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 Course by Ian McEwan (Jonathon Cape, $37)
For many authors, confinement was the perfect escape to dive into their fictional world. McEwan clearly loved it: “By the end of 2019, I had traveled a lot… And I formed the ambition, in 2020, that I really wanted to stay at home and completely immerse myself in slow time, in a long novel that was just beginning to take shape in my head. Then came the first confinement. So I was able to do exactly what I was hoping to do, which was to develop a novel. Hats off to Globe and Mail.
2 Directly by Ruby Tui (Allen & Unwin, $37)
The new memoir of rugby star and Olympian Ruby Tui.
Of RNZ: “A visit to the male-dominated rugby memoir section of a bookstore convinced New Zealand rugby star Ruby Tui to share her personal story. “I remember just standing in the bookshop and crying. was like ‘this isn’t even about me, man. I gotta do this. If I want a women’s rugby biography on the shelf and I’ve got all these editors up my neck, who am I not to do that? It was extremely difficult, it was one of the hardest things I’ve done, but at the same time, that decision was made in that bookstore that day – as quick as it is easy.
3 Greta and Valdin by Rebecca K Reilly (Te Herenga Waka University Press, $35)
The Auckland novel that still warms our shells. Claire wrote on Goodreads: “Reilly has written a rare beast, a contemporary New Zealand novel about coming of age that is resonant, recognizable and engaging. Tāmaki Makaurau is the living heart of this story, brought to life with clever detail at every turn. … The real achievement here is how Reilly mixes some pretty searing socio-political commentary, with humor and the drama of life. His acerbic tone makes these critical observations cutting without pulling his reader out of the narrative. Greta and Valdin is about family, connection, and that early adult pressure to know what you’re doing. It’s dynamic and clever. I loved every moment. »
4 Lucia by the sea by Elizabeth Strout (Viking, $37)
Fresh new novel in the Pulitzer-winning Lucy Barton series. In Lucy by the Sea, the Covid-19 pandemic begins and Lucy agrees to leave New York and stay with her ex-husband William in a coastal house in Maine. She assumes she will be away for a few weeks, and instead her time with William stretches out for months. The Guardian writes: “Capturing at the very pace of storytelling the pressures of 2020, leaving us to listen as Lucy tries to make sense of the relationships in the lockdown and the political tensions deepening across the country, Strout has written another book wonderfully alive, as beautiful a pandemic novel as one could hope for.
5 Before your memory fades by Toshikazu Kawaguchi (Picador, $25)
The new novel is the Before the Coffee Gets Cold series.
6 Cursed Rabbit: Stories by Bora Chung (Algonquin Books from Chapel Hill, $34)
Korean author Bora Chung has been translated into English for the first time and was immediately shortlisted for the International Booker Prize. Critics rejoice and tremble in their boots:
“Nothing focuses the mind quite like the terrors of Chung, which will shrivel you into a stock cube of your most primal instincts.” — Rhoda Feng, Vulture
“Cool and brilliantly insane K-horror, just the way I like it!” —Ed Park, author of Personal Days
“Whether they borrow from fable, folk tale, speculative fiction, science fiction or horror, Chung’s stories draw to devastating conclusions – dark, yes, but also wise and honest about the nightmares of contemporary life.” — Reviews of Kirkus
seven I’m glad my mother died by Jennette McCurdy (Simon & Schuster, $45)
“She booked iCarly! She booked iCarly!
Mom’s hand flies up to accompany her woohoo in what can only be described as a dubious fist-pump. Either way, it pulls his hand away from mine and my whole body feels it. But just a second. Because then it hits me. I booked my first series regular role.
Mom pulls into the parking lot of the Art Supply Warehouse as we both scream at the top of our voices. She parks in a space reserved for the disabled – she is delighted to have a disabled card since her diagnosis of diverticulitis. I unbuckle my seat belt as quickly as possible.
I jump into mom’s arms. She hugs me. I am delighted. Everything will be different now. Everything will be better. Mom will finally be happy. His dream has come true.
8 Ithaca by Claire North (Orbit, $38)
The author of The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August has published a new historical novel about Penelope of Ithaca, wife of Odysseus.
