Friday, 18 May 2018

Compass Points 261

It’s Mental Health Awareness Week, and model and journalist Lily Bailey appeared on Channel 5’s series Me and My Mental Illness on Thursday (17th May) talking about her struggle with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. Her authentic and compelling memoir Because We are Bad has just been published by Canbury Press and lights up the workings of the mind in a way reminiscent of Mark Haddon or Matt Haig – although the Huffington Post also remarked that it was “full of so much inner and external turbulence that it reminded me at times of The Bourne Identity and Memento and is often as chilling as Sylvia Plath's The Bell Jar.” The Guardian said “I laughed, I cried. I could not put this book down. Intensely moving with flashes of black humour” and Lily has also written a big piece this week sharing her tips on beating OCD in the Mail – which you can see here. OCD is one of the top ten most serious illnesses, according to the World Health Organisation and with all the publicity there has been for this powerful title, it should sell through really well.

In all the excitement of weddings, cup finals and May mayhem in general, what better time to enjoy a short moment of calm by reading the Guardian’s Poem of the Week by Harry Gilonis – which includes this beautifully delicate stanza:

white the moon
white the wine
white the light
white the leaf
white the rock
white the bark
white the stone
white the dawn

You can read the full feature here which includes a lovely exploration of the poem. It is taken from Gilonis’s Rough Breathing: Selected Poems (pb, £16.99, 978 1784103729) which has just been published by Carcanet and covers three decades of his work – meticulous, beautifully poised among many traditions with a light and lucid beauty all of its own.

Zimbabwean writer Ian Holding’s new novel What Happened To Us (hb, £14.99, 978 1999854904) is getting some fantastic reviews – it was featured on a Literary Postcard on BBC Radio 4’s Open Book (first played on Sunday 13 May and then repeated); you can listen to it here. There was also a great review by Jackie Law on Follow the Hens describing it as a “slow burner building to an intensity that lingers beyond the final page” – that one’s here. BookBlast said "the deceptively simple storytelling narrates a disturbing and layered tale with admirable grace. The author’s sensory detail, imagery, and strong descriptions build up tension and a textured impressionistic feel of domestic life that is destroyed by a random and traumatic act of violence coming in from the outside" – that’s here and you can see an Author of the Week feature and interview with Ian here. In lean, lyrical prose, reminiscent of the work of J.M. Coetzee and Cormac McCarthy this is a mesmerising coming-of-age tale of guilt and responsibility set within the fault-lines of modern Africa and if you’d like to read an excerpt, then you can find that on the Little Island Press website here.

Prime Minister's Questions is the bear pit of British politics. Watched and admired around the world, it is often hated at home for bringing out the worst in our politicians. Yet despite successive leaders trying to get away from this style of politics, it’s here to stay. Biteback have just published Punch and Judy Politics by Ayesha Hazarika and Tom Hamilton (£20, hb, 978 1785901843) and as you’d expect, the authors have been much in demand! Ayesha and Tom talked about the book on The Westminster Hour, which aired a special PMQs segment (click here for the full interview or short clip), BBC News Channel, Beyond 100 Days [00:16:30], a PMQs special edition of the Times, Red Box Podcast with Matt Chorley (good fun and well worth a listen), and today's BBC Daily Politics, where Ayesha appeared as Guest of the Day alongside Canadian controversialist Jordan Peterson (short clip).  They've also penned pieces, revealing the secrets to PMQs success, and why it's still such a must-watch, in the Huffington Post, Scotsman and Evening Standard. There's plenty more to come next week, with interviews on the BBC's BOOKtalk Talk Radio, BBC Radio 5 Live's Afternoon Edition, the Telegraph's Chopper's Podcast with Chris Hope, Sky News and much more! With their unique knowledge plus personal recollections from key players from both sides, including Tony Blair, David Cameron, William Hague, Ed Miliband, George Osborne, Vince Cable, Harriet Harman and Neil Kinnock, this is an insightful and often hilarious book.

