Friday, 12 January 2018

Compass Points 245

British and Irish fairies have been around since 500 AD. But ever since the Cottingley Fairy Hoax of 1917-21, their credibility and popularity have been in sharp decline. However, with the new-found popularity of fantasy series such as Game of Thrones, those wishing to be “away with the fairies” is on the increase once more, and British fairies are regaining their old lustre. Magical Folk: British and Irish Fairies by Dr Simon Young and Dr Ceri Houlbrook (hb, 9781783341238, £16.99) is the first major history of the tiny folk in almost half a century and as the Herald wrote recently, is “a big insight into the lives of little people… provocative.” This handsome hardback has just been published by Gibson Square, and has already had some extremely good review coverage, with the Mail on Sunday calling it “enchanting” the Independent calling it “a gazetteer of myths, legends, and sightings” and the Sunday Telegraph describing it as “engaging and authoritative… British fairies, it turns out, are classic eccentrics.” It contains black and white illustrations, is 300 pages and has a gorgeous evocative cover – the ideal browse on a cold winter’s night!

The Cottingley Fairies are probably the most famous example – but who’d like to see some others? Here are the Top Five “real” fairies caught on camera! This is a very entertaining five-minute film – but I’m afraid it does seem to be narrated by an alien – or possibly Siri.

The Book of Tbilisi (pb, £9.99, 978 1910974315) was published by Comma Press right at the end of last year – so you may have missed it. It was named as one of World Literature Today's 75 Notable Translations of 2017 – you can read about all of the titles chosen here.  In the 26 years since Georgia declared independence from the Soviet Union, the country and its capital, Tbilisi, have endured unimaginable hardships: one coup d'├ętat, two wars with Russia, the cancer of organised crime, and prolonged periods of brutalising, economic depression. Now, as the city begins to flourish again – drawing hordes of tourists with its eclectic architecture and famous, welcoming spirit – it's difficult to reconcile the recent past with this glamorous and exotic present. With wit, warmth, heartbreaking realism, and a distinctly Georgian sense of neighbourliness, the ten stories in The Book of Tbilisi do just that. This new collection of translated stories is part of Comma’s very popular Reading the City series which already includes Tokyo (978 1905583577), Gaza (978 1905583645), Dhaka (978 1905583805) and Khartoum (978 1905583720). Coming in February is The Book of Havana (978 1910974018) – which I’ll tell you more about next week!

Food and Sex: two appetites the modern world stimulates, but also the ones we are expected to keep under control. But what happens when we don't? Embarking on an affair, lonely wife and mother Naomi blossoms sexually in a false spring while David, the fattest boy at the local comprehensive and best friend of her son, struggles to overcome bullying and the apathy of his divorced mother. Appetite (£8.99, pb, 978 1910453476) by Anita Cassidy is an exciting debut novel which has just been published Red Door; it’s featured in this week’s Bella magazine and there is a feature on Anita coming up in the Guardian. Tipped as one of the Bookseller’s One to Watch in 2018 titles, Appetite is a pacy, thought-provoking novel making a potent statement against Big Food, Big Pharma, Government and the school system, as well as our 'sofa-box-set-take-away' culture. First written as a novel about food and sex, Appetite evolved into a book about love. It is about how people manage their relationships with food, and sex, and other people, and how to take that first step towards change, by becoming more self-aware. Great cover!

I am so pleased to say that Mya Guarnieri Jaradat has been shortlisted for the £4,000 Jewish Quarterly Wingate Literary Prize for her for her exploration of the lives of asylum seekers and migrant workers in The Unchosen: The Lives of Israel’s New Others (£14.99, pb, 978 0745336442). This beautifully written book, which draws on a decade of courageous and pioneering reporting, captures the voices and the struggles of some of the most marginalised and silenced people in Israel today. It is published by Pluto. The prize shortlist, celebrating writing demonstrating the "depth and diversity" of Jewish writing globally, comprises one novel, two memoirs, a work of investigative journalism, a history and a biography and you can read more about it in the Bookseller here.  

The Great Siege of Malta is the subject of In Our Time on Radio 4 all this week; and will be available as a podcast after that. Oxbow have the definitive title on one of the most famous battles of the early modern world; The Great Siege of Malta: The Epic Battle between the Ottoman Empire and the Knights of St. John by Bruce Ware Allen (pb, £16.00, 978 15126-01169). Drawing on copious research and new source material, Allen stirringly recreates the two factions' heroism and chivalry, while simultaneously tracing the barbarism, severity, and indifference to suffering of sixteenth-century warfare. The Great Siege of Malta is a fresh, vivid retelling of long hot summer of bloody combat, embroiling knights and mercenaries, civilians and slaves, in a desperate struggle for this pivotal point in the Mediterranean.

You’d think it would be hard to confuse Randall Hansen’s Fire and Fury, a 2008 military history book with a second world war bomber on its cover, with Michael Wolff’s No 1 bestseller Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House, whose jacket shows the US president mid-rant. Yet Hansen, a Canadian academic, wryly revealed this week that the shared title had helped his 10-year-old study to return to three of Amazon’s category bestseller lists. Hilarious! How many other books have benefitted from a title mix-up? Well, titles as diverse as Life After Life, WTF and Autumn have all sometimes been a bit – you can read more about the muddles in this amusing Guardian piece here!

