Friday, 22 March 2019

Compass Points 298

The full shortlists for the British Book Awards (aka the Nibbies) are out this week, and congratulations to Wild Things who are up for Independent Publisher of the Year and Emerald, Kogan Page and Historic Environment Scotland who are shortlisted in the Academic, Educational and Professional Publisher category. Three cheers too for Carcanet’s wonderful Michael Schmidt who is up for Editor of the Year! And of course, congrats to the many of you wonderful booksellers shortlisted for Retailer of the Year, Individual Bookseller of the Year, Children’s Bookseller of the Year and Independent Bookseller of the Year. Golden Hare Books in Edinburgh had an especially good showing – they are on THREE shortlists; being Scotland’s regional winner for Independent Bookshop of the Year, shortlisted for Children's Bookseller and Assistant Manager Jonathan is on the shortlist for Individual Bookseller!! The awards culminate in a gala ceremony presented by Lauren Laverne at the Grosvenor House Hotel on 13th May. Good luck everyone!

Some terrific endorsements for The People's Flag and the Union Jack: An Alternative History of Britain and the Labour Party (£25, hb, 978 1785903861) by Gerry Hassan and Eric Shaw which is published by Biteback on 23rd April and argues that Labour's Britishness and its ambiguous relationship with issues of national identity matter more today than ever before.
“This book is brimming with insights about one of the Brexit era’s most overlooked aspects: the Labour Party’s close ties to increasingly outmoded ideas about Britain. It’s a timely and urgent read – because if it wants to define the post-Brexit future of the four countries of the UK, the wider left is going to have to deal with this stuff.” John Harris, Guardian columnist and UK Political Correspondent of the Year “What George Orwell feared has come to pass. Britain is no longer held together through exploiting its enormous former empire. The Union Jack, the flag of a marauding navy, is now tattered. Gerry Hassan and Eric Shaw deftly upturn the stone of what Britishness is, to see what lies beneath from the point of view of the Labour Party and labour movement. There has never before been a serious study of the relationship between Labour and Britain; The People’s Flag and the Union Jack is both intriguing and timely.” Danny Dorling, Halford Mackinder Professor of Geography, Oxford University
“This book is long overdue and highly relevant to the current crisis of nationalisms in the UK. Hassan and Shaw bring clear sight and a wealth of knowledge to a neglected subject. We badly need history like this if we are to plot our futures as nations.” Madeleine Bunting, author, writer and commentator
“Few writers are better placed than Gerry Hassan and Eric Shaw to anatomise not only the strange death of Labour Scotland but also the fragmentation of the United Kingdom. This fascinating book is essential reading for anyone who wishes to understand the forces transforming our politics in this age of upheaval.”
Jason Cowley, editor-in-chief, New Statesman

A big piece in the Daily Mail on Salt in My Soul: An Unfinished Life by Mallory Smith (978 1788173438, £14.99, pb) which is a heart-wrenching memoir taken from the diaries of a remarkable young woman who was determined to live a meaningful and happy life despite her struggle with cystic fibrosis and a rare superbug , dying at twenty-five. An interview with Mallory’s mother was also featured on the CF Trust website and there was a feature and extract on BuzzFeed which you can read here.  It’s just been published by Hay House.

“A man called Berg, who changed his name to Greb, came to a seaside town intending to kill his father…” So begins Ann Quin’s madcap frolic with sinister undertones, a debut “so staggeringly superior to most you’ll never forget it” (the Guardian), and I LOVE this terrific window display at City Books in Hove for Berg (£10, pb, 978 1911508540) which has just been published by And Other Stories. Anarchic, heady, dark, this is Quin’s masterpiece, a classic of post-war avant-garde British writing, and now finally back in print after much demand. You can read an extract from this caustic, thrilling and unforgettable novel here.  

Some nice reviews are coming in for The Book of Tehran (£9.99, pb, 978 1910974247), which Comma publish next week. “Tehran, as seen through these stories, is a city of eccentricities and a population who like observing the lives of others... Personally this is the first time I have been presented with a balanced view of this multi-faceted city” says The Bobsphere, you can read that here. The Book Spine also praised it saying “the Tehran tales were rich and textured, impactive and real... there is a tension to many of the stories, most provide an insight into everyday life in Tehran which defy stereotypes.” That’s here.

