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Image: Archi Banal
Image: Archi Banal

BooksMay 5, 2023

The Unity Books bestseller chart for the week ending May 5

Image: Archi Banal
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 Monsters: A Fan’s Dilemma by Claire Dederer (Sceptre, $38)

What do we do with people who are awful yet make great things? Dederer’s viral essay in Paris Review prompted readers around the world to debate the question of whether we can separate the art from the artist. A rip-roaring subject dear to these times. Welcome to number one, Monsters.

2 Atomic Habits by James Clear (Random House, $40)

The astronomically popular self-help guide to getting one per cent better every day by making little changes in your big life.

3 Cleopatra and Frankenstein by Coco Mellors (Fourth Estate, $25)

From the book’s blurb: “New York is slipping from Cleo’s grasp. Sure, she’s at a different party every other night, but she barely knows anyone. Her student visa is running out, and she doesn’t even have money for cigarettes. But then she meets Frank. Twenty years older, Frank’s life is full of all the success and excess that Cleo’s lacks. He offers her the chance to be happy, the freedom to paint, and the opportunity to apply for a green card. She offers him a life imbued with beauty and art—and, hopefully, a reason to cut back on his drinking. He is everything she needs right now.”

4 Aroha: Māori Wisdom For a Contented Life Lived in Harmony With Our Planet by Hinemoa Elder (Penguin, $30)

Welcome back to Hinemoa Elder’s beloved guide to thinking about life from a te ao Māori point of view. And if you loved this then make sure you get Wawata: Moon Dreaming, Elder’s second and equally useful and insightful book.

5 Birnam Wood by Eleanor Catton (Victoria University Press, $38)

Look, it was a stellar streak at the top spot for many weeks for this third novel from the Booker Prize winning New Zealander. If you’re looking for a page-turner with impeccable style and big ideas then look no further than this hefty gem.

6 Outlive: The Science and Art of Longevity by Bill Gifford & Peter Attia (Vermillion, $40)

“This is the ultimate manual for longevity.”

Bold call! Peter Attia is a legit doctor with plenty of accolades. Here’s a puff quote from the perpetually youthful poster-child for longevity, Hugh Jackman: “Dr. Peter Attia is my doctor and also my friend. He is a specialist in longevity and someone I trust with my life. What separates him from others is his pursuit of quality of life from all angles-physical, emotional, mental, relational, and spiritual health. This incredible book is a call to action and a reminder to always participate and never be passive. It will arm you with the tools you need to live a long, meaningful, and fulfilling life.”

7 Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus (Transworld, $26)

Gotta read the book before the TV series comes out!

8 Bunny by Mona Awad (Head of Zeus, $25)

A close friend of this list is Bunny. We rather liked this little snippet from “First it was a bit pleasantly creepy, then it got strange, then it got just plain weirdly sexual and disturbing. After a point I couldn’t tell what was going on anymore, really. It just seemed like something out of a weird nightmare, and uh… I’m not really sure what even happened to be honest.” 

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

This year’s Booker Prize winner will be at Auckland Writers Festival in just a couple of weeks. If you haven’t read the book but want to hear from the author, then school up with this interview and this review here.

10 The Bookbinder of Jericho by Pip Williams (Affirm Press, $37)

A novel about bookbinders! Sign us up. Here’s a glowing little review segment from “Williams has given us a historical novel full of relevance for today. She describes a world where women were held back by a lack of education and a voice. Over one hundred years later, women are still prevented from attending school in some countries, and class can still dictate how much a person can achieve. And yet, what I loved most about this story was that in a book about the importance of having a voice and being able to express yourself, it is the characters who say the least, those of Lotte and Maude, who still haunt me.’

Lessons in Chemistry has been made into a TV series for Apple TV, starring Brie Larson.


1 Katherine Mansfield’s Europe: Station to Station by Redmer Yska (Otago University Press, $50)

It’s all about Mansfield this year of 2023 which marks 100 years since the writer died of Tuberculosis. Yska’s latest book is a beautifully researched journey through the places Mansfield lived and explored. An extract is coming to this very site, very soon.

2 Birnam Wood by Eleanor Catton (Te Herenga Waka University Press, paperback $38)

3 Did I Ever Tell You This? by Sam Neill (Text, $55)

Which is Sam Neill’s best role? Other than simply being himself that is. Something to ponder while you read.

4 Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus (Transworld, $26)

5 The Bookbinder of Jericho by Pip Williams (Affirm Press, $37)

6 Privilege in Perpetuity by Peter Meihana (Bridget Williams Books, $18)

In this latest from the legendary BWB Texts series, Meihana outlines why the actively cultivated myth of Māori privilege works to limit and undermine Māori rights. Read more in this excellent piece over at e-Tangata

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

The siblings are back! And just in time: the coming months are requiring of whippet-slick, milo-warm, Gilmore Girls-eque family comedy-drama with romance, mystery and also, Auckland.

8 There’s A Cure For This: A Memoir by Emma Espiner (Penguin, $35)

The hotly anticipated memoir by doctor, writer and podcast creator. We’ll be sharing an extract and a review with you in the next few weeks.

9 Deep Colour by Diana Bridge (Otago University Press, $25)

May is the month for poetry. We made that up but it could be true. It’s a mood. 

10 Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin (Chatto & Windus, $37)

This evergreen bestseller is just clinging on in Te-Whanganui-a-Tara. Maybe nearly everyone in the country has read it now?

Keep going!