Senior woman holding a cup of tea and a book, looking delighted
(Photo: Eva-Katalin via Getty)

The Unity Books bestseller chart for the week ending March 19

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  Klara and the Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro (Faber & Faber, $37)

Ishiguro has won the Nobel Prize and the Booker, is appearing via livestream at the Auckland Writers Festival in May, and has just released a new novel. In summary, we’re all very excited.

Here’s a taster:

“I should confess here that for me, there’d always been another reason for wanting to be in the window which had nothing to do with the Sun’s nourishment or being chosen. Unlike most AFs, unlike Rosa, I’d always longed to see more of the outside – and to see it in all its detail. So once the grid went up, the realisation that there was now only the glass between me and the sidewalk, that I was free to see, close up and whole, so many things I’d seen before only as corners and edges, made me so excited that for a moment I nearly forgot about the Sun and his kindness to us.”

2  One: Pot, Pan, Planet: A Greener Way to Cook for You, Your Family and the Planet by Anna Jones (4th Estate, $55)

Anna Jones’ vegetarian cookbooks are just like her food – wholesome, comforting, and elegant. One is focused on food that’s simple to make and planet-friendly, and includes over 200 weeknight recipes (dhal with tamarind sweet potatoes, Persian noodle soup, rosti with ancho chilli chutney – drool) plus tips for eating sustainably and reducing waste.

She also writes a great blurb, the cosy kind that makes it feel like the recipe is from a friend. All in all, a very good One (get it?) to add to the collection. We published an extract from the book, late summer corn and tomato curry, last week, and there are two more coming.

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

“Nora Seed feels useless. Her cat is dead, her brother doesn’t seem to be interested in her, and she has been fired: nobody needs her. Late one evening, she tries to kill herself.

But instead of death, what Nora finds is a library in which each volume represents a version of her life where she made different choices. The possibilities are numberless. There is a Nora who became a rock star, another who has won Olympic medals, another living aboard an Arctic research vessel … All she has to do to step into that life is open the book” – the Guardian

4  The Devils You Know by Ben Sanders (Allen & Unwin, $33)

Youngster, North Shore resident and part-time engineer Ben Sanders is at it (enviable success) again with his new thriller.

5  The Soul of a Woman by Isabel Allende (Bloomsbury Circus, $25)

Kirkus: “Approaching 80, Allende offers wise thoughts on aging, romance, sex, love, and, above all, her feminism – which began in kindergarten, when she saw her mother, abandoned with three small children, forced to become dependent on men.”

6  The Committed by Viet Thanh Nguyen (Little, Brown and Company, $38)

The highly anticipated sequel to Nguyen’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel The Sympathizer. Our unnamed narrator goes from double agent in the Vietnam War to refugee and drug dealer in Paris.

Is it as good as its predecessor? Well, the New York Times says the first hundred pages are “better than anything in the first novel”, while the second half is “shaggy, shaggy, shaggy”. Take from that what you will.

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

A 2011 romp in Ancient Greece that’s still selling like it was only published yesterday.

“Miller has combined scholarship with imagination to turn the most familiar war epic into a fresh, emotionally riveting and sexy page-turner. Patroclus follows Achilles into battle, but it is their magnificent and very modern love story that makes this an epic” – the Independent

8  The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse by Charlie Mackesy (Penguin Random House, $40)

A lovely, touching, uber-cute book of drawings and life lessons about four friends. Charlie’s drawings have been compared to Winnie the Pooh and are guaranteed to make your heart (or your kid’s heart, or your grandad’s heart) melt like cheese in a toastie press.

9  Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro (Faber & Faber, $25)

Ishiguro’s entirely incredible dystopian novel from 2005. Read this, Klara and the Sun, and Remains of the Day, then lie awake wondering which superb Ishiguro book is best.

10  This Pākehā Life: An Unsettled Memoir by Alison Jones (Bridget Williams Books, $40)

Recently shortlisted for the general non-fiction prize at the Ockham New Zealand Book Awards, This Pākehā Life is Alison Jones’ memoir about identity and “becoming and being Pākehā”.


1  Where We Swim by Ingrid Horrocks (Victoria University Press, $35)

“Where We Swim is a book about family that travels by water in the body of a swimmer. Horrocks is someone with an appetite for adventure but she is also the mother of young children and daughter of older parents. She brilliantly contrasts heady plunges of bodily experience with chilling alarms about family. This book is filled with wanderlust, but also homesickness for a past when our waterways didn’t have high coliform counts and Wellington’s bays weren’t soupy with salp, and for the whole swimmable world it so vividly remembers” – Elizabeth Knox

2  Klara and the Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro (Faber & Faber, $37)

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

There you are again, friend – Imagining Decolonisation never stays off the list for long.

4  Clanlands: Whisky, Warfare, and a Scottish Adventure Like No Other by Graham McTavish and Sam Heughan (Hodder & Stoughton, $35)

Two actors from the Outlander TV series have written a book about the history and culture of the Highlands while road tripping and drinking many a glass of whisky. A combination of fun jaunts in the countryside and the history of massacres and battles, described winkingly by the Scotsman as an “unashamedly masculine affair”.

5  The Soul of a Woman by Isabel Allende (Bloomsbury Circus, $25)

6  Aroha: Māori Wisdom for a Contented Life Lived in Harmony with our Planet by Hinemoa Elder (Penguin Random House, $30)

Wisdom is still going (and selling) strong. We’ll take this as a positive sign.

7  One: Pot, Pan, Planet: A Greener Way to Cook for You, Your Family and the Planet by Anna Jones (4th Estate, $55)

8  Her Say: Survivors of Domestic Abuse Tell Their Own Stories by Jackie Clark and the Aunties (Penguin Random House, $35)

“This powerful new book features the stories of a number of very different New Zealand women, told their way. The collected stories chart their narrators’ lives and personal histories, through the lens of having lived with – and escaped – an abusive relationship” – publisher’s blurb

9  This Pākehā Life: An Unsettled Memoir by Alison Jones (BWB, $40)

10  The Treaty of Waitangi | Te Tiriti o Waitangi: An Illustrated History by Claudia Orange (Bridget Williams Books, $50)

This is stating the obvious, but … a beautifully illustrated history of the Treaty of Waitangi. Less obvious? Claudia Orange first published this book in 1987, and this is the third edition.

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