There is a big feature with lots of images from the book in this month’s All about History magazine for Ancient Peoples in Their Own Words (hb, £19.99, 978 1782747079). This highly illustrated and illuminating volume includes citations from classical Greece, Rome, Persia, Minoan, and the Mycenean dynasties, as well as biblical texts and a few mysterious, undeciphered examples. It provides an exciting, highly informative, and innovative look into the classical world and its published by Amber.

Flicking through this lovely Amber title it makes you wonder how our generation will look when viewed several millennia later. Of course, it’s going to be much harder to know whether the images we leave behind are real at all, thanks to the wizardry of photoshop! I found this very amusing; photoshop requests taken literally!

An interesting piece here in the TLS on the pleasures and pains of formal correspondence, and investigating why an email is not the same as a letter, which has lots of references to What a Hazard a Letter Is (£14.99, hb, 978-0993291173) which was published last year by Safe Haven, and the Sunday Times called “curious, astute and entertaining”.

Some lovely reviews for Cool Places (£18.99, pb, 978 1906889692), the new lavish full-colour guide to the 200 very best places to stay in the UK. There was a big spread in the Times last month here, and in the Standard a couple of weeks ago, that’s here. Coming up, we're hoping for a long-promised piece in the Observer next month, and also Marie Claire magazine and Country Living online. Watch this space!

There has been lots of publicity for 61 Minutes in Munich: The Story of Liverpool FC’s First Black Footballer (£16.99, hb, 978 1909245396) focussing on the recent Bayern Munich v Liverpool clash and the memories it brought for Howard Gayle of the famous Bayern/Liverpool match in 1981.“People say I should have just kept my mouth shut at Liverpool and played along. That was never my way. I’m proud of the colour of my skin and my culture and my origins. I would do it all again” he said to Oliver Kay who called it “an amazing story” for the Times and Sunday Times, that’s here.  Simon Mullock of the Sunday Mirror also previewed the Bayern Munich v Liverpool game, calling the book “a very good read.” Part social-history, part-autobiography, 61 Minutes in Munich is an exposition of life in the city of Liverpool during one of the most turbulent periods in its history. Howard Gayle details life on the streets, the racism and other forms of abuse, of which he has only told a handful of people before; and his ascent from teenage football hooligan to a player with Europe's leading club, a place where only the strongest survived.

A terrific review for Neil Price’s much awaited The Viking Way, (978 1842172605, hb, £30) in the Fortean Times saying “Now, after 17 years, Oxbow is releasing a new edition at a price that makes it a must-have for any student of religion and magic in the early Middle Ages. The new edition of The Viking Way is essential for anyone interested in the religion and magic of the Viking world. Five stars.” Magic, sorcery and witchcraft are among the most common themes of the great medieval Icelandic sagas and poems, and this fascinating book examines the evidence for Old Norse sorcery, looking at its meaning and function and the complicated constructions of gender and sexual identity with which these were underpinned. Combining archaeology, history and literary scholarship with extensive studies of Germanic and circumpolar religion, this multi-award-winning book shows us the Vikings as we have never seen them before. The Viking Way is out on 31st March.

A super review for Venus as a Bear (£9.99, pb, 978-1784105549 )in the TLS this week, saying “industrious and prolific, Vahni Capildeo is a writer of apparently effortless variety in form and content...She belongs to no tribe or school or movement This may make her a "poet's poet", one for the cognoscenti; and yet, as Venus as a Bear demonstrates, she deserves the widest audience possible.” Venus as a Bear collects poems on animals, art, language, the sea, thinghood, metaphor, description, and dance. We have feelings for creatures, objects and places, but where do these affinities come from? How do things, as things, affect us, remain mysterious while making themselves known? It was shortlisted for the 2018 Forward Prize and was The Poetry Book Society Summer 2018 Choice.