Do you ever feel like something's missing in your life – but you just can't put your finger on what? Do you ever experience cravings so strong you feel like something's possessing you? In Hungry for More (£12.99, pb, 978-1788170215) the UK’s leading eating psychology coach Mel Wells helps you dive deeper into your food and body psychology, to help you understand how your unwanted eating patterns and cravings might not be due to a lack of will power but a lack of fulfilment. What's more, if you pay attention to them, they might actually point you in the direction of your soul's true calling. and unlock a gateway to limitless spiritual and personal growth. Hungry for More is published by Hay House on 10 July, and there’s lots of publicity coming up, including extracts and features in The Lifestyle Library, Alt Healthy Magazine and Psychologies.

And if you’d like to find out what your food habits really say about you – then you can take the quiz on Mel’s own website here!

A really fascinating interview  here on the PaperTrail Podcast with Martyn Bedford, the author of Letters Home. Interesting stuff on writing for adults versus writing for young adults, and the licence that writing gives you to assume a variety of personas, voices and perspectives. Letters Home (978 1905583751, £9.99, pb) has just been published by Comma and is an extremely powerful and affecting collection of short stories. Jeremy Dyson called them “haunting and intimate portraits of vividly different lives that get under your skin and stay there” and the New York Times said of Martyn that he was “the genuine article, a writer of unmistakable flair and accomplishment.”

5 May was the 200th anniversary of Marx’s birth. Arcturus have three editions of The Communist Manifesto available; a hardback, (978 1848375925, £6.99) a paperback (978 1784286989, £6.99) and a deluxe hardback with a silk cover (£14.99, 978 1 788287494). Tony Benn, writing in the New Statesman said this was “the best possible explanation of what the world was about that I had ever read. It pointed out that the real conflicts in the world were not between black and white, men and women, Muslims, Christians and Jews, Americans, Russians and Chinese; it was about the conflict of economic interest between 95 per cent of the population of the world, who create the world’s wealth, and the 5 per cent who own it. I think of Marx as a prophet: the last of the Old Testament prophets. And we should think of him as a teacher ... " The Guardian wrote “As a force for change, its influence has been surpassed only by the Bible. As a piece of writing, it is a masterpiece.” Marx and Engels's revolutionary summons to the working classes is one of the most important and influential political theories ever formulated – and certainly should be stocked by every bookshop!

The health – and especially deaths – of composers excite controversy. Was Mozart an alcoholic and was he really poisoned? Did Tchaikovsky commit suicide? How did Beethoven lose his hearing? Many reputations have been sullied by unsubstantiated views, and scandalous commentary, often involving alcoholism or syphilis. A new book, That Jealous Demon, My Wretched Health (£25, 9781783272587, hb) by a retired surgeon, charts the disturbed physical and mental health of seventy great composers and attempts to unpick the evidence forensically as well as considering the balance of probabilities. What a fascinating idea for a book – clearly a slightly niche subject, but nonetheless one which I feel many readers would be interested in – and this handsome 400-page hardback would make a terrific gift for any classical musical lover. Its author Jonathan Noble, has been interviewed this week by the Guardian which you can read here and the Telegraph which is here. It’s just been published by Boydell Press.

Analysis was presented at the British Psychological Society’s annual conference last week, addressing gender stereotypes in children’s books, which perhaps unsurprisingly, came to the conclusion that the Mr Men Books are sexist. This story was picked up by lots of the media; Good Morning Britain pitting Piers Morgan against Labour MP Emily Thornberry who correctly pointed out that it is absolutely outrageous the way the male characters get to be just plain “Mr” while the female ones are always the demeaning and diminutive “Little Miss” You can read more on that entertaining story here.

