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 How to hang out in a turf war by Coco Solid (Penguin, $28)
“I firmly maintain that the telemarketing jobs were the best performing arts training I ever had” – just a golden line from a track Solid (aka Jess Hansell) wrote for Pantograph Punch in the summer last.
2 Happy-Go-Lucky by David Sedaris (Little, Brown, $35)
A collection of essays exploring the famous writer’s relationship with his father. As a taster, might we recommend this fine essay from The New Yorker – it really nails the nursing home vibe, and it will also make you cry.
3 The Netanyahus by Joshua Cohen (New York Review Books, $38)
Taffy Brodesser-Akner in The New York Times: “It’s a maddening, frustrating and pretentious work – and also absorbing, delicious, hilarious, breathtaking and the best and most relevant novel I have read in what seems to be a eternity.”
4 Atomic Habits: An Easy, Proven Way to Build Good Habits and Break Bad Ones by James Clear (Random House Business, $40)
Extensively gushed by Arianna Huffington, Mark Hanson, Brené Brown, Gayle King et al.
5 My Annihilation by Fuminori Nakamura (Soho Press, $30)
Described on the blurb as “a puzzle box of a narrative in the form of a faith-based journal that implicates its reader in a heinous crime”.
6 Horse by Geraldine Brooks (Viking, $28)
A novel that speaks well of a horse.
7 Young Mungo by Douglas Stuart (Picador, $38)
A slightly less dark novel from the writer who won the Booker with his debut album, Shuggie Bain.
8 Klara and the Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro (Faber, $37)
“I love a good robot story, and Ishiguro’s novel about a sick girl’s ‘artificial friend’ is no exception. Although it takes place in a dystopian future, robots are not a force for evil. Instead, they serve as companions to keep people company. This book got me thinking about what life with super-intelligent robots might be like – and whether we’ll treat these kinds of machines as pieces of technology or something more” – a Goodreads review purportedly by Bill Gates, yes the Bill Gates.
9 Sand Tomb by Geetanjali Shree (Harper Collins, $36)
“Geetanjali Shree, the first Hindi writer to win the International Booker Prize, seems to have come out of nowhere. Until last month, some very famous Indian Hindi journalists did not know his name. At 65, she has been writing for about 30 years, and Tomb of Sand, translated by Daisy Rockwell from her book Ret Samadhi, is her fifth novel.
The invisibility of women is a recurring subject in Shree’s work. This seems to be the natural state of women in India, where despite modernity, men continue to take precedence socially and psychologically. Visibility can be returned to us on the condition of having children, of being indispensable to men, of winning the Booker Prize.
ten Invisible Child: Poverty, Survival and Hope in New York by Andrea Elliott (Hutchinson, $40)
The Pulitzer Jury, for awarding this year’s Elliott Prize in General Nonfiction:
“As Dasani comes of age, New York’s homeless crisis has exploded, widening the chasm between rich and poor. She must guide her brothers and sisters in a world plagued by hunger, violence, racism, drug addiction and the threat of placement in a foster family… A work of luminous and captivating prose, L’Enfant invisible d’Elliott reads like a novel that turns the page. It’s an amazing story about the power of resilience, the importance of family and the cost of inequality – told through the crucible of one remarkable girl.
1 One heart, one spade by Alistair Luke (Your Books, $35)
“One Heart, One Spade is a police procedural set in 1977 and 1978 in Wellington. The common thread of the whole story is the disappearance of a twenty-year-old woman, Felicity Daniels. The story is told from the perspective of Detective Lucas Cole. His private life is unraveling and his professional life is starting to crumble as well. Other crimes populate history. Some may be linked to his disappearance, others not. The CIB becomes divided and Cole forms relationships with some of his colleagues who threaten his position with the others. The story tells of his growing understanding of the complexities of the world he lives in, things he’s never had to deal with before – sexuality, misogyny, racism, colonialism. It’s the 1970s” – the author, an architect from Wellington, interviewed by NZ Booklovers.
2 imagining decolonization by Rebecca Kiddle, Bianca Elkington, Moana Jackson, Ocean Ripeka Mercier, Mike Ross, Jennie Smeaton and Amanda Thomas (Bridget Williams Books, $15)
“Over 10,000 copies of the short but powerful book Imagining Decolonization have now been sold, announced book publisher BWB Texts…Published in March 2020, Imagining Decolonization became a word-of-mouth hit. It was the bestselling book of 2021 at Unity Books Wellington and is on The Spinoff’s weekly Unity bestseller list so much that finding new ways to describe it has become a running gag” – good news via live updates from The Spinoff, from last weekend.
3 Architecture of Wellington: A Walking Guide by John Walsh and Patrick Reynolds (Massey University Press, $25)
Left foot, right foot…
4 Grow: Wāhine Finding Connection Through Food by Sophie Merkens (Beatnik, $60)
Let’s first introduce the author, via the publisher:
“Sophie Merkens is a photographer, writer and foodie. To her surprise and delight, she has made eating and being around foodies her career, working as a recipe developer and food stylist. For Sophie, morning coffee is non-negotiable, she goes wild for anything with rose in it, and she loves a glass of warm fermented mare’s milk (a Kyrgyz delicacy). In food and in life, curiosity is its North Star. When she’s not experimenting in the kitchen, she’s gardening, foraging, hiking, trying to surf, or hitting the road in her Zephyr Florence van. She happily calls Aotearoa home.
Merkens’ book is “a journey through Aotearoa to meet 37 inspiring women who are finding meaning and connection through food. From mothers, gardeners, hunters, chefs and hobbyists, their conversations dive deep into how food influences their lives.
5 The Book of Form and Void by Ruth Ozeki (Text, $40)
“Canadian-American author Ruth Ozeki is a filmmaker, Zen priest and writing teacher. Her third novel, A Tale for the Time Being, was shortlisted for the 2013 Booker Prize. In this, her fourth, everything has – everything is made of – language. Each thing is, in a certain sense, writing a book.
6 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)
Don Rowe interviewed Kidman (Ngati Maniapoto/Ngati Raukawa) about this book, noting that “visiting historical sites of bloodshed and trauma across the country was both intellectually and emotionally intense, requiring discussions on cultural safety for the team.
“For the Maori team members, it wasn’t just a simple academic research project, we were all caught up in these stories in one way or another, so it was an extraordinarily powerful experience to go in places where for some of us our tupuna had fallen,” Kidman says.
seven Accommodation by Jenny Patrick (Black Swan, $36)
There was something utterly charming about Kim Hill’s interview with Pattrick, in which the 85-year-old writer was totally okay with not having another book in the works just yet:
“I’ve had two good careers before, I mean jewelry and writing, and I know that by the time your book comes out, that is, it just came out , it’s been a good year since I sent the draft of the manuscript to the publishers.
“I should have another book on track now but I haven’t and so I’m like ‘why didn’t I? Has this fire died down now, is it time to start a new career? Or is it time to just be a grandmother and great-grandmother, which I am now.
8 Horse by Geraldine Brooks (Viking, $28)
9 Tourbillon, Tourbillon by Kate DeGoldi (Allen & Unwin, $30)
The classic De Goldi, full of lovely tender words, featuring a teenager with a vibrant inner life:
“How good it felt to sit in a plush chair in an empty house with only a princely frog and a book for company. He felt about forty-five years old and fully sagacious. That’s the position sitting who did – at home he lay down to read, on his bed or on the sofa, or along the window seat, or in front of the wood stove – like a child.
ten The Island of Lost Trees by Elif Shafak (Viking, $26)
Now in pocket, and therefore back in the charts.