The Unity Books bestseller chart for the week ending June 25


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)

Semi-autobiographical novel by polymath Jessica Hansell (Ngāpuhi/Sāmoa). Here is a typically great paragraph:

“Everyone in the family loves Sheena. A cute kid, a job with family cuts, she’s good at violent sports, and she’s a charismatic drunk. Sheena was also born into what Q calls ‘invisible old age’ , which means she’s always been allowed to put people in their place since she was a kid. That’s probably why she bugs people for a living now and why defending Q is like breathing for she.

2 Blocking Order: A True Story of Money Laundering, Murder and the Wrath of Vladimir Putin by Bill Browder (Simon & Schuster, $38)

NPR: I have to ask you, how are you still with us, given Vladimir Putin’s story of how he settled scores with his opponents?

BROWDER: Well, he really wanted to kill me. He threatened me with death, kidnapping. There have been eight Interpol arrest warrants issued against me. I was even arrested in Madrid a few years ago. The reason I’m still here is that in the midst of it all, Putin always kept one foot in the civilized world and one foot in the criminal world. He wanted to go to the G-20 conference. He wanted to organize international sporting events, etc. And even though he was actively plotting assassinations, including mine, the – I guess at some point he decided that killing me would probably hurt his chances of being in this civilized world. And so he didn’t do anything outrageous during that time. Now he has both feet in the criminal underworld by launching this incredible murderous invasion of Ukraine. And so my own personal risk has increased exponentially.

3 Russia: Revolution and Civil War, 1917-1921 by Antony Beevor (Viking, $60)

Via the Guardian:

“Military historian Antony Beevor is best known for his books Stalingrad and Berlin, which, as their titles suggest, focused on a single location and two clearly defined groups of fighters. The dimensions of his business with Russia: Revolution and Civil War 1917-1921 are on a much grander and more daunting scale.

He is, however, a wonderfully lucid writer who pulls together the vast material with great verve and understanding.

4 First person singular by Haruki Murakami (Arrow Books, $24)

Has Haruki recovered from that time when Michelle Langstone abruptly, beautifully broke up with him?

5 Kurangaituku by Whiti Hereaka (Huia Editors, $35)

Legitimate winner of this year’s Jann Medlicott Acorn Prize for Fiction; also a story that, as the narrator (a monstrous bird-woman) warns, will nest in your brain.

6 Greta and Valdin by Rebecca K Reilly (Te Herenga Waka University Press, $35)

The voice is the thing in this marvelous first novel; for an idea, here is Reilly in a recent essay on Shortland Street:

“I can’t remember a time when we never watched Shortland Street. We watched it on our 14 inch TV which didn’t have a remote and was then stolen while we were at Christmas in the park. We watched it on our replacement 14 inch TV with remote control, which I remember picking up from Bond + Bond with the insurance payment, feeling very glamorous to have been robbed and getting one new TV. We watched it on vacation at the Motel Six in Hamilton or at my grandmother’s. After the owner sold our unit, we moved to Whenuapai and I briefly took an interest in the outdoors (rolling in a circle on the deck and taking my scooter to the dairy) but I was always back at the inside for Shortland Street, although there was poor reception there and you had to hold the aerial in the right place.

7 Horse by Geraldine Brooks (Hachette, $38)

The standfirsts are supposed to sum it all up, so here’s one from the Washington Post:

“Pulitzer-winning Geraldine Brooks’ latest book is a gripping tale that uses the true story of a famous 19th-century racehorse to explore the roots and legacy of slavery.”

8 Elizabeth Finch by Julian Barnes (Jonathan Cape UK, $40)

A novel about an inspiring teacher, in a way. Here is the very good last line of a very good Guardian review: “Elizabeth Finch is a work stubbornly determined to deprive us of its pleasures, even as it hints at what they might have been.

9 Happy-Go-Lucky by David Sedaris (Little, Brown, $35)

A counterpoint to the state of affairs, perhaps?

10 Dawn Hounds by Sascha Stronach (Simon & Schuster, $35)

Stronach is a favorite from this spin-off here and we love the rebooted version of its debut, a sci-fi fantasy built around mushrooms and pirates – just like Tamsyn Muir:

“Soon I stopped condescendingly thinking about how brave it was and started thinking about how good it was. The Dawnhounds is a homecoming for New Zealand fantasy. Certainly it rests on the shoulders of the existing Kiwi giants, but he is part of a brave new generation putting their middle finger on the American SFF market and battling editors for every Australasian phrase or idiom.


1 A group of stars, a group of stories: Matariki around the world by Rangi Matamua and Miriama Kamo, illustrated by Isobel Joy Te Aho-White (Scholastic, $35)

A radically beautiful, large, hardback children’s book full of science and stars. And what an absolute dream to have Isobel on illos – she is divine.

2 A Gentle Radical: The Life of Jeanette Fitzsimons by Gareth Hughes (Allen & Unwin, $40)

3 Imagining decolonization by Rebecca Kiddle, Bianca Elkington, Moana Jackson, Ocean Ripeka Mercier, Mike Ross, Jennie Smeaton and Amanda Thomas (Bridget Williams Books, $15)

This is the week for imagining, after all.

4 Russia: Revolution and Civil War, 1917-1921 by Antony Beevor (Viking, $60)

5 Blocking Order: A True Story of Money Laundering, Murder and Vladimir Putin’s Wrath by Bill Browder (Simon & Schuster, $38)

6 Architecture of Wellington: A Walking Guide by John Walsh and Patrick Reynolds (Massey University Press, $25)

Left, right, left, right…

7 Matariki: the star of the year by Rangi Matamua (Huia Editors, $35)

Via the indomitable Huia editors:

“What is Matariki? Why did the Maori observe Matariki? How did Maori traditionally celebrate Matariki? When and how to celebrate Matariki?

Based on research and interviews with Maori experts, this book seeks answers to these questions and explores what Matariki was in a traditional sense so that he can be understood and celebrated in contemporary society.

8 Happy-Go-Lucky by David Sedaris (Little, Brown, $35)

9 Accommodation by Jenny Patrick (Black Swan, $36)

Via Kete Books:

“Famous historical fiction writer Jenny Pattrick returns with her 10th novel, which begins with Martha and Huw Pengellin, a young couple from Newport, Wales in the late 1830s who are barely making it, alive in one of many identical rat-infested hovels.’ with their baby Alfie.

10 The Book of Form and Void by Ruth Ozeki (Text, $40)

Via the New York Times:

“Japanese-American novelist Ruth Ozeki is an animator. I don’t mean that she produces graphic novels, manga or anime, although her work has the fairy tale feel of some animated films. I mean it endows objects and animals with anima, the breath of life. A fan of magical realistic fiction, Ozeki animates the world. Everything in his universe, down to a pane of glass and a widget, has a psyche and a certain capacity for action and can communicate, if only with the few human beings who have the power to understand them.


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