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A couple in bed (their bedroom is garish lilac): the woman's sitting up happily reading a book, the man's hunkered down in an eye mask and headphones.
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BooksOctober 29, 2021

The Unity Books bestseller chart for the week ending October 29

A couple in bed (their bedroom is garish lilac): the woman's sitting up happily reading a book, the man's hunkered down in an eye mask and headphones.
(Photo: Dan Kenyon / Stone 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  EM-PA-THY: The Human Side of Leadership by Harold Hillman (Bateman, $30)

We will resist the urge to simply chuckle at a business book with a funny title, and instead give you this snippet from the publisher’s blurb: “It is an essential read for anyone who: * is leading a team through a particularly tough challenge * wants to master the art of connection with staff more effectively * is keen to build a diverse and inclusive team culture * runs a company and wants to grow a culture where there is a strong sense of belonging.” 

OK, it does sound quite timely – go forth and read, empathetic leaders! 

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

The It Book of 2021. If you enjoy a page-turner about relationships, love, and depressed, clever young people, read the book. If you enjoy popular books being brutally slammed, read this review.

3  The Sweetness of Water by Nathan Harris (Tinder Press, $35)

A debut novel set at the end of the American Civil War which has won lauds left, right and centre – it’s longlisted for the Booker, and it is Oprah’s pick for summer. 

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

The new novel from the author of bestselling All the Light We Cannot See. Cloud Cuckoo Land spans centuries, but has the power of libraries and story at its core. We loved it.

5  Snow Country by Sebastian Faulks (Hutchinson, $37)

Snow Country is the second in a loose trilogy of novels set in Austria. It opened with 2005’s Human Traces, in which two 19th-century psychiatrists open an ambitious sanatorium, hoping to discover the secrets of the human psyche. Snow Country follows a new cast of characters and steps ahead to 1914. One of the psychiatrists is dead and the other has long retired; the hope of Human Traces has dispersed. 

The Guardian says, “It is a love story that doubts the nature of love, an exploration of the redemptive capacity of psychiatry that grapples with the possibility that the self might not be real but only the ‘flickering wave of some electromagnetic field’.”

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

New novel about German writer Thomas Mann. 

7  Dad Man Walking: Dispatches from the Frontlines of Fatherhood by Toby Morris (Penguin, $25)

The Toby Morris! His new book of comics about fatherhood is by turns tender and funny. We highly recommend it as a gift for all the dads. 

8  Crossroads by Jonathan Franzen (4th Estate, $35)

Franzen is a literary mammoth, and his specialty is the Screwed Up Midwestern American Family. (Remember The Corrections? Freedom? His slightly less beloved last novel, Purity?) Crossroads is the first of a trilogy about a pastor and his family, set in 1970s Idaho, but the Guardian says “in the best possible way, it feels less like a beginning than like the latest yield of a familiar crop, or a newly discovered branch of a big midwestern family.” 

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

Many of us in lockdown have been cooking the same six meals on rotation for about 10 weeks. Ottolenghi’s offer to spice up our home cooking is a knock-out blessing.

10  The Storyteller: Tales of life and Music by Dave Grohl (Simon & Schuster, $50)

From the publisher’s blurb: “​​From hitting the road with Scream at 18 years old, to my time in Nirvana and the Foo Fighters, jamming with Iggy Pop or playing at the Academy Awards or dancing with AC/DC and the Preservation Hall Jazz Band, drumming for Tom Petty or meeting Sir Paul McCartney at Royal Albert Hall, bedtime stories with Joan Jett or a chance meeting with Little Richard, to flying halfway around the world for one epic night with my daughters … the list goes on.”

Now, that’s a lot of name-dropping, but if you’re Dave Grohl’s memoir blurb … you probably can’t help it. 


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

2  Silverview by John le Carré (Viking, $35)

John le Carré’s last complete Lawndsley novel has finally been released. The publisher’s blurb entices: “Silverview is the mesmerising story of an encounter between innocence and experience and between public duty and private morals. In this last complete masterwork from the greatest chronicler of our age, John le Carré asks what you owe to your country when you no longer recognise it.”

3  Crossroads by Jonathan Franzen (4th Estate, $35)

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

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

Imagine Imagine Imagine.

6  The Man Who Died Twice by Richard Osman (Viking, $37)

People ask Google, “Is there a sequel to The Thursday Murder Club?” Google’s answer – and ours – yes! (This is it). More rollicking mystery fun with Elizabeth and the gang of septuagenarians.

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

8  After the Tampa: From Afghanistan to New Zealand by Abbas Nazari (Allen & Unwin, $37)

A standout memoir; you can read an excerpt here.

9  She’s a Killer by Kirsten McDougall (Victoria University Press, $30)

New local novel from the wonderful author of Tess and The Invisible Rider. Elizabeth Knox says, “Equipped with an exhilaratingly badly-behaved protagonist, She’s a Killer builds from a slice of very strange life into a thriller by way of a succession of stunning comic set pieces. You’ll laugh – a lot. And then you’ll cry and be really surprised about it since you were laughing so much.” We loved it, and you can read an excerpt, about fancy supermarkets, here.

10  The Night Watchman by Louise Erdrich (Little, Brown, $25)

Winner of the 2021 Pulitzer Prize.

Keep going!