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BooksJune 23, 2023

The Unity Books bestseller chart for the week ending June 23

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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.

AUCKLAND

1 Demon Copperhead by Barbara Kingsolver (Faber & Faber, $28)

“At the time, I thought my life couldn’t get any worse. Here’s some advice: Don’t ever think that.” ― Barbara Kingsolver, Demon Copperhead

If you were thinking of re-telling a Dickens novel, which one would you pick? Barbara Kingsolver’s version of David Copperfield has so far won her this year’s Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and the Women’s Prize for Fiction winner this 2023. 

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

Claire Keegan has published four books and every single one of them has been a ripper. If you’re among the few who hasn’t yet experienced her work then what are you waiting for? 

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

With the catastrophic cuts to humanities departments across universities, which limits the capacity to teach critical thinking and culture, maybe DIY via Rubin is the way to go. 

4 Shards by Bret Easton Ellis (Allen & Unwin, $37)

According to a scan of Good Reads review, fans and Easton Ellis noobs alike are loving Shards. We particularly like this snippet from Kirkus Reviews: “The usual issues with Ellis apply to this bulky novel: The flatness of the characters, the gratuitousness of the violence, the Didion-esque cool that sometimes reads as Olympian smugness. But as the story proceeds, it also becomes easier to admire Ellis’ ability to sustain the mood—his characters might, as Bret says, “look at everything through this prism of numbness,” but he does ably capture how Bret’s paranoia intensifies out of that emotional distance and how the urge for feeling and connection infects and warps his personality. Bret Ellis the character is trying to play it cool, but Bret Easton Ellis the author knows just how much he’s covering up.

A surprisingly seductive work of erotic horror.”

The Axeman’s Carnival by Catherine Chidgey (Te Herenga Waka University Press, $35)

The rural gothic classic by one of our finest and most prolific writers. You’ll never look at magpies the same way again. 

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

A real mainstay of this very list, Clear clearly offers sound advice on how to kick your tiresome habits and, like, live better. 

7 The Covenant of Water by Abraham Verghese (Grove Press, $38)

One of three novels in this list that use a double narrative set in different time periods (the others being Pet and Shards). Enjoy this tantalising segment from The Guardian review: “Verghese’s debut novel, Cutting for Stone, was widely praised and stayed on the New York Times bestseller charts for more than two years. The Covenant of Water, published 14 years later, has the aspirations of an epic; a saga of births, deaths and everything in between happening in cycles. The plot turns on climate catastrophes, diseases and accidents, punctuating the novel’s 10 sections, each calamity tragic, riveting and pivotal to the story.”

8 Time Shelter by Georgi Gospodinov (Weidenfeld & Nicholson, $33)

“An unnamed narrator is tasked with collecting the flotsam and jetsam of the past, from 1960s furniture and 1940s shirt buttons to scents, and even afternoon light. But as the rooms within the clinic become more convincing, an increasing number of healthy people seek refuge there, hoping to escape the horrors of modern life – a development that results in an unexpected conundrum when the past begins to invade the present. Soon, entire countries want to emulate the idea, with referendums taking place to decide which particular version of the past will shape each nation’s future.” This absolutely stonking novel from Bulgarian Georgi Gospodinov, and translated by Angeal Rodel is the winner of the International Booker Prize 2023. 

9 The Bookbinder of Jericho by Pip Williams (Affirm Press, $38)

Excellent to see this lovely novel back in the bestsellers. Take a trip back to the precarious years of World War I and join twin sisters Peggy and Maude as they navigate life and work in a whole new world.

10 Pet by Catherine Chidgey (Te Herenga Waka University Press, $38)

She’s done it again! Two novels in the bestseller lists! Catherine Chidgey is receiving rave reviews all around town for this novel about the lasting impacts of a psychologically abusive teacher. Our review is coming this weekend. 

WELLINGTON

1 Pet by Catherine Chidgey (Te Herenga Waka University Press, hardback $50, paperback $38)

2 Demon Copperhead by Barbara Kingsolver (Faber & Faber, $28)

3 Axeman’s Carnival by Catherine Chidgey (Te Herenga Waka University Press, $35)

4 Turncoat by Tihema Baker (Lawrence & Gibson, $35)

Lawrence & Gibson’s latest release is a ripping sci-fi that explores colonisation via an intergalactic allegory. If you need further convincing, please see Shanti Mathias’ excellent review, right here. And a sample: “Baker has not written a subtle book; he wanted to write about alienation, so he used literal aliens. But his characterisation of Daniel allows the parody to operate on one level while also speaking to the emotional shape that colonisation creates for individuals. This novel offers a way for people who don’t have to think about these things daily to wonder: what is it like to have your land taken from you? How does it feel to only have access to pieces of your ancestor’s lives, meat pies and fizzy drinks, rather than the wholeness of how they lived, who they were?”

5 Fungi of Aotearoa: A Curious Forager’s Field Guide by Liv Sissons (Penguin NZ, $45)

Glorious from start to finish, this is the in-depth book about all the mushrooms around us that you clearly did know you needed, judging by the bestsellers lists at all. Go, little mushroom, go!

6 Pageboy by Elliot Page (Doubleday, $40)

The highly anticipated, “brutally honest” memoir from actor Elliot Page (star of hit film, Juno). An insight thanks to this excellent review in the Washington Post: “In crucial ways, ‘Pageboy’ is in conversation with that sentiment: Some of us don’t get to have the life we want. In the book, the Canadian actor, who publicly came out as transgender in 2020, charts the tremendous emotional and psychological effort it took for him to confront suffocating social messaging about gender and sexuality. Viewed in this light, Page’s book, which arrives at a moment of heightened anti-queer hostility, as Republican legislators across the United States push a record number of bills chiseling away at LGBTQ+ people’s rights, is many things at once: memoir, yes, but also cultural analysis and civil rights cri de coeur.”

7 Yellowface by Rebecca Kuang (Borough Press, $35)

Big news in the publishing sector, this novel by the superb mind behind the novel Babel, takes on racism in the industry. Here’s the rather thrilling publisher’s blurb:

Athena Liu is a literary darling. June Hayward is literally nobody.

White lies

When Athena dies in a freak accident, June steals her unpublished manuscript and publishes it as her own under the ambiguous name Juniper Song.

Dark humour

But as evidence threatens June’s stolen success, she will discover exactly how far she will go to keep what she thinks she deserves.

Deadly consequences…

What happens next is entirely everyone else’s fault.

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

Charming from start to finish. Read before you watch!

9 Winter’s Gifts by Ben Aaronovitch (Orion, $45)

A slim, entertaining, crimey, si-fi blend that you’ll be able to read in one sitting.

10 We’re All Made of Lightning by Khadro Mohamed (Tender Press, $25)

Hurrah! Local poet and winner of the Best First Book Award for poetry in this year’s Ockham’s is back on the list. Have a read of this poem, and this to get a taste for Mohamed’s exquisite, powerful voice. 

Keep going!