It’s summer time, and there's nothing quite like soaking up the sun with a great book in hand during the warm days and long evenings. We caught up with owner Jo McColl of High Street's Unity Books to find out what the latest and greatest reads of the summer are, as well as her personal recommendations. 

What books have been best sellers in store this summer?

Wow – it’s been a great summer for brilliant books of all genres – top of the pops have been: 

Girl, Woman, Other by Bernardine Evaristo; 

The Body by Bill Bryson; 

Education (still) by Tara Westover,

Both Sally Rooney's titles Conversations with Friends and Normal People

The Absolute Book by Elizabeth Knox; 

Underland by Robert MacFarlane; 

This is Going to Hurt by Adam Kay; 

The Anarchy by William Dalrymple; 

Catch and Kill by Ronan Farrow and Lady in Waiting by Anne Glenconner.

I could easily add another 20 titles – so many books, never enough time! 

What books have you personally enjoyed this summer?

My personal favourites consumed over the hot weeks of late have been Damascus by Christos Tsiolkas – a novel exploring Christianity and Sauls conversion; Openside by Sam Warburton – a deeply personal and honest account of what it is to play top-tier rugby by the Welsh captain and The Education of an Idealist by Samantha Power – the extraordinary memoir of an Irish immigrant who seized every opportunity that came her way and in 2013 became the youngest ever US ambassador to the United Nations. Three wonderful reads and soon to be followed up with the much anticipated The Mirror and the Light – the third and final volume in the Cromwell trilogy by that giant of literature Hilary Mantel. It’s due in March and I can’t wait!

Customers browsing books

Unity Books is up for a major international award - can you tell us about this? How has the store changed over the years, which has led it to being a finalist this year? 

Unity Books Auckland has just been named as a finalist in the Gardners International Bookstore of the Year 2020, which fills me with pride. The store turns 31 this year and now employs 18 people – up from that original staff of 3. Our children’s bookstore little Unity opened a year ago and is a gorgeous gem, beloved by all especially our youngest customers. When we first opened in High Street, there were 10 other bookstores in close proximity – unbelievable now – Goodies, Pathfinder, Parsons, the University Bookshop, a gigantic Whitcoulls, the London Bookshop, the Ram Dass Bookstore, Rare Books, Dymocks and Jason. These days, aside from the second-hand stores, it’s just us and a small Whitcoulls. And every year has seen continual growth. It’s exciting – what other product can you purchase that can be perfectly matched to each individual and often for less than $30? Books are cool!

What do you love most about your job?

Working in Unity is a dream job – surrounded with ever-changing, continually relevant, energetic thought , packaged up in perfect, desirable volumes of all sizes. The same description could also be used to describe the fabulous Unity staff!

Last updated: 20 February 2020

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