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(Image: Tina Tiller)
(Image: Tina Tiller)

BooksFebruary 2, 2024

The Unity Books bestseller chart for the week ending February 2

(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.

AUCKLAND

1 The Creative Act: A Way of Being by Rick Rubin (Canongate, $50)

A sign of the times. When the world gets bewildering it’s time to get creative and imagine new ways of being, doing and living. Unconvinced? The Spinoff’s Sam Brooks gives his verdict on The Creative Act, right here.

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

Queen Keegan’s perfect, tiny book can now also be credited with inspiring Cillian Murphy’s next movie.  

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

Exquisite. Our summer read of 2023-2024.

4 Trust by Hernan Diaz (Picador, $28)

Darryl on Good Reads had five stars to give and this to say: “OH EM GEE. I’m begging you to stick it out with this one. Pleading. It pays off, I promise you. When Part 3 hits and the narrative begins to morph into what this story truly is, DAMN. A masterful novel on the powers of perception, wealth, privilege, clout, and manipulation. This is a complete 180 from my lover ‘In the Distance’ (his debut) and that was a boss move. Yup, Diaz cemented his place as one of my all-time fave writers. Man has got range. Woof.”

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

Lovely gamers.

6 Meditations by Marcus Aurelius (Modern Library, from $16)

Another sign of the times. Aurelius calls through the passages of time to offer the people of the future a dose of 2000-year-old advice on how to live a meaningful life. 

7 Good Material by Dolly Alderton (Fig Tree, $37)

Someone once said, “I will never read a book by someone called Dolly, or Clover, or Polly.” They’re missing out.

8 Question 7 by Richard Flanagan (Knopf, $40)

One of Kim Hill’s last interviews was with Flanagan. RIP Saturday Mornings on RNZ.

9 The Year of the Locust by Terry Hayes (Bantam, $38)

The latest thriller from the ex-journalist and author of I Am Pilgrim.

10 Auckland Architecture: A Walking Guide by John Walsh (Massey University, $25)

We love these pocket-sized walking guides! Pick one up, go for a stroll and learn a few things.

WELLINGTON

1  Prophet Song by Paul Lynch (Bloomsbury, $37)

The worthy winner of the 2023 Booker Prize.

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

3 House of Flame & Shadow: #3 Cresent City by Sarah J Maas (Bloomsbury, $39)

Maas fans are out in force to pick up the latest in this epic fantasy series. Major spoilers all over Good Reads so proceed there with caution. Love this breathless appreciation though: “It feels surreal to have finally read a book I’ve been anticipating for two years and I am a mess after finishing the book. I’m already missing these characters so much.”

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

5 The Hundred Years War on Palestine: A History of Settler Colonialism & Resistance, 1917—2017 by Rashid Khalidi (Profile Books, $35)

Here’s a segment from The Guardian’s 2020 review of Khalidi’s: “Rashid Khalidi’s account of Jewish settlers’ conquest of Palestine is informed and passionate. It pulls no punches in its critique of Jewish-Israeli policies (policies that have had wholehearted US support after 1967), but it also lays out the failings of the Palestinian leadership. Khalidi participated in this history as an activist scion of a leading Palestinian family: in Beirut during the 1982 Israeli invasion of Lebanon, and as part of the Palestinian negotiating team prior to the 1995 Israeli-Palestinian peace accords. He slams Israel but his is also an elegy for the Palestinians, for their dispossession, for their failure to resist conquest. It is a relentless story of Jewish-Israeli bad faith, alongside one of Palestinian corruption and political short-sightedness.”

6 Yellowface by Rebecca Kuang (Borough Press, $37)

Love this book and this NPR interview with the ultra sharp R F Kuang for gems such as: “I love writing unlikable narrators. But the trick here is it’s much more fun to follow a character that does have a sympathetic background, that does think reasonable thoughts about half the time, because then you’re compelled to follow their logic to the horrible decisions they are making. I’m also thinking a lot about a very common voice in female-led psychological thrillers because I always really love reading widely around the genre that I’m trying to make an intervention in. And I noticed there’s this voice that comes up over and over again, and it’s a very nasty, condescending protagonist that you see repeated across works. And I’m thinking of protagonists like the main character of ‘Gone Girl’, the main character of ‘The Girl In The Window’. I am trying to take all those tropes and inject them all into, again, a singular white female protagonist who is deeply unlikable and try to crack the code of what makes her so interesting to listen to regardless.”

7 Not the End of the World: How We Can Be the First Generation to Build a Sustainable Planet by Hannah Ritchie (Chatto & Windus, $40)

Well, this sounds hopeful.

8 Lola in the Mirror by Trent Dalton (Fourth Estate, $37)

The latest book from Australia’s most amiable author. 

9 Pet by Catherine Chidgey (Te Herenga Waka University Press, $38)

Congratulations to Catherine Chidgey for making the 2024 Ockham New Zealand Book Awards longlist for the second year in a row! In 2023 Chidgey’s The Axeman’s Carnival made it all the way to the top. Looking forward to seeing what Pet does is in the coming months as the Ockham’s are whittled to the shortlist and finally the winners. 

10 Politics on the Edge: A Memoir From Within by Rory Stewart (Jonathan Cape, $40)

“From the former Conservative Cabinet minister and co-presenter of hit podcast The Rest is Politics, a searing insider’s account of ten extraordinary years in Parliament.” Intrigued.

Keep going!