A couple of Kiwi classics, and a couple of classic Kiwis (Photo: Supplied)
A couple of Kiwi classics, and a couple of classic Kiwis (Photo: Supplied)

BooksMay 29, 2020

The Unity Books bestseller chart for the week ending May 29

A couple of Kiwi classics, and a couple of classic Kiwis (Photo: Supplied)
A couple of Kiwi classics, and a couple of classic Kiwis (Photo: Supplied)

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  Auē by Becky Manawatu (Makaro Press, $35)

Winner of the Jann Medlicott Acorn Prize for Fiction, the most prestigious prize in New Zealand literature.

2  The Ratline: Love, Lies and Justice on the Trail of a Nazi Fugitive by Philippe Sands (Hachette, $38)

“A taut and finely crafted factual thriller… In Sands we have an incomparable guide who finds a kind of redemption on every road of the human experience, though never at the expense of responsibility or truth.” – the Guardian

3  Girl, Woman, Other by Bernadine Evaristo (Penguin Classics, $24)

Winner of the 2019 Booker Prize. (Joint winner, Margaret Atwood’s The Testaments, dropped off these lists a while back.)

4  Boy Swallows Universe by Trent Dalton (Harper Collins, $25)

“Steven Keaton – the dad of my dreams – seems to do nothing but sit on his couch or at his kitchen table talking to his children about their myriad teenage calamities. He listens and listens to his kids and he pours glasses of orange juice and hands them to his kids as he listens some more. He tells his kids he loves them by telling his kids he loves them. Dad tells me he loves me when he forms a pistol out of this forefinger and thumb and points it at me as he farts. He tells us he loves us by showing us the tattoo we never knew he had on the inside of his bottom lip: Fuck you.”

5  The Mirror & the Light by Hilary Mantel (Fourth Estate, $50)

“Once every six months or so some prominent literary critic or commentator announces “the death of the novel”, arguing that the form no longer has a place as a serious medium. Enraged novelists reply that the novel is still vital, that it holds a mirror to society, and that perhaps – hand placed gently on their chest – their own novels might be especially relevant in these troubled times.” – one of many perfect lines from Danyl Mclauchlan’s review.

6  Fucking Good Manners by Simon Griffin (Icon Books, $23)

Please enjoy this excellent piece about the rise of books with “fuck” in the title.

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

Time travel, a cafe, by all accounts insipid.

8  Falastin: A Cookbook by Sami Tamimi (Ebury Press, UK, $60)

“I really want to cook everything in this – and may well do! – but let me highlight some of the recipes for you quickly: hummus with meatballs, falafel with sumac onion, roasted squash and courgettes with whipped feta and pistachios, yoghurt-roasted cauliflower with quick-pickled chillies, golden raisins and red onions, mashed turnip with greens, caramelised onions and feta, baked fish in tahini sauce – I really could name every recipe in the book – and there’s a Palestinian take on a Bakewell tart with halva that draws me in.” – Nigella Lawson

9  American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins (Hachette, $35)

“American Dirt received a mixed reception. Despite initial positive reviews and its status as one of the best-selling books of 2020, it has also been widely criticised for its inaccurate portrayal of Mexico and Mexicans.” – Wikipedia

10 Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel (Fourth Estate, $25)

“Mantel just wrote and wrote and wrote … God forbid there might be a sequel, which I fear is on the horizon.” – Times Higher Education


1  The Mirror & the Light by Hilary Mantel (Fourth Estate, $50)

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

3  The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins (Scholastic, $30)

A prequel to The Hunger Games, Collins’ juggernaut of a trilogy set in a dystopian America. This book tells the origin story of the trilogy’s malevolent President Snow. We were extremely excited about it. (Short review coming soon in this month’s children’s Top 10s.)

4  Dead People I Have Known by Shayne Carter (Victoria University Press, $40)

Winner of the general non-fiction category at the recent Ockham New Zealand Book Awards.

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

6  Three Women by Lisa Taddeo (Bloomsbury, $25)

Non-fiction on the subject of female desire; a journalistic marathon that reads like a breathless, splendid sprint.

7  Redhead by the Side of the Road by Anne Tyler (Chatto & Windus, $35)

“When Micah was behind the wheel he liked to pretend he was being evaluated by an all-seeing surveillance system. Traffic God, he called it. Traffic God was operated by a fleet of men in shirtsleeves and green visors who frequently commented to one another on the perfection of Micah’s driving. “Notice how he uses his turn signal even when no one’s behind him,” they would say. Micah always, always used his turn signal. He used it in his own parking lot, even. Accelerating, he dutifully pictured an egg beneath his gas pedal; braking, he glided to an almost undetectable stop. And whenever some other driver decided at the last minute that he needed to switch to Micah’s lane, you could count on Micah to slow down and turn his left palm upward in a courtly after-you gesture. ‘See that?’ the guys at Traffic God would say to one another. ‘Fellow’s manners are impeccable.'”

8  High Wire by Lloyd Jones and Euan MacLeod (Massey University Press, $45)

A strange and striking book in which Lloyd writes about bridges and tightropes and the act of traversing, about the air beneath, and Euan draws dark and involving sketches of same. It has a spine made of black fabric and it feels like the right kind of thing to read, or gift, at this moment.

9  One Minute Crying Time by Barbara Ewing (Massey University Press, $40)

A memoir, reviewed for us here by Michael Hurst and Linda Burgess.

10 Not in Narrow Seas: The Economic History of New Zealand by Brian Easton (Victoria University Press, $60)

“A lot of people are confidently telling us what’s going on. It’s all by the seat of their pants… Economists don’t think very well in anything less than three-month [chunks].” – the author, regarding the economic impact of Covid-19, on RNZ.

Keep going!