Rupert Wieloch appeared on Sky News during the Total Politics show to discuss his new book, Churchill’s Abandoned Prisoners (978 1612007533, £20, hb). He discusses how the act of intervention by the Allies during the Russian Civil War resulted in a hundred years of bad blood between the country and the west. The Daily Echo, a leading Hampshire newspaper, has written an article about it ahead of Rupert’s scheduled launch event in Winchester on April 5th. You can find that here. Soldier Magazine called it “a very informative account of a lesser-known conflict.” The events described in this book are not only a stirring tale of courage and adventure but also only lift the lid on an episode that did much to sow distrust and precipitate events in World War Two and today, and there is likely to be more publicity to come.

A great  review of Mike Sergeant’s PR for Humans (£15.99, pb, 978 1788600552) here on Curzon PR. There’s also a feature in PR Moment here, an opinion piece for Cision on why the PR industry needs to keep it human to survive here and an article from Design Business Association here . PR for Humans is for pure-of-heart storytellers who want to cut through the noise and the nonsense. It brings together the essential and timeless principles of effective leadership communication and the principles and techniques Mike sets out in this book will help the reader deliver more powerful speeches, presentations, media interviews, videos, podcasts and blogs. It’s just out from Practical Inspiration.

Always good to end with some humour – so here are twenty-seven jokes that are NOT rude, but ARE funny! That’s all for now folks! More next week!

This weekly blog is written for the UK book trade. If you would like to order any of the titles mentioned, then please talk to your Compass Sales Manager, or call the Compass office on 020 8326 5696. Every Friday an e-newsletter containing highlights from the blog is sent out to over 700 booksellers and if you’d like to receive this then please contact

Friday, 15 March 2019

Compass Points 297

How thrilled were we this week for four of our Compass publishers when Wild Things won the inaugural British Book Awards Small Press of the Year, Parthian won the award for Wales and Carcanet for the North! And Comma were highly commended too! You can read all about it in the Bookseller here. Congratulations all!

Wild Things have been a stonking success story since their beginnings in 2011. Operating from the confluence of two rivers in a Somerset valley, they now have twenty-seven titles covering swimming, cycling, running, exploring, walking, ruins, meadows and the coast. Taking readers to places no other guidebooks reach; combining action-inspiring photography with beautiful maps, detailed instructions, directions and safety info; their turnover has grown dramatically from £33k to £823k in 5 years. The Bookseller noted them as the fastest growing travel publisher of 2017, achieving growth of 129.5%, compared to the travel books average of -3%. Wild Swimming alone has now sold over 70k copies and was made into primetime ITV and BBC shows. Bikepacking, Hidden Beaches, Wild Ruins and Wild Running have also inspired new communities, and BBC Countryfile episodes. The publisher is rightly proud of its record on “creating authors” as they take impassioned adventurers and train them in writing, photography and media management, so they can become career authors and expert commentators. And of course, their PR skills are second to none, with Wild Things books regularly achieving national newspaper coverage. It has a special relationship with the Guardian, the Sunday Times, the Times and Telegraph, resulting in 50 extracts placed since 2012 and a combined presence of 20,000 followers across Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Well done guys – we love you and your wonderful books!

More excitement with the news that And Other Stories’ Chilean author Alia Trabucco Zeran and translator Sophie Hughes have made it onto the 2019 Man Booker International Prize longlist for their debut novel The Remainder (978 1911508328, pb, £10). This is awarded for the “finest works of translation from around the world” and is worth £50,000 to its winners, split equally between author and translator. Small publishers feature big on the list of thirteen finalists as all but two are published by indie houses and the judges praise them for “enriching our idea of what fiction can do.” You can see the full list in the Guardian here and the shortlist will be announced on 9 April. Fingers crossed!

In the winter of 2009 Mac Macartney walked from his birthplace in England across Wales to the island of Anglesey, once the spiritual epicentre of Late Iron Age Britain, navigating by the sun and the stars, with no map, compass, stove or tent, and in the coldest winter for many years. The Children’s Fire (£12.99, pb, 978 1788600453 )records that journey, forging a trail into Britain’s wild and ancient Celtic past, locating the fragments of a story that still has resonance today; There’s been a great review of it in Resurgence & Ecologist calling it “elegant in its simplicity and pragmatism… radical and raw” which you can read here. It’s published by Practical Inspiration.

