Frodo from the Lord of the Rings reading a book
Frodo reading books

BooksApril 1, 2022

The Unity Books bestseller chart for the week ending April 1

Frodo from the Lord of the Rings reading a book
Frodo reading books

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  Grand: Becoming My Mother’s Daughter by Noelle McCarthy (Penguin, $35)

The new memoir by Featherston-based writer and broadcaster Noelle McCarthy has just dropped, setting everyone off in an excited tizz. This week Catherine Woulfe wrote a fantastic, spell-bound review – here’s a taster: “Picture again the daughter, an alcoholic just like her mammy, scrabbling away at the crust of shame and self-deception that comes with addiction. Tooth and claw versus all those twisty thoughts, day after day of just not drinking, to recover, to reach this place where she can finally sit still and clean in the morning and start to untangle the past. In public. The bloodymindedness of this woman. And her writing! I am in awe.”

Want more Noelle? She also wrote an essay for us about unearthing family photographs for her memoir, which, yes, is also stunning.

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

Greta & Valdin is one of our top picks for this year’s Acorn Prize for Fiction. Anna Rawhiti-Connell gave this helpful “canned laughter” summary as part of her recent review: “It would be easy to slip into sitcom-speak, and bill this novel as a story of a queer brother and queer sister navigating the highs and lows of love and life in the big city with a Russian-Māori-Catalonian family as the supporting cast.” Spoiler: she then goes on to say it’s much more than that.

3  Four Thousand Weeks: Time and How to Use It by Oliver Burkeman (Bodley Head, $38)

Use it on naps, popping vitamin c, reading, and scoffing hot cross buns.

4  Circe by Madeline Millar (Bloomsbury, $22)

​​When I was born, the name for what I was did not exist. They called me nymph, assuming I would be like my mother and aunts and thousand cousins. Least of the lesser goddesses, our powers were so modest they could scarcely ensure our eternities. We spoke to fish and nurtured flowers, coaxed drops from the clouds or salt from the waves. That word, nymph, paced out the length and breadth of our futures. In our language, it means not just goddess, but bride.

5  Super Model Minority by Chris Tse (Auckland University Press, $25)

The new poetry collection by (proud mum voice) our very own poetry editor. Chris Tse spoke to Stuff last week about great books, his writing routine, and inspiration.

6  Shifting Grounds: Deep Histories of Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland by Lucy Mackintosh (Bridget Williams Books, $60)

This fantastic history of Tāmaki Makaurau is in the running to win $10,000 for the Illustrated Non-Fiction Award at the Ockhams. We’re with you, Lucy!

7  The 48 Laws of Power by Robert Greene (Profile Books, $37)

A bestseller from 1998 has returned to power. One of the best things about an aged bestseller is that the Wikipedia page is full of juicy details – like the fact that Greene’s book is “popular with prison inmates and celebrities”, and that Kirkus Reviews said Greene offers no evidence to support his views, that his laws are contradictory, and the book is “simply nonsense”. To be completely honest, that makes us want to read it all the more.

8  Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens (Corsair, $25)

A 2018 novel set in North Carolina which has spent a total of 150 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list and has a mind-boggling 1.6 million ratings on Goodreads. Debra of Goodreads says, “Can I just say that I loved everything about this book and leave it at that!?!” Yes. Yes, you can.

9  The Promise by Damon Galgut (Chatto & Windus, $37)

The novel which won 2021’s Booker Prize follows a white South African family during the end of apartheid. A beautiful and gruelling ride.

10  Toi Tu Toi Ora: Contemporary Māori Art by Nigel Borell (Penguin, $65)

The publisher’s blurb says all the important bits and bobs, so here you go: “Based on the ground-breaking 2020-21 exhibition staged by Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tamaki, and edited by the show’s curator Nigel Borell, Toi Tu Toi Ora tells the story of contemporary Māori art from the 1950s to the present day, with more than 200 works by 110 Māori artists.

“From carving to painting, video art to jewellery, body adornment to weaving, this is a powerful expression of the vast creativity and diversity within Māori art, linked across time and place through the Māori creation story and revealing profound connections to whakapapa, to whenua and to the spiritual world.”

You can read an excerpt from the foreword, by the late Moana Jackson, here.


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

The most powerful book in Wellington.

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

3  Grand: Becoming My Mother’s Daughter by Noelle McCarthy (Penguin, $35)

4  Toi Tu Toi Ora: Contemporary Māori Art by Nigel Borell (Penguin, $65)

5  Klara and the Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro (Faber & Faber, $23)

Wellington is back for a second helping of one of 2021’s bestsellers, now available in mini-me size.

6  Give Unto Others by Donna Leon (Hutchison, $35)

Donna Leon’s 31st Commissario Brunetti novel is set as pandemic restrictions ease in Venice. The perfect novel to get lost in this weekend.

7  Intelligible Cities by David Groves (goWare, $29)

A new local novel with a publisher’s blurb as intriguing as a riddle: “Exactly fifty years after the conversations recorded by Italo Calvino in Le città invisibili, Marco Polo and the Emperor Kublai Khan meet once again, this time to discuss the weird and wacky ways in which the inhabitants of 26 cities communicate with strangers who arrive at their gates speaking an unknown language. With a few sad exceptions, each city has devised an almost perfect method for language sharing, using translation buckets or hypnosis, game theory or computation, sexual intercourse or divine inspiration, magic rivers or reflections, drawing on the arts of music, dance and painting, and on the wisdom of plants, birds and fish. It is for the reader to decide if this is a fabulous travelogue up and down the Silk Road from Xanadu to Venice, a treatise on translation in the form of a comic novel, an allegory of friendship between people and peoples, or a series of bedtime stories in which the cities themselves are like female characters out of The Arabian Nights. In any case, Intelligible Cities is a distant tribute to Italo Calvino from a writer resident in Aotearoa New Zealand, a linguist and a traveller, deeply versed in things Italian.”

8  In the Margins: On the Pleasures of Reading and Writing by Elena Ferrante (Europa, $28)

A new essay collection by the author of My Brilliant Friend about her artistic process and psychology as a writer.

9  Remember Me by Charity Norman (Allen & Unwin, $23)

A new local novel which tells the story of a daughter returning to look after her father who has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. In March, Catherine Woulfe published an interview with Charity Norman about the backstory of the novel; “The novel is also extraordinarily moving in its exploration of the notion of a good death. I cried and cried at the end and then I asked for an interview. There must be a real story behind this one, I said. You don’t write a book like this without a story.”

10  A Hitch in Time: Writings from the London Review of Books by Christopher Hitchens (Atlantic Books, $40)

Christopher Hitchens wrote 60 pieces for the London Review of Books over two decades. Ten years after his death, his best (read: most ferocious) reviews, diaries and essays have been anthologised, with subjects ranging from Clinton, Kennedy and Kissinger all the way to the “Salman Rushdie Acid Test”, Princess Margaret, the Gulf War, American Nazis, and taking his son to the Oscars.

Keep going!