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Image: Tina Tiller
Image: Tina Tiller

BooksMarch 1, 2024

The Unity Books bestseller chart for the week ending March 1

Image: Tina Tiller
Image: Tina Tiller

The only published and available best-selling indie book chart in New Zealand is the top 10 sales list recorded every week at Unity Books’ stores in High St, Auckland, and Willis St, Wellington.


1 Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin (Vintage, $26)

“Sure to enchant even those who have never played a video game in their lives, with instant cult status for those who have.” – Kirkus Reviews.

2 Water by John Boyne (Doubleday, $35)

The latest from prolific Irish novelist (author of The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas) John Boyne, Water is the story of a woman who goes to live on an island to recover from traumatic events in her life. Apparently, Water is the first in a four-book series named after the elements. Intrigued.

3 Ikigai: The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life by Francesc Miralles & Hector Garcia (Hutchinson, $35)

Sign us up.

4 Enter Ghost by Isabella Hammad (Jonathan Cape, $37)

“Enter Ghost takes you deep inside the protagonist’s experience while opening a wider window on to life for Palestinians and their exhausting day-to-day struggles.” (The Guardian). Hammad is the author of The Parisian, a widely celebrated novel about a Palestinian man’s journey between home and away in the early 20th Century. Enter Ghost is already garnering as much acclaim, if not more, and is of course terribly relevant.

5 Kitten by Olive Nuttall (Te Herenga Waka, $30)

This novel is a delight to read. The prose slips by and from the first page you’ll be hooked on following Rosemary’s life. Here’s the publisher’s enticing blurb if you need further convincing: “Rosemary, a trans girl, has many conflicting qualities. She’s super smart but flawed, polyamorous but timid, promiscuous but inexperienced. She’s surprising, and surprised by herself.

A call that Rosemary’s grandmother is dying puts her on the bus from Te Whanganui-a-Tara back to Kirikiriroa. There, with her mother, half-sister, and other family and friends, she remembers the damage of her past. And then Thorn – Rosemary’s long-distance daddy – shows up. 

Often wildly funny, and with a tender, matter-of-fact closeness to the enigmatic Rosemary, kitten has the wisdom that nothing in life is straightforwardly good or bad. It is a novel for readers who want to be seen and understood, or to see and understand.

For all its darkness and hurt, kitten is a wholesome and consoling love story.”

6 Remarkably Bright Creatures by Shelby Van Pelt (Bloomsbury, $25)

This is “that octopus book” about a friendship with a giant Pacific octopus, and the mystery of a missing son.

7 Politics on the Edge by Rory Stewart (Jonathan Cape, $40)

According to The Guardian this is a thrilling peek into a decade of Conservative shenanigans: “It is an excoriating account of a dysfunctional governing system. At every level – backbench MP, senior minister, permanent secretary – Stewart finds shallowness where there should be depth, vapidity instead of seriousness. His book is a brilliant insider portrait of a nation in decline, penned by an exasperated modern Boswell.”

8 So Late in the Day by Claire Keegan (Faber & Faber, $30)

Another deft, tiny, resonant story from the master of deft, tiny, resonant stories. This time the lens is on one man’s (outdated) expectations of marriage. Beautifully brutal.

9 What You Are Looking For is in the Library by Michiko Aoyama (Doubleday, $37)

A book about a librarian who knows exactly what you need for what ails you! Sold.

10 The Bee Sting by Paul Murray (Hamish Hamilton, $37)

Many, many readers adore this novel. The Kirkus reviewer however is less enthused: “A grim and demanding and irresistible anatomy of misfortune.”


1 Lioness by Emily Perkins (Bloomsbury, $37)

Rarrrr! Lioness is back on top thanks to a very lively event between Emily Perkins and Kim Hill at the Aotearoa New Zealand Festival of the Arts the weekend just been. In fact this entire list is (almost) very much a result of the festival and the jolly book buying that went on after the live events. Excellent ecosystem stuff.

2 The Wren, The Wren by Anne Enright (Jonathan Cape, $37)

Noelle McCarthy interviewed Enright for her one-night-only appearance at the festival and it was magnificent. The Wren, The Wren follows Carmel and Phil (a famous Irish poet) and their daughter Nell in a spellbinding interplay of relationships tested by all manner of unhappiness, ego and love. Magnificent.

