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Image: Archi Banal
Image: Archi Banal

BooksJanuary 20, 2023

The Unity Books bestseller chart for the week ending January 20

Image: Archi Banal
Image: Archi Banal

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, $29)

This slim volume is the gift that keeps on giving: a favourite of this very list returns for 2023. Long may it last.

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

#newyearnewme vibes from this book with the subtitle “An easy and proven way to break bad habits & build good ones” and the sticker that says “over 1 million copies sold” (actually it’s now surpassed 3 million copies). By many accounts Clear’s advice is excellent with a plethora of five star reviews on Good Reads. So go on and get breaking and making.

3  Before the Coffee Gets Cold by Toshikazu Kawaguchi (Picador, $23)

Hello again old friend.

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

Hurrah! The delights of G & V continue into 2023 as word of mouth travels the country like literary osmosis. If you haven’t yet delved into the escapades of siblings Greta and Valdin who adventure in life and love in Auckland and beyond, then, you simply must. Join us, friend. Welcome back G & V!

5  Reason Not To Worry: How To Be Stoic in Chaotic Times by Brigid Delaney (Allen & Unwin, $28)

Yesterday’s really big news may prove a catalyst for a swath of us needing to head to the bookshop for some self-help in the worry department. And even besides the political upheaval, January is the month of fingers-sweating-into-the-work-computer whilst your eyes gaze longingly at the sunshine while part of your mind worries and worries about whether it’s maybe too hot? Crisis level hot? Delaney and the ancient philosophy of Stoicism are here to help. This from the publisher’s blurb:

“So into the past we go with Brigid Delaney, to a time not unlike our own: one full of pandemonium, war, plagues, pestilence, treachery, corruption, anxiety, overindulgence, and – even back then – the fear of a climate apocalypse. By living and learning the teachings of three ancient guides, Seneca, Epictetus and Marcus Aurelius, Brigid shows us how we can apply their lessons to our modern lives in a way that allows us to regain a sense of agency and tranquillity.”

Sounds lovely.

6  Klara and the Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro (Faber & Faber, $25)

The latest from Ishiguro, one of the greatest novelists of our time and the master of quietly devastating stories (think Never Let Me Go; The Remains of the Day, and all the other novels the Nobel-Prize winner has ever written). You’ll fall for AI narrator, Klara, and her life of companionship, service and insight into what it even means to be human.

7  Lucy by the Sea by Elizabeth Strout (Viking Penguin, $37)

The third instalment in the Lucy books by the beloved writer of Olive Kitteridge. In this novel, Lucy and ex-husband William escape the pandemic in New York by ensconcing together in Maine. Written in the first person, in diary-sized chunks, it is a beautifully sensitive, poignant observation of relationships both, old and new, in times of great uncertainty and change.

8  Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus (Doubleday, $37)

Smash hit novel about a chemist-turned-cooking show host in the 1960s. Elizabeth Zott is a character so compelling we’ll be seeing her on TV soon, apparently.

9  Kurangaituku by Whiti Hereaka (Huia Publishers, $35)

A welcome return to the top 10 from last year’s big winner in the fiction stakes. This atmospheric, innovative, moving novel is a tour-de-force from one of our best writers. For more accolades read essa may ranapiri’s response to Kurangaituku, right here.

10  Grand: Becoming My Mother’s Daughter by Noelle McCarthy (Penguin, $35)

Widely lauded as one of the best memoirs of 2022, this taut book packs a punch, covering mother-daughter relationships; alcoholism; gothic literature; grief; love; and broadcasting. Read our review of Grand here.


1  Spare by Prince Harry (Bantam, $65)

Wellingtonians can’t get enough of this lengthy spill by the royal “spare”, it seems. Look out for a review of Prince Harry’s memoir right here on The Spinoff Books, very soon.

2  Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus (Doubleday, $37)

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

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

5  Before the Coffee Gets Cold by Toshikazu Kawaguchi (Picador, $23)

6  Seven Moons of Maali Almeida by Shehan Karunatilaka (Sort of Books, $37)

Excellent to see the Booker Prize winner from 2022 back in the list for 2023. Read our review here, and an interview with Karunatilaka, right here.

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

First published in 2011, this beautiful, heart-breaker of a novel re-telling the love story between Achilles and Patroclus in the midst of the Trojan war continues to be a must-read among must-reads.

8  Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman (Penguin, $26)

This novel came out in 2020 and has been a perennial fave ever since. If you like TV shows like Midsomer Murders and Only Murders in the Building then you’ll enjoy this villagey, murdery romp.

9  Bunny: A Novel by Mona Awad (Head of Zeus, $25)

This from Margaret Atwood really sells it:

10  The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid (Simon & Schuster, $25)

If you need a dose of olde worlde Hollywood glamour then this story of ageing film star Evelyn Hugo unravelling her life story to down-but-not-quite-out reporter Monique Grant is for you. Good little twist in there, too.

Keep going!