The Unity Books bestseller chart for the week ending August 5

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 Godfrey Cheathem’s Last Letter by Luke Elworthy (Nationwide Book Distributors, $35)

A very intriguing interview promo from RNZ: “Marlborough-based author Luke Elworthy delves into the life of acclaimed New Zealand writer Godfrey Cheathem, who sadly died before his great novel was published. It is based on a series of letters, written by Cheathem of Christchurch Men’s Prison to his youngest sister Rosemary, which help detail his relationship with his family of overachieving siblings and his own failed estate.The letters also explain Godfrey’s state of mind before – and during – the disastrous events of a family reunion he’s serving time for. Except of course, it’s all a work of fiction…mostly. Luke set out to write a memoir, but ended up writing a novel and joins Susie to explain.

2 Blue blood by Andrea Vance (Harper Collins, $37)

Andrea Vance is spreading dirt on the National Party after John Key, and everyone is lining up with their bowls asking for more. Luckily, we’re here to help with a special edition of the Passed by lunch time podcast; a exam by Toby Manhire; plus one extract on the final days of the Todd Muller debacle.

3 How to hang out in a turf war by Coco Solid (Penguin, $28)

A novel set in Auckland by someone much cooler than the rest of us: Coco Solid, the artistic pen name of Jessica Hansell. Pip Adam says: “This is one of the most exciting books I have ever read. A celebration and a challenge and an impressive work of art and intelligence.

4 The Invisible Child: Poverty, Survival, and Hope in an American City by Andrea Elliott (Hutchinson, $40)

Pulitzer-winning New York Times journalist Andrea Elliot has spent nearly a decade writing about homeless children in New York City, and one child in particular – Dasani Coates, who is now highly visible.

In Elliott’s own words at Guardian“I read the book to Dasani and her sister Aviana for five days, line by line. It was really hard. We had many moments of deep sadness during this one, but also a lot of laughter. They would stop me from time to time and be like, ‘I’m not sure that’s exactly how I would have said it, Drea, maybe it was more like that…’ I see that book as an act of testimony more than anything else. . That’s what I did – I witnessed and recorded the reality that families like this face.

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

The brilliant story of the birdwoman, winner of the Jann Medlicott Acorn Prize for Fiction.

6 Invisible Women: Exposing Data Bias in a World Designed for Men By Caroline Criado Perez (Vintage, $24)

The editor’s blurb for this 2019 bestseller deploys bullet points and an all-caps HELL YES to tell us about invisible women:

“Imagine a world where…

  • Your phone is too big for your hand
  • Your doctor prescribes a medicine that is not suitable for your body
  • In a car accident, you are 47% more likely to be injured

If this all sounds familiar to you, chances are you’re a woman.

“FUCKING, YES. This is one of those books that has the potential to change things – a monumental piece of research” – Caitlin Moran

seven Lapvone by Ottessa Moshfegh (Jonathon Cape, $35)

New novel from the author of the torrid My Year of Rest and Relaxation. The New York Times gives us their take on Moshfegh’s new “medieval comedy-drama”:

“Ottessa Moshfegh has, over the course of four previous novels and a collection of short stories, emerged as a singular American writer. She loves monsters and strangers, drunken sailors and grumpy old women, defiant and sometimes monstrous characters, sprawled in the gutter, too bored or wasted or cynical to stare at the stars. Her laconic, creepy voice with a hint of cruelty is always entertaining, and in the medieval setting of Lapvona she is able to indulge her interest in the grotesque. The novel is a canvas for enthusiastic descriptions of all sorts of human degradation, usually played for laughs. A blind man, dragged to a lake by his guide dog, stumbles and dies on its shore. Villiam forces a servant to eat a grape which the master has also asked Marek to insert into his rectum. When drought and famine strike, we know we’re in for cannibalism, and soon enough we’re treated to graphic depictions of butchering corpses as Jude prepares parts of the blind man for Ina, in the hopes that she will recover enough of her strength to nurse him.

8 Girls Who Invest: Your Guide to Financial Independence Through Stocks and Stocks by Simran Kaur (Wiley, $31)

The Auckland-based founder of the world’s number one stock market podcast – Girls That Invest – has released a new book, aiming to teach women how to build wealth through the stock market. We kinda doubt the need for a pale pink book cover on a volume on financial literacy [Ed: also the term “girls”]but that’s life, we’re sure he’ll sell books.

