BooksAugust 30, 2019

Unity Books bestseller chart for the week ending August 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.



1  Three Women by Lisa Taddeo (Bloomsbury, $35)

“The children, of course, add purpose, but the house feels like a set of posts without a goal. Sometimes when Lina is in the big empty house she feels a chasm inside her, a black space between one set of organs and the next. She feels she exists in that space, mindless, flavorless, unseen.”

Richard Emerson: the Hopfather by Michael Donaldson (Penguin Random House, $45)

‘Hop’ as in beer and ‘Richard Emerson’ as in the guy who started making the crafty kind before that was a thing.

3  Te Tiriti o Waitangi: The Treaty of Waitangi by Toby Morris with Ross Calman, Mark Derby, and Piripi Walker (Lift Education, $20)

Toby rulz!

4  Normal People by Sally Rooney (Faber & Faber, $23)

Sally Rooney Sally Rooney Sally Rooney

5  The Subtle Art of Not Giving A F*ck by Mark Manson (MacMillan, $35)

Subtle Art hardly flickers on the Unity best-seller list for Wellington. Then again, smug old Wellington has always known best – no need for outside help. The rest of the country is too busy getting on with things. Auckland though is our most commercially minded of cities, our most striving; like the US, it’s told it’s the greatest and yet never able to reach its potential. In urgent need, perhaps, of learning how to give less of a fuck?” – John Summers wrote this for us ages ago; still applicable. 

6  The Truants by Kate Weinberg (Bloomsbury, $33)

“There are more than a few nods to Donna Tartt’s The Secret History here — the band of student misfits with dysfunctional backgrounds, the professor with oddly intimate student-teacher bonds, plus an overall sense, skilfully seeded by Weinberg, that things are about to take a wrong turn.” – the Evening Standard

7  Underland by Robert Macfarlane (Hamish Hamilton, $50)

Companion reading: Overstory, by Richard Powers, a novel about the magnificence and mystery of trees. 

8  The New Zealand Wars: Ngā Pakanga o Aotearoa by Vincent O’Malley (Bridget Williams Books, $40)

“The Waikato War had a profound influence on the future shape of New Zealand society, allowing the government to begin to assert the kind of real control over the country that had eluded it since the Treaty of Waitangi was signed in 1840. It also sealed Auckland’s future as the dominant city. In many ways it helped to define what New Zealand was and would eventually become. And for Māori, any real prospect of power-sharing or partnership was dismissed for at least the next century. This truly was ‘the great war for New Zealand’.” 

9  Wild Honey: reading New Zealand women’s poetry by Paula Green (Massey University Press, $45)

Magnum opus by a seemingly indefatigable champion of poetry.

10 Celestial Bodies by Jokha Alharthi (Sandstone, $27)

Winner of the Man Booker International Prize. 



Relative Strangers: A Mother’s Adoption Memoir by Pip Murdoch (Fern Publishing, $30)

“Pip Murdoch has written a searingly honest memoir about growing up in the 1960s and what it was like to give up a child for adoption, in the face of limited choices and moral disapproval of unmarried mothers. The search for her son, years after his birth, is a poignant, often heart-breaking account of a search that reads like a page-turning detective story.” – Fiona Kidman

Purakau: Māori Myths Retold by Māori Writers edited by Witi Ihimaera & Whiti Hereaka (Penguin Random House, $38)

Top of my Christmas wish list, this one. 

3  Three Women by Lisa Taddeo (Bloomsbury, $35)

4  A Conversation with my Country by Alan Duff (Penguin Random House, $38)

We asked four Māori writers/academics to review this for us but they were all too busy. 

5  Wild Honey: reading New Zealand women’s poetry by Paula Green (Massey University Press, $45)

6  How to Escape from Prison by Paul Wood (HarperCollins, $38)

Honestly turn to any page and there’s a cracking great scene. Page 96:

“‘Don’t try telling me you didn’t do what you did,’ she sneered. ‘Don’t even bother talking to me. I’ve met thousands of your kind before, and I’ve heard it all.’

“I told her to fuck off. In her own time, she did. She went on to become Rimutaka Prison’s site manager.”

7  Te Tiriti o Waitangi: The Treaty of Waitangi by Toby Morris with Ross Calman, Mark Derby, and Piripi Walker (Lift Education, $20)

Big Sky by Kate Atkinson (Doubleday, $38)

“There are also echoes of the #MeToo moment as, one after another, the female characters dole out justice or revenge on a pile-up of bad men. Although she didn’t intend Big Sky to be a “strong women book” it inevitably became one, “because all these middle-aged white blokes have to have their comeuppance – and who is going to give it to them?” As Brodie reflects: “It was funny how so many men were defined by their downfall. Caesar, Fred Goodwin, Trotsky, Harvey Weinstein, Jimmy Savile. Women hardly ever. They didn’t fall down. They stood up.” – the Guardian.

Erebus: The Story of a Ship by Michael Palin (Arrow Books, $28

“In May 1845, HMS Erebus and her sister ship HMS Terror set sail for the Arctic, never to be seen again. Erebus, named after a Greek god of darkness, was herself cast into oblivion for the next 170 years, until she was found in 2014, by sonar, submerged off the Arctic coast of Canada.” – the Spectator

10 Normal People by Sally Rooney (Faber & Faber, $23)

The Spinoff Review of Books is proudly brought to you by Unity Books, recently named 2020 International Book Store of the Year, London Book Fair, and Creative New Zealand. Visit Unity Books Wellington or Unity Books Auckland online stores today. 

Mad Chapman, Editor
The Spinoff has covered the news that matters in 2021, most recently the delta outbreak. Help us continue this coverage, and so much more, by supporting The Spinoff Members.Madeleine Chapman, EditorJoin Members

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