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Image design: Tina Tiller.
Image design: Tina Tiller.

BooksApril 19, 2024

The Unity Books bestseller chart for the week ending April 18

Image design: Tina Tiller.
Image 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 Hemingway’s Goblet by Dermot Ross (Mary Egan Publishing, $38)

Hot off the press, this debut local novel by lawyer Dermot Ross celebrates its release date today. Here’s the author’s note: “Like many lawyers I have spent the whole of my career writing documents and letters, and so it is a natural stretch to think that one can write a book, fiction or non-fiction. About five years ago I decided it would be good fun to write a novel. 

I had the idea of writing something about Hemingway, being so well-known and a larger-than-life figure. I started researching him, and read several articles and biographies, and thought about tying a fictional character into Hemingway’s own fictional character, Harris, in The Sun Also Rises. 

My Hemingway research has taken me in all sorts of directions. I have about 50 books, which I describe as my Hemingway collection, consisting of his works, biographies and criticisms of him, and I am a member of a number of popular Hemingway Facebook sites. I even attended the conference of the Hemingway Society in Montana and Wyoming in July 2023. To research the book, I visited all of the places in Spain featured in the book (San Sebastian, Burguete, Pamplona and Alicante).”

Sounds like our kind of research.

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

A stalwart of this year’s chart. The most recent review on Good Reads is a conflicted response by Emma, who says:

“three things:

1) i did not like any of these three main characters to start, and i grew to intensely dislike them

2) i could not put this book down

3) it has been 4 months since i read this book, i cannot in good faith put this review off any longer, and i still do not know if i liked this or not.

that’s all i got.

bottom line: you take the wins with the losses in this life.”

3 Burma Sahib by Paul Theroux (Hamish Hamilton, $37)

The second novel on this list about a novelist: this one is about Orwell.

4 Trust by Hernan Diaz (Picador, $28)

From Kirkus Reviews: “Pulitzer finalist Diaz’s ingenious second novel – following In the Distance (2017) – opens with the text of Bonds, a Wharton-esque novel by Harold Vanner that tells the story of a reclusive man who finds his calling and a massive fortune in the stock market in the early 20th century. But the comforts of being one of the wealthiest men in the US – even after the 1929 crash – are undone by the mental decline of his wife. Bonds is followed by the unfinished text of a memoir by Andrew Bevel, a famously successful New York investor whose life echoes many of the incidents in Vanner’s novel.”

5 Prophet Song by Paul Lynch (Bloomsbury, $37)

Booker Prize winner! If you haven’t read it yet, here’s a snippet from the Kirkus Reviews’ pithy rundown: “As Ireland devolves into a brutal police state, one woman tries to preserve her family in this stark fable. For Eilish Stack, a molecular biologist living with her husband and four children in Dublin, life changes all at once and then slowly worsens beyond imagining. Two men appear at her door one night, agents of the new secret police, seeking her husband, Larry, a union official. Soon he is detained under the Emergency Powers Act recently pushed through by the new ruling party, and she cannot contact him. Eilish sees things shifting at work to those backing the ruling party. The state takes control of the press, the judiciary. Her oldest son receives a summons to military duty for the regime, and she tries to send him to Northern Ireland. He elects to join the rebel forces and soon she cannot contact him, either.”

6 A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara (Picador, $25)

Whoa, blast from the past! If you haven’t read this novel first published in 2015, then do be warned: it is not an easy read. Here’s a smart warning/appraisal from a New Yorker response to the book: “But the clearest sign that A Little Life will not be what we expect is the gradual focus of the text on Jude’s mysterious and traumatic past. As the pages turn, the ensemble recedes and Jude comes to the fore. And with Jude at its center, “A Little Life” becomes a surprisingly subversive novel—one that uses the middle-class trappings of naturalistic fiction to deliver an unsettling meditation on sexual abuse, suffering, and the difficulties of recovery. And having upset our expectations once, Yanagihara does it again, by refusing us the consolations we have come to expect from stories that take such a dark turn.”

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

The Booker Prize shortlisted novel beloved by many. For a fulsome analysis, go to this article in Irish lit journal, The Stinging Fly.

8 AMMA by Saraid De Silva (Hachette, $38)

The multi-generational novel set between New Zealand, London and Singapore that is about to launch in the UK, too. Read Brannavan Gnanalingam’s review on The Spinoff, here.