Teeth are often considered the marker of health, attractiveness, success, and even happiness. Yet our approach to dental care has been fearful, costly, and segregated from other parts of the body. We've long known that oral health echoes our overall well-being. But what if we were to flip the paradigm? What if we thought about dental health as the foundation for our physical health? Dr Steven Lin, the world's leading dental nutritionist, has forged a new scientific outlook to reshape our perception of dental disease. The Dental Diet: The Surprising Link between Your Teeth, Real Food, and Life-Changing Natural Health (978 1401953171, hb, £20.50) has just been published by Hay House and was recently featured in What Doctors Don’t Tell You, Psychologies and also Health Triangle Magazine.

Anyone of a certain (my) age may well find this book reminds you of a once very well-known and much quoted poem by Pam Ayres – so here  it is – apparently, it’s now on the GCSE English syllabus! 

On Boxing Day, STORGY magazine reviewed M. John Harrison's You Should Come With Me Now, (pb, £8.99, 978 1910974346) calling it a “a collection of short stories that were quite different and a joy to read. What I really enjoyed most about these short stories is that Harrison leaves each one open to the interpretation of the reader…plays on the mind long after reading, …really make you think out of the box.” You can read that article here. More rave reviews flooded in over the festive period with SF CrowsNest describing M. John Harrison as “a writer in a league of his own” and CNET making the collection one of their Best Sci-Fi and Fantasy Books of 2017. Lastly there was a superb review in The Scotsman who wrote that: “In the far-distant future, when hyper-intelligent scorpions are looking back on the culture of the upright apes that once cluttered this planet, I think they will be frankly bemused that Kazuo Ishiguro won the Nobel Prize for Literature, that Ian McEwan won the Man Booker Prize, that Donna Tartt won the Pulitzer and yet all the time M John Harrison was staring them in the face.” Wow – how can you not want to read it after praise like that! It’s from Comma.

Who’s got a New Year’s resolution to try and become a bit richer in 2018? And who could not be tempted by this story in the Mirror of two lads who quit their £9-an-hour job labouring on building sites to sell rare coins online – and who now make up to £70,000 a year! If this appeals to you – then you’re definitely going to need a new title from Oxbow: A Beginners Guide to Ancient Coins (£9.99, pb, 978 1907427657)! It’s published in the Spink Books Living History series on 31 March. It could easily be the best ten quid your customers ever spent – how about displaying it in your shop next to a clipping of the news article! David Sear is the eminent numismatic (that’s my new word learned for today then) in this field, and this is a really approachable and informative introduction to the hobby. Ancient coins have long fascinated generations of collectors by virtue of their beauty, the stories they tell, and for the unique insight they give into the history of the time in which they were made – they are, quite literally, living history. This guide gives a general background to the fascinating world of ancient Greek and Roman coins, looking back more than twenty-six centuries.

Brexit: What the Hell Happens Now? Very good question indeed, and it was good to see the 2018 edition of this superb title by Ian Dunt at number 5 this week in the Non-fiction Top 10 in the Foyles Politics and History department. Nick Cohen in the Spectator said this was “highly recommended” and Caroline Lucas said called it “compact and easily digestible. I would encourage anyone who is confused, fascinated or frustrated by Brexit to read this book. You will be far wiser by the end of it.” What is special about this book? It is both blunt and informative –  and it is based on extensive research with experts across the law, trade and politics. Michael Gove may think that the British public has had enough of experts, but Ian Dunt and Canbury Press disagree. This incisive and important guide is for people who still believe in evidence and reason.

t’s very definitely the weather for a mug of something healthy and warm, so I’m not at all surprised that Theo Michael’s Microwave Mug Soups (pb, £10, 978 0754833734) has been selling like –  well, like hot soup! Media coverage has been fab – with a reach of over 30 million viewers and looking ahead, there will be more coming through. BBC Radio London want Theo in at the end of this month and the food editor at Time Inc is including some recipes across the magazine portfolio, particularly in Woman & Home. Yes Chef magazine will run a recipe and a book plug in the February issue and Feast magazine is also going to include something in February or March. Everyone loves soup – and it seems everyone also loves this book to with its 50 delicious recipes from around the world, all of which can just be made with only a mug to wash up! It was published in November by Lorenz.

Great news for two of our publishers whose titles have been shortlisted in the Fiction With a Sense of Place category in the highly prestigious 2018 Edward Stanford Travel Writing Awards, which celebrate the broad scope of travel writing. Six of the award's categories are open to a public vote which, combined with the judges’ verdict, will determine the 2018 winners. You can read more in the Bookseller here. The winners will be announced at a dinner on 1st February 2018 during the Holiday and Travel Show at Olympia. The winner of the Stanford Dolman Travel Book of the Year (receives £5,000 and all winners receive an antique globe trophy, to be presented at the awards ceremony. The two titles are Hummingbird (pb, £8.99, 978 0995994607) by Tristan Hughes which is published in paperback by Parthian in March; and The Bureau of Second Chances (pb, £8.99, 978 1846973925) by Sheena Kalayil from Polygon.

If there’s one movement guaranteed to get even bigger throughout 2018 it’s gender diversity. Of course, one of the top publishers for this is Jessica Kingsley, and some of their books have had some excellent press coverage recently. Firstly Fox Fisher and Owl were featured here in the Indy’s 9 LGBT+ people who defined and defied in 2017. They mentioned their forthcoming book too! Then the Metro featured Charlie Craggs, Fox Fisher and Owl, and Jane Fae in their Trans Power List 2017-18: top activists and influencers – with a mention for Charlie’s book To My Trans Sisters (pb, £12.99, 978-1785923432). You can see the whole list here. The Indy 100 listed 12 books that will make you a better person in 2018 which included Juno Roche’s frank funny and poignant Queer Sex: A Trans and Non-Binary Guide to Intimacy, Pleasure and Relationships (pb, £12.99, 978 1785924064) which is published in April – that one is here  and then finally, the Independent in its Review of the Year: The Female Groundbreakers of 2017 included Charlie Craggs, again with a mention of the book here.