Most of us can remember a time when publishing marketing departments were overly keen on the concept of the promotional mug – a chunky little number with which reps would often foist on a tea-drinking bookseller in the hope of getting an order! But how many authors can say that they have had a range from Waterford Crystal inspired by their work?! I’m definitely hoping to tune in at 7pm this evening to RTE Nationwide to hear New Island author David Blake Knox talking about the line of decanters inspired by his book A Curious History of Irish Dogs (hb, £17.99, 978 1848405875). Irish Wolfhounds stalked through ancient Celtic mythology, Charles Stewart Parnell insisted that his Red Setter stay with him when he was on his death bed, hundreds of Irish Terriers served on the front lines of the trenches while the Irish Water Spaniel was reputed to be descended from the dobhar-chú– a Celtic spirit. Ireland’s nine native breeds of dog are an integral part of its cultural narrative and this is a really fascinating and quirky examination of the role that our canine chums have played in Ireland’s social and political history over the last few hundred years. I actually really quite fancy these dog decanters – and if you do too, and have the odd £200 knocking around then you can find them on the Waterford website here! Or why not order A Curious History of Irish Dogs instead, and then you’ll have £182.01 to spare!

Spanning decades and encompassing war, mass exodus, epic migrations and the search for individual and collective identity, The Last Earth tells the story of modern Palestine through the memories of those who have lived it. Ordinary Palestinians have rarely narrated their own history., but in this ground-breaking book, acclaimed author Ramzy Baroud draws on dozens of interviews to produce vivid, intimate and beautifully written accounts of Palestinian lives; in villages, refugee camps, prisons and cities, in the lands of their ancestors and in exile. There’s been a lot of recent publicity, with Ramzy Baroud writing pieces in Counterpunch, Middle East Media, Scoop, Gulf News, Asia Times, and the Palestine Chronicle. It's published by Pluto.

As Queen in 3D (£30, hb, 978 1999667429) continues to sell and sell, this is a really interesting article in Forbes magazine, entitled Don't Stop Us Now: What Queen Can Teach Public Relations Agencies. It says “In PR there is much to be learned and applied by paying attention to Queen’s mantra and enduring characteristics” – well worth a read for anyone interested in marketing and publicity!

Fancy a bit of an unusual break this Easter? Whether you are looking to stay on the coast, in the city, in a horse box, or maybe in your own windmill; Cool Places (£18.99, pb, 978 1906889692) has some fab ideas! There’s just been a great review, with lots of gorgeous pictures in Life Begins at 40 – which you can read here. “With excellent photography and meticulous detail, Cool Places is a great aid for any travel around Britain. The only problem in reading the colourful and comprehensive travel book is that you will want to stay in all the B&Bs, pubs and hotels listed in it.” Have a look – it really gives you a feel for the book which is published by Punk.

What would it mean to become supernatural? What if you could tune in to frequencies beyond our material world and change your brain chemistry to access transcendent levels of awareness and create a new future? This sounds like something from Torchwood or The X-Files, but no, it’s what New York Times bestselling author Dr Joe Dispenza offers in Becoming Supernatural: How Common People are Doing the Uncommon (978 1781808313, £15.99); a revolutionary book that allow ordinary people to reach extraordinary states of being. Using tools and practices ranging from state-of-the-art brain imaging to exercises such as a walking meditation, Dr Joe offers nothing less than a program for stepping outside our physical reality and into a new world. It has just been published by Hay House, and was recently promoted via a giveaway in Kindred Spirit magazine which has a circulation of over 150,000 readers.

Jenny Lewis will be on BBC Radio 3’s The Verb this evening which is very exciting; you can listen to that here. The episode is entitled New Writers, Old Stories and Jenny will be discussing her versatile and inventive retelling of Gilgamesh (£12.99, pb, 978 1784106140) and how she captured the powerful allure of the world’s oldest poem. She relocates it to its earlier, oral roots in a Sumerian society where men and women were more equal, the reigning deity of Gilgamesh’s city, Uruk, was female, only women were allowed to brew beer and keep taverns and women had their own language. It’s published by Carcanet.

I hope everyone who went had a great London Book Fair! Here's a fun round-up of the week in pictures in the Bookseller! Our own Trade Sales Director Simon Kingsley has made the cut I’m pleased to see; here he is accepting the Small Press of the Year Award on behalf of Wild Things!

