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Two quite different books at the top of Wellington and Auckland’s respective charts (Image: Tina Tiller)
Two quite different books at the top of Wellington and Auckland’s respective charts (Image: Tina Tiller)

BooksOctober 28, 2022

The Unity Books bestseller chart for the week ending 28 October

Two quite different books at the top of Wellington and Auckland’s respective charts (Image: Tina Tiller)
Two quite different books at the top of Wellington and Auckland’s respective charts (Image: Tina Tiller)

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  Rooms: Portraits of Remarkable New Zealand Interiors by Jane Ussher and John Walsh (Massey University Press, $85)

Lauded local photographer Jane Ussher has a juicy new coffee table book out, and Auckland has gone wild for it. In Rooms, Ussher focuses her camera lens on beautiful and unique interiors from around the country, and the hefty result has more than 300 photographs as well as an essay introduction from architecture writer John Walsh. Pour yourself a glass of wine and “Ooh” and “Aah” over the stunning pictures. We’ll be publishing a review of Rooms right here on the Spinoff tomorrow. 

2  Lessons by Ian McEwan (Jonathon Cape, $37)

Sometimes all you want is to sink into gorgeous writing, full and flawed characters, detailed description, and an inevitable sense of desolation. If that’s you too, you’ve come to the right place. Spanning one man’s life, McEwan’s meaty new novel traces how Roland Baine’s trajectory is moulded by the sexual relationship he had at boarding school with his piano teacher at the age of 11. 

3  Lucy by the Sea by Elizabeth Strout (Viking, $37)

The newest edition to the Lucy Barton series, picking up at the start of the Covid crisis and following Lucy and William as they’re locked down together in a small house by the sea. This from the Financial Times: “Strout brilliantly reminds us how long put-away fears and disorders made dreadful reappearances during the lockdown months. … In Lucy by the Sea, Strout gives us an utterly natural conversational tone, the uncovering of stern misgivings in real time, as well as an uncomfortable merging of safety, familiarity and betrayal. The novel also emphasises, as all Strout’s books do, the need for the wrong conversations in life when the right ones are unthinkable. These sorts of emotional prevarications, punctuated by Lucy’s searing courage, give a vivid sense, as you read, of what it means to be alive in such troubling times.”

4  Wawata – Moon Dreaming: Daily Wisdom Guided by Hina, the Māori Moon by Hinemoa Elder (Penguin, $30)

The new little book of wisdom from the bestselling author of Aroha. Wawata teaches us how we can learn from the Māori lunar calendar, where each day has its own energy. At the Nelson Arts Festival this week, Elder described her writing as “a bridge for connectivity, a way of reconciling modern demands with good days and bad, building that ‘kete (basket) of understanding our emotions and that emotions do ebb and flow.’” Cheers to Stuff for that lovely nugget. And come back here to The Spinoff on Sunday for a review of Wawata by Jessica Hinerangi Thompson-Carr. 

5  People Person by Joanna Cho (Te Herenga Waka University Press, $30)

We’ve got an excerpt for you from Joanna Cho’s brilliant debut poetry collection, in which the poet writes about her mother and the folk tales she told as a child.

6  Before Your Memory Fades by Toshikazu Kawaguchi (Picador, $25)

The newest novel in the Before the Coffee Gets Cold series (loitering just below) about time travel cafes.

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

The most stubborn bestseller around town.

8  First Person Singular: Stories by Haruki Murakami (Vintage, $24)

Eight short stories told in first person singular, all of which have middle-aged male narrators reflecting on a memory from their past. Some reviewers suggest that this work has elements of memoir, as many of the narrators share similarities with the author.

9  Ithaca by Claire North (Orbit, $38)

A novel about Penelope, wife of Odysseus, narrated by the goddess Hera. Author Jennifer Saint wrote, “Claire North brings a powerful, fresh and unflinching voice to ancient myth – darkly fascinating, raw and breathtaking.” 

10  Towards a Grammar of Race in Aotearoa New Zealand edited by Arcia Tecun, Lana Lopesi and Anisha Sankar (Bridget Williams Books, $40)

A new essay collection from the legends at BWB, which you can take a sneak peak at here.


1  Blood and Bone: Revelations of an Orthopaedic Surgeon by Russell Tregonning (Atuanui Press, $40)

A week ago, Unity Wellington hosted the book launch of this memoir by one of the country’s leading orthopaedic surgeons, where he writes about his fifty year career. Reviewers tell us to give it a nudge.

“This is the best kind of memoir. It is very honest, including talking about mental health troubles. It doesn’t skip the controversial bits, including outrageous bullying of women and junior staff by some senior surgeons. And it’s interesting, taking readers into the operating theatre and describing the remarkable daily job of sawing and hammering people’s bones.” — Nicky Hager

“This book is a fascinating insight into a facet of life where very few venture. Russell lays bare his frailties, his fears, his triumphs and vision. He is gloriously self-effacing, happy to concede he didn’t always get it right and fearlessly outlines his thoughts on the medical profession and medical politics. A great read.” — Grant Nisbett

2  Native Birds of Aotearoa by Micheal Szabo (Te Papa Press, $27)

A beautiful little hardback in the new Te Papa Te Taiao Nature Series, and a fab introduction to 60 species of native bird with original illustrations from the 1930s. Small enough to pocket for a hike, and covering birds of the forest, garden, wetlands, coast, alpine and marina. 

3  Wawata – Moon Dreaming: Daily Wisdom Guided by Hina, the Māori Moon by Dr Hinemoa Elder (Penguin, $30)

4  Shrines of Gaiety by Kate Atkinson (Doubleday, $37)

The newest novel from the author of Life After Life. Meredith from Goodreads summarises the novel succinctly: “Glitz, Glamour, and Gangsters!”

5  Native Plants of Aotearoa by Carlos Lehnebach and Heidi Meudt (Te Papa Press, $27)

Another little gem from the new Te Papa Te Taiao Nature Series, popping off on the charts! Fifty native plants, richly described by Te Papa botanists, with illustrations based on sketches from botanists on the 1786 HMS Endeavour expedition.

6  What If? 2: Additional Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions by Randall Munroe (John Murray, $35)

A follow up to the bestselling 2014 non-fiction book What If?, and an easy Christmas gift for any science-curious friend, colleague, or relation. Really, the title tells you everything you need to know, but here’s a little extra from the publisher’s blurb: “Want to know what would happen if you rode a helicopter blade, built a billion-story building, made a lava lamp out of lava, or jumped on a geyser as it erupted? OK, if you insist. Before you go on a cosmic road trip, feed the residents of New York City to a T. rex, or fill every church with bananas, be sure to consult this practical guide for impractical ideas.”

7  The Scone in New Zealand Literature and Other Essays 1990-2020 by Tony Simpson (Blythswood Press, $38)

A new collection of essays by historian and journalist Tony Simpson, gathered from thirty years of social commentary. 

8  Lucy by the Sea by Elizabeth Strout (Viking, $37)

9  It Starts With Us by Colleen Hoover (Simon & Schuster, $35)

The sequel to It Ends With Us, continuing the story from character Atlas’s perspective. The publisher writes, “Revealing more about Atlas’s past and following Lily as she embraces a second chance at true love while navigating a jealous ex-husband, it proves that ‘no one delivers an emotional read like Colleen Hoover’.” We don’t know Altas and Lily personally, but assume that will mean something to those who do.

10  The Axeman’s Carnival by Catherine Chidgey (Te Herenga Waka University Press, $35)

A novel told from the point of view of an adopted magpie. We asked a magpie, Pecky Sharp, to review, and got a perfectly poetic inside perspective. 

Keep going!