Image: Tina Tiller
Image: Tina Tiller

BooksSeptember 1, 2023

The Unity Books bestseller chart for the week ending September 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  The Creative Act: A Way of Being by Rick Rubin (Canongate, $50)

Spring has sprung, and so has our desire for a juicy creativity boost. 

2  Tom Lake by Ann Patchett (Bloomsbury, $35)

Ann Patchett is always brill, and her new novel Tom Lake is no exception. Don’t just take our word for it – ask Diane of Planet Goodreads…

“I’m not sure how Ann Patchett keeps getting better and better with each book, but she does. I have loved them all, some more than others, but this is my favourite, probably until the next one. A master at her craft, the top of her game, a writer’s writer, literary superstar… take your pick of cliches, they’re all true.”

3  Yellowface by R. F. Kuang (Blue Door, $35)

The gossipy, addictive, #booktok sensation.

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

Need an uplift? A warming sensation deep in the cockles of your heart? Well, you’re in luck, because What You Are Looking For Is in the Library (ha ha). A bestseller in Japan, Michiko Aoyama’s newly translated novel is just the ticket for fans of The Midnight Library and Before the Coffee Gets Cold.

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

…and tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow, until you’re rather in need of a nap.

6  Small Things Like These by Claire Keegan (Faber & Faber, $25)

Our fave hunker-down novella.

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

Our fave “Should I eat that fungi?” guide.

8  American Prometheus: The Triumph and Tragedy of J. Robert Oppenheimer by Kai Bird and Martin J. Sherwin (Atlantic, $33)

“It was no accident that the young boy who would become known as the father of the atomic era was reared in a culture that valued independent inquiry, empirical exploration and the free-thinking mind—in short, the values of science. And yet, it was the irony of Robert Oppenheimer’s odyssey that a life devoted to social justice, rationality and science would become a metaphor for mass death beneath a mushroom cloud.”

9  Demon Copperhead by Barbara Kingsolver (Faber, $28)

Dickens’ David Copperfield meets Barbara Kingsolver – and modern day America.

10  On The Record by Steven Joyce (Allen & Unwin, $38)

Steven Joyce puts his life of politics in print. If you prefer to listen, here he is chatting with Toby Manhire on Gone By Lunchtime.


1  Punch a Hole in the Sky to Let in the Light by Jennifer Love (5ever Books, $25)

The debut short story collection by Jennifer Love was hosted at Unity Wellington this week, and clearly, it was a number-one-sized smash. A description from the publisher’s blurb: “The characters populating these confessionals and fever dreams are at odds with the surrounding world. Their struggles and choices hold a funhouse mirror up to the socialisation we’re subject to straight out of the womb, and the expectations we then hold each other to for the rest of our strange, sad days.”

The launch of Jennifer Love’s book, complete with cake. (Photos: Melissa at Unity Books Wellington)

2  Demon Copperhead by Barbara Kingsolver (Faber, $28)

3  Tom Lake by Ann Patchett (Bloomsbury, $35)

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

5  Yellowface by R. F. Kuang (Blue Door, $35)

6  Lioness by Emily Perkins (Bloomsbury, $37)

One of the best local novels of the year. Here’s an excerpt from books editor Claire Mabey’s wondrous review

“What happens when other people, structures and cultures intrude on a life to the point of enmeshing; and what happens when you start to see that your trajectory, what you think and do, and how, is shaped by forces that you haven’t, for the longest time, considered worthy of interrogation.

“These questions bubble and froth at the centre of a novel which is fuelled by the lives of middle-aged women. This is Perkins’ first novel in eleven years (following The Forrests, published in 2012) and it feels like this book could only have been written now, both in the sense of the author’s own stage in life, but also the world’s. It is masterful in the way it confronts the concept of choice, both big and small.”

7  On The Record by Steven Joyce (Allen & Unwin, $38)

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

The author of The Sisters Brothers and French Exit has a new novel about a retired librarian, who begins volunteering at a retirement village. The critics from Washington have a few choice phrases: “a droll, uneven tale about the trials of a bookish loner”, is the Washington Independent Book Review’s well-sharpened barb; “an exceedingly gentle novel … that presumes a reservoir of goodwill and patience” is the Washington Post’s more generous take. 

9  The Financial Colonisation of Aotearoa by Catherine Comyn (Economic and Social Research Aotearoa, $30)

New nonfiction by researcher Catherine Comyn, which explores the intersection between colonisation and finance in Aotearoa. You can read our interview with Catherine about her new book just over here.

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

Longlisted for the 2023 Booker Prize, The Bee Sting is a tragicomedy about an Irish family in financial and emotional strife. The Guardian writes: “Murray is triumphantly back on home turf – troubled adolescents, regretful adults, secrets signposted and exquisitely revealed, each line soaked in irony ranging from the gentle to the savage. … You won’t read a sadder, truer, funnier novel this year.”

Well, we’re certainly getting a copy.

Keep going!