Well, I must admit that in amongst all the other Comic Relief fun and games this evening, I am REALLY looking forward to the Four Weddings and a Funeral reunion! If you are a fan like me, then you’ll probably enjoy reliving some of the best bits of the original here!

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

This weekly blog is written for the UK book trade. If you would like to order any of the titles mentioned, then please talk to your Compass Sales Manager, or call the Compass office on 020 8326 5696. Every Friday an e-newsletter containing highlights from the blog is sent out to over 700 booksellers and if you’d like to receive this then please contact

Friday, 8 March 2019

Compass Points 296

“Translation, like feminism, is a form of activism, its very etymology a movement.” It’s International Women’s Day today of course, and  there’s a great blog here on women in translation with a special mention for And Other Stories and also Sudanese author Rania Mamoun whose debut short story collection Thirteen Months of Sunrise (978 1910974391, pb £9.99) Comma publish in May. "English-language publishers ...who actively seek out women in translation are doing something revolutionary" it says, and naturally we agree!

I’m very excited to let you know that a title from one of our newer publishers, Fairlight has been longlisted for the Women’s Prize for Fiction 2019. You can see the full longlist here in Vogue. Bottled Goods by Sophie van Llewyn (£7.99, pb, 978 1912054305) is published in the Fairlight Moderns series which showcases short new fiction from around the world, and it’s the only small press book on the list, which is certainly one very good reason to support it! Another reason is that it’s a cracking read! Set in 1970s communist Romania, this novella-in-flash draws upon magic realism to weave a tale of everyday troubles that can't be put down. “A story to savour, to smile at, to rage against and to weep over” said Zoe Gilbert, while Dolly Alderton called it “enjoyable.” The book has also been longlisted for The Republic of Consciousness Prize 2019 and The People's Book Prize 2018, so it seems like a bit of a buzz is growing for Sophie van Llewyn – this is her debut novel. She was born in Romania, and now lives in Germany. If any bookshop would like some Fairlight Modern posters (which include Bottled Goods) then please get in touch with

Widdershins by Helen Steadman was a bestselling title for Impress, and there will be plenty of fans waiting for its sequel Sunwise (978 1911293255, pb, £8.99) which is out on 1 April. The witch-finder is still at large and he will stop at nothing in his quest to rid England of the scourge of witchcraft. Inspired by true events, Sunwise tells the story of one woman’s struggle for survival in a hostile and superstitious world. There is an extensive blog tour planned for this title at the end of this month, including @thebooktrail, @pageturnersnook, @LisaReadsBooks, @TheQuietKnitter, @jaffareadstoo, @paperbackpiano, @thebookmagnet, @Beadyjan, @ShortBookScribe, @Cathy_A_J, @LoveBooksGroup, @Cat_book_tea and @Susana_Aikin. Widdershins was very well reviewed indeed with many readers comparing its atmospheric and dynamic writing to Hannah Kent's Burial Rites.

A new take on this subject is provided in Witchery (978 1788172042, £12.99, pb) by Juliet Diaz which has just been published by Hay House. In this book, third-generation Witch Juliet Diaz guides you on a journey to connect with the Magick within you.  Filled with inspiration, and love, Witchery is your guide and companion on a wickedly delicious journey to true self-empowerment. An interview with Juliet was in this month’s Soul & Spirit magazine. I think this book would look great displayed with Sunwise and Widdershins!

Top Ten Movie Witches anyone?

Many people in the UK are caring for someone one with dementia and don’t know where to begin Pink Slippers: Mum, Dementia and Me, a Story of Hope (£9.99, pb, 978 1788600880) has the answers. Jane Hardy writes frankly about the experiences she and her mum have shared over the past four years since Beth was diagnosed with vascular dementia and Alzheimer’s with a score of 16 at the age of 90. Four years later, she has a score of 20+, is stronger and healthier, has a positive outlook on life and her GP cannot believe her improvement! This book contains real life strategies, gadgets and ideas to help avoid the same mistakes that Jane initially made and slow down this terrible illness. It’s out from Practical Inspiration in June, and there will be reviews in Red, Good Housekeeping, Woman & Home and Yours. There will also be advertising and promotion via dementia cafes, The Magnolia Club, Time 4 Carers Group, the Alzheimer’s Society, Carers UK and Dementia Forum. If you’d like to read a proof, then please email

Booksellers are lovely people – but you already knew that right? If you needed any proof, then this heart-warming story from the US is for you! When Seth Marko, the owner of The Book Catapult required immediate open-heart surgery, the booksellers who all worked at competing bookstores in the San Diego area all decided to pitch in and work there instead to stop Seth’s shop from closing.  Once I started to tell our book-selling friends what was going on, I had an entire roster” said one of them. “The book world is a little bit different. It’s the community coming together.” Ahhh!