3 Indigenous Ocean: Pacific Essays by Damon Salesa (Bridget Williams Books, $50)

In this very thorough review on the NZ Review of Books, Amanda Sullivan Lee has some criticisms but ultimately says, “this book should be celebrated for its robust intelligence, the confluence it embraces and investigates, the powerful way it pushes back again the ongoing ‘active marginalisation’ of a place ‘considered by outsiders somehow both too big and too small’, the Pacific, and for the ‘seaways’ it offers readers, so we can hear the ‘range of harmonies playing across the waves of their Native Seas, within an Indigenous Ocean’.”

4 There’s A Cure For This: A Memoir by Emma Espiner (Penguin, $35)

Māni Dunlop and Emma Wehipeihana had a brilliant conversation about the inequities of the medical system, particularly egregious now that Te Aka Whai Ora has been demolished under urgency just this week. Wehipeihana’s memoir is also on the longlist for the Ockham New Zealand Book Awards: we find out if it’s made it to the shortlist next week, 6 March.

5 The Librarianist by Patrick deWitt (Bloomsbury, $37)

Also at the Aotearoa NZ Festival of the Arts on the weekend, Kim Hill spoke to the “21st Century Mark Twain” about his latest, delightful novel about retired Librarian Bob Comet. The book is a gentle dream, with some of the best dialogue we’ve read in years.

6 Big Fat Brown Bitch by Tusiata Avia (Te Herenga Waka University Press, $30)

It’s been a busy time for prolific poet Tusiata Avia, recipient of this year’s Prime Minister’s Award for Achievement in Literature (poetry), who appeared in three events at the Aotearoa NZ Festival of the Arts, and whose magnificent show, The Savage Coloniser, is also playing at the same festival. Avia also wrote today’s Friday Poem on The Spinoff!

7 Fungi of Aotearoa: A Curious Forager’s Field Guide by Liv Sisson (Penguin, $45)

Liv Sisson wore a fungi bra at her event at the festival. It was blue and brilliant.

Liv Sisson (right) wearing the fungi bra. Nicola Toki in the centre, Lynn Freeman on the left. Photo of Blazing Nature on the Big Screen event, by Aotearoa NZ Festival of the Arts.

8 Turncoat by Tihema Baker (Lawrence & Gibson, $35)

Baker also has a sold-out session at the festival where he talked with writer Anahera Gildea about the impact of truth-telling through this sci-fi satire that shows what it’s like to have to live with Te Tiriti breaches on the daily.

9 Bird Child & Other Stories by Patricia Grace (Penguin, $37)

The new short story collection by one of Aotearoa’s greatest ever writers. More on this book coming to The Spinoff soon.

10 The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros (Vintage, $26)

While The House on Mango Street is widely known and beloved in America and Mexico, it’s little-known here in Aotearoa. Not any more: after a series of electrifying events at the Aotearoa NZ Festival of the Arts, the book has hit the bestsellers. If that isn’t enough to make you join the Cisneros fan club then Tracey Slaughter has explained why we should all read this classic novel, right here on The Spinoff.

Here’s a choice excerpt of her argument: “It’s hard to think of an author more gifted than Cisneros at setting into oscillation all the atoms of place. Mango Street looms, streams, shines in this writer’s hands, and her people leap from its details. You feel its characters, sole and skin, the alleys they chalk up and skip through, the clattery tenement steps they count, the images that seize their play, deepen their breathing, widen their eyes. You loop the stairs and skulk the corners, you slink the “skinny aisles” of stores, you shimmy the trees “all around, the neighbourhood of roofs, black-tarred and A-framed, and in their gutters, the balls that never came back down to earth…and there at the end of the block, looking smaller still, our house with its feet tucked under like a cat.” The structure and language might seem simple, as the child narrator leads you in a linkage of swift vignettes in and out through the doors on her street, but make no mistake – though you’ll follow Esperanza’s footsteps effortlessly, there’s a masterclass unwinding in her tread.” 

Keep going!