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 Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created the World’s Most Dangerous Man by Mary L. Trump (Simon & Schuster, $38)
“Family matters should be family matters. I think the thin-skinned, troubled, living-in-glass-house, mainstream media members who think people’s families are their business ought to really think thrice the next time they do that.” – Kellyanne Conway, counsellor to the president, in the press conference/hectic theatre sports exercise pictured above.
2 How Do We Know We’re Doing it Right? Essays on Modern Life by Pandora Sykes (Penguin Random House, $40)
Probably a good place to start is thinking thrice.
3 Utopia Avenue by David Mitchell (Hodder & Stoughton, $38)
How are you all feeling about this? Critics are … not rapt. Here, for example, is an absolutely merciless slamming from the Guardian: “It’s as if no celebrity of the time from Francis Bacon to Frank Zappa can avoid coming under the deadening sway of Mitchell’s pen. Each of them is clumsily summoned and dismissed, and all we get is Griff saying: ‘Chuffin’ heck, it’s Jimi Hendrix.’
5 Girl, Woman, Other by Bernadine Evaristo (Penguin Classics, $24)
Joint winner, with Margaret Atwood, of the 2019 Booker Prize.
The longlist for the 2020 prize was announced this week and the press release included this quite astonishing sales info: “In the week following the announcement, sales of The Testaments rose from 11,955 to 13,400 copies while Girl, Woman, Other sold 5,980 copies, more than double its lifetime sales up to that point and a 1,340% increase week on week.
“Girl, Woman, Other has now spent 25 weeks in The Sunday Times Top Ten in hardback and paperback, several at number one and its combined sales in all editions and formats are heading towards half a million. The book will be published in 32 territories internationally and TV rights have been optioned by Potboiler.
“After its Booker win, it was shortlisted for the Women’s Prize for Fiction and won the best fiction book at the 2020 British Book Awards, while Evaristo picked up Author of the Year.”
6 Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari (Vintage, $30)
Harari has just announced a spinoff: a series of graphic novels put together with artists David Vandermeulen and Daniel Casanave. On Twitter, he promised that the series “radically reworks ‘Sapiens’– full of fictional scenes and colourful characters. Meet the gay Neanderthals, the all-powerful Doctor Fiction, and the world’s worst-ever serial killers. And find out why we’re all trapped inside the dreams of dead people.”
7 The Deficit Myth: Modern Monetary Theory and the Birth of the People’s Economy by Stephanie Kelton (John Murray, $38)
Here’s Kelton writing for the New York Times last month: “An understanding of Modern Monetary Theory matters greatly now. It could free policymakers not only to act boldly amid crises but also to invest boldly in times of more stability. It matters because to lift America out of its current economic crisis, Congress does not need to ‘find the money’, as many say, in order to spend more. It just needs to find the votes and the political will.”
8 White Fragility: Why it’s so hard for white people to talk about racism by Robin DiAngelo (Penguin Random House, $28)
Polarising. Here’s a wee bit of a review from The Atlantic, for example: “White Fragility is, in the end, a book about how to make certain educated white readers feel better about themselves. DiAngelo’s outlook rests upon a depiction of Black people as endlessly delicate poster children within this self-gratifying fantasy about how white America needs to think – or, better, stop thinking.
“Her answer to white fragility, in other words, entails an elaborate and pitilessly dehumanizing condescension toward Black people. The sad truth is that anyone falling under the sway of this blinkered, self-satisfied, punitive stunt of a primer has been taught, by a well-intentioned but tragically misguided pastor, how to be racist in a whole new way.”
9 The Room Where It Happened: A White House Memoir by John Bolton (Simon & Schuster, $40)
“More confirmation of malfeasance than fresh news, but the message is clear: Voter, beware.” – Kirkus Reviews
10 Education of an Idealist by Samantha Power (HarperCollins, $37)
Fascinating New York Times review here, by tortured idealist and former foreign correspondent Thomas L. Friedman.
“I knew only one thing about Power — from afar. She was a table-pounding idealist and human rights advocate, and believed in using American power to protect innocent civilians and advance democracy. And lately, I have struggled with that position.”
1 Sprigs by Brannavan Gnanalingam (Lawrence & Gibson, $35)
“It is a meticulous and immaculate book, one that, bolting through a minefield, never puts a foot wrong. It moves with the grace and thunderous power that the high school rugby players who seethe at the centre of its plot only dream of.” – Uther Dean, reviewing Sprigs for us just yesterday.
2 Rat King Landlord by Murdoch Stephens (Lawrence & Gibson, $24)
Throughout lockdown, Josie Adams became profoundly aware of the gigantic rats in her flat and kept the Spinoff’s Zoom meetings closely updated accordingly. She is reading Rat King Landlord now and we hope she will write about it. Ratmates!
3 Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created the World’s Most Dangerous Man by Mary L. Trump (Simon & Schuster, $38)
4 How to Be Old by Rachel McAlpine (Cuba Press, $25)
The poet told Kathryn Ryan that the trigger for the book was waking up on her 75th birthday and realising she was not young.
5 Utopia Avenue by David Mitchell (Hodder & Stoughton, $38)
6 Imagining Decolonisation by Rebecca Kiddle, Bianca Elkington, Moana Jackson, Ocean Ripeka Mercier, Mike Ross, Jennie Smeaton and Amanda Thomas (Bridget Williams Books, $15)
One for you, one for your neighbour with the New Conservative hoardings.
7 Auē by Becky Manawatu (Mākaro Press, $35)
We hoped that Auē might make the Booker longlist. Oh, well. Next time! (The other day Becky tweeted that she is writing a second novel now, “for my utu – to restore balance. I feel like this novel is about kindness.”)
8 Three Women by Lisa Taddeo (Bloomsbury, $25)
More than a year after reading this book certain phrases still stick. “The eel dark,” for example. And “being exquisite on Easter”.
9 Walking Home by Michele Amas (Victoria University Press, $25)
You simply must read Paula Green’s review over at Poetry Shelf. Here’s a taster: “Ah. I just want you to read this book. This multi-toned glorious book with every note pitch perfect, with roving subject matter and delving points of view. I have thunder and storm outside as I read, and a threatened national border, toxic political point scoring, and I am reading poems that fill me with joy and melancholy, and then more joy. Mostly joy. Transcendental. Transporting.”
10 Girl, Woman, Other by Bernadine Evaristo (Penguin, $24)
The Spinoff Weekly compiles the best stories of the week – an essential guide to modern life in New Zealand, emailed out on Monday evenings.