You will probably enjoy this amusing clip from Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, where among other things he discusses automation and AI. Interestingly, Kogan Page have just announced that they will be publishing a book on AI – nothing interesting whatsoever about that I hear you cry – but get this, the book itself is actually written with the help of artificial intelligence! Yikes – it sounds like I could shortly be out of a job! Superhuman Innovation: Transforming Business with Artificial Intelligence  (£14.99, pb, 978 0749483838 ) by Chris Duffey came out in paperback on 3rd March, and you can read more about it in the Bookseller here.  

Brexit Day (29 March) is approaching fast and that’s also the publication date for Zero Hours on the Boulevard: Tales of Independence and Belonging (pb, £9.99, 978 1912109128) which is a short story anthology written in response to this extrordinary moment. A collaborative project between Welsh publisher Parthian and Literature Across Frontiers, the work brings together fifteen short stories from authors all over the world. The mission is to perpetuate literary conversation among Britain and Europe and to reflect in earnest on the ramifications of Brexit. Zero Hours on the Boulevard features specially commissioned stories from award-winning writers such as Alys Conran, Clare Azzopardi, Albert Forns and Llŷr Gwyn Lewis. The many topics touched upon include immigration, political unrest, costs of living, cultural pasts and personal relationships. As Patrick McGuinness writes, this is “a book of many voices – angry, hopeful, confused and weary –  about our uncertain times. What all these tales have in common is a belief in the individual’s story, and in the power of smaller countries to give new perspectives on the world we think we know.” The anthology will be launched during the London Book Fair next week, and there is also a book tour going to The Grove in London W6 0NQ on 13th March 7:30 – 9:00, Roath Park Pub in Cardiff CF24 3JE on 14th March 7:30 – 9:00, The Morlan Centre in Aberystwyth SY23 2HH on 15th March 6:30 – 8:00 and Bangor University LL57 2DG on 18th March 6:30 – 8:00.

Staying with Brexit, Richard Simmons, one of the authors of Tales of Brexits Past and Present (£12.99, pb, 978 1787694385) was on the Emma Barnett Show on Radio 5 Live on Tuesday. You can listen to that here. By looking to the past, this book offers insights into what we might expect in the future, providing an engaging narrative that will open the minds of readers to the options, risks and opportunities that could be unmasked. Tales of Brexits Past and Present is published by Emerald.

Simon Elliott, author of Roman Legionnaires and the upcoming Julius Caesar: Rome's Greatest Warlord which is published in June by Casemate in their Short Histories series; is due to appear in a new show created by the team at Dan Snow’s History Hit. The show, titled The Big Questions: Caesar, has been filmed, and with release date will be announced soon! An article on the book written by Simon for History Hit, is available here. Julius Caesar has been the inspiration to countless military commanders over the last two millennia and this concise history details his military life, and how it impacted with his political career, from his youth through the civil wars that resulted in his becoming the dictator of Rome, and his legacy.

Oh alright, go one then, you know you want to; here are nine minutes of the best moments from Gladiator!

There was a great review for The D-Day Training Pocket Manual 1944 (pb, £8.99, 978 1612007335) in Britain at War. “Assembled by Chris McNab, this book combines excerpts from various Allied training manuals, including instructions to troops participating in amphibious landings, glider, and paratroop assaults. The result is a remarkable glimpse of how the Allies geared up for the largest amphibious invasion ever seen … a fascinating window on the preparations made ahead of D-Day.”

