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A young woman holds a takeaway coffee and perches on the steps down to "The Bunker", Unity's storage room, with glorious stacks of books all around.
Unity Auckland, living the dream (Photo: Supplied)

BooksOctober 1, 2021

The Unity Books bestseller chart for the week ending October 1

A young woman holds a takeaway coffee and perches on the steps down to "The Bunker", Unity's storage room, with glorious stacks of books all around.
Unity Auckland, living the dream (Photo: Supplied)

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.

After a frustrating five-week hiatus – because books, astonishingly, are not considered essential and so can’t be sold until level three – we are delighted to welcome Tāmaki Makaurau back to the charts.


1  Beautiful World, Where Are You by Sally Rooney (Faber, $33)

The new Rooney has officially taken residence at number one in both Auckland and Wellington. 

We will now be taking bets on how long said residence will last. Christmas Eve? New Year? Any takers for Queen’s Birthday?

For those curious about the Rooney Effect, read our medical diagnosis. For those curious about what a scathing review of the new Rooney might say, read this scathing review. For those curious about the actual new novel … join the throngs at Unity. 

2  After the Tampa: From Afghanistan to New Zealand by Abbas Nazari (Allen & Unwin, $37)

A remarkable memoir about a family’s struggle to escape the Taliban and find refuge. You can read an excerpt here, detailing their rescue from a sinking fishing boat by container ship the Tampa. 

3  The Sweetness of Water by Nathan Harris (Tinder Press, $35)

A debut novel set in the last days of the American Civil War, about two brothers who have recently been freed from slavery, and the relationship they form with a grieving land owner. Longlisted for the 2021 Booker Prize and honoured with a place on the Barack Obama Summer Reading List (yes, that is apparently a thing).   

4  Still Life by Sarah Winman (Fourth Estate, $35)

Beginning at the end of World War Two, Still Life is a novel set between Tuscany, Florence and London’s East End.

A glowing review from the New Zealand Herald: “What a beautiful, epic tale. Its humour and depictions of the best of human relationships will stay with you forever. This could well be my book of the year.”

5  Conversations with Friends by Sally Rooney (Faber & Faber, $23)

The Rooney Effect, part two. 

6  Klara and the Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro (Faber, $37)

One of 2021’s best reads – a very human novel narrated by a robot.  

7  The Body Keeps the Score: Mind, Brain and Body in the Transformation of Trauma by Bessel van der Kolk (Penguin Press, $30)

Published in 2015, The Body Keeps the Score explores the causes and treatments of trauma, interweaving stories of the author’s patients with neuroscience research and useful tools. (Spoiler: the advice isn’t “take a pill”). 

8  Uprising: Walking the Southern Alps in New Zealand by Nic Low (Text Publishing, $40)

One highly articulate Goodreads reviewer says: “Not only is this a great book on mātauranga Māori, whakapapa and Pākehā history in Kā Tiriti-o-te-moana (the Southern Alps). But Nic gives an introspective look into his journey navigating the Pākehā world and his whakapapa to Ngāi Tahu. A great mixture of history, kōrero, whakāro and great story telling!”

9  Dad Man Walking: Dispatches from the Frontlines of Fatherhood by Toby Morris (Penguin, $25)

Our VERY OWN Toby Morris has released a WONDERFUL new book of cartoons about fatherhood. If you happened to get your dad a five minute phone call or cold toast in bed for Lockdown Father’s Day, this might just be your road to redemption. 

From the publisher’s blurb: “With over 100 full-colour pages of Toby’s unmistakable, original artwork this cool little hardcover opens a window into the world of being a modern dad, from the sweetest, loveliest, warm hearted-est bits to the f@*%ing annoying bits.”

10  The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller (Bloomsbury, $25)

The escapist fiction that locked-down Aucklanders need.


1  Beautiful World, Where Are You by Sally Rooney (Faber, $33)

2  The Night Watchman by Louise Erdrich (Little, Brown, $25)

This year’s Pulitzer Prize Winner.

3  Things I Learned at Art School by Megan Dunn (Penguin, $35)

New personal essays by the incredible, clever, witty local, Megan Dunn. 

Speaking to Saturday Morning, Dunn said: “I’ve been interested in how that trajectory of my wise-cracking persona, as a writer and as a person, has come from that birthday card [which read ‘good girls write memoirs, bad girls don’t have time’] and old movies … different things we would’ve done when I was growing up. I guess one of the things the book does is it looks at how that serves me and how that limits me.”

Read an excerpt here.

4  After the Tampa: From Afghanistan to New Zealand by Abbas Nazari (Allen & Unwin, $37)

5  The Adventures of Mittens: Wellington’s Famous Purr-sonality by Silvio Bruinsma and Phoebe Morris (Picture Puffin, $20)

Wellington’s favourite feline-focused picture book, entrancing children and adults both.

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

Imagine imagine imagine. Just named the joint winner (with Auē) of the Booksellers’ Choice Award, recognising books that have had “special impact”.

7  Normal People by Sally Rooney (Faber & Faber, $23)

You aren’t seeing triple. This is the Rooney Effect, part three.

8  Harlem Shuffle by Colson Whitehead (Fleet, $35)

Two-time winner of the Pulitzer Prize Colson Whitehead has an entertaining new novel, set in a world of heists, gangsters and crime in early 1960s Harlem. 

“As Ray navigates this double life, he starts to see the truth about who actually pulls the strings in Harlem. Can Ray avoid getting killed, save his cousin, and grab his share of the big score, all while maintaining his reputation as the go-to source for all your quality home furniture needs?” What a question posed in the publisher’s blurb.

9  Aroha: Māori Wisdom for a Contented Life Lived in Harmony with our Planet by Hinemoa Elder (Penguin Random House, $30)

Aroha still getting all the aroha. 

10  Apples Never Fall by Liane Moriarty (MacMillan, $38)

“If your mother was missing, would you tell the police? Even if the most obvious suspect was your father?”

New novel by the author of Big Little Lies and Nine Perfect Strangers. Expect fast page-turning, marriage, family, betrayal, missing persons and tennis metaphors.

Keep going!