OK, it’s Friday, it’s January, we really need a super fun quiz. Try this one over on Buzzfeed to find out How Many Clues Do You Need To See Before Guessing The Movie? For each question you'll see a screenshot from a film. If you correctly name the movie from just the first screenshot you'll score ten points – for each further screenshot you need to see, the score for a correct answer will decrease by two points. And yep, the better you do, the more of a film freak you are!

That’s all for now folks! More next week!

This newsletter is sent weekly to over 700 booksellers as well as publishers and publicists. If you would like to order any of the titles mentioned, then please talk to your Compass Sales Manager, or call the office on 020 8326 5696.

Friday, 5 January 2018

Compass Points 244

New Year, new term – and for thousands of children and parents this January marks start of the serious run up to the all-important GCSE exams in the summer. The GCSE Mindset (978 1785831843, pb, £18.99) has just been published by Crown House, and is by the authors of the best-selling A Level Mindset (978 1785830242); Steve Oakes and Martin Griffin which has now sold over 5,000 copies since its publication in spring 2016. Growth Mindset is a massive trend in schools at present and this paperback offers forty practical and applicable activities designed to supercharge GCSE students’ resilience, positivity, organisation and determination. At a time when GCSE teaching can feel like a conveyor belt of micromanaged lessons and last-ditch interventions, Steve and Martin suggest a different approach, underpinned by their model of essential life skills: vision, effort, systems, practice and attitude. These five non-cognitive characteristics beat cognition hands down as predictors of academic success, and The GCSE Mindset presents a user-friendly month-by-month programme of activities, resources and strategies that will help students break through barriers, better manage their workload and ultimately release their potential – both in the classroom and beyond. The book is suitable for teachers and tutors of course; but in terms of general bookshop sales, is also absolutely ideal for any parents who want to boost their 14–16-year-olds’ academic outcomes and prepare them for further education and employment. Which is basically EVERY parent of a teenager – because who wouldn’t want to do that?! GCSEs are changing massively – and this title has been reviewed and praised by experts as “a really timely book given the increasing interest in essential life skills and students’ well-being. This well-written book provides a wide range of beneficial activities to help students achieve their full potential and develop lifelong learning capabilities. With the pressurised and demanding education system we currently have, it is imperative that we support our young people to develop resilience and grit, and to manage and organise their learning effectively. The GCSE Mindset offers an excellent starting point for achieving this.” Professor Cathy Lewin, Manchester Metropolitan University.

Lots of good publicity breaking now for Confessions of a Recovering MP (978 1785903359, pb, £12.99) by Nick de Bois which is published next Tuesday. A 21st century Member of Parliament is not an executive who can make and enforce decisions, nor are they a counsellor, a housing officer, benefits clerk, bank or trading standards officer. But they are often expected to provide a new home, sort out benefits, provide a loan or settle a dispute about a computer game bought for little Jimmy that doesn't work – as well as being a legislator who votes on making important laws. In May 2010 with an unimpressive and insecure majority of 1,682, Nick de Bois in began the journey of a lifetime, meeting head-on the bizarre, the inexplicable, the touching, the shocking, the vitally important and, thank god, lots of utter nonsense as well. There was an author interview with Adrian Chiles talking about the book on Radio 5 Live this Wednesday which you can listen to here and coming up are more interviews with Nick on Talk Radio Europe (08/01/18), ITV’s Good Morning Britain (09/01/18), Sky News: All Out Politics (09/01/17) and Talk Radio (15/01/18 ). Gyles Brandreth said of this one “I’ve been there it’s all true. And Nick de Bois tells it like it is quite brilliantly” while Mathew Parris wrote “Nick de Bois has a cocky style, a fund of good stories and a fresh perspective on a messy but noble job. I wish I’d read a book like this before I started.” It’s published, of course, by Biteback.

Dryanuary anyone? No, thought not. Most therapies and therapists seem to offer an all-or-nothing solution: either give up completely or give in to the drink. However, there is good news for those of us who would like to reduce our intake without giving up completely. Clinical hypnotherapist Georgia Foster offers us a middle way and even better, it takes just seven days! Georgina’s “Drink Less” courses have a high success rate (95% of attendees report reduced alcohol consumption) and in her new book, Drink Less in Seven Days (£14.99, pb, 978 1910453575) she shares the secrets of this success. This title which is published by Red Door will be featured on the Psychologies Facebook page (which has 1.3 million followers) in a live event and feature next Thursday (11 Jan) and there will be an interview with the author in the Saturday Telegraph on 27 January. There are also forthcoming features confirmed in the Daily Express and Marie Claire and we are hopeful that ITV This Morning, Cosmo Online and Grazia will also do something on this book!

Congratulations to Michael Hyams and Liz O'Keefe, authors of The Mushroom Cookbook (£15, hb, 978 0754832867) published by Lorenz which has just been announced as UK winner of Best Mushroom Cookbook in the Gourmand World Cookbook Awards! The prize was founded in 1995 by Edouard Cointreau and every year, books from 205 countries participate in these prestigious awards which honour the best food and wine books, printed or digital. The well-known Mushroom Man's guide to edible fungi, has mouth-watering photographs by Jon Ashford and is a full directory of wild and cultivated types with fifty tempting and original recipes to use them through the seasons. The book now goes through on the shortlist for the 'best in the world' award to be decided in China in May 2018.

