The Unity Books bestseller chart for the week ending June 3


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 Kurangaituku by Whiti Hereaka (Huia Editors, $35)

First place for best dog. Kurangaituku won the Jann Medlicott Acorn Prize for Fiction at the Ockhams a few weeks ago, and with it $60,000. We were delighted with tiny pieces.

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

A new writing by Rebecca K Reilly, which won the Crystal Arts Trust Best First Book award at the same Ockhams fair, was published on The Spinoff last weekend. An excerpt from The Sunday Essay, on growing up looking at Shortland Street:

“My favorite storylines have always been the ones that are extremely loose and come out of nowhere. In a hospital soap opera, you can expect a lot of mysterious illnesses, explosions, drug thefts, and relationships with power imbalances What you wouldn’t expect is a story about cybercrime or someone making a sculpture of a dick out of their own frozen piss for high school art class and then that same character goes later temporarily blinding his own mother after he blew up the family’s meth house.

3 Grand: Becoming My Mother’s Daughter by Noelle McCarthy (Penguin, $35)

Mammy was a werewolf, it only took one sip to change her.

Noelle McCarthy’s new local memoir of her recovery from alcoholism, the birth of her daughter and the death of her mother. We gave him a double thumbs up.

4 Invisible Child: Poverty, Survival and Hope in New York by Andrea Elliott (Hutchinson, $40)

Homeless Brooklyn resident Dasani is no longer invisible, having graced the front page of The New York Times for five consecutive days in 2013. Andrea Elliott has followed Dasani and her family for eight years and has now transformed her feature articles in a book.

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

Did you read this subtitle? Wow. We’re glad we’re not Bill Browder.

6 The Orange Tree Priory by Samantha Shannon (Bloomsbury, $22)

A standalone fantasy novel from series author The Bone Season, which Shannon describes as a “feminist tale of Saint George and the Dragon”. It’s not even his last work – Le Prieuré de l’Oranger came out in 2019, and since then there have been two more novels, bringing his total bibliography to eight – because 30-year-old Samantha Shannon was born to make us feel unproductive.

7 Shifting Grounds: Deep Stories from Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland by Lucy Mackintosh (Bridget Williams Books, $60)

A beautiful illustrated non-fiction book that would look great on any Tāmaki Makaurau coffee table.

8 Ikigai: The Japanese Secret To A Long And Happy Life by Francesc Miralles and Hector Garcia (Hutchinson, $30)

Ikigai is a hit favorite of 2016, returning to warm our spiritual shells as winter approaches. Here’s a taste: “When we visited Ogimi, the Village of Longevity, we discovered that even people over the age of eighty and ninety are still very active. They don’t sit at home looking out the window or reading the newspaper. The people of Ogimi walk a lot, do karaoke with their neighbours, get up early in the morning and, as soon as they have had their breakfast – or even before – go out to weed their gardens. They don’t go to the gym or do strenuous exercise, but they hardly ever stop moving during their daily routines.

Well, it’s time to grab the karaoke mic and a pot of seedlings.

9 Atomic Habits: An Easy, Proven Way to Build Good Habits and Break Bad Ones by James Clear (Random House Business, $40)

We’re moving from good habits to more good habits this week. Here’s some more pot wisdom, this time from James Clear: “We live in a very results-oriented society; even if you have talent, you cannot succeed without having good habits. We think the thing that needs to change is the bank account or the test result or the number on the scale, but really what needs to change are the habits that precede those results.

Want more? Luckily for you! There is a whole book.

10 bitter orange by Jokha Alharthi (Simon & Schuster, $35)

Omani writer Jokha Alharthi won the International Booker Prize in 2019 for Brilliant Celestial Bodies. Bitter Orange Trees is her new novel, about an Omani student studying at a British university and torn between assimilating to her new home and reflecting on her past.


1 home theater by Anthony Lapwood (Te Herenga Waka University Press, $30)

We love it when new local dramas top the charts! Here is an extremely tantalizing summary from the publisher:

Welcome to the Repertory Apartments, where scenes of tenderness and turmoil, music and magic, strangeness and macabre unfold on intimate stages.

A mother and her young son are battling an ant infestation. A bassist is plagued by equine hallucinations. A widow is looking for a new house with a spare bedroom. A radio factory foreman intercepts queer broadcasts from the future.

And a time traveler stuck in a far corner of the multiverse tries to find his way home.

Moving between the turn of the 20th century and modern times, this collection of genres, spanning the fantastical and the deeply real, features a cast of remarkable characters and the fateful building that connects them all.

Uh, yes please. We’ll take ten.

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

Walk through Welly with a talkative and informative guide. Best part? You can say “Shhhhh” and just close the book without hurting the feelings once you’ve had enough.

3 Slow down, you’re here by Brannavan Gnanalingam (Lawrence & Gibson, $25)

Claire Mabey has just written a smashing exam of Brannavan’s latest novel, where she describes Slow Down, You’re Here as a “domestic hellscape”. Here is an excerpt to make your reader’s brain drool:

“This novel deftly taps the ‘what if’ button on the daily life dashboard until your adrenals are in overdrive. Because there’s nothing slow about Slow Down , You’re Here. Its formidable pace is the result of its elegant structure. The action takes place over 57 short scenes, some of which are only two pages long, which alternate between two main locations: a family home in Onehunga, Auckland, where two small children try to fend for themselves, and an Airbnb in Oneroa, Waiheke Island, where their mother, Kavita, is on a sexy, secret getaway with an old flame from her college days. mundane details of domestic life are reversed, one accident, one decision after another, until we are immersed in a thriller that is unerring in its look and breathtakingly assured in its ability to show just how our world is truly precarious.”

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)

This new little BWB issue has become a staple of bestsellers in recent weeks, and has even toppled its hot brethren, Imagining Decolonization so far.

5 Robin White: Something’s Happening Here by Sarah Farrar, Jill Trevelyan and Nina Tonga (Te Papa Press, $70)

Te Papa has just opened a major free exhibition featuring over 50 portraits and landscapes from Robin White’s career, and a lovely hardcover book of over 150 works accompanies it. Don’t worry, Aucklanders – the exhibit is heading to the Big Smoke at the end of October.

6 Grand: Becoming My Mother’s Daughter by Noelle McCarthy (Penguin, $35)

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

8 Beats of the Pa’u by Maria Samuela (Te Herenga Waka University Press, $30)

The first collection of short stories by Maria Samuela. Audrey Brown-Pereira wrote a critical acclaim, describing the work as “intimate and beautifully crafted stories of first and second generation Cook Islanders living in New Zealand since the 1950s”. Give it a nudge.

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

The bread and butter of the bestsellers.

10 Aroha: Maori wisdom for a contented life lived in harmony with our planet by Hinemoa Elder (Penguin Random House, $30)

He is back! Aroha topped the bestsellers last year and was peppered with stardust by oprah, but he’s been on sabbatical for a few months – until now. Pick up a copy and enjoy a pinch of wisdom with your morning coffee.


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