Two new Brexit books to bring to your attention! With peers unexpectedly slapping down the Government’s plans, MPs will not have a chance to decide whether Britain should leave the European single market, making it decision time for the anti-Brexiteers. Who knows what will happen next? Well Canbury Press claim to, in their compact guide Brexit: What the Hell Happens Now? (pb, £8.99, 978-0995497856) by Ian Dunt which reckons to be the only book your customers will need to tell their EU from their EEA. This 2018 edition comes highly endorsed: Prospect Magazine said “I would strongly recommend this excellent guide. Dunt has taken the extraordinary step of asking a set of experts what they think. I learnt a lot.” And Caroline Lucas said she 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.” Then there’s also Squaring the Circle on Brexit: Could the Norway Model Work? (pb, £12.99, 978-1529200300) by John Erik Fossum and Hans Petter Graver from Bristol University Press which sets out what Britain can learn from Norway's experience and how transferable these lessons are. There’s a great blog piece on this one examining 10 popular myths about the Norway experience here which was then reposted on the UK in a Changing Europe blog here: here and then linked to in the FT Brexit Briefing here. Super publicity!

As you currently flick through this newsletter on your computer or phone, pretending to be working hard – do you sense that someone may be watching you? You may well be right; managers are increasingly monitoring computers, toilet breaks – even emotions. From microchip implants to wristband trackers and sensors that can detect fatigue and depression, new technology is enabling employers to watch staff in more and more intrusive ways. Is your boss secretly watching you? asks a frankly scary article in the Guardian here which includes a discussion with Jamie Woodcock author of Working the Phones (pb, 978 0745399065, £17.99) – a brilliant and revealing insider account of life in a British call centre which is published by Pluto.

No better opportunity I feel than to end with this absolute banger from 1984; way ahead of its time in more ways than one!

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, 11 May 2018

Compass Points 260

An absolutely lovely piece here on BBC Look North featuring award-winning author Jane Lovering and the cafĂ© in which she writes her bestselling novels. Jane comes across beautifully – and it really makes you want to read her books! Her latest is Little Teashop of Horrors (pb, £7.99, 978 1781894200) which has just been published by Choc Lit and is, as the reviews have said: “Quite simply, wonderful! I have read and loved all Jane's books and can never get enough of her quirky sense of humour or different, but amazing, heroes. This, however, was probably my favourite.” Many in publishing have made the mistake of being somewhat snobby about romance titles. But as the stats confirm, from Pride and Prejudice to Fifty Shades; books that arouse readers’ passions and reliably offer a happy ending; capture fans in a way that few other genres can deliver. There’s an interesting article about the US market here — as one agent says “Romance readers are a really, really different animal from any other kind of reader out there. They are incredibly voracious. They consume content like locusts.” Not the politest of metaphors – but an thought-provoking read nonetheless!

After many months reading through Wales’ literary offerings from 2017, two independent judging panels have chosen their shortlists for the Wales Book of the Year Awards 2018. Hurrah – Parthian, Carcanet and University of Wales Press all have titles on it! The two Parthian novels up for the Fiction Prize are Hummingbird (pb, £8.99, 978 1912109807); a moving tale of loss, absence and redemption by Tristan Hughes and Bad Ideas /Chemicals (pb, £8.99, 978 1912109685) Lloyd Markham’s dark and witty take on small-town life. The Carcanet title up for the Poetry Award is Diary of the Last Man (£9.99, pb, 978 1784103484) by Robert Minhinnick which was also shortlisted for the 2017 T.S. Eliot Prize and is a bleakly elegiac, environmentally political, vital and visionary celebration of the dwindling Earth. All That is Wales: The Collected Essays of M. Wynn Thomas (hb, £24.99, 978 1786830890) published by University of Wales Press is up for the Creative Non-fiction Award and is a collection of essays from number of English-language authors. Wales may be small, but culturally it is richly varied and this book offers a sample of the country's internal diversity. The result is a portrait of Wales as a 'micro-cosmopolitan country'. You can find out more about all of the books on the Literature Wales website here. The winners will be announced on 26th June.

While we’re on the subject of all things welsh – I absolutely LOVE this beautiful front cover for the Bookseller today, celebrating Parthian’s 25th birthday! Happy Birthday Parthian – or should I say Penblwydd Hapus!

If any of you are thinking of leaving the world of bookselling and becoming a writer – then I thought this was an interesting piece in the Bookseller: Five Questions Aspiring Authors Should Ask Themselves Now.

