The reigning number ones, and a newcomer to the charts.
The reigning number ones, and a newcomer to the charts.

BooksJune 7, 2024

The Unity Books bestseller chart for the week ending June 7

The reigning number ones, and a newcomer to the charts.
The reigning number ones, and a newcomer to the charts.

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 Lioness by Emily Perkins (Bloomsbury Circus, $25)

A midlife reckoning set in Wellington, and winner of this year’s Jann Medlicott Prize for Fiction at the Ockhams.

2 Kairos by Jenny Erpenbeck (Granta, $28)

This year’s International Booker Prize winner is, according to Kirkus Reviews, where “The personal and the political echo artfully in the last years of the German Democratic Republic.”

3 Long Island by Colm Tóibín (Picador, $38)

Goodreads readers have wildly varied opinions on this sequel to Brooklyn:

This is a weirdly sterile and passionless novel where none of the characters express emotion. The reader is at a loss for where to cast his sympathies and interest.”


I was nervous about reading Long Island, having read and loved Brooklyn once, and found it just as strong on a reread. Did we need this sequel? Especially given one of the strengths of Brooklyn in my opinion is the openness of the way the story ends. Well it turns out we did need this sequel, and for me at least it is the stronger of the two novels.”

4 Before We Say Goodbye by Toshikazu Kawaguchi (Picador, $25)

“The Before the Coffee Gets Cold series is delightful, giving customers to café Funiculi Funicula the opportunity to revisit the past to meet a loved one. There are many rules, but the main one is that you must drink your coffee before it gets cold otherwise you’ll end up as a ghost at the café. In the fourth instalment of the series (a fifth looks to have been published in Japan earlier this year), the formula hasn’t changed but the stories are still tender and heartbreaking.” Read more over on Sam Still Reading.

5 James by Percival Everett (Mantle, $38)

From The Guardian review: “If you’ve read Erasure or seen American Fiction, you’ll be prepared for the central conceit of James, a reboot of Mark Twain’s 1884 novel Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, narrated by the enslaved Jim, one half of the book’s runaway odd couple rafting up the antebellum Mississippi. In Twain’s novel, the boy narrator, Huck, has fled home, only to encounter Jim, his guardian’s slave, also on the run because he’s about to be sold (‘Ole missus… treats me pooty rough, but she awluz said she wouldn’ sell me down to Orleans’). In James, Jim’s speech, like that of every black character in the novel, is a calculated code-switching put-on: ‘White folks expect us to sound a certain way and it can only help if we don’t disappoint them… The better they feel, the safer we are’, or ‘Da mo’ betta dey feels, da mo’ safer we be’, in ‘the correct incorrect grammar’ required by what Jim calls ‘situational translations’.”

6 Prophet Song by Paul Lynch (Oneworld Publications, $25)

Relentlessly bleak (in a good way) Booker Prize Winner for 2024.

7 All Fours by Miranda July (Canongate, $37)

From the profile/review in the New York Times: “In her new novel, All Fours, the unnamed female narrator – a 45-year-old ‘semifamous’ artist who shares some biographical details with Ms. July – considers that a cross-country road trip from Los Angeles to New York could be a turning point in her life.

She doesn’t get very far. About 30 minutes in, she checks into a motel and spends the next two and a half weeks redecorating her room, taking up with a younger, married man and contemplating a totally different way of living. When she returns home to her family, she realises she can’t quite reacclimate to the old domestic rhythms.

As she confronts what seems like the imminent death of pleasure, foretold by a graph about hormonal changes she finds online, she sees no choice but to strike out into new territory. Masturbation, fantasies of sex and plenty of actual sex help propel her onward.”

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

Many say this is Flanagan’s finest work yet. Here’s a powerful snippet from The Guardian review: “Flanagan explores old, razed and sacred ground that he’s visited before in his writings – the prisoners of war and the Japanese death railway, white Australia’s Black history, the convict and settler bloodlines of fertile Tasmanian country, and the cold rapids of the mighty Franklin River. But here everything that has ever burnt the author becomes an elixir, a balm for everything that happened before he was born, and as he illustrates, will happen long after he, and we, are gone.”

9 On Palestine by Noam Chomsky (Penguin, $18)

One of the world’s most famous public intellectuals on one of the most traumatised places on Earth. Here’s an interview with Chomsky on Aljazeera, too. Free Palestine.

10 Night Watch by Jayne Anne Phillips (Fleet, $38)

We’ve been seeing this one around a lot (compelling cover). The Kirkus Review starts off: “Set in West Virginia during and after the Civil War, Phillips’ book takes as given that slavery was evil and the war a necessity, focusing instead on lives torn apart by the conflict and on the period’s surprisingly enlightened approach toward care of the mentally ill.” And ends with: “Haunting storytelling and a refreshing look at history.” Read the inbetween bits here.


1 Lioness by Emily Perkins (Bloomsbury, $25)

2 Long Island by Colm Tóibín (Picador, $38)

3 Gracehopper by Mandy Hager (One Tree House, $30)

Two teenage readers offer a “review in conversation” over on Kete Books. Here’s an excerpt: 

“Katarina: The story deals with sensitive issues like mental health and drug usage, as well as the death of family members. Do you think the author handled this well?

Amelia: Yes, I think she handled it really well and thoughtfully. She covered all perspectives and the way it went into depth about what it felt like for Grace was really amazing. I also found the way the author made it relatable for other people who might be going through the same or a similar situation to Grace or Katherine to be really incredible too.”

4 A Life Less Punishing: 13 Ways to Love the Life You’re Given by Matt Heath (Allen & Unwin, $38)

5 All Fours by Miranda July (Canongate, $37)

6 Prophet Song by Paul Lynch (Oneworld Publications, $25)

7 Bee Sting by Paul Murray (Penguin, $26)

A 600-page tragic-comic triumph.

8 Ministry of Time by Kaliane Bradley (Sceptre, $38)

Billed as ‘speculative fiction’, it is perhaps more cheering to think of it as 50% sci-fi thriller, and 50% romcom. The Ministry of Time is chiefly a love story between a disaffected civil servant working in a near-future London, and Commander Graham Gore, first lieutenant of Sir John Franklin’s ill-fated expedition to the Arctic. Gore, last seen grimly walking across the ice in 1847, has been retrieved from the jaws of death by a 21st-century government hellbent on testing the limits of time travel.” Read more on The Guardian here.

9 Butter by Asako Yuzuki (4th Estate, $35)

Mysteries and food.

10 Night Watch by Jayne Anne Phillips (Fleet, $38)

Keep going!