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Image: Tina Tiller
Image: Tina Tiller

BooksFebruary 23, 2024

The Unity Books bestseller chart for the week ending February 23

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 Bird Child and Other Stories by Patricia Grace (Penguin, $37)

The latest from one of our best ever writers. Jade Kake’s review revels in the choice Grace-esque lines: “Grace’s use of language is masterful. A few favourites ‘thin figure of his wife in the white bed, teeth and eyes breaking out of her face’ to describe the point of view character’s wife in ‘Matariki All-Stars’. Some fishy metaphors appear in [the story] ‘Boils’ – ‘her bottom eyelids pulled down as if by little fish hooks with the red bait showing…’ and ‘a face daubed and fish-looking, piping thin air again before disappearing…’ Another favourite from the same story ‘she was thin and papery, with a torn, scrap face, a crumple of lemony hair, and watery eyes which looked as though they had been pushed in with dirty thumbs.’”

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

We’re going to need to send Claire Keegan a trophy for the longest stint on the Unity Bestsellers list, ever.

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

What will be the result of all this reading about how to live creatively? 

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

Welcome back to today, old friend!

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

The novel of the summer. Here’s snippet from the rave Guardian review: “It can’t be overstated how purely pleasurable The Bee Sting is to read. Murray’s observational gifts and A-game phrase-making render almost every page – every line, it sometimes seems – abuzz with fresh and funny insights, but always in the service of advancing the story. He dials right down the self-referential shenanigans of The Mark and the Void, though this too is a very finely patterned novel, every character’s arc a funhouse reflection of another’s. We see them needing to be seen, and loved; the tragedy of the book is how that doesn’t happen, and how the choices the central figures make end up being exploited by minor characters who are vulnerable in turn.”

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

Are the people buying Atomic Habits also purchasing The Creative Act?

Lola in the Mirror by Trent Dalton (Harper Collins, $37)

Trent Dalton’s latest tear jerker. From the publisher’s blurb: “A girl and her mother have been on the run for sixteen years, from police and the monster they left in their kitchen with a knife in his throat. They’ve found themselves a home inside a van with four flat tyres parked in a scrapyard by the edge of the Brisbane River.

The girl has no name because names are dangerous when you’re on the run. But the girl has a dream. A vision of a life as an artist of international acclaim. A life outside the grip of the Brisbane underworld drug queen ‘Lady’ Flora Box. A life of love with the boy who’s waiting for her on the bridge that stretches across a flooding, deadly river. A life beyond the bullet that has her name on it. And now that the storm clouds are rising, there’s only one person who can help make her dreams come true. That person is Lola and she carries all the answers. But to find Lola, the girl with no name must first do one of the hardest things we can ever do. She must look in the mirror.”

Days at the Morisaki Bookshop by Satoshi Yagisawa (Bonnier Publishing, $32)

A romance for people who are in love with books and their stores.

Poor Things by Alasdair Gray (Bloomsbury, $25)

The book that spawned the movie that spawned the award nominations and the return of Mark Ruffalo.

Birnam Wood by Eleanor Catton (Victoria University Press, $38)

Welcome back hit crime novel from 2023! Will Birnam Wood make it to the Ockhams shortlist? We’ll find out on 6 March.


1 Kitten by Olive Nuttall (Te Herenga Waka University Press, $30)

Ray at Scorpio Books says: “Hot, uncomfortable, challenging, hopeful (and did I mention hot?). I inhaled this short, intense novel about a trans woman who travels home to Hamilton to attend to a family crisis. Past trauma is explored with a casual nuance that I found unnerving and profoundly engaging. I will keep thinking about this book for weeks and months to come, and am already looking forward to a re-read.”

We heartily agree. Inhaled.

2 Bird Child & Other Stories by Patricia Grace (Penguin, $37)

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

Welcome back to Kingsolver’s hard-hitting, prize-winning retelling of David Copperfield.

4 Lioness by Emily Perkins (Bloomsbury, $37)

This novel about a mid-life reckoning made it onto our menopause reading list (as well as the longlist for the Ockhams … we expect to see it on the shortlist too).

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

6 Red Side Story by Jasper Fforde (Hodder & Stoughton, $38)

Fun Ffact: every year, Fforde fans hold the Fforde Fiesta and revel in the zany world of his many novels. 

7 Prophet Song by Paul Lynch (Oneworld, $37)

The Booker Prize winner of 2023. We’re looking forward to seeing whether Auckland Writers Festival keeps up their tradition of hosting the Booker Winner every year… we’ll find out in March when the programme launches.

8 Kai and Kindness by Jane & Paul Rangiwahia (Huia Publishers, $55)

The latest cookbook from Huia Publishers, who say: “Brother and sister health advocate and artist Paul and cook Jane have combined their skills to produce a book that nourishes the body and the mind. Their aim is to help start conversations about health and emotional wellbeing and promote positive action – whether it is in the kitchen or in the mind. The book is richly illustrated with the recipes and Paul’s artworks, and Paul’s inspiring ‘A Mental W.O.F’ frames short discussions about aspects of emotional and mental health. Jane’s delicious recipes are no fuss and focus on making food to share with friends and family. Jane and Paul say, ‘The body goes where the mind goes, and they go well when they are both nourished.’”

9 Big Fat Brown Bitch by Tusiata Avia (Te Herenga Waka University Press, $30)

Tusiata Avia is the winner of the 2023 Prime Minister’s Award for Literary Achievement in Poetry. If you’re in Wellington this weekend you can go and see her in the Aotearoa New Zealand Festival of the Arts’ writers programme in three events; and experience her phenomenal show, The Savage Coloniser next week, too.

10 Turncoat by Tīhema Baker (Lawrence & Gibson, $35)

Tīhema Baker is talking about his timely, hit novel at the Aotearoa New Zealand Festival of the Arts this weekend – tickets here.

Keep going!