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 Lapland By Ottessa Moshfegh ($35 Jonathon Cape)
New from the author of My Year of Rest and Relaxation. The Guardian says it’s a ‘grim fairy tale’ set in a medieval village, where a famine forces people to ‘eat’ dead bees, bats, vermin, worms , from the earth “and, possibly, to each other”. Various other crimes are committed.
The review continues: “Lapvona is written in the flat, sketchy tones of an allegory – but if it’s a fable, it has no moral or message, a void that Moshfegh seems to pride himself on. Just before she kills nearly every character in the book, she sardonically writes, “true or false, you’ll think what you have to think to be able to get away with it.” So find a reason here.
2 How to hang out in a turf war by Coco Solid (Penguin, $28)
We’ll have a full review by the end of the month, promise. In the meantime, a Kete reviewer notes, “Although it’s called a ‘novel’ on the cover, it’s more of a short story in volume and a connection between the genre-dissolving anarchy of zine culture. and a more traditional literary work.”
3 Atomic Habits: An Easy, Proven Way to Build Good Habits and Break Bad Ones by James Clear (Random House Business, $40)
“It’s popular with people who promote hustle culture, so I didn’t expect it to work for me. Although I can’t say the information in it is so different from other books that I’ve read about it, this is definitely the best breakdown of said information I’ve seen” – Emily on Goodreads.
4 Tourbillon, Tourbillon by Kate DeGoldi (Allen & Unwin, $30)
“In his new novel…set in his hometown [Christchurch]De Goldi explores notions of family amid literal and psychological ruins, with a heavy dose of religion spilled, threatening everyday stability.
“Although primarily told in third person, the distinct vision of its picaresque protagonist reigns supreme. Eddy is equipped with the verbal tools of life’s trade and his sumptuous interpretations generously coat his anything but mundane days.
“The setting of the novel is loosely based on A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. This is found not only in characters, relationships, and events, but also in themes of redemption, changes in fortune, self-awareness, and movement toward joy.
5 The bookseller at the end of the world by Ruth Shaw (Allen & Unwin, $37)
An absolutely chocka little memoir with threads. Shaw’s writings about his own life are very good – clear, quick and surprising. But his vignettes about running a small bookstore in Manapōuri are often scanned as a wee bit.
6 Horse by Geraldine Brooks (Viking, $28)
“The title of Geraldine Brooks’ new novel… alludes to Lexington: the true and extraordinary late 19th century Kentucky bay stallion who drives its plot. The subtext, if not the subtitle, is “Race”. Not for the contests Lexington won, though these are recreated in detail and adapted for the sports and social pages, but for the book’s confrontation of black-white relations over two centuries” – the New York Times.
7 Russia: Revolution and Civil War by Anthony Beevor (Weidenfeld and Nicolson $60)
“It seems wrong to classify this book as military history. It’s like watching a movie. The typhus-carrying lice in the hospitals at the front are so abundant that they crunch under the nurses’ feet “like sugar.” Nadezhda Krupskaya is “washing” in the squalid Zurich apartment when “a breathless friend bursts in” bringing Lenin news of the February Revolution. In starving Petrograd, “through the shattered window panes the only glow came from the starlight reflecting off the less than pristine snow.” In a rare interlude of calm during the short-lived German protectorate, ‘the bull-eyed beauties of Kyiv roller-skate on the city’s rinks with officers’” – the Spectator.
8 Klara and the Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro (Faber, $37)
By the Nobel Prize-winning author of Never Let Me Go and The Remains of the Day; this one, about a very sick girl and her android companion, was selected for the Booker.
9 Invisibles Child: poverty, survival and hope in New York by Andrea Elliott (Hutchinson, $40)
Presentation: “Drawing on nearly a decade of reporting, Invisible Child follows eight dramatic years in the life of Dasani Coates, a child with an imagination as dazzling as the skyscrapers near her homeless shelter in Brooklyn.” Winner of the non-fiction Pulitzer in the last round. ‘A classic to file with Orwell’ wrote the Sunday Times reviewer.
