BooksJune 16, 2023

The Unity Books bestseller chart for the week ending June 16


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 The Axeman’s Carnival by Catherine Chidgey (Te Herenga Waka University Press, $35)

What a year for one of our best writers! Two novels in both bestseller lists: could this be a first? We think so! 

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

“Always it was the same, Furlong thought; always they carried mechanically on without pause, to the next job at hand. What would life be like, he wondered, if they were given time to think and reflect over things? Might their lives be different or much the same – or would they just lose the run of themselves?”

An absolutely stunning wee book.

3 Pet by Catherine Chidgey (Te Herenga Waka University Press, $38)

The latest novel from a prodigious talent: our review of Pet is coming soon. In the meantime, this from the publisher’s blurb:
“Like every other girl in her class, twelve-year-old Justine is drawn to her glamorous, charismatic new teacher, and longs to be her pet. However, when a thief begins to target the school, Justine’s sense that something isn’t quite right grows ever stronger. With each twist of the plot, this gripping story of deception and the corrosive power of guilt takes a yet darker turn. Young as she is, Justine must decide where her loyalties lie.

Set in New Zealand in 1984 and 2014, and probing themes of racism and misogyny, Pet is an elegant and chilling psychological thriller by the bestselling author of The Wish Child, Remote Sympathy and The Axeman’s Carnival.”

4 The Covenant of Water by Abraham Verghese (Grove Press, $38)

A contemporary classic judging by all reviews and Oprah’s Book Club. From the start of the NPR review: “Much will be written about Abraham Verghese’s multigenerational South Indian novel in the coming months and years.

As we’ve seen with Verghese’s earlier fiction, there will be frequent references to that other celebrated doctor-writer, Anton Chekhov. There will also be continued invocations of the likes of Charles Dickens and George Eliot to describe Verghese’s ambitious literary scope and realism. Indeed, the literary feats in The Covenant of Water deserve to be lauded as much as those of such canonical authors.”

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

Go to 1.02 on this YouTube clip of Rubin’s 60 Minutes interview where he makes the interviewer meditate on camera.

6 The Shards by Bret Easton Ellis (Allen & Unwin, TP, $37)

“It is lurid, grisly, violent, sexy, explicit, ambiguous, chill, funny, sad, and creepy, and so perfectly Bret Easton Ellis-y that at times it flirts with self-parody — which, one suspects, is very much the idea,” says Esquire.

7 Monsters: A Fans Dilemma by Claire Dederer (Sceptre, $38)

Talented baddies, what do we do with them?

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

One of the top memoirs of the year so far from the second doctor-writer on the list (the first being Verghese … there are a lot of doctors who write, aren’t there?). Read Chloe Fergusson-Tibble’s stirring review here

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

Millions of people have purchased this book. But does it work? A scan of Good Reads reveals a hell of a lot of five stars but a few choice cynics with such pithy feedback as “Tedious.” and, “This douche makes some valid points on habits, yes. Points that you can also google without having to pay $18.00 for a kindle ebook.

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

The gift that keeps on giving is this novel. If you’ve not yet dipped your quill, here’s an insight from The Guardian review: “This is a boy meets girl story that is never a romance – though it is romantic. When Sam first asks Sadie if she will make a video game with him, he plans an elaborate proposal: “He would be getting down on one knee and saying, ‘Will you work with me?’” They love each other, but never in quite the same way at quite the same time.”

A still from the rather delightful video of the moment that Barbara Kingsolver won this year’s Women’s Prize (the second time the author has bagged it). See item 10 below.


1 Under the Weather: A Future Forecast for New Zealand by James Renwick (HarperCollins, $40)

A tonally chirpy, information rich, action-based book on the future of Aotearoa in the age of the climate crisis. You can read an extract right here.

2 Pet by Catherine Chidgey (Te Herenga Waka University Press, hardback $50, paperback $38)

3 Axeman’s Carnival by Catherine Chidgey (Te Herenga Waka University Press, $35)

4 Night Owls & Early Birds: Rhythms of Life on a Rotating Planet by Philippa Gander (Auckland University Press, $40)

A curious little book about the study of Chronobiology. Watch out for an extract coming here soon.

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

6 This is ADHD by Chanelle Moriah (Allen & Unwin, $33)

A thoroughly informative, uniquely presented book all about what it is, and what it feels like, to have ADHD from our own publishing phenomenon, Chanelle Moriah (author of the best-selling I Am Autistic).

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

8 Honouring Our Ancestors Takatāpui, Two-Spirit and Indigenous LGBTQI+ Well-Being edited by Alison Green and Leonie Pihama (Te Herenga Waka University Press, $35)

A timely and thorough collection, here’s the publisher’s blurb: “In these rigorous and challenging essays, writers from Aotearoa and Turtle Island (Canada and the United States of America) explore the well-being of takatāpui, two-spirit, and Māori and Indigenous LGBTQI+ communities. Themes include resistance, reclamation, empowerment, transformation and healing. Central to Honouring Our Ancestors is the knowledge that, before colonisation, Indigenous peoples had their own healthy understandings of gender, sexual identities and sexuality. Some of these understandings have survived the onslaught of colonisation; others require decolonisation so that our Indigenous nations can begin to heal. Through this lens, the writers gathered here contribute their knowledge and experience of structural and social change.”

9 Everything Is Beautiful & Everything Hurts by Josie Shapiro (Allen & Unwin, $37)

A beautifully told, feel-good novel about overcoming systemic and personal hurdles. Read books editor Claire Mabey’s appreciative review right here.

10 Demon Copperhead by Barbara Kingsolver (Faber, $28)

Winner of this year’s Women’s Prize! This coveted literary honour should hopefully see this brilliant retelling of Charles Dicken’s David Copperfield rocket up the charts.

Keep going!