One Question Quiz
(Image: Tina Tiller)
(Image: Tina Tiller)

BooksOctober 6, 2023

The Unity Books bestseller chart for the week ending October 6

(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  Backwaters by Emma Ling Sidnam (Text Publishing, $38)

Hooray! Emma Ling Sidnam’s debut novel won the Michael Gifkins Prize for an unpublished novel, and was warmly celebrated at a Unity Books Auckland event earlier this week. Here are some of the wonderful things Kete Books had to say:

“As a Chinese New Zealander myself, I consumed this book luxuriating in the stabs of recognition, the feeling of being seen. Who hasn’t tried to work out a complicated love life and fended off weird demands from bosses while trying to understand their family? Who hasn’t endured the expectations of outsiders who want to be ‘educated’ on diversity and ask intrusive questions without a glimmer of self-awareness? I may have shouted with joy while reading the passage where three Asian women cooperate to fend off a racist at a dinner party.”

For a taster, you can read an essay by Emma Ling Sidnam just over this way

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

Because creativity never sleeps.

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

You know when you experience a book so perfect, every sentence requires rumination, and it makes you feel like a better human being? This is one of those.

4  Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones by James Clear (Random House Business, $40)

A hugely popular self-help book, focused on actionable, practical steps.

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

They say tomorrow never arrives, but that’s very much not the case for Gabrielle Zevin.

6  Remarkably Bright Creatures by Shelby Van Pelt (Bloomsbury, $25)

A novel about 70-year-old widow Tova, who forms a bond with a giant Pacific octopus while working the night shift at the local aquarium. The humans of Goodreads call it “charming”, “uplifting” and “wonderful”.

7  The Diary of a CEO: The 33 Laws of Business & Life by Steven Bartlett (Ebury Edge, $40)

Steven Bartlett is an entrepreneur and host of hugely popular podcast The Diary of a CEO, where he’s interviewed thousands of influential and experienced professionals. Now, you can read a bunch of the things that he thinks are most important in life and business.

8  The Rachel Incident by Caroline O’Donoghue (Knopf, $38)

A new Irish novel about youth and friendship, recommended for fans of Sally Rooney.

9  The Running Grave by Robert Galbraith (Sphere, $40)

The seventh Cormoran Strike novel has arrived, and it’s … big. Some might suggest in need of a decent edit. From the Guardian: “…a tale of how the human desire for approval, validation and a sense of purpose can sometimes lead us astray. Sir Colin Edensor, a retired civil servant, approaches the pair with a request to help extricate his vulnerable neurodivergent son from the clutches of a cult. Several years earlier, Will dropped out of university to join the Universal Humanitarian Church. All attempts to dislodge him from its headquarters, a farm in Norfolk, have proved fruitless: Will has now cut off communication with his family, and his trust fund is being systematically drained.”

10  The Last Devil to Die by Richard Osman (Viking, $37)

The fourth instalment in the Thursday Murder Club series. What kind of trouble has the gang gotten themselves into this time, you may ask? And who will be the last devil to die? You can look forward to plenty of murder, antiques, art forgers, dangerous packages, and online fraudsters. 


1  Emergency Weather by Tim Jones (The Cuba Press, $38)

Local author and climate change activist Tim Jones has released a new near-future thriller – this from the publisher’s blurb: “Zeke has to stay with his aunt and uncle in Lower Hutt after a landslide takes his East Coast home off its foundations. Allie puts her drought-ridden Otago dairy farm out of her mind and catches a plane to the capital city. Stephanie wonders why she’s sitting around a table at the Ministry for Resilience – again.

“In Emergency Weather, three people find themselves in Wellington as the climate crisis crashes into their lives. A giant storm is on its way – what will be left of the city when it’s over?”

2  Articulations by Henrietta Bollinger (Tender Press, $28)

Another very strong week for local debut Articulations! Please tuck in and enjoy this personal essay excerpt from the book, where Bollinger writes about the experience of engaging sex workers as someone with a disability. 

3  The Running Grave by Robert Galbraith (Sphere, $40)

4  The Fraud by Zadie Smith (Hamish Hamilton, $37)

The new, historical novel from the author of White Teeth and On Beauty. 

5  Bunny by Monica Awad (Head of Zeus, $25)

The cult favourite and winner of #BookTok.

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

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

The brilliant Ann Patchett, at it again with a new novel. This review from the Washington Independent: “Tom Lake is the quietest of quiet stories: a mother recounting select elements of her life to her adult daughters as they pick sweet cherries during the pandemic. Quiet, yes, but gorgeous and entrancing in ways significant and minute via the details tucked into the corners. … Patchett’s rendering of this family captures so much of what is true in daily life and family dynamics — especially of even grown children being incapable of grasping their parents’ life before them — moving easily from laugh-out-loud funny to moist-eyed poignance, sometimes in the same sentence.”

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

David Copperfield, reimagined. Has won many awards.

9  Doppelganger: A Trip into the Mirror World by Naomi Klein (Allen Lane, $42)

Naomi Klein is the author of No Logo, This Changes Everything, and The Shock Doctrine; she’s a leftist critic, and tends to write about corporate capitalism and the climate crisis. Clarity here is important – because her new book was sparked by the huge number of people mistaking her for popular writer and conspiracy theorist, Naomi Wolf. 

The Guardian writes, “You may well wonder how such a faintly comical theme can be extended for 350 pages, and what it has to do with Klein’s usual preoccupations of combating corporate capitalism and climate crisis. It is certainly the most introspective and whimsical of Klein’s books to date, but it is also one of surprising insights, unexpected connections and great subtlety. The Klein/Wolf confusion is an entry point to consider wider forms of disorientation that afflict the left, in particular the loss of its monopoly (if it ever had one) over the language of political resistance, and how, in the process, that language has lost its grip on the world.”

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

“The word finance might bring to mind the technical world of banks and interest rates, The Wolf of Wall Street, or something you use in the unlikely event you can ever afford to buy a house in this country. But a new book reveals how it also had an intimate relationship to the colonisation of Aotearoa.” Read more in Charlotte Muru-Lanning’s interview with Catherine Comyn.

Keep going!