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(Image: Tina Tiller)
(Image: Tina Tiller)

BooksApril 21, 2023

The Unity Books bestseller chart for the week ending April 21

(Image: Tina Tiller)
(Image: 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 Birnam Wood by Eleanor Catton (Victoria University Press, $38)

If you’re after a cinematic page-turning eco-thriller that reads like Austen then this is the novel for you. Also note that Catton is touring in May to Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch so you can get all your Birnam Wood-y questions answered IRL.

2 Cleopatra and Frankenstein by Coco Mellors (Fouth Estate, $25)

Kirkus Reviews says: “But the humor doesn’t overwhelm the melancholy heart of the story: At its core, it’s a novel about how love and lovers are easily misinterpreted and how romantic troubles affect friends and family. A canny and engrossing rewiring of the big-city romance.”

3 Small Things Like These by Clare Keegan (Faber & Faber, $25)

This small masterpiece was shortlisted for the Booker Prize. Here’s what the judges had to say about it: “The book is not so much about the nature of evil as the circumstances that allow it. More than Furlong’s quiet heroism, it explores the silent, self-interested complicity of a whole community, which makes it possible for such cruelty to persist. It forces every reader to ask what they are doing about the injustices that we choose not to think about too closely. Astonishingly, Keegan achieves this without ever sounding angry or preachy.”

4 Romantic Comedy by Curtis Sittenfeld (Doubleday, $37)

From the author of Rodham, a novel that reimagined the life of Hilary Clinton, comes a story that takes on the delights, dramas and disasters of the RomCom genre.

“The purer pleasure of her zingy new novel deserves more widespread approval. Romantic Comedy – a title of impressively Ronseal-like clarity – is tighter than Rodham but it’s ambitious too, navigating with unfussy panache tricky yet somehow already well-tilled terrain such as Covid-19 and modern celebrity as well as writing itself, a subject few novels manage to portray without accusations of self-indulgence.” – The Guardian.

We’re intrigued.

5 The Creative Act: A Way of Being by Rick Rubin (Canongate, $60)

Tricks of the trade from famed music producer.

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

The Booker winner! Read Himali McInnes’ review here (and congratulations to Himali for being shortlisted for the Commonwealth Short Story Prize 2023!)

7 Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin (Chatto & Windus, $37)

Fans of this widely lauded novel, did you know that you can flock over to see Zevin live at Auckland Writers Festival next month? See you there.

8 If We Were Villains by M. L. Rio (Affirm Press, $25)

Curious. This novel was first published in 2018 to rave reviews. Here’s the blurb:

“On the day Oliver Marks is released from jail, the man who put him there is waiting at the door. Detective Colborne wants to know the truth, and after ten years, Oliver is finally ready to tell it.

A decade ago: Oliver is one of seven young Shakespearean actors at Dellecher Classical Conservatory, a place of keen ambition and fierce competition. In this secluded world of firelight and leather-bound books, Oliver and his friends play the same roles onstage and off: hero, villain, tyrant, temptress, ingénue, extras.

But in their fourth and final year, good-natured rivalries turn ugly, and on opening night real violence invades the students’ world of make-believe. In the morning, the fourth-years find themselves facing their very own tragedy, and their greatest acting challenge yet: convincing the police, each other, and themselves that they are innocent.”

9 Imagining Decolonisation by Rebecca Kiddle, Bianca Elkington, Moana Jackson, Ocean Ripeka Mercier, Mike Ross, Jennie Smeaton and Amanda Thomas (Bridget Williams Books, $18)

Welcome back to one of the oldest and dearest friends of this list.

10 How Do You Live? by Genzaburo Yoshino (Rider Books, $37)

This is an old novel (1937) with a fascinating story of renewal and revival, which you can read on the Japan Times right here.


1 Birnam Wood by Eleanor Catton (Te Herenga Waka University Press, $38)

2 Did I Ever Tell You This? by Sam Neill (Text, $55)

3 Biter by Claudia Jardine (Auckland University Press, $25)

A glorious, rousing new collection that takes inspiration from some sexy Classical poetry. Read Jardine’s potted history and preview some poems here.

4 Tiny Statements: A History of Aotearoa New Zealand in Badges by Claire Regnault & Stephanie Gibson (Te Papa Press, $45)

A fascinating little book with badge after interesting badge tracking movements, communities, history and memories. Look out for an excerpt from the book coming to The Spinoff soon.

5 Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus (Transworld, $26)

The one about the chemist.

6 The Creative Act: A Way of Being by Rick Rubin (Canongate, $60)

7 The Bookbinder of Jericho by Pip Williams (Affirm Press, $37)

A novel that will light the fire within any bibliophile: a book about books and bookish people! Yes please. Rather adore this little vid of the author hand-binding a copy of the novel (complete with comically over-the-top dramatic effect soundtrack.)

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

9 Rat King Landlord: Renters’ Edition by Murdoch Stephens (Lawrence & Gibson, $2)

One of the most radical, beautiful, lush publishing projects of the year. Learn more here.

10 Imagining Decolonisation by Rebecca Kiddle, Bianca Elkington, Moana Jackson, Ocean Ripeka Mercier, Mike Ross, Jennie Smeaton and Amanda Thomas (Bridget Williams Books, $18)

Keep going!