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Illustration of a white man lying on his back on a towel, T shirt tan lines coming through strong. Book open, face down, on his tummy.
(Image: Malte Mueller; Design: Archi Banal)

BooksFebruary 25, 2022

The Unity Books bestseller chart for the week ending February 25

Illustration of a white man lying on his back on a towel, T shirt tan lines coming through strong. Book open, face down, on his tummy.
(Image: Malte Mueller; Design: 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 Promise by Damon Galgut (Chatto & Windus, $37)

Your most recent Booker winner, now up for the Rathbones Folio Prize; a novel about the dissembling of a white South African family.

On page one a girl learns that her mother has died.

The moment the metal box speaks her name, Amor knows it’s happened. She’s been in a tense, headachy mood all day, almost like she had a warning in a dream but can’t remember what it is. Some sign or image, just under the surface. Trouble down below. Fire underground.

But when the words are said to her aloud, she doesn’t believe them. She closes her eyes and shakes her head … Nobody is dead. It’s a word, that’s all. She looks at the word, lying there on the desk like an insect on its back, with no explanation. 

2  To Paradise by Hanya Yanagihara (Picador, $38)

Sam Brooks has a theory about this and Yanagihara’s other meganovels, A Little Life and The People in the Trees. Read all about it right here on Sunday.

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

There’s really a self-help book for everything at this point, eh.

4   The Midnight Library by Matt Haig (Canongate, $33)

“This is a quaint little book. A quick read that I enjoyed.” David, bringing the pass-agg like a pro on GoodReads.

5  The Island Of Missing Trees by Elif Shafak (Viking, $37)

A story split across time and place, but grounded on Cyprus, in the shade of a sentient fig tree.

Per the Guardian: “The Island of Missing Trees asks us important questions about losing home, about coping and secrets. What do those of us who are immigrants do with our yesterdays? How are our children affected by our pain?”

6  Greta & Valdin by Rebecca K Reilly (Te Herenga Waka University Press, $35) 

There are 16 books longlisted for this year’s Ockham New Zealand Book Awards. Only one made it into these charts – and it’s here twice. We hereby crown Greta & Valdin the outright winner of the prestigious new category Book You Might Actually Want to Read.

7  Four Thousand Weeks: Time and How to Use It by Oliver Burkeman (Bodley Head, $38)

Alternatively, for advice on time management, you might ask anyone who parented while also homeschooling while also working through the Tāmaki Makaurau lockdown. Gurus all.

8  Dune by Frank Herbert (Hodder, $28)

Heaven is watching the new Dune in an empty, air-conditioned cinema on a scorching afternoon.

9  The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller (Bloomsbury, $25)

Published 11 years ago, resurrected by BookTok, solidly in the charts forevermore – also, it’s soulful and moving and a banging good yarn, told beautifully.

10  Violeta by Isabel Allende (Bloomsbury, $37)

No magical realism here, says the New York Times. Rather: “Bookended by pandemics – the Spanish flu and the Covid crisis – Violeta chronicles a feminist awakening amid twin repressive forces, the state and the domestic sphere, in passages whose sheer breadth is punctuated by sometimes stilted, explanatory dialogue.”


1  Museum by Francis Samuel (Te Herenga Waka University Press, $25)


For many years, poet Frances Samuel worked at a museum, writing the text for exhibitions. In her new book she redefines the notion of a museum, making it infinite and wild.

Like freewheeling thought experiments, Samuel’s poems blur the lines between material and immaterial, natural and supernatural, to funny and surreal effect. Objects of significance include water bears and tornadoes, ancient penguins and robots, and a paper-cut skeleton that walks off the page. 

2  Imagining Decolonisation by Rebecca Kiddle, Bianca Elkington, Moana Jackson, Ocean Ripeka Mercier, Mike Ross, Jennie Smeaton and Amanda Thomas (Bridget Williams Books, $15)

Again? Again!

3  Stolen Focus: Why You Can’t Pay Attention by Johann Hari (Bloomsbury, $35)

Because your BRAIN has just been through three years of SHITE, is why. Give the poor thing a minute.

4  Extinctions: Living and Dying in the Margin of Error by Michael Hannah (Cambridge University Press, $41)

Michael Hannah’s an associate professor at Vic yet this book, released last year, slipped entirely under our radar – possibly because it’s published offshore (by Cambridge University Press, no less). Nature called it a “measured, thought-provoking analysis” and Publisher’s Weekly, “nuanced” and “impressive” – albeit light on solutions.

5  Greta & Valdin by Rebecca K Reilly (Te Herenga Waka University Press, $35) 

6  Vā: Stories from Women of the Moana edited by Sisilia Eteuati and Lani Wendt Young (Tatou Publishing, $44)

Whoop! We’re huge fans of this collection, the first book from new indigenous press Tatou Publishing. It would make a gorgeous gift – gaze upon this cover, a portrait by Lalovai Peseta of his wife, Sāmoan artist Nikki Mariner-Peseta.

Book cover dominated by painting of Sāmoan woman, naked, sitting with arms clasped around drawn-up knees. All in tones of blues and blacks, absolutely mesmerising.
(Image: Supplied)

Sisilia Eteuati tells the origin story of Tatou and Vā in a powerful piece we published last month. Snippet:

“We didn’t just get a trickle of stories, we got a powerful wave, from women who had long awaited a chance like this, who trusted us with their strong and beautiful stories. Stories that came from across the moana with no colonial boundaries. We got stories from Cook Islander, Chamorro, Erub Islander (Torres Strait), Fijian, Hawaiian, Māori, Ni-Vanuatu, Papua New Guinean, Rotuman, Sāmoan and Tongan writers, who lived both on their own fanua and in far-flung places across the world. Stories from established award-winning authors and poets, and from first-timers. This spoke to the depth of relationships long nurtured. It spoke to the trust and aroha between all of us tamaita’i, tusitala and wāhine writers.”

Congratulations Tatou and all who sail with her.

7  House of Sky and Breath by Sarah J Maas (Bloomsbury, $33)

The second in the Crescent City series, a sequel to House of Earth and Blood. Big, enticing. Our review copy arrived the other day and we’re saving it as a special treat for knocking off the Ockhams longlist, some of which (but not all) are books you really might want to actually read.

8  The Promise by Damon Galgut (Chatto & Windus, $37)

9  The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller (Bloomsbury, $25)

10 To Paradise by Hanya Yanagihara (Picador, $38)

Keep going!