All the stars for Freya Daly Sadgrove and her book Head Girl. Photographed by Ebony Lamb, starred by Tina Tiller

The Unity Books bestseller chart for the week ending 21 February

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  Before the Coffee Gets Cold by Toshikazu Kawaguchi (Picador, $20)

What is going on, Auckland? Is it just the price tag?

2  Boy Swallows Universe by Trent Dalton (Fourth Estate, $25)

“I’m a journalist who has written thousands of words about the most harrowing stories about Australian life in the suburbs … tragedy, violence, trauma, upheaval, betrayal, death, destruction, families, abandonment, drugs, crime, hope and healing, no hope, no healing … and I’m often reminded by my gut that kicks from the inside sometimes how my own mother’s life story remains the most harrowing story I’ve ever had the strange and often unsettling honour of being a significant part of.” – the author, on Harper Collins’ website.

3  2000ft Above Worry Level by Eamonn Marra (Victoria University Press, $30)

Highly highly recommended. Funny as hell, also sad, and reads exactly like a collection of creative non-fiction essays. Which we love.

4  Head Girl by Freya Daly Sadgrove (Victoria University Press, $25)

“The first time I read Freya’s work I thought … uh oh. And then I thought, you have got to be kidding me. And then I thought, God f**king dammit. And then I walked around the house shaking my head thinking … OK – alright. And then – finally – I thought, well well well – like a smug policeman. Listen – she’s just the best. I’m going to say this so seriously. She is, unfortunately, the absolute best. Trying to write a clever blurb for her feels like an insult to how right and true and deadly this collection is.” – Hera Lindsay Bird.

5  A Long Petal of the Sea by Isabel Allende (Bloomsbury, $37)

” … one of the most richly imagined portrayals of the Spanish Civil War to date, and one of the strongest and most affecting works in her long career.” – the New York Times

6  Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman (HarperCollins, $25)

Also in comfort reads: Marian Keyes’ new one Grown Ups.

7  Where The Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens (Little, Brown Book, $25)

Nature, thriller. Pairs beautifully with the below.

8  The Overstory by Richard Powers (Vintage, $26)

In parts it feels like you’re huddling in the tent just before the asteroid hits at the end of Melancholia and in other parts it feels like you’re on a perfect beach, content, staring at the blue blue horizon.

9  The Memory Police by Yoko Ogawa (Harvill Secker, $35)

“First published in Japan in 1994 and one of more than 40 works of fiction and non-fiction by Yōko Ogawa, The Memory Police is finely translated by Stephen Snyder and reaches English-language readers as if sent from the future. Ogawa’s weightless and unadorned prose weaves a world where memory is always associative; we remember not just the object itself but what it conjures. Birds are byways to flight, lightness, quickness, youth, song, mornings, twilights, migrations … ” – the Guardian, in a review that also calls this novel “a masterpiece”.

10 The Honjin Murders by Seishi Yokomizo (Pushkin Press, $23)

Another resurrection. This is a giant of a book, the first of 77 (!!) in the Kosuke Kindaichi series. It won the inaugural Mystery Writers of Japan Award in 1948 and is published now for the first time in English.


1  Head Girl by Freya Daly Sadgrove (Victoria University Press, $25)

2  2000ft Above Worry Level by Eamonn Marra (Victoria University Press, $30)

3  The Absolute Book by Elizabeth Knox (Victoria University Press, $35)

VUP with the trifecta!

4  Boy Swallows Universe by Trent Dalton (Fourth Estate, $25)

5  The Book of Overthinking by Gwendoline Smith (Allen & Unwim, $25)

“Down the spiral of negative thinking I go. It’s a bit like flushing myself down a toilet – and I may as well do that, for all the good it does.”

6  All Who Live on Islands by Rose Lu (Victoria University Press, $30)

“To prepare the dish, the carp is gutted and split in half, but left unscaled. Seasonings are rubbed onto the fish before it is tossed into a roaring pot of oil. As the scales cook, they soften but keep a firm hold of the flesh underneath, contracting, curling and changing to a wan yellow.”

7  Girl, Woman, Other by Bernadine Evaristo (Penguin Books, $40)

We’ve finally got a review up, here.

8  Agency by William Gibson (Viking, $37)

I mean you can see the appeal – it’s set in a parallel universe where Trump lost.

9  We Are Here: An Atlas of Aotearoa by Chris McDowall & Tim Denee (Massey University Press, $70)

“Like tiny tangles of wool, the squiggles on this page show where Marmite, Zeus, Smudgy Bum and 100 other cats ventured over seven days.”

10 Actress by Anne Enright (Jonathan Cape, $35)

“Another triumph for Enright: a confluence of lyrical prose, immediacy, warmth, and emotional insight.” – Kirkus Reviews.

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