9 The Three-Body Problem by Cixin Liu (Head of Zeus, $25)

If you’re a “book before the movie/TV series” person then you’ll be wanting to get this one down you before you binge the Netflix adaptation. Once you’ve done both, you’ll appreciate this exceptionally thorough analysis of the merits and flaws of the storytelling over on The Conversation, here

10 Until August by Gabriel García Márquez (Viking Penguin, $40)

This abandoned final novel from the writer of Love in the Time of Cholera was published against Márquez’s wishes. For more, and more about the book, here’s an article all about it on The Guardian.


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

2 The Three-Body Problem by Cixin Liu (Head of Zeus, $25)

3 Lioness by Emily Perkins (Bloomsbury, $37)

The superb novel about a middle-age reckoning (currently shortlisted for the fiction prize at the Ockhams; up against Stephen Daisley, Eleanor Catton and Pip Adam). Here’s slice from books editor Claire Mabey’s review here on The Spinoff: “Set in New Zealand in the years directly preceding the Covid-19 pandemic, Lioness hones in on the well-padded domestic life of Therese Thorn and steadily upsets it. We first meet Therese in bed having sex with her big-shot property developer husband, Trevor. It’s a terrific opening, to be so immediately plunged into the whirlwind of intimacy and the signposts of a complex struggle that mark the story from here on in.”

4 Murdle: Solve 100 Devilishly Devious Murder Mystery Logic Puzzles by G T Karber (Souvenir Press, $37)

Sold on the name alone? Us too. Here’s the publisher’s blurb:

“Bored of Wordle? Try being a sleuth with these murder mystery puzzles. G T Karber, the creator of the popular online daily mystery game Murdle, presents a collection of 100 original murder mystery logic puzzles – the perfect gift for armchair detectives and puzzlers to hone their minds and solve a crime.

– Who committed the ghastly deed?
– What weapon was used to dispatch the victim?
– Where did the calculated demise occur?

Join Deductive Logico and investigate murders most foul in Murdle.

These humorous mini-mystery puzzles challenge you to find whodunit, how, where, and why. Examine the clues, interview the witnesses, and use the power of deduction to complete the grid and catch the culprit. Packed with illustrations, codes, and maps, this is the must-have detective casebook for the secret sleuth in everyone.”

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

One of two memoirs that made it into the general nonfiction shortlist for this year’s Ockhams is a poignant and punchy portrait of mother and daughterhood intertwined with experiences of the medical system as a Māori medical student. Timely, beautifully written: read an excerpt here.

6 Trust by Hernan Diaz (Picador, $28)

7 Lola in the Mirror by Trent Dalton (4th Estate, $37)

Fans of Trent Dalton can see him live next month at Auckland Writers Festival, and in Wellington with Verb Wellington & Wellington City Mission, and in Christchurch with WORD Christchurch.

8 Butter by Asako Yuzuki (4th Estate, $35)

A cult hit in Japan has finally been translated. It’s a crime novel inspired by a true story… here’s the blurb: 

“There are two things that I can simply not tolerate: feminists and margarine.

Gourmet cook Manako Kajii sits in Tokyo Detention Centre convicted of the serial murders of lonely businessmen, who she is said to have seduced with her delicious home cooking. The case has captured the nation’s imagination but Kajii refuses to speak with the press, entertaining no visitors. That is, until journalist Rika Machida writes a letter asking for her recipe for beef stew and Kajii can’t resist writing back.

Rika, the only woman in her news office, works late each night, rarely cooking more than ramen. As the visits unfold between her and the steely Kajii, they are closer to a masterclass in food than journalistic research. Rika hopes this gastronomic exchange will help her soften Kajii but it seems that she might be the one changing. With each meal she eats, something is awakening in her body, might she and Kaji have more in common than she once thought?

Inspired by the real case of the convicted con woman and serial killer, ‘The Konkatsu Killer’, Asako Yuzuki’s Butter is a vivid, unsettling exploration of misogyny, obsession, romance and the transgressive pleasures of food in Japan.”

9 Atomic Habits by James Clear (Century, $40)

That habits book that’s about changing really small things.

10 Easy Wins by Anna Jones (4th Estate, $60)

Really delicious food that is very easy. Make yourself hungry with this preview in Vogue.

Keep going!