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Image: Tina Tiller
Image: Tina Tiller

BooksFebruary 16, 2024

The Unity Books bestseller chart for the week ending February 16

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

The film adaptation of this small but perfectly formed novella just opened the Berlin Film FestivalCillian Murphy stars as the book’s hero, Bill Furlong, and looks precisely the part in the promo so far. Keegan is due to appear (via Zoom) in Wānaka’s Aspiring Conversation’s programme where our lucky books editor Claire Mabey will be chatting with her and fellow Irish writer Audrey McGee. 

Cillian Murphy as Bill Furlong in the film adaptation of Small Things Like These by Claire Keegan.

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

The famously bearded music producer’s guide to your own creative potential. The Spinoff’s review may or may not convince you of its necessity.

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

Welcome back old friend.

4 The Bill Gates Problem by Tim Schwab (Penguin, $42)

A new entry! And it’s a ripper roast of one of the world’s most famous billionaires. Listen to this excerpt from the New York Times review of the book: “In his new book, “The Bill Gates Problem,” the journalist Tim Schwab dismisses that makeover as a fanciful fable. The real Gates, according to Schwab, remains a power-hungry, narcissistic control freak, and the sprawling Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is little more than a vehicle for him to accumulate and deploy influence on a far greater scale than he could as a mere billionaire software mogul. It is profoundly undemocratic and entrenches inequality, Schwab argues.”

5 Atomic Habits by James Clear (Random House, $40)

Change your life by changing just a bit (but lots of bits).

6 So Late in the Day by Claire Keegan (Faber & Faber, $30)

Yet another small but perfectly formed novella, this time exploring the tragic patriarchal expectations of what marriage means for women, told so deftly you’ll start and not be able to stop until you’ve got to the end.

7 Light Over Liskeard by Louis De Bernieres (Harvill Secker, $37)

From the review in The Guardian: “This opening scene pretty well sets the tone for what follows. Light Over Liskeard is an unhurried, whimsical, slightly grouchy and often surreal novel about the end of the world. Long-term readers of Louis de Bernières may come prepared. In a career that began with a magic realism-inspired Latin American trilogy, took off with the historical romance Captain Corelli’s Mandolin, and has gone down such byways as Red Dog, a rather heartwarming tale of an Australian sheepdog, and Notwithstanding, a collection of determinedly eccentric stories of English village life, De Bernières has shown himself to be full of surprises, conjuring narratives of considerable charm and impressive sweep.”

8 Enter Ghost by Isabella Hammad (Jonathan Cape, $37)

Isabella Hammad is an exceptional young British-Palestinian writer who last year was included in Granta’s best novelists under 40 list (along with Eleanor Catton). Enter Ghost is a beautiful novel that explores Palestinian identities and struggles and of course could not be more timely.

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

Welcome back to a cheery stalwart of 2023.

10 Days at the Morisaki Bookshop by Satoshi Yagisawa (Bonnier Publishing, $32)

Cosy, bookish, comfort read.


1 Do You Still Have Time for Chaos? by Lynn Davidson (Te Herenga Waka University Press, $35)

A beautifully written memoir from an Aotearoa writer with a heart in Edinburgh. Do You Still Have Time for Chaos? explores a life lived outside the lines of the nuclear family, and what that alternative way of moving in the world offers and reveals.  Davidson’s style is poetic, fluid and gentle with exquisite writing about the various pulls of people and place. Underneath the beauty is a bubbling energy: Davidson’s experiences and preoccupations illuminate various misogynies, the lives of solo mothers, the lives of women, the lives of artists. Davidson will be talking about her memoir next weekend at the Aotearoa New Zealand Festival of the Arts’ writers programme.

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

One of the most anticipated short story collections of the year from one of our very best writers. We have more on this beautiful book coming soon. 

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

The stunning novel from one of four Irish novelists on this list. 

4 The Wren, the Wren by Anne Enright (Jonathan Cape, $37)

Wellingtonians are surely getting ready to see Enright in the very flesh at Aotearoa New Zealand Festival of the Arts’ writers programme next weekend where she’ll be talking about this book with Noelle McCarthy.

5 Strong Female Character by Fern Brady (Octopus, $28)

Bestselling memoir from the Scottish comedian who was diagnosed with Autism in her 30s.

6 Lioness by Emily Perkins (Bloomsbury, $37)

One of the very strong contenders for this year’s big fiction prize at the Ockham New Zealand Book Awards. Read The Spinoff’s review of this crackling novel, here.

7 Turncoat by Tihema Baker (Lawrence & Gibson, $35)

This sci-fi satire is Lawrence & Gibson’s bestselling book ever and is also up for the fiction prize at the Ockham’s. Wellingtonians can listen to Baker talk about the book next weekend at the Embassy Theatre, at the Aotearoa New Zealand Festival of the Arts, here.

8 The Hundred Years War on Palestine: A History of Settler Colonialism & Resistance, 1917—2017 by Rashid Khalidi (Profile Books, $35)

The history of Palestine you need right now as the shocking brutalisation of the people continues. 

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

A striking memoir up for the general nonfiction prize a the Ockham’s. Read an excerpt here, and a review here

10 Prophet Song by Paul Lynch (Oneworld, $37)

The 2023 Booker Prize winner is hanging on in there. 

Note: This is the first time in ages that Auckland and Wellington have presented to entirely different lists. 

Keep going!