10 Time Is A Mother By Ocean Vuong (Cape Jonathon $35)
Presentation: “In this second collection of deeply intimate poetry, Ocean Vuong searches for life among the aftershocks of his mother’s death, embodying the paradox of sitting in grief while determined to survive beyond. Moving through memory and in concert with themes from her novel On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous, Vuong grapples with personal loss, a sense of family, and the value of joy in a perpetually fractured American mind.
1 Eddy, Eddy by Kate DeGoldi (Allen & Unwin, $30)
2 imagining decolonization by Rebecca Kiddle, Bianca Elkington, Moana Jackson, Ocean Ripeka Mercier, Mike Ross, Jennie Smeaton and Amanda Thomas (Bridget Williams Books, $15)
In a topsy-turvy world, we can at least always count on this little book and its presence in the top 10.
3 Architecture of Wellington: A Walking Guide by John Walsh and Patrick Reynolds (Massey University Press, $25)
Left foot, right foot.
4 Fragments of a contested past: memory, denial and New Zealand history by Joanna Kidman, Vincent O’Malley, Liana MacDonald, Tom Roa and Keziah Wallis (Bridget Williams Books, $15)
Another little BWB book that is more than the sum of its parts.
5 One heart, one spade by Alistair Luke (Your Books, $35)
Crime of a New Wellington Writer. Stuff asked who he would like at a book club. “How much am I allowed? John le Carré, Peter Temple, Amitav Ghosh, Kate Atkinson, Ron Rash, William Gibson and Tana French for a combination of genres, nationalities and because they are all amazing writers, but I could add many more.
6 My year of rest and relaxation by Ottessa Moshfegh (Vintage, $24)
“Otessa Moshfegh is by far the most interesting contemporary American writer on the subject of being alive when being alive is terrible. She has a bizarre and pure way of accessing existential alienation, as if her spirit was drawn directly from the sap of a gnarled, secret tree” – opening lines of a New Yorker review, which we recommend you read in full.
7 Before I Know My Name by Jaqueline Bublitz (Allen & Unwin, $23)
“Radical, profoundly feminist” is how we titled our review of this mystery novel, set in New York and written in New Plymouth. “The most wonderful book. Unusual, beautiful, feminist, engaging, deserves to win prizes. I liked it so much”, is what Marian Keyes (!) wrote in a cover.
Bublitz was, inexplicably, completely overlooked at the Ockhams, but here’s a look at his other hugely impressive nominations: CWA Gold Dagger on the longlist for Mystery Novel of the Year 2022; Matt Richell Award Shortlisted for New Writer of the Year, ABIA Awards 2022; General Fiction Book of the Year on the Long List, ABIA Awards 2022; Shortlisted 2022 MUD Literary Prize; Dublin Literary Award 2022 finalist.
8 Where The Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens (Philippines, $25)
We found parts of this novel to be rather charming – there’s lots of terrific nature writing, lots of wading in swamps and birdwatching – but there’s also some heartbreaking stuff around the neglect of animals. children and sexual abuse.
There’s also, of course, a movie starring Daisy Edgar-Jones that you might remember as Marianne from that other little book-to-movie adaptation, Normal People. Instant reviews: ‘Bestselling novel crashes on the big screen,’ says the Guardian. “A boring, boilerplate adaptation,” says Vanity Fair. “Drain this swamp,” says the Globe and Mail.
(Furthermore, the film’s release prompted a resurgence of controversy over racial stereotyping of two black characters in the book, and the fact that Delia Owens and her husband are wanted for questioning in connection with a murder in Zambia.)
9 Anglo-Saxons: A History of Early England by Marc Morris (Penguin, $35)
“Very good in some ways, less so in others. If you want a ‘this king did this, then this king did that’ story, this is the one for you. But if you want to know how people lived folks at the time, you have to look elsewhere. It’s classic history, in the sense that it’s largely based on written records, so it heavily favors those being talked about. Which means kings, families of kings and the church – Jon Frum, on Goodreads
10 Grand: Becoming My Mother’s Daughter by Noelle McCarthy (Penguin, $35)