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Black and white photo showing a man and woman sitting in adjacent chairs, holding the book "How to win friends and influence people", plus a spinoff of same, in front of their faces.
(Photo: Frederic Hamilton/Hulton Archive/Getty Images; Design: Tina Tiller)

BooksFebruary 18, 2022

The Unity Books bestseller chart for the week ending February 18

Black and white photo showing a man and woman sitting in adjacent chairs, holding the book "How to win friends and influence people", plus a spinoff of same, in front of their faces.
(Photo: Frederic Hamilton/Hulton Archive/Getty Images; Design: 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  Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones by James Clear (Random House Business, $40)

Don’t set a goal to run 5km – become a runner in your very soul. That’s what James Clear would say. What we say is, it’s too hot in Auckland to become a runner. Take a nap or read a book instead.

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

You know a novel is big when it has a Wikipedia page a month after publication. The Dartmouth can do the work of describing the novel’s three parts this week: “In Yanagihara’s 1893, homosexuality is legal, but racism and classism still perpetuate in the daily lives of Americans. The 1993 section is centred around the AIDS epidemic in New York, featuring a character that is Hawaiian royalty, but from a Hawaii that was able to gain independence from the United States. 2093 is perhaps the most terrifying; situated in a world that is constantly in a pandemic and totalitarian rule has upturned the tatters of our democracy.” The Dartmouth’s review is only lukewarm, but we’re hot for Hanya. 

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

Last year’s Booker winner is now also in the running to win the Rathbones Folio Prize, aka the Booker’s nemesis. 

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

After an attempt to end her life, Nora ends up in an infinite library where each book tells the story of a different path her life may have taken. A 2021 bestseller which is still going strong.

5  Greta & Valdin by Rebecca K Reilly (Te Herenga Waka University Press, $35)

Our second favourite in the Jann Medlicott Acorn Prize for Fiction longlist, ordered according to awesomeness. Anna Rawhiti-Connell wrote a review last year: “This is a generous book. Generous in the humour it delivers; generous in its story about love lost, family, and our fragility and hurt; generous in its embrace of contemporary New Zealand. I read it during lockdown and – without sounding too cliché or using adjectives from an undergraduate essay – it reminded me that it is OK to find humour in difficult times, and to find joy and acceptance amongst a whole lot of mess.”

6  Dune by Frank Herbert (Hodder, $28)

Now a movie starring Timothée Chalamet’s glower.  

7  Violeta by Isabel Allende (Bloomsbury, $37)

Isabel Allende’s twenty-first book. 

8  Love Marriage by Monica Ali (Simon & Schuster, $35)

“Yasmin Ghorami is 26, in training to be a doctor (like her Indian-born father), and engaged to the charismatic, upper-class Joe Sangster, whose formidable mother, Harriet, is a famous feminist. The gulf between families is vast. So, too, is the gulf in sexual experience between Yasmin and Joe.

“As the wedding day draws near, misunderstandings, infidelities, and long-held secrets upend both Yasmin’s relationship and that of her parents, a ‘love marriage’, according to the family lore that Yasmin has believed all her life.”

Hats off to a great publisher’s blurb.

9  Bloody Woman by Lana Lopesi (Bridget Williams Books, $40)

A local book of essays about being a Sāmoan woman, newly published and beautifully covered. We’ll let this short extract speak for itself. 

While I’m sceptical that a cute pair of earrings is enough to perform the ongoing acts needed for decolonisation, there is something tangibly powerful in reclaiming parts of oneself. I know the superpower that Nieves writes about from my own experiences of popping in a pair of faux-tortoiseshell hoops, or a recently bought pair of gold hoops made in the form of coral. They give you a charge that can pull you through a tough morning or help you take up space in an intimidating room. It also puts the moana or the fanua — whether literally or symbolically — next to your ears, like the ancestors can have a direct line to you.

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

The new novel by Turkish author Elif Shafak is partly narrated by a loquacious and wise fig tree. From the Washington Post (with a rude and distracting interjection from The Spinoff): “American readers [and presumably also New Zealand readers, eyeroll] unfamiliar with the tumultuous history of Cyprus will appreciate how gracefully Shafak folds in details about the violence that swept across the island nation in the second half of the 20th century. But this is not a novel about the cataclysms that reshape nations; it’s about how those disasters recast ordinary lives.”


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

The mightiest never fall.

Read our review, by Anahera Gildea, here.

2  Greta & Valdin by Rebecca K Reilly (Te Herenga Waka University Press, $35)

3  Leadership Levers: Releasing the Power of Relationships for Exceptional Participation, Alignment, and Team Results by Diana Jones (Routledge, $55)

Suspect you might be a bit of a shite leader? Go on, buy a self-help book. 

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

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

How can we best use our limited time on Earth? Oliver Burkeman gives us practical tips, historical context, and philosophical musings. “Our acceptance of finite time – of this being all there is – roughly coincided with clocking on and clocking off. This made time more pressured and precious. Most of our anxieties, Burkeman argues, derive from the fact that ‘every moment of our existence is shot through with what Heidegger called finitude’, or a nagging sense that we might be wasting what little time we have.”

You can thank the Guardian for that dose of existential dread.

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

Not only do you have limited time, you also can’t get off Instagram. 

7  Normal People by Sally Rooney (Faber, $23)

We tried to find something new to say about Normal People via the Google machine, and came away with this new Conversations with Friends TV show trailer instead. Enjoy your extra minute of procrastination.

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

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

Winner of both the 2012 Orange Prize and BookTok.

10  Cloud Cuckoo Land by Anthony Doerr (Simon & Schuster, $35)

A Spinoff 2021 favourite, sneaking back into the bestsellers for another round.

Keep going!