It’s winter time, and there's nothing quite like cosying up next to a roaring fire or under a blanket with a warm cuppa, and tucking into a great read. We caught up with owner Jo McColl of High Street's Unity Books who shared five recommendations for winter reads, which she says cover a lot of ground, with a bit of something for just about everyone. Check them out below. 

1. Betty by Tiffany McDaniel | $38

 A new release for August - this stunning novel set in the Appalachians is loosely based on the life of the author's mother. 'A girl comes of age against the knife' - so begins the story of Betty Carpenter. Born in a bathtub in 1954 to a Cherokee father and a white trash mother, Betty is the sixth of eight siblings. Betty is dark like her father and the racism, violence and poverty of her world seems overwhelming. But Betty, like her father, is a storyteller - his ability to weave magical tales from the mundane fires her own imagination and so she writes down all that she bears witness to and buries the stories deep in the dirt. Unforgettable! 

2. Sharks in the Time of Saviours by Kawai Strong Washburn | $37

Contemporary Hawaii, engulfed by rampant tourism is struggling to maintain its identity. The Flores family become increasingly desperate as work and cultural connections disappear. But the ancient Gods seem to be stirring and miraculous events occur. A magical, beautiful powerhouse of a novel that will surprise and enthral. 

3. Going Dark: The Secret Social Lives of Extremists by Julia Ebner | $33

Julia Ebner works at a counter-extremism think tank and makes the decision to infiltrate the most radical groups to better understand them. Adopting different identities, Ebner takes on a deeply compulsive journey into the darkest recesses of extremist thinking. Thrilling, weird, nutty, and often really scary (would her black Adidas sneakers give her away at the Neo-Nazi rock festival?) Ebna believes that to counter the actions of these groups, detailed knowledge of their work is imperative . 

4. Too Much and Never Enough: How my family created the world's most dangerous man by Mary L. Trump | $38

Selling 950,000 copies on its first day of sales in the USA, this is the book that dishes the Trump family dirt. Mary's dad Freddie was Donald's older brother, the black sheep of the family who died young and was cut from the will. Mary, a trained clinical psychologist, describes her extended family as a nightmare of traumas, destructive relationships, and a tragic combination of neglect and abuse. She also offers her own diagnoses of the President's complicated pathologies. 

5. Humankind: A Hopeful History by Rutger Bregman | $35

Humankind makes a new argument, that it is realistic as well as revolutionary, to assume that people are good. The instinct to cooperate rather than compete, trust rather than distrust, has an evolutionary basis that goes right back to the beginning of our species. "In a sea of cynicism, this book is the sturdy unsinkable life-boat the world needs." - Daniel H. Pink, author of 'Drive'. If you enjoyed 'Sapiens' or 'Homo Deus', this is your kind of read.

Unity Books

More on Unity Books

One great thing to come out of a pretty crazy 2020 so far is Unity Books winning an international award in 2020. We asked Jo more about this, and how the store has changed over the years leading to it becoming this year's winner. 

In February, Unity Books Auckland won the Gardners International Bookstore of the Year 2020, which fills me with pride. The store turns 31 this year, and our children’s bookstore Little Unity opened a year ago and is a gorgeous gem too, 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!

We also asked Jo what she loves most about her job at Unity Books - and loved her answer. 

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

Last updated: 28 July 2020