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Image: Archi Banal
Image: Archi Banal

BooksApril 28, 2023

The Unity Books bestseller chart for the week ending April 28

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

Eleanor Catton’s third book is a rip-roaring ride through a troublingly realistic dystopian Aotearoa featuring a billionaire who wants to get even richer; irritating leftists; irritating right-wingers; and innocent native birds. Read our rave review of the novel here, and see Eleanor live in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch this May. 

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

We’re wondering if this marvel of a book will be on this list until Christmas 2023? Let’s wait and see.

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

Catherine Chidgey’s tour-de-force, Ockham-Book-Awards-Shortlisted novel narrated by a magpie called Tama is back on the list ahead of the Ockhams ceremony in a few weeks. Will the bird take out the fiction prize? Who knows! We will, soon. And we’ll let you know. 

4 Cleopatra and Frankenstein by Coco Mellors (Fourth Estate, $25)

Tiktok sensation Coco Mellors’ book has been sitting pretty here for a while now. Here’s the publishers’s blurb: 

“New York is slipping from Cleo’s grasp. Sure, she’s at a different party every other night, but she barely knows anyone. Her student visa is running out, and she doesn’t even have money for cigarettes. But then she meets Frank. Twenty years older, Frank’s life is full of all the success and excess that Cleo’s lacks. He offers her the chance to be happy, the freedom to paint, and the opportunity to apply for a green card. She offers him a life imbued with beauty and art—and, hopefully, a reason to cut back on his drinking. He is everything she needs right now. 

Cleo and Frank run head-first into a romance that neither of them can quite keep up with. It reshapes their lives and the lives of those around them, whether that’s Cleo’s best friend struggling to embrace his gender identity in the wake of her marriage, or Frank’s financially dependent sister arranging sugar daddy dates after being cut off. Ultimately, this chance meeting between two strangers outside of a New Year’s Eve party changes everything, for better or worse.”

5 Before the Coffee Gets Cold by Toshikazu Kawaguchi  (Picador, $23)

Anyone out there remember the Chicken Soup for the Soul books? Before the Coffee Gets Cold is like the 2020s version of that 90s phenomenon. If you haven’t read it and you’re bemused, here’s what it’s about:

“In a small back alley in Tokyo, there is a cafe which has been serving carefully brewed coffee for more than one hundred years. But this coffee shop offers its customers a unique experience: the chance to travel back in time. In Before the Coffee Gets Cold, we meet four visitors, each of whom is hoping to make use of the cafe’s time-travelling offer, in order to: confront the man who left them, receive a letter from their husband whose memory has been taken by early onset Alzheimer’s, to see their sister one last time, and to meet the daughter they never got the chance to know. But the journey into the past does not come without risks: customers must sit in a particular seat, they cannot leave the cafe, and finally, they must return to the present before the coffee gets cold … Toshikazu Kawaguchi’s beautiful, moving story explores the age-old question: what would you change if you could travel back in time? More importantly, who would you want to meet, maybe for one last time?”

6 Pineapple Street by Jenny Jackson (Hutchinson, $37)

A new entry! And a fantastic cover, too. Jackson’s novel is about rich people in New York and with puff quotes from the likes of Helen Fielding (Bridget Jones’ Diary) and Kevin Kwan (Crazy Rich Asians) – we’re guessing this is pithy social criticism with a healthy dose of fantasy and bubbly one-liners. The Guardian review says: “Smart and clever, minutely observed and packed with one-liners, Pineapple Street is a more complicated read than it looks.”

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

The latest from the author of American Psycho.

8 Bunny by Mona Awad (Head of Zeus, $25)

“Wickedly sharp, if not altogether pleasant, it’s a near-perfect realization of a singular vision—and definitely not for everyone.” – Kirkus Reviews

9 Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin (Chatto & Windus, $37)

This widely beloved novel is a warm hug on a cold day. Here’s what it’s about: “Two kids meet in a hospital gaming room in 1987. One is visiting her sister, the other is recovering from a car crash. The days and months are long there. Their love of video games becomes a shared world — of joy, escape and fierce competition. But all too soon that time is over, fades from view.

When the pair spot each other eight years later in a crowded train station, they are catapulted back to that moment. The spark is immediate, and together they get to work on what they love – making games to delight, challenge and immerse players, finding an intimacy in digital worlds that eludes them in their real lives. Their collaborations make them superstars.”

10 The New Life by Tom Crewe (Penguin, $37)

A rich and beautiful historical novel about homophobia in Victorian England at the time of Oscar Wilde’s arrest and imprisonment. Read an extract online here.


1 Deep Colour by Diana Bridge (Otago University Press, $25)

The eighth poetry collection from the acclaimed writer. From the publisher:

“Whether remembering a friend, describing a child’s first steps, or observing her surroundings – a tree, a painting, the flashing fin of a goldfish, a simple everyday object like a lamp or a bowl – Bridge is finely attuned to the here-and-now. ‘While it lived,’ she writes, ‘it was intensity itself.’”

2 Birnam Wood by Eleanor Catton (Te Herenga Waka University Press, $38)

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

Already adapted in to a TV show (Apple TV+), so you better read now before you watch! If you play by those rules, that is.

4 Greek Lessons By Han Kang (Hamish Hamilton, $40)

The latest, stunning novel from the author of The Vegetarian and Human Acts. A snippet from the NPR review: “Greek Lessons will feel like a departure from Kang’s previous English-translated novels. It’s an intimate and vulnerable portrayal of two lonely, middle-aged characters who can’t help but gravitate toward each other. The reading experience is like that of watching a quiet indie film that tugs little by little at your heartstrings until you’re rendered speechless with both sadness and hope by the final pages.”

5 Did I Ever Tell You This? by Sam Neill (Text, $55)

The memoir from the actor and all round nice fella.

6 The Bookbinder of Jericho by Pip Williams (Affirm Press, $37)

The second novel from the author of The Dictionary of Lost Words is a story based on archival footage of the book binders of Oxford University Press.

7 Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin (Chatto & Windus, $37)

8 Waiter in Paris by Edward Chisholm (Monoray, $28)

A former French waiter reveals some fairly unsavoury memories from their time in the world of fine dining.

9 Landed by Sue McCauley (David Bateman, $38)

The new novel from legendary Aotearoa author of Other Halves is about life after the death of a long-term partner. Listen to McCauley talk about the book on RNZ here.

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

Keep going!