9 We do not know each other by Fintan O’Toole (Head of Zeus, $37)
A memoir both of the author’s life and of modern Ireland. Atlantic gave the green light, writing: “O’Toole’s intimate book covers a lifetime of Irish history: a period of six decades in which the country went from one thing to another without understanding where he was or where he was going, and was content to wear blinders. Dishonest deviation from important matters was a deep-rooted habit. The years punctuated by the bombardment of the Nelson’s Pillar mark a turning point. Even a child in short pants and knee-high socks could tell something was wrong. … My own vivid, limited sense of this time and place – of a country watching itself change – is lodged in my memory like a single piece of a jigsaw puzzle. O’Toole provides a place to go for this piece: missing context in all directions. »
ten Exiles by Jane Harper (Macmillan, $38)
Australia’s queen of crime is back with a new novel by Aaron Falk.
1 people person by Joanna Cho (Te Herenga Waka University Press, $30)
One of our favorite things to see at number one: a first book of poetry by a local author. Pip Adam says: “This book is tense and strong, rigorous and funny. With skill and care, Joanna Cho has produced a work that envelops and welcomes but never gives. And somehow, too, all that power gives way to hope and tears and a renewed sense of the world.
This week we published a extract for your reading pleasure.
2 Pasolini’s miCat edited by Marco Sonzogni (The Cuba Press, $20)
Look, we’re not sure what to make of this one. All Cuba Press tells us is “Translations by Pier Paolo Pasolini to mark his centenary of birth and the twenty-second edition of Italian Language Week in the World”.
3 Shrines of Cheerfulness by Kate Atkinson (Doubleday, $37)
New fiction from the author of Life After Life, Case Histories and A God in Ruins. Shrines of Gaiety is set in a Soho nightclub in post-Great War London, and the Guardian describes it as a “heady mix of crime, romance and satire amid the sordid glitz of London nightlife in the 1920s”.
4 Wawata – Moon Dreaming: daily wisdom guided by Hina, the Maori moon by Hinemoa Elder (Penguin, $30)
The day has finally come. New book from the author of Aroha, the best-selling non-fiction book of 2021. Buy a copy and fill your boots with wisdom.
5 Course by Ian McEwan (Jonathon Cape, $37)
6 The Ax Man’s Carnival by Catherine Chidgey (Te Herenga Waka University Press, $35)
The brilliant new novel from the author of The Wish Child and Remote Sympathy. The hero of the novel is a talking magpie named Tama, rescued by a farmer’s wife. (Expect the unexpected when reading Catherine Chidgey).
In what might be The Spinoff’s best book review ever, we asked writer Marty Smith to push his own magpie, Pecky, to answer at Chidgey’s work. A taste: “Stay as you are, Tama. To love to love. When your birds turn their backs on you one by one, Tainted Tama, oh, uneasiness, unease — my heart grows small and hides.
“Things are not going well for birds that go to humans of their own volition. (That’s not true, my human says, it’s other birds from afar.)”
seven Lucia by the sea by Elizabeth Strout (Viking, $37)
8 Fake Believe: conspiracy theories in Aotearoa by Dylan Reeve (Upstart, $40)
Dylan Reeve wrote a writing for us this week on writing his new book. A chewable nugget:
“Vinny Eastwood is smart, logical and analytical – he is a good example of the general fact that conspiracy theorists, despite what many are quick to assume, are not ‘stupid’ or unwilling to reflect on their beliefs.
“Politically, Eastwood and I probably have pretty similar views on the world in many ways, but we’ve come to very different conclusions about the causes of the problems we’re seeing. I’m still not sure exactly how. For example , I don’t know what made him trust the sources and ideas he does, and more importantly, I don’t know what stopped me from doing the same. Thinking about these ideas, I can very easily imagine an alternate universe, not too far from this one, where I too deeply distrust the Rothschild family and believe that the US government was behind 9/11.
9 Crude Common Denominator Pleb Trash Baseline Urge Ass Poetry: Confessions from the Sick Bay by Max & Olive (5ever Books, $20)
Released at a double book launch alongside People Person at Unity Wellington earlier this week. The publisher’s blurb reads: “A collection of experimental poetic attempts and gestures: towards something big, deep, fundamental, sick. He paddles through art, pop culture, humor, lyrics, psychology and the absurd in his long swim towards death. Dynamic.
ten A heart full of tombstones by Ian Rankin (Orion, $38)
The 24th Inspector Rebus detective novel has landed in bookstores, just when you were starting to wonder what to get Dad for Christmas.