The only best-selling independent books chart published and available in New Zealand is the Top 10 list recorded each week at Unity Books stores in High St, Auckland and Willis St, Wellington.
1 Grand: Becoming my mother’s daughter by Noelle McCarthy (Penguin, $35)
All of Auckland is reading articles about Noelle McCarthy and her complicated relationship with her mother, Carol. Diana Wichtel explains why: “In this astonishing showdown with demons, McCarthy’s mom, Carol, lands on the page with hilarious, indelible, ghastly vivacity, stealing every scene. The trajectory of their relationship – intense, literally tooth and claw, barely surviving – takes them, in no time, to something fierce and unbreakable. Grand will make you reevaluate the power of love; the deep, painful channels it can cut.
If you’re not entirely convinced, let book editor Catherine Woulfe convince you.
2 Greta and Valdin by Rebecca K Reilly (Te Herenga Waka University Press, $35)
Greta & Valdin is one of four finalists vying to win the Jann Medlicott Acorn Prize for Fiction, which will be awarded at a live ceremony in Auckland on May 11. Here are some sparkly reviews to get you whizzing to the bookstore.
“Greta & Valdin is a complete world. I was totally captivated. It’s warm and funny, inventive and charming, with a genuine and deserved tenderness at its core” – Kate Duignan
“Delicious, funny, wonderful…I laughed all through this book. An incredible novel from a young new writer. I warmly recommend it to everyone” – Claire Mabey
“Greta & Valdin is fresh, funny, tangled and brilliant. I can’t wait for someone to do the sitcom so I can keep Reilly’s characters in my life” – Hannah Tunnicliffe
3 Shifting Grounds: Deep Stories from Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland by Lucy Mackintosh (Bridget Williams Books, $60)
Another Ockham finalist, this time for the Booksellers Aotearoa New Zealand Award for Illustrated Non-Fiction. Shifting Grounds is definitely the best winnersale illustrated non-fiction at Unity, but we’ll have to wait until May to see if that translates (ha ha) into winning the $10,000 prize as well.
4 Kurangaituku by Whiti Hereaka (Huia Editors, $35)
Ockham’s third finalist on the list, and the one we ordered the judges to award with a crown: “give the Acorn to Whiti Hereaka”!
5 Young Mungo by Douglas Stuart (Picador, $38)
The Booker-winning author of Shuggie Bain has a new novel, and we’re excited. The Observer describes Young Mungo as “a gay Romeo and Juliet set in the brutal world of Glasgow housing estates”.
6 Actions & Travels: how poetry works by Anna Jackson (Auckland University Press, $35)
Anna Jackson, poet and associate professor of English literature at Vic, wrote an introduction to poetry. Michael Hulse says, “Each sentence overflows with Anna Jackson’s informed love of poetry, its fun and gravity, its wildness and variety. Ranging from the old to the tweeted, she helps the newbies without looking like a bait, and throws the bones of the experts to squabble. If you only read one book on poetry this year, this should be it.
7 In Paradise by Hanya Yanagihara (Picador, $38)
The latest novel from the author of A Little Life. Sam Brooks has opinions.
8 meat lovers by Rebecca Hawkes (Auckland University Press, $25)
A new collection of the Wellington poet and Canterbury farmer’s wife. Here is a piece of meat:
I try to become a vegetarian but I find myself weak,
week to week trolling the meat aisle
close enough to chill my arms to the bone. I only buy
stuff so processed that it makes little sense to call it meat.
Saveloy, nugget, continental frankfurter;
everything extruded pink beyond memory
of the previous body.
9 The Candy House by Jennifer Egan (Simon and Schuster, $38)
Pulitzer-winning author Jennifer Egan brought us A Visit from the Goon Squad in 2011, and has now served up a highly anticipated new novel. In The Candy House, tech billionaire Bix’s company allows all of a person’s memories to be accessed and traded at will (spoiler: not everyone likes this idea). In classic Egan style, the novel is constructed from multiple narratives spanning decades, with chapters ranging from omniscient, first-person plural, epistolary, duet, and tweet-only forms.
10 Toi Tū Toi Ora: Contemporary Maori Art by Nigel Borell (Penguin, $65)
The fantastic Toi Tū Toi Ora exhibition that lived at the Auckland Art Gallery in 2021 has been captured to live forever in book form. The introduction is a long and wonderful essay by Moana Jackson; we have published part of it here.
