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This week’s chart-topping novels. (Image: Tina Tiller)
This week’s chart-topping novels. (Image: Tina Tiller)

BooksNovember 24, 2023

The Unity Books bestseller chart for the week ending November 24

This week’s chart-topping novels. (Image: Tina Tiller)
This week’s chart-topping novels. (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 The Bee Sting by Paul Murray (Hamish Hamilton, $37)

It’s certainly won the popularity vote (and our tender hearts), but will The Bee Sting win The Booker Prize? We’ll find out in a few short days.

2 Good Material by Dolly Alderton (Fig Tree, $37)

A novel reminiscent of Nick Hornby’s High Fidelity and Helen Fielding’s Bridget Jones’s Diary, written by the author of Everything I Know About Love. Readers on Goodreads are well pleased: “Gosh, I really, really, really loved this book!” “Dolly did it again. She’s a queen. I cried, I laughed. I was literally glued to the book for 24 hours. No one writes about love and heartbreak like Dolly Alderton does.”

3 The Year of the Locust by Terry Hayes (Bantam $38)

The long-awaited sequel to I Am Pilgrim. In their recent best crime and thrillers roundup, The Guardian writes: “The Year of the Locust starts promisingly, as CIA agent Ridley Kane is tasked with entering Iran by stealth in order to obtain a heads-up about a spectacular act of global terrorism. With vivid descriptions, some terrific action sequences and lashings of suspense, the book ticks all the boxes necessary for a superior geopolitical thriller … there is plenty to entertain and distract you while you drum your fingers.”

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

A staple of the bestsellers for over a year now – and a lovely Christmas-themed read. 

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

Sam Brooks writes on The Spinoff that The Creative Act packs plenty of inspiration, but little practical advice: “I put down the book feeling a little bit better about my own creativity, but with very few specific thoughts on the creative act. And that’s from someone who was taking notes!”

6 Killers of the Flower Moon by David Grann (Simon & Schuster, $29)

Now a very long movie starring Leonardo DiCaprio. 

7 The Narrow Road Between Desires by Patrick Rothfuss (Gollancz, $40)

A new illustrated novella from the Kingkiller Chronicle universe, expanded from the author’s 2014 short story The Lightning Tree. Now, for context… fans have been waiting for the third novel in Rothfuss’s Kingkiller Chronicle trilogy (which this is not) since The Wise Man’s Fear was published twelve years ago. Since then, Rothfuss has struggled with deadlines and disappointed his readers. The Goodreads page for The Narrow Road Between Desires reads like a courtroom of public opinion, where fans and ex-fans battle it out. 

8 Iron Flame by Rebecca Yarros (Sphere, $38)

More fantasy shooting through the bestsellers! Iron Flame is book two in the Empyrean series. Think dragon riding and war college.

9 Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones by James Clear (Random House Business, $40)

Look who’s back! Atomic Habits never stays away for long, especially once the fumes of the New Year start to creep up on us.

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

From Kirkus Reviews: “…its true joys lie in the tremendously witty characters and their relationships: The real love story of this novel is not between James and Dr. Byrne, or Rachel and her own paramour, but between Rachel and James, whose codependent glee in each other’s company will remind many readers of their own college friendships, especially those between women and queer men. A sensational new entry in the burgeoning millennial-novel genre.”


1 Bird Life by Anna Smaill (Te Herenga Waka University Press, $38)

The new novel by local writer Anna Smaill, whose debut The Chimes was longlisted for the Booker Prize in 2016. Other novelists are in love:

“Bird Life is a marvel. A beautifully lyrical tale of loss, grief, and madness, whose central characters are so deftly drawn that you find yourself breathlessly following them down. Magically strange yet horribly real.” — Mat Osman

“Bird Life is an astonishing book about grief, beauty and survival… the writing enters your bloodstream like a strange and wonderful drug.” — Emily Perkins

Our review, coming soon.

2 The Year of the Locust by Terry Hayes (Bantam $38)

3 State of Threat: The Challenges to Aotearoa New Zealand’s National Security edited by Wil Hoverd & Deidre Ann McDonald (Massey University Press, $50)

Fancy a spot of light reading? Unless you’re a policy analyst or risk manager, this may not be for you. State of Threat is a new book exploring the international and domestic security threats for Aotearoa. Shivers. 

4 The Observologist: A Handbook for Mounting Very Small Scientific Expeditions by Giselle Clarkson (Gecko Press, $40)

A playful, illustrated guide for young natural scientists. Or, the perfect Christmas gift for the 10-year-old in your life who is constantly poking around for insects with a stick. 

5 Unruly: The Ridiculous History of England’s Kings and Queens by David Mitchell (Crown, $42)

British history meets comedy. 

6 Doppelganger: A Trip into the Mirror World by Naomi Klein (Allen Lane, $42)

The new Naomi Klein, author of No Logo and This Changes Everything. FYI: Naomi Klein is not Naomi Wolf.

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

8 End Times by Rebecca Priestley (Te Herenga Waka University Press, $35)

A magnificent new book from a writer who effortlessly grafts the personal, to the local and global. “End Times interweaves the stories of these two periods in Rebecca’s life, both of which have at heart a sleepless fear of the end of the world. Along the way she asks: Why do people hold on to some ideas but reject others? How do you engage with someone whose beliefs are wildly different from your own? And where can we find hope when it sometimes feels as if we all live on a fault line that could rupture at any moment?”

9 The Crewe Murders: Inside New Zealand’s Most Infamous Cold Case by Kirsty Johnston & James Hollings (Massey University Press, $45)

In 1970, young couple Harvey and Jeannette Crewe were murdered in their Pukekawa farmhouse. There have been two trials, a finding of police corruption, and the New Zealand government’s only free pardon, but the case remains cold. In a great review, Kete Books writes: “In an interview published to promote the book, Johnston says she was especially moved by the story of Jeannette, who was just 30 when she died. Perhaps for the first time, Harvey and Jeannette are seen here not just as victims, but as people. A brilliantly researched and compelling look at one of our most significant unsolved cases, one that also gives readers a fascinating peek into our cultural and legal history.” 

10 Tongariro National Park: An Artist’s Field Guide by Desmond Bovey (Potton & Burton, $40)

The landscapes, plants and wildlife of Tongariro National Park are explored in over 400 illustrations and in-depth descriptions by wonderful nature artist Desmond Bovey. 

Keep going!