Some nice publicity for Carcanet titles coming up this week: On 9th January Karen McCarthy Woolf will be on Radio 3’s Free Thinking. Karen explores translating, rewriting and using Homer's epic work The Odyssey to frame a memoir; you’ll be able to listen to that one here. Then on 10th January Vahni Capildeo will be on the same programme, exploring the uncanny possibilities of the ‘In Between’ – that one is here. On 11th January Sasha Dugdale will be interviewed on Radio 4’s Front Row about her latest collection, Joy (978 1784105037, £9.99, pb) and then on 12th January Caroline Bird will be talking on Radio 3’s In Tune about the TS Eliot Prize (readings at the Southbank on the 14th, Awards Ceremony itself on the 15th).

How very very pleasing to see that Trump’s attempts to silence an author have led directly to extra footfall into bookshops and sales – you can catch up on some of the revelations contained in the new book on the BBC here. And the book is on its way to the UK as I type – pub date is today – read all about that in the Bookseller here.

And talking of Trump, books and bans – do look out for out for Banthology: Stories from Unwanted Nations (hb, £9.99, 978 1910974360) which is out later this month from Comma, featuring new fiction in translation from Iraq, Iran, Libya, Sudan, Somalia, Syria and Yemen (aka the ‘banned nations’). In the last year Trump’s travel ban has been blocked, revised and now implemented and this book, commissioned as a response to the initial ban, explores the emotional and personal impact of all restrictions on movement, through satire, allegory, literary realism and more. This title was one of two Comma titles featured in’s blog post earlier this week on forthcoming literature in translation; you can read that here.

There was an exclusive feature on Judgement Detox: Release the Beliefs That Hold You Back from Living a Better Life (£12.99, pb, 978 1788170734) by number one New York Times bestselling author Gabrielle Bernstein in The Sunday Times Style magazine (Circ. 700,000) last weekend. Gabrielle believes that judgement is at the core of our discomfort and the root of many of our life blocks and having made the commitment to heal her own relationship to judgement, now shares the process she used to liberate herself. This six-step interactive programme that calls on spiritual principles from A Course in Miracles, Kundalini Yoga, meditation and other metaphysical and healing teachings, shows how when you become willing to let go, judgement, pain and suffering will begin to dissolve. It’s published by Hay House.

In need of something funny? Here are seventeen amusing book related posts from Tumblr and Buzzfeed!

Throughout this week, Alan Taylor's Appointment in Arezzo (£12.99, hb, 978 1846973758) has been Book of the Week on BBC Radio 4. You can catch up on them all here! Spark fans have been tuning in at 9.45am each day to hear a serialisation of this wonderful book which is published by Polygon – there is loads and loads of social media buzz about the ongoing celebrations for this fabulous author.  #murielspark100 @MurielSpark100

Once upon a time, there lived a happy family called the Maitlands. Iain, the father, was a writer. Tracey, the mother, worked at a nearby school. They had three bright and charming children, Michael, Sophie and Adam. It looked like the perfect family life. Until October 2012, when Iain’s son Michael was rushed to hospital. Years of depression, anxiety and anorexia had taken their toll, and he had pneumonia and a collapsed lung. The doctors weren't sure if he would make it. Told with humour and frankness through Michael's diary entries and Iain's own reflections; Out of the Madhouse charts Michael's journey to recovery from entering the Priory and returning home, to becoming a mental health ambassador for young people. Sharing tips and techniques that have helped them and others to self-manage, this is an essential resource for anyone experiencing depression, anxiety, OCD and similar issues. The Sunday Times Magazine is running an interview with Michael Maitland on either 21st or 28th January, and there will also be pieces coming in The Daily Mail and the Daily Mirror – and probably more, this is a topic that many will be of interest and help to many. Out of the Madhouse: An Insider's Guide to Managing Depression and Anxiety (£12.99, pb, 978 1785923517) by Iain and Michael Maitland is published by Jessica Kingsley on 18 January.

A “holiday bookshop” in a Scottish town which gives holidaymakers the chance to run the shop for a two-week stint is booked solid until 2020 and has sparked plans for copycat versions in Asia. The Open Book in Scotland’s “book town” of Wigtown in Dumfries and Galloway, was launched by American Jessica Fox four years ago and is marketed through Airbnb. Paying guests have the chance to live in a flat above the shop and run the bookshop themselves for a fortnight which has proved hugely popular with guests around the world. You can read more on this here – it’s not a new story but there’s been lots of social media buzz about this one recently – maybe it’s as we all look to changing our lives in the New Year?
Compass really wouldn’t mind moving from London to live in Wigtown ourselves with its sixteen bookshops and population of nine hundred and we absolutely love the Twitter posts from The Bookshop run by Shaun Bythell (author of Diary of A Bookseller); especially this seasonal treat on YouTube!

So, this week our amusing tweets are all from The Bookshop @WigtownBookShop, which is, to quote: “Scotland's largest second-hand book shop, a mile of shelving full of all sorts of things which you can't get on Kindle, like books.”

First customer I dealt with yesterday 'Happy New Year. Your cat doesn't stink quite as much as he did last year.' All the festive spirit.

Telephone caller - 'I've got a very rare set of encyclopaedias to sell, it's called The Book of Knowledge, 8 volumes' Me - 'Sorry, it's really not worth anything, we don't take them' Caller - 'But I've looked it up on eBay and it's worth a lot of money'

You would think that answering the phone with 'Good morning, The Bookshop' would negate the requirement for the question 'Oh, are you open?'

'Are you the proprietor?' No conversation that began with those words ever ended well.

Today I've had both 'Hello, would you mind pointing me in the direction of your cookery books?' and 'Cookery'. Which category are you?

All our shelves are identified by a letter and a number so that we can find books quickly when we get orders. Today I was putting a climbing book out, and noticed that all our Scottish mountaineering books are located on shelf K2.