9 sand tomb by Geetanjali Shree (Bent-axis press, $36)

This year’s International Booker winner is the first Hindi writer to win the award. Here is an exerpt :

A story is being told. It can be complete, but also incomplete, as all tales are. This particular tale has a border and women who come and go as they please. Once you have women and a border, a story can be written. Even single women are enough. The women are stories unto themselves, full of quivers and whispers that float on the wind, bend to every blade of grass. The setting sun gathers fragments of tales and shapes them into luminous lanterns hanging from the clouds. These too will join our story. The path of the story unfolds without knowing where it will end, weaving right and left, twisting and turning, allowing everything and nothing to join the narrative. It will emerge from within a volcano, swelling silently as the past bubbles into the present, bringing steam, embers and smoke.

ten Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin (Penguin Random House, $37)

A new novel about love, but also about video games. The New York Times postulates on this last element: “Delicious and absorbing… Zevin precisely burns no calories arguing that game designers are top-notch creative artists. Instead, she takes it for granted, and with good reason, because the best of them are clearly… Expansive and entertaining… Dozens of literary players will cherish the world she has lovingly conjured up. Meanwhile, everyone will be wondering what took them so long to recognize the beauty, drama, and pain of human creation in video games.


1 Blue blood by Andrea Vance (Harper Collins, $37)

2 On the Farm: Invisible Women of New Zealand by David Hall (Atuanui Press, $40)

It’s truly amazing how many invisible women are featured in this week’s bestsellers. But we digress – here’s a bit about On the Farm, in the words of the editor:

“It reveals the daily routines, the different roles that women occupied on the farms: from mother to teacher, baker to bookkeeper, cleaner to farmhand, and how their extraordinarily heavy workloads were carried out largely un recognized and invisible.

“It shows how women fought for greater recognition of their contributions to agriculture, tracing a period from when a woman could not get a bank loan to own or operate a farm, to a time when Women were often considered equal partners in the operation of a farm and regularly became owners of individual farms.

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

Imagination never goes out of style.

4 You probably think this song is about you by Kate Camp (Te Herenga Waka University Press, $35)

“The camp deals with difficult subjects. In one of my favorite essays, “This Wheel is on Fire, she describes some of the disastrous first relationships she had with men, all toxic and brutal; the kind of relationship you never want to admit having had or worse, having wanted. Throughout the collection, sexual assault is skirted around, domestic violence, infertility, drug addiction, suicide – but it’s all examined from the perspective of a woman looking back. The Russian doll has clearly taken over her life, which means that these painful things can be seen as part of the story, not the whole story, as tragedy can feel when told freshly.

Read the rest of Heidi North’s recent spin-off examthen this excerpt from the last essay in the book.

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

Novel about a brother-sister duo from Auckland who always light up our lives with wit and humor. If you want to know more about the author, Reilly has written some great Sunday essays for this website.

6 Chemistry class by Bonnie Garmus (Doubleday, $37)

“Chemist Elizabeth Zott is no ordinary woman… [she] finds herself not just a single mother, but the reluctant star of America’s most beloved cooking show, Supper at Six. Elizabeth’s unusual approach to cooking (“combine a tablespoon of acetic acid with a pinch of sodium chloride”) proves revolutionary. But as her audience grows, not everyone is happy. Because it turns out that Elizabeth Zott doesn’t just teach women how to cook. She challenges them to change the status quo.

“Laughing out loud, funny, shrewdly observant and peppered with a dazzling cast of supporting characters, Lessons in Chemistry is as quirky and dynamic as its protagonist.

Thanks, Editor’s Blurb!

seven Eddy, Eddy by Kate DeGoldi (Allen & Unwin, $30)

New novel from a legend – the author of The 22pm Question. A gem of a description by Louise Ward at Herald“Eddy is an enigma. A sweet 19-year-old soul, raised by her uncle Brain (yes, Brain), who was recently deprived of their dog, Marley. Things are happening for Eddy: a sort of disastrous dropout from his Catholic high school, a caustically intelligent but needy best friend at Thos More, a string of unfulfilling jobs. Eddy is a deep teenage sigh come to life.

8 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)

Which version of history do we choose to remember? Five top researchers reflect.

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

Trot to buy a copy, then keep trotting.

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

New local novel, based during the settlement of Wellington in the 1830s. We love a novel set in our little corner of the world, don’t we?