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A new book lifts the lid on why the mushroom always gets invited to parties (Image: Tina Tiller)
A new book lifts the lid on why the mushroom always gets invited to parties (Image: Tina Tiller)

BooksMay 12, 2023

The Unity Books bestseller chart for the week ending May 12

A new book lifts the lid on why the mushroom always gets invited to parties (Image: Tina Tiller)
A new book lifts the lid on why the mushroom always gets invited to parties (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 Small Things Like These by Claire Keegan (Faber & Faber, $25)

The slim Irish novel that could is back atop the list of lists. What is the allure? Is it the heart-wrench or the heart-warm of the story that makes this tiny novel the gift that continues to give? Surely the blend of both.

2 Fungi of Aotearoa: A Curious Forager’s Field Guide by Liv Sisson (Penguin, $45)

Popping off with that psychedelic blue shroom is this epically useful, otherworldly compendium of the weird and wonderful mushies around us.

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

Look, we are unabashed fans here. Check out our ranking of the short stories; and this review of Claire Harman’s inspired biography. Yska’s approach is to follow in Mansfield’s footsteps and it makes for a wonderful armchair journey through Europe. A sneak peek coming to this very website, soon.

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

Here’s a micro-review from Hephzibah Anderson: “New York City at the start of the 21st-century – pre-financial crisis, pre-Trump, pre-Covid – is captured with near-devotional lushness in this nostalgic debut. It’s an urban playground that struggling painter Cleo, 24 years old and stylishly British, is on the brink of being exiled from, her student visa due to expire in mere months, when she meets Frank, a fortysomething ad agency owner with a nice line in elevator chitchat. They wed on a whim to calamitous effect on both sides. In terms of depth, this novel is more Jay McInerney than Hanya Yanagihara, but Mellors proves herself a poetic chronicler of inky gloom as well as twinkly surfaces.”

5 There’s a Cure for This: A Memoir by Emma Espiner (Penguin Press, $35)

Kindly be informed that you ought to return to the Books Section this coming Sunday for Mother’s Day treat: an excerpt from Espiner’s memoir, which is both a stunning meditation on motherhood, and a timely deep-dive into our medical system and the racism therein.

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

Here’s a rather ecstatic moment from a Guardian review of this smash hit:

“Every now and again, a first novel appears in a flurry of hype and big-name TV deals, and before the end of the first chapter you do a little air-punch because for once it’s all completely justified. Lessons in Chemistry, by former copywriter Bonnie Garmus, is that rare beast; a polished, funny, thought-provoking story, wearing its research lightly but confidently, and with sentences so stylishly turned it’s hard to believe it’s a debut.”

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

Catton is coming. Next week Auckland Writers Festival draws bibliophiles from near and far to the Aotea Centre. You’ll also be able to hear Catton speak at multiple events there, and then at one-offs in Wellington and Christchurch. If you haven’t read Birnam Wood yet then have a read of our review so you’re at least a bit caught up before you hear from the maestro herself.

8 Things You Can See Only When You Slow Down by Haemin Sunim (Penguin, $30)

Mega popular Zen Buddhist author and teacher has a thing to say about slowing the fuck down. Here’s the blurb: “By offering guideposts to well-being and happiness in eight areas – including relationships, love, and spirituality – Haemin Sunim emphasises the importance of forging a deeper connection with others and being compassionate and forgiving toward ourselves. The more than twenty full-colour illustrations that accompany his teachings serve as calming visual interludes, encouraging us to notice that when you slow down, the world slows down with you.”

9 She and Her Cat by Makoto Shinkai & Naruki Nagakawa (Doubleday, $35)

One for the cat ladies! “She and Her Cat, a collection of four interrelated, stream-of-conscious short stories in which four women and their feline companions explore the frailty of life, the pain of isolation, and the limits of communication.”

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

How can we live, like, longer? This book from experts in longevity (whatever that means) offers some tricks of the everlasting trade.


1 Ithaca by Alie Benge (Te Herenga Waka University Press, $35)

The debut collection of essays taking Wellington by storm. Here’s a snippet from own Sam Brooks’ review: “Benge is a talented writer, with a keen sense of where to place an image, a metaphor, even a little turn of phrase, in a story to devastate us. Sentence to sentence, paragraph to paragraph, Benge’s writing is littered with enough gems to fill a Michael Hill store. Take the below, for example:

“We drove through the Piazza, past Haile Selassie’s palace, and Ghion Hotel: places I knew I’d been before, but I was sure they didn’t look like this. And with my heart dropping, I realised what I’d done: I’d forgotten this place. I’d broken my few memories into spare parts and with those parts I’d made something else, something that wasn’t real, and then spent my whole life missing it.”

2 Birnam Wood by Eleanor Catton (Te Herenga Waka University Press, hardback $50, paperback $38)

3 Fungi of Aotearoa: A Curious Forager’s Field Guide by Liv Sissons (Penguin, $45)

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

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

The book that dropped the cancer bombshell and made us all very worried about our favourite actor/vintner/owner of swine. However, the memoir is doing well and apparently so is our Sam.

6 The Sun & the Star: A Nico di Angelo Adventure by Rick Riordan & Mark Oshiro (Puffin, $30)

From the world of Percy Jackson and the Olympians comes a new stand-alone novel featuring Will and Nico. Fans will know exactly what we’re on about here.

7 Kāwai: For Such a Time As This by Monty Soutar (David Bateman, $40)

The first novel in a trilogy by acclaimed historian Monty Soutar is back on the bestseller list ahead of next week’s Ockham New Zealand Book Awards ceremony, in which we’ll find out who will win Aotearoa’s biggest literary prize. Here’s the shortlist as a reminder of who could be receiving $64,000 big ones on Wednesday.

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

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

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

In Auckland they want longevity, in Wellington they want to create til the end of time/til the streetlamps fall.

Keep going!