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Photo: Getty Images; Additional design by Tina Tiller
Photo: Getty Images; Additional design by Tina Tiller

BooksFebruary 11, 2022

The Unity Books bestseller chart for the week ending February 11

Photo: Getty Images; Additional design by Tina Tiller
Photo: Getty Images; Additional design by 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.

AUCKLAND

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

Because it’s never too late to give up Scrumpy Hands and start doing Pilates. 

2  To Paradise by Hanya Yanagihara (Picador, $38)

Our current favourite child. To Paradise is a novel written in three parts, populated almost completely by characters called David and Charles. Part one covers an alternative history in 1890s New York where gay marriage is legal; part two, a 1980s pandemic (presumably the Aids crisis); and part three is a post-pandemic future in 2090, where the world is ruled from Beijing. 

Here are some big, bold words from the Guardian: “Sometimes literature takes time to digest momentous events: the great novels of the Napoleonic wars, of the Holocaust, of the plague, weren’t published until decades after the episodes they describe. Occasionally, though, a masterpiece emerges from the white heat of the moment: The Great Gatsby, The Decameron, The Waste Land. There’s something miraculous about reading To Paradise while the coronavirus crisis is still playing out around us, the dizzying sense that you’re immersed in a novel that will come to represent the age, its obsessions and anxieties. It’s rare that you get the opportunity to review a masterpiece, but To Paradise, definitively, is one.”

3  The Promise by Damon Galgut (Chatto & Windus, $37)

Winner of the last Booker, and bearer of passages such as …

First it is necessary to beat the earth with a stick. Then he settles himself on a rock. Easy to speak to each other. Not the first time they’ve met up here. Children still, on the verge of not being children any more.

I’m sorry about your mommy, he says.

She nearly cries again, but doesn’t. It’s all right when he says it, because Lukas’s father died too, on a goldmine near Johannesburg, when he was only little. Something joins them together. What she just remembered spills over, she wants to tell him about it.

It’s yours now, the house, she says.

He looks at her, not understanding.

My mother told my father to give it to your mother. A Christian never goes back on his word.

4  Circe by Madeline Miller (Bloomsbury, $22)

Circe and The Song of Achilles comprehensively rock but there’s just one reason they’re still riding high in the bestseller charts more than a decade after release: BookTok.

5  The Midnight Library by Matt Haig (Canongate, $33)

One of the biggest sellers of 2021, back for a stab at continued stardom in 2022.

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

From the New York Times feature linked at #4 above:

“Hey, this is Day 1 of me reading ‘The Song of Achilles,’” Ayman Chaudhary, a 20-year-old in Chicago, posted on TikTok, holding the book next to her Burberry pattern hijab and smiling face.

“And this is me finishing it!” she bawls into the camera, the onscreen captions helpfully describing “dramatic wailing & yelling.” The video, which has been viewed more than 150,000 times, lasts about seven seconds.

The #songofachilles hashtag has 19 million views on TikTok.

“I wish I could send them all chocolates!” said Madeline Miller, the book’s author.

Published in 2012, “The Song of Achilles” sold well, but not nearly as well as it’s selling now. According to NPD BookScan, which tracks print copies of books sold at most US retailers, “The Song of Achilles” is selling about 10,000 copies a week, roughly nine times as much as when it won the prestigious Orange Prize. It is third on the New York Times best-seller list for paperback fiction.

7  My Body by Emily Ratajkowski (Quercus, $35)

Model Emily Ratajkowski shot to fame after featuring in the Blurred Lines music video almost 10 years ago. Now, she’s written a memoir about her relationship with her body. The Atlantic gives this summary as part of a clever and critical review: “This book is Ratajkowski’s attempt to come to terms with her existence as a person who is, in the words of Derek Zoolander, really, really ridiculously good-looking.”   

8  Beautiful World, Where Are You by Sally Rooney (Faber, $33)

The It Book, showing its staying power.

9  Violeta by Isabel Allende (Bloomsbury, $37)

There’s a new Allende novel on the Unity shelves! At 100 years old, Violeta recounts the story of her tumultuous life, from the Great Depression to the rise and fall of South American tyrants, to two pandemics. 

10  The Island Of Missing Trees by Elif Shafak (Viking, $37)

Elif Shafak was shortlisted for the Booker for 10 Minutes 38 Seconds in this Strange World, and now has a shiny new book (exactly the type that Madeline Miller will be laughing off the bestsellers list in days). Here’s the publisher’s enticing description: “Two teenagers, a Greek Cypriot and a Turkish Cypriot, meet at a taverna on the island they both call home. The taverna is the only place that Kostas and Defne can meet in secret, hidden beneath the blackened beams from which hang garlands of garlic and chilli peppers, creeping honeysuckle, and in the centre, growing through a cavity in the roof, a fig tree. The fig tree witnesses their hushed, happy meetings; their silent, surreptitious departures. The fig tree is there, too, when war breaks out, when the capital is reduced to ashes and rubble, when the teenagers vanish.”

WELLINGTON

1  To Paradise by Hanya Yanagihara (Picador, $38)

2  Imagining Decolonisation by Rebecca Kiddle, Bianca Elkington, Moana Jackson, Ocean Ripeka Mercier, Mike Ross, Jennie Smeaton and Amanda Thomas (Bridget Williams Books, $15)

Just imagine if there was a new article about the amazingness that is Imagining Decolonisation … Well, incredible news! Your imaginings have been answered, and you can read said article by Anahera Gildea immediately.

3  Stolen Focus: Why You Can’t Pay Attention by Johann Hari (Bloomsbury, $35)

Catching yourself thinking of what your next snack will be while your lecturer, boss, or partner talks? Yeah, this book is for you. 

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

5  Four Thousand Weeks: Time and How to Use It by Oliver Burkeman (Bodley Head, $38) 

“In the current average human lifespan we get 4,000 of each day of the week: 4,000 Saturday nights, 4,000 lazy Sundays, 4,000 Monday mornings. When we are young, that might feel like a dizzying number of tomorrows. As the years go by, not so much. Oliver Burkeman’s midlife inquiry into how we might most meaningfully approach those days is perfectly pitched somewhere between practical self-help book and philosophical quest.” A snappy overview from the Guardian.

6  Words of Comfort: How to Find Hope by Rebekah Ballagh (Allen & Unwin, $25)

A comfort for anyone going through grief. The publisher’s blurb says, “Whatever your reason, Words of Comfort is here to help. Treat it as a companion in your grief, an empathetic safe space and a beacon of hope. All of your feelings are welcome here. This book explores the experience of grieving and the emotions and thoughts that may surface. It offers strategies to help you navigate through your grief, and takes a look at some of the things we can learn from the journey.”

7  Too Much Money: How Wealth Disparities Are Unbalancing Aotearoa New Zealand by Max Rashbrooke (Bridget Williams Books, $40)

If you’re picking up Too Much Money, we recommend also placing #6 into your shopping basket – you may need to mourn the idea of Aotearoa as a fair and equal land.

8  The Promise by Damon Galgut (Chatto & Windus, $37)

9  Fast 800 Keto: Eat Well, Burn Fat, Manage Your Weight Long-Term by Dr Michael Mosley (Hachette, $38)

It’s apparently time to give up carbs, and take up fat and fasting (sob). In his new book, Dr Michael Mosley tries to help you stick to this vicious, zero-cookie diet. 

10  Circe by Madeline Miller (Bloomsbury, $22)

Keep going!