'What I'm really looking for is an antique shop.' What I'm really looking for is someone who can read the word 'Bookshop' above the door.

'This book, it says the price is £30. Is that right?' Please, please tell me that you do this with every item at the checkout in Tesco.

Shop quiet all morning until the moment Emily and I choose to unload 70 boxes of books from the van, at which point a man appears, stands in the doorway and announces that he's from Durham, doesn't read books, and, pointing at the sky, asks 'Is this what the climate usually is?'

Current email imbroglio involves a man who is complaining that we sent him a paperback edition of a book which WAS ONLY EVER PUBLISHED IN PAPERBACK. He wants a hardback. They don't exist.

'Death to the Kindle? Don't you think that's a bit harsh?' No. 'My son travels a lot and loves his.' I don't care.

That’s all for now folks! More next week!
This newsletter is sent weekly to over 700 booksellers as well as publishers and publicists. If you would like to order any of the titles mentioned, then please talk to your Compass Sales Manager, or call the office on 020 8326 5696.

Friday, 15 December 2017

Compass Points 243 - Happy Christmas!

Let’s start with some music – favourite Christmas songs anyone? Who likes a brand new re-recording of a classic – such as Ed Sheeran and Anne-Marie singing Fairytale Of New York – you can listen to that here or Sam Smith performing Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas here. You’re welcome!

A nice bit of seasonal publicity from Carcanet - Alison Brackenbury will be discussing Christmas Poetry on the Boxing Day edition of the Today Programme on Radio 4, and she’ll be reading her poem Christmas on the Radio which is published in her latest collection Skies (£9.99, pb, 978 1784101800). Skies is Alison Brackenbury's ninth Carcanet collection and in these poems, Brackenbury sustains delicate proximities between war and love, joy and sadness, summer and winter. It is the poet's quiet conviction to savour life, to take seriously its succulent variety, that defines this collection: the poems attest to the special privileges of age: wisdom, self-sufficiency, a deepening patience with the world; the ability to be, as Brackenbury says of an apple, “self-sweet”. Also, Sinead Morrissey will be appearing on Radio 4's Woman's Hour as part of a day of poetry on 21 December, celebrating the Winter Solstice. She’ll be interviewed and reading her poem, Last Winter from her award-winning collection, On Balance (978 1784103606, £9.99, pb).

John Holmwood, author of Countering Extremism in British Schools: The Truth About the Birmingham Trojan Horse Affair, (£12.99, pb, 978-1447344131) was on BBC Radio 4's Thinking Allowed this week talking about his new book which has just been published by Policy Press. This important title highlights the major injustice inflicted on the teachers in this affair and shows how it was used to criticise multiculturalism, and justify the expansion of a broad and intrusive counter extremism agenda. John Holmwood and his co-author Therese O’ Toole challenge the accepted narrative on this story, and draw on the potential parallel with the Hillsborough disaster to suggest a similar false narrative has taken hold of public debate.

Lovely reviews coming in for The Good Pilot, Peter Woodhouse by Alexander McCall Smith (978 1846974090, £14.99, hb). The Yorkshire Post called it a “shaggy dog story infused with his familiar – and welcome – positivity. A gentle romp through the world of land girls, war-time romance and exceptional pets” while the Mail on Sunday made it one of their Books of the Year and called it “Period pet lit from a pro” which I think is a great strap line – maybe Polygon should put it on the paperback jacket?!

Always love a bit of twitter twaddle about a literary character – so am very much enjoying the current debate as to whether Roald Dahl’s Matilda would beat Stranger Things Eleven in a head-to-head! You can catch up on all the possible answers to that question here!

The BBC National Short Story Award 2018 is now open for entries. The new partner for the Award, Cambridge University, has just been announced, along with the judging panel which includes previous winner K J Orr. The head judge is TV personality and author Mel Giedroyc. It's the thirteenth year of the Award and for the ninth time, Comma will be publishing the shortlist anthology next year. The winning award is worth £15,000 and this will be presented to the author of the best, eligible short story, in the opinion of the judges. There will also be four awards of £600 for the other four shortlisted stories and the deadline for receipt of entries is 9am Monday 12 March 2018. You can find out more here.

We were thrilled to hear that The Recovery Letters edited by Olivia Sagan and James Withey published by Jessica Kingsley is going to be one of the titles given away on World Book Night – 23rd April 2018. The organisers have curated a “diverse selection of commercial and literary fiction, poetry, non-fiction and young adult” for the public, with a spotlight on mental health. The literacy charity aims to "harness” the link between reading and mental health through its selection this year. You can read more about World Book Night in the Bookseller here.  Sue Wilkinson, chief executive of the Reading Agency said: “We know from our work on the Reading Well programme that there is a powerful link between reading and positive mental health. We are delighted to be able to include on the 2018 World Book Night list several titles that deal with this directly as well as others that we hope will lift readers’ moods or help them confront life’s difficulties.” De Waal, described the scheme as “a great opportunity for readers to discover new books and for books to find new audiences”. She added: “Reading and understanding different lives and experiences has never been more important.” The Recovery Letters (978-1785921834, £9.99, pb) is an anthology of letters from by people recovering from depression, addressed to those currently affected. They are interspersed with motivating quotes and additional resources and this powerful collection of personal letters will serve as a comforting resource for anyone on the journey to recovery.

Got any New Year resolutions yet? How about making them online here and then BuzzFeed will reveal your Patronus to you! And yes, I do think it’s a worry if it turns out to be a pig. Accio 2018!

