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Some of this week’s bestsellers at Unity Books.
Some of this week’s bestsellers at Unity Books.

BooksMay 31, 2024

The Unity Books bestseller chart for the week ending May 31

Some of this week’s bestsellers at Unity Books.
Some of this week’s bestsellers at Unity Books.

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 A Life Less Punishing: 13 Ways to Love the Life You’re Given by Matt Heath (Allen & Unwin, $38)

A moving, thoughtful, beautifully written series of essays by renaissance man Matt Heath who is well known to Radio Hauraki listeners, readers of his NZ Herald column and viewers of his various TV appearances (Taskmaster, The Back of the Y). A Life Less Punishing is well-read, lovingly crafted, and above all: really useful.

2 Table For Two by Amor Towles (Random House, $38)

A sneakily entertaining assortment of tales,” says Kirkus Reviews.

3 Kairos by Jenny Erpenbeck (Granta, $28)

This year’s International Booker Prize winner is a heady novel set in 1980s Berlin. Here’s the blurb: “Berlin. 11 July 1986. They meet by chance on a bus. She is a young student, he is older and married. Theirs is an intense and sudden attraction, fuelled by a shared passion for music and art, and heightened by the secrecy they must maintain. But when she strays for a single night he cannot forgive her and a dangerous crack forms between them, opening up a space for cruelty, punishment and the exertion of power. And the world around them is changing too: as the GDR begins to crumble, so too do all the old certainties and the old loyalties, ushering in a new era whose great gains also involve profound loss.”

4 Prophet Song by Paul Lynch (Oneworld Publications, $25)

The other Booker Prize winner.

5 Earth by John Boyne (Doubleday, $35)

Rather love this review from Tania over on Good Reads: “Earth is the second in a series of four loosely connected books. I adored the first book, Water, but for some reason I didn’t have that same connection with this one, which is strange because normally I love all things John Boyne. It may be that the writing in Earth was harsher and the upsetting scenes more vividly described compared to his other novels, or it may be because I’m sick in bed with swine flu.”

6 The Covenant of Water by Abraham Verghese (Grove Press, $40)

A 700+ page intergenerational epic that has Good Readers dishing out 4 stars, and 5, with only a few reservations about the length: “If only the editor had had the nerve to EDIT.”

7 Long Island by Colm Tóibín (Picador, $38)

The sequel to Brooklyn, set 20 years where Eilis’s life left off. 

8 Before We Say Goodbye by Toshikazu Kawaguchi (Picador, $25)

The fourth novel in the Before the Coffee Gets Cold series.

Here’s the blurb: “The regulars at the magical Cafe Funiculi Funicula are well acquainted with its famous legend and extraordinary, secret menu time travel offering. Many patrons have reunited with old flames, made amends with estranged family, and visited loved ones. But the journey is not without risks and there are rules to follow. Travellers must have visited the cafe previously and most importantly, must return to the present in the time it takes for their coffee to go cold.”

9 Lioness by Emily Perkins (Bloomsbury Circus, $25)

The 2024 Jann Medlicott Acorn Prize for Fiction winner at the Ockham NZ book Awards!

10 All Fours by Miranda July (Canongate, $37)

What a title. This is polymath artist Miranda July’s second novel and this time it’s all about mid-life. An excellent companion, perhaps, to Lioness, above. The Guardian’s Eva Wiseman wrote a fantastic profile on July, here


1 Lioness by Emily Perkins (Bloomsbury, $25)

2 Max by Avi Duckor-Jones (Affirm Press, $38)

A coming-of-age novel from the first winner of Survivor NZ, Avi Duckor-Jones. Here’s the blurb: “Max is about to finish high school. On the surface it appears he has everything, but underneath he is floundering. Grappling with questions about his birth parents and his sexuality, he feels that there is a seed of badness deep within him that will inevitably be exposed.

After an incident at the end-of-year party sets Max’s world to crumbling, he must finally figure out who he is and where he came from – and who he is allowed to love.

Max is a vivid and insightful coming-of-age novel about the ways we weave the threads of our adolescent identities into a cohesive adult self.”

3 Long Island by Colm Tóibín (Picador, $38)

4 Kairos by Jenny Erpenbeck (Granta, $28)

5 All Fours by Miranda July (Canongate, $37)

6 The Financial Colonisation of Aotearoa by Catherine Comyn (Economic & Social Research Aotearoa, $30)

Superbly reviewed by Max Harris over on Overland, here.

7 AUP New Poets 10: Tessa Keenan, romesh dissanayake, Sadie Lawrence edited by Anne Kennedy (AUP, $30)

The latest in the series that showcases the freshes poetic voices in Aotearoa. Here’s the blurb: “Looking out from today at a landscape peopled with her tūpuna, Tessa Keenan (Te Ātiawa) writes poems filled with quiet rage and remarkable lyricism. Meanwhile romesh dissanayake plays with language to explore food, family and edgy romance, from post-war Sri Lanka to Aotearoa. And, at just 20, Sadie Lawrence reveals the excitement and anguish of being young in a complicated world: ‘My love stands in the laundromat, Sunday best with blistered hands.’”

8 Table For Two by Amor Towles (Random House, $38)

9 Ash by Louise Wallace (Te Herenga Waka University Press, $30)

Books editor Claire Mabey’s pick for novel of the year (so far): read her review, here.

10 First Things by Harry Ricketts (Te Herenga Waka University Press, $35)

A beautifully written recollection of first loves, festivals, schools, heartbreaks, sexual encounters, and marriages from beloved poet and teacher Harry Ricketts. Look out for a spicy excerpt from First Things coming to The Spinoff this long weekend. 

Keep going!