Simon Fishel’s Breakthrough Babies (£14.99, 978 1788600736, pb) has much publicity coming up with an exclusive large interview and photos in the Daily Telegraph and an extract in the Daily Mail and the Mail Online both tomorrow, plus an interview with Simon on BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme. Then there’s a large interview in the Sunday Mirror on Sunday and an interview in the Jewish Telegraph on 15th March, live spots on BBC Radio Newcastle, Cambridge, Nottingham and Leeds over the coming week and a TV slot on the Ireland AM Breakfast Show.

And finally, a new study has revealed that the Mr Men books are only slightly easier to read than John Steinbeck! Read more on this story on the BBC here – 33,000 books for children and young people were analysed in total, with every page examined for sentence length, average word length and word difficulty level. Well, we always knew there was more to children’s books than meets the eye – and on that note, who knew that Beyoncé was such a fan of Thomas the Tank Engine? Enjoy!

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

This weekly blog is written for the UK book trade. If you would like to order any of the titles mentioned, then please talk to your Compass Sales Manager, or call the Compass office on 020 8326 5696. Every Friday an e-newsletter containing highlights from the blog is sent out to over 700 booksellers and if you’d like to receive this then please contact

Friday, 1 March 2019

Compass Points 295

We are loving this fun 1-minute promotional video from Oxbow for Reinventing Sustainability: How Archaeology Can Save the Planet (pb, £25, 978 1785709920). On Facebook, the video reached almost 10,000 people, and had over 4,000 views of ten seconds or more! There have been many books written about what we can learn from the failures of the past, but Erika Guttmann-Bond has taken a more optimistic view, focussing on what we have to learn from past successes. With case studies and solution, she controversially suggests we combine some aspects of early technology with new systems and inventions such as solar energy, to create a healthier, more sustainable and environmentally richer planet.

Our attitudes to health, life and death are changing fast and Words in Pain: Letters on Life and Death by Olga Jacoby (hb, 978 1911072355, £15.00) is a rediscovered treasure which will appeal to diverse readers with its clear-headed musings on the nature of illness and loss. First published anonymously in 1919, these letters from a dying woman to her doctor display an attitude which is fiercely independent of religion but full of hope. They illuminate the development of rationalist thought, humanism and liberal education and provide comfort for those who try to come to terms with dying, without religion to cushion the blow. It is published by Skyscraper next week and has had some great pre-publicity. Sandi Toksvig said “these wonderful letters prove that true immortality lies in what we leave behind. For those of us who cannot accept the consolation of religion, they provide a sane and comforting view of how to live and, more importantly, die. A feminist, rational and heartening voice about the big stuff.” Canon Mark Oakley said “The freshness, courage and insight of Olga Jacoby help us come to terms with human collage and complexity. This is a marvellous book.”

I’m very much looking forward to Comma’s The Book of Cairo (£9.99, pb, 978 1910974254)  which is published this month and it seems I’m not the only one; it was included in Translated Lit's Most Anticipated Books for March, you can see that here .These ten short stories showcase some of the most exciting, emerging voices in Egypt, guiding us through one of the world’s largest and most historic cities as it is today, from its slums to its villas, its bars and its balconies, through its infamous traffic. Appearing in English for the first time, these stories evoke the sadness and loss of the modern city, as well as its humour and beauty.

The Chartered Management Institute Management Book of the Year category winners have been announced and hurrah, Myths of Leadership is this year’s winner in the Aspiring Leaders category! You may be thinking, blimey, there are over 50,000 leadership books available already, so why does the world need another one? Well, as Jo Owen tells us in a terrific article here that his book was written because there are so many leadership books; 50,000 is a problem, not a solution! Myths of Leadership is designed to help you find your way through the vast sea of fads and falsehoods and his article lets you in on four of the biggest myths out there!  You can find all the shortlists and category winder on the CMI website here. Myths of Leadership (£14.99, pb, 978 0749480745) is published by Kogan Page.

Chris Wallace-Crabbe's Rondo (pb, 978 1784106430, £9.99) has been shortlisted for the Kenneth Slessor Prize for Poetry in the New South Wales Premier's Literature Awards. This collection is full of sharp wit and humour, the Times Literary Supplement called him “a witty, endearingly slangy, yet unostentatiously philosophical Australian poet.” It’s published by Carcanet.

