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The Unity Books bestseller chart for the week ending April 30

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.

AUCKLAND

1  The Mirror Book by Charlotte Grimshaw (Vintage, $38)

“Until my year of questioning, of lapse, I thought my upbringing had been mundane, my parents not unusual, it was just that there were a few things wrong with me. It took me a long time to free my mind, and, when I did, I found I was alone. The whole family – parents, sister, a cousin, various friends of my parents – reproached me for wondering, for writing, for cautiously trying to answer the question asked of one sibling by another in my novel Mazarine:

Once I asked him experimentally, ‘Do you ever wonder why we’re so fucked up?’ I’d had a few glasses of wine, and got carried away with the idea that he and I could help each other. His reply was eerie. ‘But we’re not fucked up at all, Frankie,’ he said. ‘I have no idea what you’re talking about.'”

2  Klara and the Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro (Faber & Faber, $37)

Pondering what to read this weekend? Join the rest of New Zealand and read this because it’s excellent. 

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

Not satisfied by merely being the winner of Unity’s “always always on the bestseller list” prize, this month Imagining Decolonisation has also gone for bronze in Auckland and gold in Wellington. What an over-achiever. 

4  First Person Singular: Stories by Haruki Murakami (Penguin Random House, $45)

Murakami’s 22nd book, described in the Guardian as “not very good”. The reviewer also says: “what I find instead is lazy, halfhearted prose and what I’ve come to think of as Murakami’s trademark banality. He occasionally strives towards insight, but leaves off before getting anywhere.” Ouch.

5  Climate Aotearoa: What’s Happening & What We Can Do About It edited by Helen Clark (Allen & Unwin, $37)

Climate activist turned councillor Sophie Handford interviewed Helen Clark about this book, and about activism and the climate crisis. “A plan to expand a four-lane highway in South Auckland will take out 600 houses – hello! It’s a commitment to cars and taking out houses? This is not the future we want,” said Clark, among many other things.

6  Aroha: Māori Wisdom for a Contented Life Lived in Harmony with our Planet by Hinemoa Elder (Penguin Random House, $30)

By the way Aroha is selling, we’re starting to expect everyone we run into to have a wise, peaceful gleam in their eyes and tūī landing gracefully on their shoulders. 

7  The Queen’s Gambit by Walter Tevis (Orion, $25)

Is reading a novel about chess as surprisingly entertaining as watching a TV show about chess? 

A 1983 review from The New York Times says “yes”:

“Forget just for a moment that Walter Tevis’s ‘The Queen’s Gambit’ is a novel about the game of chess – the best one that I know of to be written since Nabokov’s ‘Defense.’ Consider it as a psychological thriller, a contest pitting human rationality against the self’s unconscious urge to wipe out thought.”

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

It’s come back to haunt us (again) for our slurs … 

9  Wow by Bill Manhire (Victoria University Press, $25)

New work by perhaps New Zealand’s most accolade-dripping poet. 

Said accolades include – but are certainly not limited to – the Ockham Poetry Prize six times over, the Katherine Mansfield Menton Fellowship, a Prime Minister’s Award for Literary Achievement, and New Zealand’s first Poet Laureate.  

10  Ralph Hotere: The Dark is Light Enough by Vincent O’Sullivan (Penguin, $45)

Bill Manhire escapes his comfortable (if weighed down by accolades) position at number nine to tell us about his companion at number 10: “Vincent O’Sullivan has given us the remarkable story of a small boy, Hone Papita Raukura Hotere — born in 1931 near Mitimiti on the coastal edge of the Hokianga — who first becomes Rau, then Ralph, and eventually an iconic, stand-alone signature: HOTERE. I love the tale about Ralph being invited to explain his work to the Queen. It’s not hard to guess how he must have felt. Now he would simply be able to hand Her Majesty a copy of this book, give one of his quiet coughs, and say, ‘Here you go, this should do the trick’.”

WELLINGTON

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

2  Klara and the Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro (Faber & Faber, $37)

3  The Mirror Book by Charlotte Grimshaw (Vintage, $38)

4  The Great Successor: The Secret Rise and Rule of Kim Jong Un by Anna Fifield (John Murray, $25)

From the publisher’s blurb: “an irreverent yet insightful quest to understand the life of Kim Jong Un, one of the world’s most secretive dictators. Kim’s life is swathed in myth and propaganda, from the plainly silly – he supposedly ate so much Swiss cheese that his ankles gave way – to the grimly bloody stories of the ways his enemies and rival family members have perished at his command.”

Fifield wrote this book as the Beijing bureau chief for the Washington Post, before moving home to New Zealand to edit the Dominion Post.

5  Climate Aotearoa: What’s Happening & What We Can Do About It edited by Helen Clark (Allen & Unwin, $37)

6  The Midnight Library by Matt Haig (Canongate, $33)

Google Books shouts rather rudely at us: “THE SUNDAY TIMES NUMBER ONE BESTSELLING WORLDWIDE PHENOMENON A RICHARD & JUDY, BETWEEN THE COVERS AND GOOD MORNING AMERICA BOOK CLUB PICK WINNER OF THE GOODREADS CHOICE AWARD FOR FICTION ‘BEAUTIFUL’ Jodi Picoult, ‘UPLIFTING’, ‘BRILLIANT’ Daily Mail, ‘AMAZING’ Joanna Cannon, ‘ABSORBING’ New York Times, ‘THOUGHT-PROVOKING’ Independent.”

7  Māori Philosophy: Indigenous Thinking From Aotearoa by Georgina Stewart (Bloomsbury, $39)

Garrick Cooper, senior lecturer in Māori and Indigenous Studies at the University of Canterbury, says:

“This book is an anthropology of Maori philosophy, a journey following Māori thought and metaphysics as it wrestles with the dictates of coloniality/modernity. A much-needed introduction to Māori thought, Stewart invites the reader to be more than a spectator but a participant in that fascinating journey.”

8  Exciting Times by Naoise Dolan (Orion, $25)

An easy read for those craving the flavour of Sally Rooney. Now available in mini-me size. 

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

Not that we should let others’ book-buying behaviour sway our mental health, but … If Auē left the bestsellers list it would seriously undermine our sense of stability in the world. 

10  Aroha: Māori Wisdom for a Contented Life Lived in Harmony with our Planet by Hinemoa Elder (Penguin Random House, $30)




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