Image: Archi Banal
Image: Archi Banal

BooksJanuary 27, 2023

The Unity Books bestseller chart for the week ending January 27

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  Small Things Like These by Claire Keegan (Grove Press, $25)

Everyone’s chowing down on fiction and page-turner memoirs this month, and this quiet, beautifully written novella set in small town 1985 Ireland is one we’re pleased as punch to see riding it out at the top.

2  Spare by Prince Harry (Bantam, $65)

The one and only tell-all royal memoir, which the media has already told all about. Here’s a little sample from Linda Burgess’s wonderfully salty review, right here on The Spinoff. 

“We’re all part of this; you’re meant to take sides. Go on – the Cambridges or the Sussexes? Di or Camilla? The late Queen or God? I guess we need the royal family of Britain like we need the Kardashians, like we used to need television soap operas. We’re small-minded nitwits who just like being appalled. We just like other people behaving badly – divorcing, fighting, storming off, being hurt, sulking, reconciling, displaying casual racism, giving each other biros for Christmas, gifting lowlier family members cottages with such low-slung ceilings that tall people bang their heads. Playing dirty.”

3  Klara and the Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro (Faber & Faber, $23)

One of 2021’s best reads, from one of the world’s best novelists. #WeLoveYouIshiguro

4  The Secret History by Donna Tartt (Penguin, $28)

This dark, wonderful, murderous, rich campus novel is our go-to easy answer to the question “What’s your favourite book?” Kudos to bringing this 1992 modern classic back to the bestsellers, Auckland.

5  I Want To Die But I Want To Eat Tteokbokki by Baek Sehee (Bloomsbury, $33)

After huge fanfare in South Korea, this excellently-titled therapy memoir has found its way to our shores. Part memoir, part self-help book, Sehee has transcribed conversations with her psychiatrist to share her experience with depression and anxiety. Important note: tteokbokki is hot, spicy rice cake, and now we’re all hungry.

6  The Bookseller at the End of the World by Ruth Shaw (Allen & Unwin, $37)

An eventful and emotion-filled memoir by Manapouri bookseller, environmentalist and Navy deserter Ruth Shaw. Pascal from planet Goodreads writes, “Perfect combination of adventure & wholesomeness.”

7  It Ends With Us by Colleen Hoover (Simon & Schuster, $23)

The sequel to romance novel It Starts With Us.

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

The only thing that Auckland and Wellington can agree on this week: it’s January, so time for self-betterment and yet another round of Atomic Habits.

9  The Opposite of a Person by Lieke Marsman (Daunt Books, $23)

The recently translated debut novel from the current Dutch Poet Laureate, which the Guardian describes as “the most modern book you could read”.

10  I’m Glad My Mom Died by Jennette McCurdy (Simon & Schuster, $45)

Nickelodeon child star Jenette McCurdy’s memoir about the abuse she experienced at the hands of her mother and iCarly producer Dan Schneider – and how she came out the other side. Slate writes, “McCurdy’s I’m Glad My Mom Died was an instant #1 bestseller, with the first printing selling so fast that many major retailers quickly went out of stock. Nickelodeon Kids have scrambled to get their hands on this book. Whether iCarly aired during their Nickelodeon years was irrelevant. People were simply dying to know: Why did this woman hate her mother so much, and what the hell happened at Nickelodeon?”


1  Bunny by Mona Awad (Head of Zeus, $32)

A bizarre, gothic, rompy campus novel from 2019 that’s blown up massively in the last few months. This glimpse into why, from the Washington Post: “Gotta admit, Awad is a stone-cold genius line by line. Visceral. Spare. Descriptions so accurate they feel invasive; like she reached in and grabbed the smartest darkest thought inside your head. The Duchess grips Samantha’s hand during a reading ‘as if she’s seeing [her] through a birth.’ When the perfect Bunny girls stare at Samantha and her secret crush, Ava, she writes about ‘their eyes taking us in like little mouths sipping strange drinks.’ Samantha’s ex had a slow, sexy voice she describes so perfectly it can’t be printed in a family newspaper, but believe me it’ll make you hot. Girl knows her way around a metaphor.”

