The Unity Books bestseller chart for the week ending February 25


The only best-selling independent books chart published and available in New Zealand is the Top 10 list recorded each week at Unity Books stores in High St, Auckland and Willis St, Wellington.


1 The promise by Damon Galgut (Chatto & Windus, $37)

Your newest Booker winner, now in the running for the Rathbones Folio Prize; a novel about the cover-up of a white South African family.

On the first page, a girl learns that her mother has died.

The moment the metal box says its name, Amor knows it’s happened. She’s been in a tense mood and a headache all day, almost like she’s received a warning in a dream, but can’t remember what it is. A sign or image, just below the surface. Problem downstairs. Underground fire.

But when the words are said to her out loud, she doesn’t believe them. She closes her eyes and shakes her head… No one is dead. It’s a word, that’s all. She looks at the note, lying there on the desk like an insect on its back, without explanation.

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

Sam Brooks has a theory about this and the other Yanagihara 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 and Break Bad Ones by James Clear (Random House Business, $40)

There really is a self-help book for everything at this point, huh.

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

“It’s an original little book. A quick read that I enjoyed. David, bringing pass-agg like a pro on GoodReads.

5 The Island of Lost Trees by Elif Shafak (Viking, $37)

A story spread over time and space, but anchored in Cyprus, in the shade of a sensitive fig tree.

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

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

There are 16 books in the running for this year’s Ockham New Zealand Book Awards. Only one has entered these rankings – and he’s been here twice. We hereby run Greta & Valdin the absolute winner of the prestigious new Book category that 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 can ask anyone who has parented while homeschooling while working during the Tāmaki Makaurau lockdown. All gurus.

8 Dunes by Frank Herbert (Hodder, $28)

The sky watches 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 on the charts forever – too, it’s poignant and moving and a good banging thread, told beautifully.

ten Violet by Isabel Allende (Bloomsbury, $37)

No magical realism here, says the New York Times. Rather: “Chained by pandemics – the Spanish flu and the Covid crisis – Violeta chronicles a feminist awakening in the midst of twin repressive forces, the state and the domestic sphere, in passages whose magnitude is punctuated sometimes stilted and explanatory dialogues.


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

Presentation :

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

Like free-wheeling 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, penguins and ancient robots, and a paper-cut skeleton sticking out of the page.

2 imagining decolonization 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 Concentration: Why You Can’t Pay Attention by Johann Hari (Bloomsbury, $35)

Because your BRAIN just went through three years of SHITE, that’s why. Give the poor man a minute.

4 Extinctions: living and dying within the margin of error by Michael Hannah (Cambridge University Press, $41)

Michael Hannah is an associate professor at Vic, but this book, released last year, completely slipped our minds – perhaps because it’s published overseas (by Cambridge University Press, no less). Nature called it “measured and thought-provoking analysis” and Publisher’s Weekly “nuanced” and “impressive” – though light on solutions.

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

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

Shout! We are big fans of this collection, the first book from the new indigenous press Tatou Publishing. It would make a wonderful gift – check out this blanket, a portrait by Lalovai Peseta of his wife, Samoan artist Nikki Mariner-Peseta.

(Picture: provided)

Sisilia Eteuati tells Tatou and Vā’s origin story in a powerful article we published last month. Fragment:

“We not only received a trickle of stories, we received a powerful wave, from women who had been waiting for a chance like this for a long time, who trusted us with their strong and beautiful stories. Stories from across the moana without colonial borders. We have stories of writers from the Cook Islands, Chamorros, Erub (Torres Strait) Islanders, Fijians, Hawaiians, Maoris, Ni-Vanuatu, Papua New Guineans, Rotumans, Samoans and Tongans, who lived both on their own fanua and in remote locations around the world. Stories from recognized and award-winning authors and poets, and beginners. This testifies to the depth of the relationship maintained for a long time. It was about trust and aroha between all of us tamaita’i, tusitala and wāhine writers.

Congratulations Armadillo and everyone sailing 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 gift for weeding out the long list of Ockhams, some (but not all) of which are books you might really want to read.

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

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

ten In Paradise by Hanya Yanagihara (Picador, $38)


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