no such thing as a woman who doesn’t work. There is only a woman who isn’t paid for her work.”

7  Mophead by Selina Tusitala Marsh (Auckland University Press, $25)

“Perfect,” said the judges of the 2020 New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults, naming Mophead the Margaret Mahy Book of the Year.

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

“Assured and flawless … almost like acid on the skin,” said Tara June Winch, a judge of the 2020 Ockham New Zealand Book Awards, awarding Auē the Jann Medlicott Acorn Prize for Fiction.

9  Shouting Zeros and Ones: Digital Technology, Ethics and Policy in New Zealand edited by Andrew Chen (Bridget Williams Books, $15)

We published an extract, on online harm.

10 The Pull of the Stars by Emma Donoghue (Picador, $35)

“An urban hospital is overwhelmed by victims of a cruel new disease. The sounds of wracking coughs cut through the air as medical supplies run short, and face masks become commonplace in the streets. Meanwhile, the government touts false cures and contends that the epidemic is under control.

The parallels to 2020 are uncanny, but this is history, not prescience. The year is 1918, and the illness, of course, is influenza.” – the New York Times.

Keep going!