And while we’re on the subject of the wizarding one, I wonder how good our colleagues at Birlinn and all those booksellers north of the border would be at translating the Scots version of Harry Potter and the Philosophers Stone? Does Hoggiehaugh mean Hogwarts, Hagrid, or Hogsmeade for example? You can take that quiz here!
What would you say is the newest superfood trend? Well, I can tell you, it is seaweed, which as you can read in the Telegraph here has seen “sales soar as it swims into the mainstream.” Waitrose has announced that it will stock fresh seaweed in its stores, while sales of the green stuff soared by 125 per cent after Jamie Oliver claimed it had helped him lose weight. “Seaweed is one of this year’s biggest trends in veg which we’re seeing on the menus of some of London’s top and most creative restaurants," says Waitrose’s product developer. And I’m pleased to say that we have the perfect book to capitalise on this; The Seaweed Cookbook: A Guide to Edible Seaweeds and How to Cook with Them (978 0754832874, £15, hb) which has just been published by Lorenz. Its authors Caroline Warwick-Evans and Tim van Berkel are mentioned in the Telegraph piece and there has been loads more recent seaweed related press coverage! The Guardian wrote here about “a cry for kelp” suggesting that its “complete nutrient profile” means “it can heal the world”. The Huffington Post wrote about its many health benefits here, the Daily Mail called it “the latest nutritional powerhouse set to take over from kale as the trendy new ingredient to add to your diet” here and BBC Good Food wrote about its many health benefits here. The Seaweed Cookbook, as you’d expect from Lorenz is gorgeously illustrated and a great price too. It explores the different types of seaweed, tells you where to find them, and includes lots of creative recipes. Whether dried, rehydrated or eaten raw, treated as a vegetable, flaked and sprinkled as a seasoning, or munched as a crispy snack, there is plenty of inspiration with photographs that will leave you eager to get foraging and feasting. Go to the authors’ website to see spreads and recipes from the book – and also find out more about how much media coverage they’ve been getting recently! This is already big – but is going to get even bigger – the authors Caroline and Tim have recently been filmed recently for a new series with Jamie Oliver (Jamie's Friday Night Feasts) which is broadcasting in January.

Primary schools should use books featuring transgender parents or celebrating gender identity, according to fresh guidance from the National Association of Head Teachers. The new guidance has also been endorsed by Stonewall, the government and Ofsted. It covers a range of issues aiming to help schools "become places where all staff can thrive and feel confident to be authentic about who they are” adding "Primary school leaders may want to ensure books featuring trans parents or celebrating gender identity and difference are included in the curriculum". Not everyone agrees with this of course – there was a big piece in the Times this week which you can see here where Chris McGovern, head of the Campaign for Real Education, said: "Indoctrination in the politically correct anxieties, passions and neuroses of adults has no place in school. This latest intrusion into childhood will cause upset, confusion and trauma for many youngsters." Whatever your opinion, here is bound to be a surge in demand for titles addressing this issue for children – and Jessica Kingsley are the market leaders. You will want to stock, A Practical Guide to Gender Diversity and Sexuality in Early Years (pb, £14.99, 9781785922893) by Deborah Price which is an easy-to-read and practical guide for early years professionals on how to discuss this with very young children. How to Transform Your School into an LGBT+ Friendly Place: A Practical Guide for Nursery, Primary and Secondary Teachers (pb, £14.99, 9781785923494) by Dr Elly Barnes MBE and Dr Anna Carlile is coming in April and also do look out for some really excellent picture books on the subject which JKP are publishing in spring and summer 2018. Vincent the Vixen (hb, £9.99, 978 1785924507) by Alice Reeves and Phoebe Kirk is about a fox who is assigned male at birth, but who knows they are actually a girl. With the help of family and friends, Vincent begins to understand their gender identity and the importance of accepting and being authentic to who they truly are. Phoenix Goes to School (hb, £9.99, 978 1785928215) is an empowering and brightly illustrated book for children aged 3+ which is co-authored by a mother and daughter – the main character being based on the daughter who identifies as trans. A House for Everyone is by Jo Hirst who is one of the leading transgender advocates in Australia (well known for their previous children’s book The Gender Fairy) This title includes a guide for parents and professionals and also a lesson plan.

Talking of 2018 titles, we have had such a great time this week at our sales conference, hearing lots of our lovely publishers present us with the many goodies they will be bringing out in 2018! There are plenty of scrumptious titles to salivate over, which I look forward to telling you all about next year – everything from finding your inner unicorn to gripping thrillers, to inspiring literary translated fiction to top political biographies! In the meantime, here’s the Compass team (minus a few) wishing you a very peaceful, profitable and happy Christmas! 

That’s all for 2017 folks! More in the New Year!

This newsletter is sent weekly to over 700 booksellers as well as publishers and publicists. If you would like to order any of the titles mentioned, then please talk to your Compass Sales Manager, or call the office on 020 8326 5696.

Friday, 8 December 2017

Compass Points 242

Here’s a cracking sporting title, which has come very late into the publishing programme for St David’s Press, and which you therefore may well not be aware of. Living My Dream (£13.99, pb, 978 1902719641) by Dave Edwards and Paul Berry is the story of a hard-working and very intelligent professional. Dave Edwards is the first member of the Wales squad to reveal the inside story of the Euros from within the Welsh camp, and the book contains lots of anecdotes and photographs that have never previously been published. Dave played for his hometown club, Shrewsbury Town and also spent twelve seasons at Wolves, before being transferred to Reading in August 2017. He has been capped 43 times for Wales and is a part of the Welsh Golden Generation developed by John Toshack and Garry Speed. Dave started the first game of the Euros against Slovakia and several other games in France as Wales reached the semi-finals. Joe Hart, the England goalkeeper, is an old friend from Shropshire schools football and has written the foreword calling it “a fascinating look at the journey made by all of us who set out as young kids with the dream of one day becoming a professional footballer, and all the obstacles which crop up along the way. Dave Edwards has been one of my best mates in football, all the way through my career, and this book offers some great behind-the-scenes insight into what it is like for a player at a major tournament, and some of the secrets behind Wales’ spectacular success.” Dave has 25.7k followers on Twitter and is very media savvy, which should help publicise this title. The FA of Wales has agreed to give the book profile on their social media and the books’ co-author is the Media Manager at Wolves who will also help generate media coverage. This is a cracking Christmas present book – which should have wide appeal not just in Wales but anywhere there are footie fans!