2  The Seven Moons of Maali Almeida by Shehan Karunatilaka (Sort of Books, $37)

The 2022 Booker Prize Winner, set in 1989 Sri Lanka during the bloody Civil War and narrated by the recently assassinated Maali Almeida. Himali McInnes paints a picture of Karunatilaka’s chaotic afterlife in her review for The Spinoff: “dispiritingly bureaucratic, with endless counters, harried staff, and wailing customers – so typical of all those subcontinental government departments that took British red tape and added a whole lot of chaos and spice. It’s also a blended, pluralistic afterlife. There’s a bit of reincarnation, a bit of Purgatory, and some rather beastly demons – the Mahakali, speaking in the voice of a legion of lost souls and wearing a belt of severed fingers, is particularly gruesome. Colombo is crowded with ghouls that hang off buses and gather on rooftop terraces to bemoan their former lives. The eyes of suicides shift from green to yellow, while other ghosts influence the living by whispering nasty things in their ears. The minister of justice has a swaggering, thuggish demon protecting him, while a dead communist insurgent plots revenge against the powerful.”

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

A darn good local novel, and like all darn good novels, it’s narrated by a magpie. (It was also, in what might be a world first, reviewed by a magpie.)

4  The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid (Simon & Schuster, $23)

The ageing (and fictional) Old Hollywood star Evelyn Hugo recounts her life and seven husbands.

5  Terry Pratchett: A Life with Footnotes by Rob Wilkins (Doubleday, $40)

The official biography of the wonderful Terry Pratchett, written by his former assistant and friend. Reviewers (and Neil Gaiman) are giving it all the shiny golden stars, including Catherine Robertson who wrote everything she has in common with Terry Pratchett, right here.

“Wilkins has pulled off the extraordinary feat of writing an ‘authorised’ biography which is nonetheless as frank, funny and unsentimental as anything its subject might have produced himself.” Mail on Sunday

“A moving and acutely observed account . . . by the man who knew him best.” The Sunday Times

“Always readable, illuminating and honest. It made me miss the real Terry.” Neil Gaiman

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

7  Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus (Doubleday, $37)

A runaway hit of a novel about chemist-turned-cooking show host Elizabeth Zott, and Stuff’s number one recommendation for bach (sadly not beach, RIP sunshine) reading.

8  The Man Who Died Twice by Richard Osman (Penguin, $26)

Osman’s mystery novels and delightful retiree cast are really doing the rounds on the bestsellers. The first, The Thursday Murder Club, featured in the last list – we expect the third in the series to crop up next week.

9  A Waiter in Paris by Edward Chisholm (Endeavour, $38)

A new memoir about being an English waiter in Paris, which Fortune described as “Kitchen Confidential for Generation Z.” Some more tantalising detail from the publisher’s blurb:

“A waiter’s job is to deceive you. They want you to believe in a luxurious calm because on the other side of that door…is hell.

“Edward Chisholm’s spellbinding memoir of his time as a Parisian waiter is the perfect summer read. It takes you below the surface of one of the most iconic cities in the world and right into its glorious underbelly.

“He inhabits a world of inhuman hours, snatched sleep and dive bars; scraping by on coffee, bread and cigarettes, often under sadistic managers, with a wage so low you’re fighting your colleagues for tips. Colleagues – including thieves, narcissists, ex-Legionnaires, paperless immigrants, wannabe actors and drug dealers – who are the closest thing to family that you’ve got.”

10  Demon Copperhead by Barbara Kingsolver (Faber & Faber UK, $37)

Plop David Copperfield into a modern day Appalachian trailer park, get a literary wizard like Kingsolver behind the steering wheel, and you’ve got yourself a very fine, rather glum summer read.

Keep going!