A new book, We Dared to Win: The SAS in Rhodesia (£24.20, hb, 978-1612005874) by Hannah Wessels and Andre Scheepers details the extraordinary SAS plan to kill Mugabe as he led the African National Union forces across the border from Mozambique in February 1979. The mission to kill Robert Mugabe before he seized power was thwarted when the British tipped him off that assassins were closing in. Mugabe was leading the fight for majority black rule against Ian Smith's government in Rhodesia – now known as Zimbabwe –  a year before he became the nation's prime minister. This story is getting lots of great publicity – you can read all about it in Daily Mail here  and the Times have just published a feature including a listing for the book here and the Sun published this . We Dared to Win begins with Andre Scheepers’ childhood on a farm, learning about the bush from his African friends, and becoming a soldier after the family had to leave the farm after being ambushed by terrorists. In addition to Andre’s personal story the book also reveals more about the other men who were distinguished operators in other celebrated SAS operations. This is the story of soldiers, the hardships, the battles they fought and the challenges they faced. It’s just been published by Casemate.

There has been lots of ongoing publicity for Smart Women Don't Get Wrinkles: How to Feel and Look 10 Years Younger Without Effort (pb, £8.99, 978 1783340910) by bestselling author Helena Frith Powell which came out in paperback last month from Gibson Square. There’s a feature coming up in the Sunday Telegraph and an extract agreed with the Mail. Along with advice from stunning-looking women from around the world, Helena Frith Powell describes one woman's battle with time, using humour, sensible advice from her seemingly eternally youthful mother (and the odd glass of champagne) as potent weapons in the fight to look good. Helena humorously interviews beauticians, doctors and scientists and discovers anything from improved breathing techniques to a procedure that is the equivalent of having your skin fried! Helena is a regular contributor to the national press, so you can expect plenty of publicity for this – the hardback certainly got oodles!

Whenever a miscarriage of justice hits the headlines, it is tempting to dismiss it as a minor hiccup in an otherwise healthy judicial system. Yet the cases of injustice that feature in an eye-popping new book from Biteback, reveal that they are not just minor hiccups, but symptoms of a chronic illness plaguing the British legal system. In Guilty Until Proven Innocent (£12.99, pb, 978 1785903694) award-winning journalist Jon Robins lifts the lid on Britain’s legal scandals and exposes the disturbing complacency that has led to many innocent people being deemed guilty, either in the eyes of the law or in the court of public opinion. Here's a feature by Jon this week writing about his book in the Guardian.

The growth of the bookclub has undoubtably done wonders for book sales. But does anyone in a book club actually read the books or are they just an excuse to knock back the sauvignon and Aperol spritzes? Here are thirty-three sentences and their true meanings that anyone who’s in a book club will enjoy – from “May run a bit late tonight" = "I didn't read the book and I'm hoping you will be done talking about it by the time I arrive" to "So what did everyone think?" = "I did not understand this book, please explain it to me." I think these will strike a chord with many of us!

Finding a cure for baldness is an endlessly fascinating quest for scientists – and one reported just this week here on the BBC. This item and many more are included in the extraordinary stories in Bodyology: The Curious Science of Our Bodies (pb, £8.99, 978 0995497863) which evolved out of a project founded by the health charity Wellcome. These are sixteen terrifically readable pieces all by different writers – science writing that asks and answers intriguing questions. Chapters include: What’s it like to be struck by lightning; Are allergies a defence against industrial chemicals? Why dieters can't rely on calories; How 3D printers can now make body parts; What it means to lose your sense of smell and How to fall to your death and live to tell the tale. I think this book could do really well – popular science is a booming genre, and many of the authors here are well known journalists and prolific on social media, so hopefully there will be plenty of buzz about it! It has just been published by Canbury Press.

Some superb publicity for Caroline Warwick-Evans and Tim van Berkel, founders of The Cornish Seaweed Company and authors of course of The Seaweed Cookbook (978 0754832874, £15, hb) They featured in  this week’s episode of BBC2’s Back to the Land with Kate Humble; the feel-good tales of rural entrepreneurs and you can watch that here. There was also a great article about them in the Telegraph here. This beautiful new book provides a visual directory of the most popular edible seaweeds, with details of when and where they can be found, their uses and nutritional properties. Then there are a hundred deliciously creative recipes and stunning pictures by award-winning photographer David Griffen. Plenty of inspiration to leave readers eager to get foraging, cooking and feasting! The Cornish Seaweed Company – and sales of edible seaweed in general – are flourishing, so it stands to reason that sales of this Lorenz book should be too!