Hmm, methinks Trump should definitely have had a read of the excellent Pluto title Talking To North Korea (pb, £14.99, 978 0745337852) before he had his recent chat with Kim Jong-un. This provocative account blasts apart the myths which paint North Korea as a rogue state run by a mad leader, and while acknowledging that it is deeply flawed and repressive state, it nonetheless shows that sections of the leadership are desperate to modernise and end their isolation. Informed by extraordinary access to the country's leadership, Glyn Ford investigates the regime from the inside, providing game-changing insights.

Lord Horatio Herbert Kitchener is most famous today as the face of the poster that led the country's recruitment drive during the early part of the First World War. But in recent years, with the recent release of records by the government, it has been the nature of his death that has stirred up passions long forgotten. There is lots of promotion coming for Who Killed Kitchener? (hb, 978 1785902376, £20) when it’s published by Biteback later this month. The keynote publicity includes a serialisation in the Daily Mail from 20th March, an interview on the BBC Today programme on the 20th March, ditto Sky News and there are confirmed reviews in the Sunday Times (24th March), the Telegraph and the Spectator. There will also be interviews with author David Laws on the Afternoon Show, BBC Radio Scotland and Newstalk Ireland. Local radio includes an interview on Radio Somerset (David was formerly the MP for Yeovil) and of course both Iain Dale and Eamonn Holmes will be interviewing David on their respective radio shows. David will also be discussing Who Killed Kitchener? at the Hay Festival on Tuesday 28th May.

What’s not to love about Olivia Coleman’s totes emosh speech at the Oscars! Jacqui Harper, author of Executive Presentations: Develop Presence to Speak with Confidence and Skill (pb, £15.99, 978 1788600163) agrees calling it “a masterclass” and she has written a great blog post entitled What Oscars 2019 Teaches Us About Public Speaking in The HR Director – you can read that here . Shortlisted for the 2019 Business Book Awards, Jacqui’s book equips executives to give compelling and clear presentations using what you say, how you use your body, and your mindset to transform the way you think. Her rich blend of tools, tips and expert advice will help you become a consistently outstanding communicator. Lots of reviews and features coming up for this one in the business media.

Very sadly Labour MP Paul Flynn died last week, so I will just remind you about his excellent book How to Be An MP (978 1849542203, pb) which is published by Biteback. With a foreword by the Speaker John Bercow, here is a guide for anyone and everyone fascinated by the quirks and foibles of Westminster Palace, covering all species of backbencher and providing every hardworking MP and political enthusiast with the know-how to survive life in Parliament. How to Be an MP is indispensable reading for anyone wishing to make a mark from the back bench and in the process, it provides the outsider with a riveting insight into life as a Member.

Hurrah, The GCSE Mindset (978 1785831843, £18,99, pb) by Steve Oakes and Martin Griffin is a finalist in the 2019 Education Resources Awards’ Educational Book of the Year category. This super-practical title contains forty activities for transforming student commitment, motivation and productivity and offers a wealth of concrete, applicable tools designed to supercharge GCSE students’ resilience and organisation. A full listing of the awards’ shortlists can be found here here.

A very interesting article here about the pioneering women in north-eastern Syria, who have escaped from Isis to start over in a female-only commune. This article is part of a Guardian series on possible solutions to some of the world’s most stubborn problems, and there is an interesting Pluto title on this subject: Revolution in Rojava: Democratic Autonomy and Women's Liberation in Syrian Kurdistan (£16.99, pb, 978 0745336596). The title has been hailed as “a possible way forward out of the tragedy of the Middle East, and more than that: a possible way forward out of the catastrophe that is capitalism. This book is of great help... A careful and detailed account that is filled with personal narrative, it is both easily accessible and very informative.”

Dave Eicher and Brian May have been all over the place this month talking about Mission Moon 3D Reliving the Great Space Race (£30, hb, 978 1999667405). You can see a short talk by Brian before the Bath event here.  And over on Twitter here you can get a glimpse inside the 2019 Astrofest as David Eicher and Brian May presented the book to a captivated audience of 800. As Steve Wright put it on Radio 2 recently, "beautifully photographed, this is ideal for me … I love Queen and I love space … I’m in heaven!" If you missed that great interview with Brian you can hear it here!

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

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