The Unity Books bestseller chart for the week ending 25 November

The only published and available indie bestseller book listing in New Zealand is the top 10 selling list recorded each week in Unity Books stores in High St, Auckland and Willis St, Wellington.


1 A history of New Zealand in 100 objects by Jock Phillips (Penguin, $55)

The best new way to learn about our history: one fascinating object at a time. You couldn’t find a more appropriate Christmas gift for history buffs if you try, so we expect this one to be happily lounging around the list for a few weeks.

2 little things like this by Claire Keegan (Faber & Faber, $23)

“In the town of New Ross smokestacks threw up smoke, which fell and drifted in hairy, elongated threads before dispersing along the quays, and soon the River Barrow, dark as thick, swelled with the rain.

“People have largely endured the weather unhappily: shopkeepers and artisans, men and women in the post office and in the jobless line, in the market, in the café and in the supermarket, in the bingo hall, in the pubs and at the chipper, all expressed themselves in their own way about the cold and the rain and wondering what was in it – and if there could be anything in it – for who could believe it would be another freezing day?

An absolute beauty, this novella. And so up to date! It’s set in 1985 (that’s not the timely part) in the run up to Christmas (that is).

3 Straight by Ruby Tui (Allen & Unwin, $37)

Straight ahead, that’s the memory of the moment.

4 The Seven Moons by Maali Almeida by Shehan Karunatilaka (sort of books, $37)

This year’s Booker Award winner and an absolutely insane riot. It is a novel set in the civil war in Sri Lanka in the 1980s and is told about a dead man on a quest Guardian names “convincing”, “lively” and “absurd”. But that’s not all: “Below the literary flourishes lies a true and terrifying reality: the carnage of Sri Lanka’s civil wars. Karunatilaka has done artistic justice to a terrible time in his country’s history.”

5 Lucia by the sea by Elizabeth Strout (Viking, $37)

Our brilliant heroine Lucy Barton in lockdown.

6 The Philosophy of Modern Song by Bob Dylan (Simon & Schuster, $60)

Bob Dylan’s first book since winning the Nobel Prize in Literature, chock full of over 60 essays on the nature of popular music and the human condition. Dylan’s essays examine songs by artists such as Elvis Costello, Nina Simone and Stephen Foster and are accompanied by over 100 photographs. The New York Times writes: “[The Philosophy of Modern Song] is less a rigorous study of the craft than a series of rhapsodic observations about what gives great songs their power to captivate us. Dylan … has been working on these for more than a decade, though they flow more like impromptu sermons.”

7 Wawata—Moon Dreaming: Daily Wisdom Guided by Hina, the Māori Moon by Hinemoa Elder (Penguin, $30)

The author of Aroha’s new book teaches us how to use the Māori moon as a guide. This by Jessica Hinerangi Thompson-Carrs review about the spinoff: “There is a focus on female humor and the power of the female body and sexuality, especially under the Ōturu moon. I love how Elder recognizes that our Tūpuna are really good at laughing at sex while remaining firm in their sexuality and wild in their desires. She encourages us to bring that confidence and good cheer into our own modern lives.”

8th Kurangaituku by Whiti Hereaka (Huia Publishers, $35)

The traditional tale of Hatupatu and the Bird Woman is told from two perspectives in this award-winning local novel. we loved it to bits.

9 Build: An unorthodox guide to creating things worth making by Tony Fadell (Bantam Press, $40)

Casual reading for the entrepreneur in your life.

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

The 2020 bestselling Hinemoa Elder book is still a bestseller.


1 Comrade Bill Anderson: A Communist Worker’s Life by Cybele Locke (Bridget Williams Books, $50)

Unity Books Wellington recently hosted the launch of Cybele Locke’s new book, which is both a biography of the eminent trade unionist Bill Anderson and a history of socialism in the post-WWII era. A snippet from the publisher’s blurb: “The stories of working people, organized labor and left movements are undertold in Aotearoa, New Zealand. Written with insight and empathy, Cybele Locke provided a very readable account of a communist labor leader navigating the social and political turmoil of the twentieth century.”

2 The Seven Moons by Maali Almeida by Shehan Karunatilaka (sort of books, $37)

3 I’m glad my mother died by Jennette McCurdy (Simon & Schuster, $45)

The page-turning celebrity memoir of the moment from ex-child actress Jennette McCurdy. The reviewers were more than satisfied: “a triumph of the confessional genre,” according to the Atlantic.

4 A history of New Zealand in 100 objects by Jock Phillips (Penguin, $55)

5 The Philosophy of Modern Song by Bob Dylan (Simon & Schuster, $60)

6 The passenger by Cormac McCarthy (button, $50)

New fiction from the 89-year-old author of The Road and No Country for Old Men. Companion novel Stella Maris is also due out in just over a week.

7 Demon Copperhead by Barbara Kingsolver (Faber & Faber UK, $37)

A retelling by David Copperfield by the wonderful Barbara Kingsolver. A succinct summary of the financial times: “Barbara Kingsolver’s update of David Copperfield – Dickens’ most autobiographical novel – takes the action to Appalachia to tell the story of an orphan boy through the prism of the opioid crisis. While Kingsolver’s moralizing instincts are clear from the start, Demon Copperhead is nonetheless a vivid – and entertaining – portrait of modern America.”

8th Wawata—Moon Dreaming: Daily Wisdom Guided by Hina, the Māori Moon by Hinemoa Elder (Penguin, $30)

9 Needles & Plastic: Flying Nun Records, 1981-1988 by Matthew Goody (Auckland University Press, $70)

A history of the turbulent early years of the famous Christchurch record company. You can read one abstract about the all-female group Marie And The Atom right here on The Spinoff.

10 Greta & Valdin by Rebecca K. Reilly (Te Herenga Waka University Press, $35)

Recommended reading for Greta & Valdin fans: these two Sunday Essays written by Rebecca K. Reilly for The Spinoff.

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