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Image: Tina Tiller
Image: Tina Tiller

BooksApril 14, 2023

The Unity Books bestseller chart for the week ending April 14

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

The third novel from the youngest ever Booker prize winner’s reign continues. Haven’t read it yet? Here’s a taster of books editor, Claire Mabey’s, rave review: “Her sentences are the stuff of dreams: of ten-course degustations that give you the satisfaction of home cooking at its finest. In Catton’s hands the descent into character is so complete, so startlingly multi-dimensional, that the ride cannot help but be exhilarating and entirely consuming.” Read more here.

2 Shards by Bret Easton Ellis (Allen & Unwin, $37)

The latest from the author of American Psycho. Rather enjoyed this review snippet from Kelly on Goodreads: “Written as a nonfiction narrative, this one is for the Bret Easton Ellis superfan. I mean, if you ever wanted to crawl around inside this fella’s brain, The Shards is the one for you! After finishing I did a Google to see what was said about this “true story” before it was released and I am amazed at how many people were duped. Dear Dummies: YOU LITERALLY HAVE A COMPUTER ATTACHED TO YOUR HAND ALMOST ALL THE TIME. It’s not hard to find out these cases didn’t actually happen. Not to mention he is an author who previously wrote a “true story” about fucking vampires.”

3 Straight Up by Ruby Tui (Allen & Unwin, $37)

The moving, surprising, inspiring memoir from rugby legend will be speaking with our own legend, Madeleine Chapman, at the Auckland Writers Festival next month. See you there.

4 Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin (Chatto & Windus, $37)

A fixture on this list, this widely beloved novel is the gift that keeps on giving (except if you’re Sam Brooks, who wasn’t so convinced).

5 Small Things Like These by Clare Keegan (Faber & Faber, $25)

The olde worlde saying “Good things come in small packages” couldn’t not be more fitting for this slim gem.

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

A chronic bestseller, we liked this pithy respone from Jessica on Goodreads who gave it 4 stars: 

“delightful. wholesome. meaningful.
this made me believe in chemistry.

nothing more needs to be said.”

7 Kurangaituku by Hereaka Whiti (Huia Publishers, $35)

Wonderful to see last year’s Ockham New Zealand Book Awards fiction winner back. A timely reminder to get reading this remarkable story if you haven’t had the pleasure yet.

8 The Body Keeps the Score Mind: Brain & Body in the Transformation of Trauma by Bessel Van Der Kolk (Penguin, $30)

A fresh entry to this list, with an elegant Matisse-emblazoned cover, here’s the publisher’s blurb: “Neither talking nor drug therapies have proven entirely satisfactory. With stories of his own work and those of specialists around the globe, The Body Keeps the Score sheds new light on the routes away from trauma – which lie in the regulation and syncing of body and mind, using sport, drama, yoga, mindfulness, meditation and other routes to equilibrium.”

9 Really Good, Actually by Monica Heisey (Fourth Estate, $33)

Reviewer Shahidha Bari had this to say in The Guardian: “Heisey gives Maggie a sardonic self-awareness that sits alongside her proper sadness. It makes Really Good, Actually a smart and funny coming-of-divorce novel, a story of self-reckoning with a likable heroine to root for. Heisey earned her writing stripes in TV, including on Schitt’s Creek, and it shows in a book full of millennial witticisms and reliably regular deadpan turns. But the seemingly tireless facility for jokes and comic self-deprecation can also be wearing. It risks a certain glibness, allowing Heisey to skate over the more serious concerns buried inside the book: the deep feelings of brokenness and loss that come in the wake of a failed relationship. These are often glimpsed, before inevitably giving way to a joke.” Intrigued!

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

Is there a more moving scene in the history of film as the one where Sam Neill and Laura Dern first spy the real dinosaurs? We think not. Anyway, Tom Ryan in the Sydney Morning Herald rated the memoir: this segment from the review chimes with Neill’s social media persona, at least: “Rather than the star who makes heads turn in the street, he comes across as an ordinary bloke, unpretentious, down-to-earth, a bit confounded by the track he’s found himself on over the years, but still quite pleased about it.”

A still from the move Jurassic Park: Laura Dern and Sam Neill (actors).
Laura Dern and Sam Neill in Jurassic Park. Acting in arguably one of the most moving scenes in all of cinema.


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

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

3 Seven Moons of Maali Almeida by Shehan Karunatilaka (Sort of Books, $37)
Catch this year’s Booker Prize winner alongside previous winners (Eleanor Catton, and Bernadine Evaristo) at Auckland Writers Festival next month. Guarantee a good time: Karunatilaka is fascinating, and funny.

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

5 Rat King Landlord: Renters’ Edition by Murdoch Stephens (Lawrence & Gibson, $2)
Biggest bargain on the bestsellers! And it’s so beautiful! Read all about it right here.

6 Straight Up by Ruby Tui (Allen & Unwin, $37)

7 Cleopatra & Frankenstein by Coco Mellors (Fourth Estate, $25)

A BookTok phenomenon and regular friend to this list, Mellors book is, according to the blurb, “for readers of Modern Lovers and Conversations with Friends, an addictive, humorous, and poignant debut novel about the shock waves caused by one couple’s impulsive marriage.”

8 Histories of Hate: The Radical Right in Aotearoa New Zealand by Matthew Cunningham, Martin La Rooij & Paul Spoonley (Otago University Press, $50)

A wide-ranging and thorough investigation into the history of the radical right in Aotearoa. A fascinating if not sobering, and timely, read.

9 Past Lives by Leah Dodd (Te Herenga Waka University Press, $25)

A stunning debut poetry collection. Read Dodd’s lyrical essay on how she arrived at her stunning cover art, right here.

10 Ruin by Emma Hislop (Te Herenga Waka University Press, $30)

This arresting new short story collection is an impressive achievement. It progresses the genre in Aotearoa and affirms that short fiction is continuing its ascent.

This, from the publisher’s blurb: “But while the line between ruin and redemption is always perilously thin, the women of Ruin walk it, dealing in multiple and surprising ways to the punches thrown at them by men – and by other women. This is a book about power and its contortions, powerlessness and its depravities, and the ends to which we will go to claim back agency.”

Keep going!