And Other Stories will begin their year of publishing only women writers in January, with Ann Quin's The Unmapped Country (£10, pb, 978 1911508144). This is a new collection of rare and unpublished writing by the cult 1960s author, which explores the risks and seductions of going over the edge. The stories cut an alternative path across innovative twentieth-century writing, bridging the world of Virginia Woolf and Anna Kavan with that of Kathy Acker and Chris Kraus. Tom McCarthy said of Ann Quin “After her death in 1973 at only 37, Ann Quin’s star first dipped beneath the horizon, disappearing from view entirely, before rising slowly but persistently, to the point that it’s now attaining the septentrional heights it always merited. I suspect that she’ll eventually be viewed, alongside BS Johnson and Alexander Trocchi, as one of the few mid-century British novelists who actually, in the long term, matter.” The collection has been edited by the brilliant Jennifer Hodgson, who spent seven years gathering the stories from archives and collections around the world. The stories are vivid, strange and fresh, and some have said that the unfinished novel that lends the collection its title would have been Quin’s best if it had been finished.” Publicity for this title is going to be everywhere, starting this Sunday (10th Dec) on BBC R4's Open Book when the book’s editor Jen Hodgson will be interviewed by Mariella Frostrup. (This programme is repeated on December 14th.) Then in mid-January there is a serialisation of Jen Hodgson's Introduction to the book in the New Statesman and also an excerpt from The Unmapped Country novel fragment in the TLS as well as a feature piece. We have review coverage confirmed in the Financial Times, the Guardian, the Telegraph, the Irish Times and the Spectator. Sadly, of course Quin’s no longer here to celebrate the launch of the book, so And Other Stories have asked some of their top writers to come and do events in tribute to her – the first of which is Ann Quin: A Celebration with Deborah Levy, Juliet Jacques and Jennifer Hodgson at the London Review Bookshop on the book’s publication date, 18th January. Then on Friday 16th February there is a high-profile afternoon and evening event Who Cares About Ann Quin? at the Royal College of Art.

Identity and marginalisation are the themes that emerge in Letters Home, an anthology of mini mysteries from Martyn Bedford (a Leeds author best known for his YA fiction) which has just been published by Comma Press. Many of the characters in the stories find themselves at a point of redefinition, trading in their old identity for something new. Whether it is an act of retreat or escape fantasising about storming out of a thankless job, or just avoiding a bad-tempered husband for a few moments on Christmas day they each understand the first step in changing a reality, is to reconstruct it. The New York Times wrote “Martyn Bedford is the genuine article, a writer of unmistakable flair and accomplishment” and Jeremy Dyson called these stories “haunting and intimate portraits of vividly different lives that get under your skin and stay there.” Martin has just done a fascinating Q&A session with Big Issue North this week which you can read here and there will also be an interview and review in the Yorkshire Post in the next fortnight.

Hurrah, we have two titles on The Republic of Consciousness Prize longlist! The Republic of Consciousness Prize for Small Presses was founded by Neil Griffiths last year and is sponsored by the TLS. It rewards literary fiction published by presses in the UK and Ireland that employ fewer than five full-time employees. The guiding principle for judging the overall creative endeavour is that the book that wins must represent the best of “hard-core literary fiction and gorgeous prose”. The two books are Sorry to Disrupt the Peace by Patty Yumi Cottrell (£10, pb, 978-1911508007) published by And Other Stories. The judges said of it: “In a year where nearly half of our longlisted books are debuts, this one sticks most closely to the formula we would expect from a first novel: semi-autobiographical, reflecting on a defining episode in the author’s life. This is one of the best examples of this sub-genre to appear in years. Cottrell’s bleakly comic work follows the narrator Helen as she tries to work out why her younger brother committed suicide. Deep, searing and honest, it is all the better for making no concessions to the reader.” 
The other title is Darker with the Lights On by David Hayden (£12.99, hb, 978 0995705258) which is published by Little Island Press. The judges said: “This collection comprises a miscellany of vignettes that are both unsettling and ludic. Eaten apples are regurgitated and made whole, squirrels lecture on storytelling, decapitated heads merrily sing as they bounce across the floor; David Hayden’s debut collection is a joy. Plus, Little Island Press is producing some of the most beautifully made books in the UK today.” The Republic of Consciousness shortlist will be announced at Waterstones in Manchester on February 15, 2018 and you can read about all thirteen titles on the longlist in the TLS here.  

Well, it’s not exactly festive reading, but The Knife Went In: Real-life Murderers and Our Culture (978 1783341184, hb, £16.99) by Theodore Dalrymple has been a number one Amazon Popular Culture Bestseller and has had some amazing reviews. The Mail on Sunday called it “A razor-sharp expose of our broken society… One of the greatest men of our age… Both funny and a badly needed corrective to conventional wisdom… hugely readable … gripping real-life stories… tells a deep truth about the sort of society we have become. A future historian, a century hence, will learn more about 21st Century Britain from this book than from any official document. So will you. Please read it.” And Dominic Lawson writing in the Mail said it showed “the blackest of black… the best of humanity.” The Sunday Telegraph said that “Nobody has observed the fallacies of modern England with a clearer eye, or a more intelligent quill. It would be nice to know that the BBC had heard of him because we could expect to hear him deliver next year’s Reith Lectures.” The Knife Went In is published by Gibson Square.

