The week’s biggest-selling books at the Unity stores in High St, Auckland, and Willis St, Wellington.
1 That F Word: Growing up feminist in Aotearoa by Lizzie Marvelly (Harper Collins, $35)
“This book is for the bossy little girl in all of us. It’s time that we disrupted the fuck out of the patriarchy.”
2 Fear: Trump in the White House by Bob Woodward (Simon & Schuster, $50)
“Bob Woodward’s Fear is not a book about Politics. It’s a book about office politics at best. Which is a shame, because the author had gathered all the material necessary to ask some very pressing questions of the conservative movement in the United States and beyond…Even as a workplace drama, Fear is a disappointment. We are promised in the prologue the story of the ‘nervous breakdown’ of the executive branch of the US government: a story of insubordination and sabotage, of documents removed from the president’s desk and orders to the military flatly disobeyed. But once the episodes leaked to the press in advance of the book’s publication are put into context, what they reveal instead – far less dramatically – is a pattern of incompetence and dysfunction”: Giovanni Tiso, Overland.
3 Hunters: The precarious lives of New Zealand’s birds of prey by Debbie Stewart (Penguin Random House, $50)
Native hawk, harrier hawk, morepork, the extinct Haast’s eagle: very likely the natural history book of the year. Strongly recommended.
4 Aotearoa: The New Zealand story by Gavin Bishop (Penguin, $40)
Genius at work. Parents of lil kids: get.
5 Māori Made Easy: For everyday learners of the Māori language by Scotty Morrison (Penguin, $38)
Read; and listen to the podcast, recorded live at the Going West literary festival.
6 The Infinite Game by Niki Harre (Auckland University Press, $30)
A professor of psychology has an epiphany, and discovers how we can save the planet.
7 Transcription by Kate Atkinson (Doubleday, $38)
A new Atkinson is always an event. “Atkinson’s suspenseful novel (following A God in Ruins) is enlivened by its heroine’s witty, sardonic voice as she is transformed from an innocent, unsophisticated young woman into a spy for Britain’s MI5 during WWII”: Publisher’s Weekly.
8 Mazarine by Charlotte Grimshaw (Vintage, $38)
Grimshaw’s latest novel Mazarine is told by a woman writer who is the only one in her family who thinks the family are seriously dysfunctional. It was discussed at the Going West literary festival.
9 That Derrida Whom I Derided: Poems 2013-2017 by CK Stead (Auckland University Press, $38)
You were beautiful, and I
sang, as I could in those days
all the way home – like a bird.
10 This Mortal Boy by Fiona Kidman (Vintage, $33)
“In her latest novel, Kidman explores the story of the ‘jukebox killer’, as Albert Black was sensationally described in 1955…One might almost say that the narrow-minded and conservative attitudes that Kidman portrays during this period could lead to no other outcome for young Albert Black [he was the second to last person to be hanged in New Zealand]. There’s a sense that he’s a kind of scapegoat for a generation that authority figures simply don’t understand. In this respect, Kidman has taken the trial as a kicking-off point to delve into the social fabric of the 50s”: Tina Shaw, the Spinoff Review of Books.
1 Lethal White #4: Cormoron Strike by Robert Galbraith (Sphere, $38)
“In this latest instalment [by JK Rowling, writing under her pen-name], Strike, a disabled Afghan war veteran with an unlucky history in family and ex-girlfriends, is approached by a man in the throes of a mental breakdown, who claims he witnessed a child being strangled to death when he was small. When Strike catches another case in the halls of Westminster, he’s forced to try to work out whether the two stories are linked. The sprawling, complicated hunt for a killer spans family, politicians, wealthy landed gentry and the middle-class activists of London, and unfolds against the backdrop of preparations for the 2012 Olympics…It surely stands up with Potter as her best”: Charlotte Graham-McLay, the Spinoff Review of Books.
2 Transcription by Kate Atkinson (Doubleday, $38)
3 Women Now: The legacy of female suffrage edited by Bronwyn Labrum (Te Papa Press, $35)
Twelve essays, by Sue Bradford, Barbara Brookes, Sandra Coney, Golriz Ghahraman, Morgan Godfery, Dame Fiona Kidman, Charlotte MacDonald, Tina Makereti, Ben Schrader, Grace Taylor, Holly Walker and Megan Whelan.
4 Simple by Yotam Ottolenghi (Ebury, $60)
5 Stardust and Substance: The New Zealand general election of 2017 edited by Stephen Levine (Victoria University Press, $40)
6 Dancing on a Razor’s Edge: A mother’s mission to rescue her meth-addicted son by Mandy Whyte (Cuba Press, $38)
The author says, “I’d spent much of ten years urging Hemi from the sidelines to get help,’ says Whyte, ‘but things only got worse. He was wasting away before our eyes. He’d intersected with every possible social service – police, courts, hospitals, prison, employment, housing, drug rehabilitation, mental health – and none of them had been able to stop him injecting crystal meth into his veins…My son had a right to live and a right to treatment and support, but no agency was able to give him what he needed so I had to find a way to do it myself.”
7 Paris Echo by Sebastian Faulks (Hutchinson, $37)
A new Faulks is always an event. “Tariq, a precociously self-aware 18-year-old Moroccan from a middle-class family in Tangier, comes to Paris in search of himself…His story is soon entwined with that of Hannah, a glum American academic studying the lives of the women of Paris in the second world war….The two protagonists blunder along different paths, hoping to find at least a provisional form of happiness. Each of them is in search of the same thing: a way of living”: The Spectator.
8 Fear: Trump in the White House by Bob Woodward (Simon & Schuster, $50)
9 21 Lessons for the 21st Century by Yuval Noah Harari (Jonathan Cape, $38)
“Harari’s books all make the same points, albeit in different ways. Sapiens is a history of our species which ends with his predictions about the future; Homo Deus is ‘a history of the future’, much of which talks about the prior history of our species; 21 Lessons is structured as a series of essays, each dealing with contemporary issues and their ‘deeper meaning’. Each book reaches the same conclusions: humans are primates, violent yet social animals designed to live in the stone age and overwhelmed by modernity, our minds are algorithmic, almost everything we believe is a socially constructed fiction, technological progress may soon lead to the obsolescence of our species. We’re apes; we’re storytellers; we’re algorithms; we’re doomed”: Danyl Mclauchlan, the Spinoff Review of Books.
10 Government for the Public Good: The surprising science of large-scale collective action by Max Rashbrooke (Bridget Williams Books, $50)
“The market is often not the solution to our problems. Markets have often been the problem. Max Rashbrooke makes the convincing case for models of government that work better…Fast paced, globally informed and wittily written”: Professor Danny Dorling, Oxford University.
The Spinoff Review of Books is brought to you by Unity Books.
The Spinoff Weekly compiles the best stories of the week – an essential guide to modern life in New Zealand, emailed out on Monday evenings.