1 Architecture of Wellington: A Walking Guide by John Walsh and Patrick Reynolds (Massey University Press, $25)
Wellingtonians are discovering their city this week, building by building and step by step. Either that or Airbnb hosts in Wellington are filling their bedside tables with guests reading piles en masse.
2 Imagining decolonization by Rebecca Kiddle, Bianca Elkington, Moana Jackson, Ocean Ripeka Mercier, Mike Ross, Jennie Smeaton and Amanda Thomas (Bridget Williams Books, $15)
We keep imagining, every week.
3 meat lovers by Rebecca Hawkes (Auckland University Press, $25)
4 So Far, So Far: On Travel, Widowhood, and the Stories That Never End by Fiona Kidman (Vintage, $38)
A new memoir from one of Aotearoa’s greatest writers. We recently published an excerpt where Fiona Kidman reflects on literary festivals. A sample: “For the most part, writers lead solitary lives, sitting alone in front of a computer. When we go to festivals, we perform and sell our work and ourselves. The two merge into each other. We want to be loved. (Sometimes it’s easier to be famous than to be loved.) For a short time, we enjoy the hospitality of people who, for the most part, are strangers. We are the strangers watching, just as we are when we sit down to create characters, people we know and can never fully know, and let go of when we start the next book.
5 Dogs in New Zealand’s Early Photographs by Mike White (Te Papa Press, $35)
Want to look at pictures of dogs? This beautifully curated new collection from Te Papa Press brings together over 100 historical photographs of New Zealand dogs from the 19th and 20th centuries.
6 Accommodation by Jenny Patrick (Black Swan, $36)
New local fiction from the author of Landings, The Denniston Rose and Skylark. The editor’s blurb is there to do the rest of the heavy lifting for us: “The year is 1839 and Huw Pengellin is desperate to find a better life for his family than the one he leads in Wales. His wife, Martha, is fully aware of how reckless Huw’s plans can be, but she’s keen to escape the foundry slums, as well as Huw’s brother, Gareth, with his burning eyes and wandering hands. Could Colonel Wakefield’s plans to take settlers to the distant shores of New Zealand offer a solution?
“On the other side of the world, watching the new arrivals, is Hineroa, who is also desperate for a better life. Will she be a slave forever, will she ever be reunited with her people, and the ships who will continue to navigate the bay bring even more problems?
“Change is afoot, not just for these characters, but for the crescent beach, thick bush and rugged hills that are about to become Wellington’s bustling settlement.”
7 Young Mungo by Douglas Stuart (Picador, $38)
8 Health Worker Experiences During the COVID-19 Pandemic: In Their Own Words by Marie Bismark, Karen Willis, Sophie Lewis and Natasha Smallwood (Routledge, $83)
An account of the experiences of over 9,000 frontline health workers in Australia, who were interviewed during the second wave of Covid-19 about the psychological, occupational and social impacts of the pandemic. Critical care doctors, hospital cleaners, rural GPs and aged care nurses all have their experiences represented to create a shared narrative. Essential reading for anyone who wants to learn from the pandemic and strengthen our health systems.
9 Greta and Valdin by Rebecca K Reilly (Te Herenga Waka University Press, $35)
10 The bookseller at the end of the world by Ruth Shaw (Allen & Unwin, $37)
A new local entry in the “bookseller lives” memoir category, also populated by Shaun Bythell’s The Diary of a Bookseller and tumblr Customer Service Wolf. Ruth Shaw runs two tiny bookshops in the deep south of Fiordland and combines stories from her own life, those who visit her bookstores and, of course, thoughts on her favorite books.
Booksellers’ Choice Australia has this to say: “Absolutely charming and filled with both heartbreak and humour, Ruth Shaw’s memoir will have you booking the first flight to New Zealand to share a cup of tea in her Wee bookshops. . Shaw was a cook, nurse, sailor and world traveler, and suffered immeasurable loss. But with Lance, the love of his life, Shaw has found his place in the bookstore in Fiordland.
If you’re in Manapouri over the long weekends, pop into Wee Bookstores – you might make this memoir number two (try to be the charming and interesting character, not the creepy eccentric).