(Image: Archi Banal)
(Image: Archi Banal)

BooksSeptember 22, 2023

The Unity Books bestseller chart for the week ending September 22

(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  The Creative Act: A Way of Being by Rick Rubin (Canongate, $50)

We suppose it’s time to read The Creative Act ourselves now, because after seeing it on the bestsellers for what feels like a thousand years, we’re tapped out of creative things to say about it. 

2  Elon Musk by Walter Isaacson (Simon & Schuster, $70)

We all know about Musk. Here’s what makes the new biography by Walter Isaacson – also the biographer of Steve Jobs, Albert Einstein, and many others – different: “​​For two years, Isaacson shadowed Musk, attended his meetings, walked his factories with him, and spent hours interviewing him, his family, friends, coworkers, and adversaries. The result is the revealing inside story, filled with amazing tales of triumphs and turmoil, that addresses the question: are the demons that drive Musk also what it takes to drive innovation and progress?”

Thanks, publisher’s blurb! Tantalising. 

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

Small and magical, set in 1980s Ireland during the leadup to Christmas. 

4  The Last Devil to Die by Richard Osman (Viking, $37)

The fourth instalment of the stunningly successful Thursday Murder Club series – as illustrated by the Telegraph: “Richard Osman’s first three Thursday Murder Club mysteries are among the 10 bestselling hardback novels since UK records began; I ­suspect only nuclear armageddon or an outbreak of antibiotic-resistant plague can prevent this fourth entry in the series from muscling onto the list. Clearly no other novelist ­working today can come up with anything to match the pleasure of spending time with Joyce, Elizabeth, Ibrahim and Ron as they pore over the details of unsolved murders in the Jigsaw room at Coopers Chase retirement village.”

5  The Wren, The Wren by Anne Enright (Jonathan Cape, $37)

The new novel from fabulous Irish Booker Winner Anne Enright. Twinning at fifth place in Wellington, too. 

6  The Rachel Incident by Caroline O’Donoghue (Knopf, $38)

What do we have here? Yet another Irish novel, winning hearts and minds! This from the Washington Post: “O’Donoghue demonstrates such sympathy for that universal moment in every young person’s life when they detach ‘from any kind of inherited moral system’ and confront first loves, first jobs, first deaths. But she’s also rooted that story to a very specific historical moment of cultural upheaval, after the Celtic Tiger crashed and the only thing the Irish economy seemed able to produce was a surfeit of gloom. She conveys what it felt like to solidify one’s character when the old standards were in flux. In particular, she allows her heroine to be deeply uncomfortable with the practice of abortion and just as deeply outraged that the procedure was not available in Ireland. It’s that social complexity that raises this engaging comedy of manners into something more profoundly satisfying.”

7  Demon Copperhead by Barbara Kingsolver (Faber, $28)

Barbara Kingsolver’s modern retelling of David Copperfield. 

8  So Late in the Day by Claire Keegan (Faber & Faber, $30)

If Small Things Like These is small and magical, Claire Keegan’s new novella is even smaller (and we’ll leave you to decide if it’s also more magical).

9  Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus (Doubleday, $26)

The bestselling novel, and soon an Apple TV drama series starring Brie Larson. The series trailer has recently been launched, and just like that – we’re back in bestseller list business. 

10  Tom Lake by Ann Patchett (Bloomsbury, $35)

If you loved Lessons in Chemistry, you’ll probably love Tom Lake too – after all, Bonnie Garmus did: “Filled with the moments I live for in a story”.


1  The Last Devil to Die by Richard Osman (Viking, $37)

2  Annie & Moon / Ko Annie rāua ko Marama by Miriam Smith, illustrated by Lesley Moyes, translated by A. T. Mahuika (Puffin, $21)

It’s a true rarity for a children’s book to launch its way up the bestseller list, and this new te reo Māori translation of 1989’s Picture Book of the Year is just the ticket. Miriam Smith’s story stars a young girl and her little black cat, as her mother tries to find them a new home.

3  The Fraud by Zadie Smith (Hamish Hamilton, $37)

It feels like yonks since Zadie Smith graced us with a new novel! It’s been seven years, in fact, since Swing Time. The Fraud is Smith’s first historical novel, set in Victorian Britain and exploring the 1873 Tichborne Trial and the life of novelist William Ainsworth, through the eyes of his sometimes-lover and housekeeper, Eliza Touchet.

From the Guardian: “Smith presents a coruscating picture of twin societies in flux, the ways in which 19th-century England and Jamaica were “two sides of the same problem, profoundly intertwined”, joined at the hip by Andrew Bogle’s “secret word”: slavery. But she is also devastatingly good on the lesser delusions, the ways in which we are consistently blind to our own privileges. We see Ainsworth raucously debate the abolition of slavery with Charles Dickens, William Thackeray and other prominent literary men in his Kensal Lodge drawing room, while Mrs Touchet quietly refills their glasses with port.”

4  When Life Sucks by Dr Jo Prendergast (HarperCollins, $38)

A practical, humorous guide to parenting teenagers. Dr Jo is a psychiatrist and comedian, so just what you need when getting grunted at by a 15-year-old. 

5  The Wren, The Wren by Anne Enright (Jonathan Cape, $37)

6  On The Record by Steven Joyce (Allen & Unwin, $38)

Steve Joyce’s new memoir, focused on his time as Mr Fix-it for the Key Government. 

7  Kia Mau: Resisting Colonial Fictions by Tina Ngata (Left of the Equator, $15)

Tina Ngata’s 2019 work is back! At around the same time as Kia Mau’s publication, Tina wrote a brilliant essay for The Spinoff – you can check it out right here.

8  Edmonds Taku Puka Tohutao Tuatahi by Goodman Fielder (Hachette, $28)

The illustrated Edmonds, now in te reo and with seven new recipes. 

9  Te Reo Kapekape: Māori Wit and Humour by Hona Black (Oratia, $40)

Looking to make your reo a little more cheeky and humourous, call someone a “sheep’s brain” or tell them to get lost? Hona Black’s got you. 

10  Scattershot: Life, Music, Elton and Me by Bernie Taupin (Monoray, $40)

The new memoir of Bernie Taupin, Elton John’s long-time collaborator and lyricist. The reviews are outstanding (even orgasmic):

“This is the most glorious of books. I am besotted by the life I never knew he had.” – Elton John

“Orgasmic. Every page of Scattershot is a delight, a joy, a name-dropper fan’s delight. Divine. I couldn’t put it down.” – Pete Townshend

“In Bernie Taupin’s miraculous memoir Scattershot you’ll meet legends, cowboys, geniuses, unforgettable faces in the night, shady purveyors of outrageous fortune, warriors of the heart, and most of all, Taupin himself. Hilarious and so emotionally true, Scattershot is like a letter from a cherished friend. You’ll want to keep it close, so you can read it again and again.” – Cameron Crowe

“Touching. Charming. Humble. Witty. And exquisitely written. Taupin’s words need no musical accompaniment. They sing with a poets voice.” – Gary Oldman

Keep going!