Image: Tina Tiller.
Image: Tina Tiller.

BooksMarch 8, 2024

The Unity Books bestseller chart for the week ending March 8

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 Bird Child & Other Stories by Patricia Grace (Penguin, $37)

From a review of Bird Child & Other Stories coming to The Spinoff this very weekend: “Her [Grace’s] command of the English language allows an insight into the often janky bridge between word-worlds. Each word is a hint at the missing link between the natural world reflected in te reo Māori and the Anglo-Saxon-Latin-German-amalgam that is te reo Pākehā where, at times, no translation will suffice.”

2 Trust by Diaz Hernan (Picador, $28)

The Pulitzer Prize-winning author has, according to Kirkus Reviews, written “a clever and affecting high-concept novel of high finance.”

3 Kamogawa Food Detective by Hisashi Kashiwai (Mantle, $25)

Sounds a lot like the one about the cosy and nostalgic bookshop, only this time it’s a cosy and nostalgic restaurant.

4 Remarkably Bright Creatures by Shelby Van Pet (Bloomsbury, $25)

That octopus novel.

5 Dune by Frank Herbert (Hodder, $28)

Surely this is the result of many committing the unconscionable crime of reading the book after watching the film. This reversal of the laws of nature would usually be unforgivable. Except that in this case the films are so delicious and Denis Villeneuve so masterful that we’ll let it go.

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

Because what is this list without this sweet story?

7 Burma Sahib by Paul Theroux (Hamish Hamilton, $37)

“Paul Theroux is married with two children and divides his time between London and Cape Cod.” Ain’t that a line. Burma Sahib is Theroux’s fictional retelling of George Orwell’s years spent in Burma: “Eric Blair stood out amongst his fellow police trainees in 1920s Burma. Nineteen years old, unusually tall, a diffident loner fresh from Eton, after five years spent in the narrow colonial world of the Raj – a decaying system steeped in overt racism and petty class-conflict – he would emerge as the George Orwell we know.”

8 Invisible Women: Exposing Data Bias in a World Designed for Men by Caroline Criado-Perez (Arrow Books, $26)

First published in 2020, this book exposes the gender bias that exists pretty much everywhere. It’s outraging but not totally surprising (if you’re a woman).

9 The Creative Act: A Way of Being by Rick Rubin (Canongate, $55)

Welcome back Rick Rubin. Please can we have your follow up on why art is not a nice-to-have but an essential service?

10 Tremor by Teju Cole (Faber & Faber, $37)

Teju Cole is one of the most luminous writers around. Every book sings. From the publisher’s blurb of this latest novel:

“Tunde, the man at the centre of this novel, reflects on the places and times of his life, from his West African upbringing to his current work as a teacher of photography on a renowned New England campus. He is a reader, a listener and a traveller drawn to many different kinds of stories: tales from history and the epic; accounts of friends, family and strangers; narratives found in books and films. One man’s personal lens refracts entire worlds, and back again.

A weekend spent shopping for antiques is shadowed by the colonial atrocities that occurred on that land. A walk at dusk is interrupted by casual racism. A loving marriage is riven by mysterious tensions. And a remarkable cascade of voices speaks out from a pulsing metropolis.

Tremor is a startling work of realism and invention that examines the passage of time and how we mark it. It is a reckoning with human survival amidst ‘history’s own brutality, which refuses symmetries and seldom consoles’ – but it is also a testament to the possibility of joy. This is narration with all its senses alert, a surprising and deeply essential work from a beacon of contemporary literature.”


1 The Grimmelings by Rachael King (Allen & Unwin, $25)

The layered, luminous new novel from one of our best writers is a testament to the power of children’s literature to cut straight to the heart of what is important: family, community and the stories lurking in our bloodlines, our lands and our histories both close and vast. With its killer cover. gorgeous writing and folk horror tone, this novel is already making waves internationally with an announcement that The Grimmelings has been “snapped up” by Guppy Books in the UK. Here’s the enticing blurb:

“The same evening Josh Underhill went missing, the black horse appeared on the hill above the house.

Thirteen-year-old Ella knows that words are powerful. So she should have known better than to utter a wish and a curse on the same day, even in jest.

When the boy she has cursed goes missing, in the same sudden, unexplained way as her father several years earlier, Ella discovers that her family is living in the shadow of a vengeful kelpie, a black horse-like creature.

With the help of her beloved pony Magpie, can Ella break the curse of the kelpie and save not just her family, but the whole community?”

2 The Women by Kristin Hannah (Macmillan, $38)

The latest from the blockbuster author of The Nightingale. The Good Reads community are churning out five star reviews though not everyone is convinced. Criticisms include: “too romance focussed”, “Eeeek”, and “not a fan of reading about wartime situations”.

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

Not the Booker Prize winner, but the shortlisted book that is behaving a lot like it.

4 Bird Child & Other Stories by Patricia Grace (Penguin, $37)

5 Imagining Decolonisation by Rebecca Kiddle, Bianca Elkington, Moana Jackson, Ocean Ripeka Mercier, Mike Ross, Jennie Smeaton and Amanda Thomas (Bridget Williams Books, $18)

Welcome back to one of the most important short books published in Aotearoa in a decade! Someone please deliver copies up to the Beehive where it could do some good work.

6 Strong Female Character by Fern Brady (Brazen, $28)

Vibrant memoir from the Scottish comedian, who’s coming over for the New Zealand International Comedy Festival in May.

7 Unruly: A History of England’s Kings & Queens by David Mitchell (Michael Joseph, $42)

Vibrant history from comedian.

8 Lioness by Emily Perkins (Bloomsbury, $37)

Congratulations to Emily Perkins for being shortlisted for the Jann Medlicott Acorn Prize for Fiction at this year’s Ockham New Zealand Book Awards! This novel about a midlife reckoning is a very worthy contender. Read our review here.

9 Kitten by Olive Nuttall (Te Herenga Waka University Press, $30)

From an interview with Nuttall coming to The Spinoff soon: “I train in Historical Fencing (also known as HEMA). The sport looks a lot like Olympic fencing, but with longswords, rapiers, and other kinds of historical weapons.” Intrigued? More next week.

10 Come and Get It by Kiley Reid (Bloomsbury, $37)

A binge read bestseller with this killer tagline: “Everything comes at a price. But not everything can be paid for…”

Keep going!