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Everybody’s readin’ Rubin (Image: Archi Banal)
Everybody’s readin’ Rubin (Image: Archi Banal)

BooksFebruary 3, 2023

The Unity Books bestseller chart for the week ending February 3

Everybody’s readin’ Rubin (Image: Archi Banal)
Everybody’s readin’ Rubin (Image: Archi Banal)

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 (Penguin Press, $50)

The beautiful new book on creativity by nine-time Grammy-winning music producer Rick Rubin. Rubin has worked with artists including Johnny Cash, Tom Petty, Adele, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Beastie Boys, Kanye West and Jay-Z, and now he’s working his way into the creative hearts and minds of us all.

Author Matt Haig wrote: “Rick Rubin is the definition of a creative genius and he has put his wisdom in one place and it is possibly the most inspiring book on creativity I have ever read. The Creative Act is up there with Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird and Stephen King’s On Writing . . . The advice in here is brilliant . . . For those wanting to feel some new life and confidence in their creative bones, this book is a godsend.”

2  The Seven Moons of Maali Almeida by Shehan Karunatilaka (Sort of Books, $37)

Winner of 2022’s Booker Prize.

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

The latest great novel by Nobel Prize winner Ishiguro. AI, genetic modification, unwell children, desperate parents, always beautiful writing. For $23, why not?

4  It Ends With Us by Colleen Hoover (Simon & Schuster, $23)

The romance sequel to It Starts with Us, by now a bit of a bestsellers mainstay.

5  Straight Up by Ruby Tui (Allen & Unwin, $37)

The biggest local memoir of 2022 continues to rise and rise.

6  How to Loiter in a Turf War by Coco Solid (Penguin, $28)

The Ockham New Zealand Book Awards longlist was revealed yesterday (head over this way for the full list and our analysis), and How to Loiter has earned a well-deserved spot on the fiction longlist. Our inkling is that Coco Solid is on the way to a best first book prize later this year…

7  Remarkably Bright Creatures by Shelby Van Pelt (Bloomsbury, $33)

A heartwarming debut Swedish novel about the friendship between a recently widowed woman called Tova, and an octopus. The Washington Post says, “The best part? It’s narrated by Marcellus McSquiddles, a giant Pacific octopus who cannot only think and feel as humans do but also pick locks, squeeze out of his tank at the aquarium to go on late-night snack runs and serve as the town’s secret matchmaker.”

8  Wawata – Moon Dreaming: Daily Wisdom Guided by Hina, the Māori Moon by Hinemoa Elder (Penguin, $30)

Books Editor Clare Mabey recently popped Wawata high on her list of “tank filling” book reccs for Jacinda Ardern. The summary: “Dr Elder’s book is a practical guide to the Maramataka and the questions that Hina the Māori moon can help us to ask of ourselves. This book offers a very 2023 energy: an alternative to the Western, time-based constraints that often force us against the ebb and flow of our energy cycles. Dr Elder weaves her own experiences and insights throughout the book which are funny and moving. A real balm for anyone searching for a rethink on how we move through life on this planet of ours.”

9  Best of Friends by Kamila Shamsie (Bloomsbury Circus, $33)

The new novel from the author of Home Fire.

10  The Opposite of a Person by Lieke Marsman (Daunt Books, $23)

A cerebral debut novel (which some have classified as “cli-fi” – climate fiction) by the Poet Laureate of the Netherlands. The Times Literary Supplement wrote a review that will quickly tell you whether this is the one for you: “​​In lucid prose, collaged with poems and essays – all sensitively translated by Sophie Collins – Marsman maps out Ida’s sprawling anxieties. She frets about her friendships, career, sexuality and the prospect of impending climate doom. The author holds a degree in philosophy, and her protagonist frequently quotes philosophers and thinkers, from Aristotle to Naomi Klein, as she despairs at the state of things.”


1  Ottolenghi Test Kitchen: Extra Good Things by Yotam Ottolenghi & Noor Murad (Ebury, $55)

I don’t think we’ve ever seen a bestsellers list so completely dominated by one author. However, Yotam Ottolenghi – perhaps the most beloved cookbook writer of the decade – visited Aotearoa last week, and hosted a live stage event in Welly. A cookbook buying splurge evidently followed.

2  Ottolenghi Test Kitchen: Shelf Love by Yotam Ottolenghi (Ebury, $55)

Another Ottolenghi…

3  The Creative Act: A Way of Being by Rick Rubin (Penguin Press, $50)

4  Flavour by Yotam Ottolenghi (Ebury, $65)

And another…

5  I’m Glad My Mom Died by Jennette McCurdy (Simon & Schuster, $45)

A little bit of Hollywood trauma memoir to break up the recipe avalanche.

6  Before the Coffee Gets Cold by Toshikazu Kawaguchi (Picador, $23)

The book that just keeps selling.

7  Simple by Yotam Ottolenghi (Ebury, $65)

…And yet another Ottolenghi! We recommend them all and are quite jealous not to have our own signed copies.

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

A wonderful retelling of Homer’s Iliad, which has been enjoying a comeback driven by TikTok fanfare.

9  The Axeman’s Carnival by Catherine Chidgey (Te Herenga Waka University Press, $35)

This magpie-narrated local novel is happily sitting on the long list for the Jann Medlicott Acorn Prize for Fiction, and we’re pegging it to win it all on the big day.

10  Fabric: The Hidden History of the Material World by Victoria Finlay (Pegasus Books, $35)

From the publisher’s blurb: “In Fabric, bestselling author Victoria Finlay spins us round the globe, weaving stories of our relationship with cloth and asking how and why people through the ages have made it, worn it, invented it, and made symbols out of it. And sometimes why they have fought for it.

“She beats the inner bark of trees into cloth in Papua New Guinea, fails to handspin cotton in Guatemala, visits tweed weavers at their homes in Harris, and has lessons in patchwork-making in Gee’s Bend, Alabama – where in the 1930s, deprived of almost everything they owned, a community of women turned quilting into an art form.

“She began her research just after the deaths of both her parents —and entwined in the threads she found her personal story too. Fabric is not just a material history of our world, but Finlay’s own journey through grief and recovery.”

Keep going!