From an idyllic childhood growing up in Cornwall, to working as press officer at 10 Downing Street, Barbara Hosking had a remarkable career in British politics. She subsequently went on to become part of the rise and development of breakfast television. Exceeding My Brief: Memoirs of a Disobedient Civil Service (£25, hb, 978 1785903557) is also the very personal story of her struggle with her sexuality in the 1950s, a time when being gay could mean social ostracism. Born during the General Strike in 1926, Barbara made her way through London typing pools to executive posts in the Labour Party, then to press officer to Harold Wilson and Edward Heath. Hosking pens vivid and revealing portraits of prominent politicians from the age, including Nye Bevan, Barbara Castle, Harold Wilson and Edward Heath. She was at No. 10 as the terrorist attack took place during the Olympic Games held in Munich, 1972, and she witnessed the initialling of the Treaty of Rome when Britain entered the then Common Market. An enthralling read of a long life well lived, Exceeding My Brief is filled with plenty of anecdotes, about both Barbara’s private and working lives. This book is much more than a memoir. It is a cracking good read. Her life story mirrors the great changes in British society from the time of her birth in 1926 to the present day and her crisp and candid prose is warm, generous, humorous and at times passionate. Lots of publicity for this one; do keep an eye out for a Q&A feature with Barbara in this weekend’s Observer and she’ll also be appearing on Radio 4’s Start the Week a little later this month. There have already been pieces in the New Statesman, The Times and interviews on BBC Radio Cornwall, BBC Radio London, and on the BBC World Service, Weekend. It’s published by Biteback.

The Bookseller have just published their annual book jacket quiz Got It Covered where you can test your knowledge on the year’s book jackets! They’re cut out images to make tiny snapshots from fifty books, all released during 2017 and covering a number of genres, from children's to poetry to cookbooks. The person who gets the most correct answers will win a bundle of books. The closing date for entries is 11.59pm on 31st December, 2017 and you can find the quiz here.

Who’s looking forward to Coco – the new movie from Pixar, which is released on 19th January? Me, me, me – you can see a trailer here. The film is inspired by the Mexican holiday of the Dead of the Dead (Dia de Muertos) and will undoubtedly produce a surge of interest in this dynamic festival, so I know you’ll want to stock up the two Arcturus Day of the Dead-themed books: Sugar Skulls Colouring Book (pb, £6.99, 978 1784048549) and Day of the Dead Dot-to-Dot (pb, £6.99, 978 1784286040). I love these fabulously bright and vibrant covers!

Some fantastic windows for Queen in 3D as the band tour around the country – thanks very much Waterstones! You can see the fab displays inside and out at Sauchiehall St, Glasgow above and below! Absolute Classic Rock radio are running a promo on air for two weeks offering one person the chance to win a copy signed by Brian May which will ensure it gets loads of mentions on-air right through to Christmas! You can find out more on their website here.

Not one, not two but THREE Save Haven titles made it into the Guardian's Christmas Books round-ups! Stephen Moss in Nature Books of the Year said that “London's Street Trees by Paul Wood (pb, £12,99, 978 0993291135) adds a fascinating new dimension to any walk through the city. Small, independent publishers such as Safe Haven continue to outperform in this field.”. Then Huw Richards in Sports Books of the Year said that “Cricket fans will cherish Duncan Hamilton’s The Kings of Summer– a gem that celebrates the remarkable climax of the 2016 County Championship while fearing for the long game’s future.” And Henry Jeffrey in his Drinks Books of the Year wrote “Finally, there’s Jessica Boak and Ray Bailey’s 20th Century Pub (£16.99, pb, 978 0957278721). This thoroughly researched, elegantly written history of the English boozer takes in council estate pubs, road houses, gastropubs and the dreaded theme pub.” Excellent presents all of them!

’Tis the season to drink fizz and eat mince pies while you’re supposedly working! This week we bring you an extract from Rob Temple’s hilarious Very British Problems on the top ten trials and tribulations of the Work Christmas Party. Do any of them strike a chord in your bookshop?!
1. Trying to decide which of your jumpers in varying shades of grey most counts as "novelty".
2. Reading a company-wide email warning you to behave, while drinking a can of gin and tonic at 10am.
3. Thinking that nothing says "Christmas fun!" like getting changed in a damp-floored office lavatory.
4. Finding your table place name next to the CEO and realising that "piss-up" just turned into "tense board meeting while eating turkey".
5. Being unable to concentrate on any conversation when you notice you've one fewer pig-in-blanket than everyone else at the table.
6. Wondering how much thought someone's put into your "Secret Santa" present of "a pack of Biros".
7. The ridiculousness of discussing the recent pay freeze and department budget cuts while wearing a pink paper hat.
8. Knowing the party's really getting into full swing when someone starts crying.
9. Showing off your dancing skills, causing everyone to back away in what you believe to be "awe".
10. Having a hunch that the email you receive on Monday titled "Your behaviour" isn't going to be congratulatory in nature.

That’s all for now folks! More next week!

This newsletter is sent weekly to over 700 booksellers as well as publishers and publicists. If you would like to order any of the titles mentioned, then please talk to your Compass Sales Manager, or call the office on 020 8326 5696.