We’re used to hearing about the gender pay gap in publishing, but did you know that there’s also evidence that books written by women are also sold for less than those by men? Which means of course that female authors’ royalties will be less too! A new study found that books written by women were nearly half the price. The research analysed the prices of over two million books published in North America between 2002 and 2012 and cross-referenced the genders of the authors against the price, genre and publication of the tomes. Ultimately, they found that books penned by women were priced at an average of 45% less! You can read more about this in the Stylist here.

A terrific review from Allison Pearson in the Sunday Telegraph last weekend for Biteback’s People Like Us: Margaret Thatcher and Me (978 1785902246, hb, £20). She wrote “Slocock has done her former boss and women in general a great service in painting such a vivid, sympathetic picture of what it means to be powerful and female.” You can read the whole article here.

We’ve become accustomed to the pervy way that some male authors write about women in their novels. But imagine this was the other way around. How would that work? For example, they would probably talk about testicles in a borderline obsessive way. For this insight and more, go to Buzzfeed here!

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, 4 May 2018

Compass Points 259

May the force be with you and all that – and did you know that May 4th is the day that Margaret Thatcher came to power – thirty-nine years ago! That makes today the ideal moment tell you about the terrific publicity for People Like Us: Margaret Thatcher and Me (£20, hb, 978 1785902246) by Caroline Slocock. Originally serialised in the Times (part 1, part 2 & interview), it has now featured in the Mail on Sunday and formed the basis for news stories in the Daily Express and Daily Mirror. Comment pieces by Caroline have appeared on the Independent and Huffington Post and the book was the focus of Charles Moore’s latest column in the Telegraph. Caroline has also been busy speaking about her time working with Margaret Thatcher on Start the Week with Andrew Marr, the Today Programme and The Westminster Hour on BBC Radio 4, as well on LBC, Sky News and BBC Daily Politics. It’s been the Daily Mail’s Book of the Week and Caroline appeared on The World Tonight, alongside fellow Biteback writer Barbara Hosking author of Exceeding My Brief: Memoirs of a Disobedient Civil Servant (hb, £25, 978 1785903557), to discuss working with ministers and Civil Service leaks. Divulging what life is really like behind the famous No 10 door, Caroline appeared on this week’s much-shared and praised edition of the Times Red Box podcast with Matt Chorley and today Caroline was on a dedicated edition of BBC World Service’s programme Witness: When Margaret Thatcher Came to Power, and also on BBC Radio 4’s The World at One.

From Darth Vader to Margaret Thatcher, rolling through those maniacal despots reminds me that Donald Trump is due to come to the UK for a one-day visit on Friday 13 July. I’m sure you’ll want to mark the occasion with a Trump tower of books in your shops (see what I did there) – so here’s a few suggestions. You can see a larger selection pictured – but titles you’ll definitely need are Game of Thorns by Doug Wear (Biteback, £12.99, pb, 9781785902260) which was first authoritative account of the precipitous fall of Hillary and the rise of Donald and In Trump We Trust (Biteback, pb, £9.99, 9781785901416) where Ann Coulter explains how Trump came to power by addressing the pain of the silent majority and saying things the PC Thought Police considered unspeakable. What Kind of Democracy is This? (Policy Press, pb, £9.99, 978 1447337621) covers politics and society, in a collection of sixty short pieces or 'postcards' from Matthew Flinders’ popular Political Spike blog. Digital Demagogue: Authoritarian Capitalism in the Age of Trump and Twitter (Pluto, pb, £17.99, 978 0745337968) delves into new political-economic structures as expressed through political communication; from ‘Covfefe’ to #FakeNews, Donald Trump’s tweets have caused an international frenzy! This book explores how he uses digital and entertainment culture as an ideological weapon and an expression of his authoritarianism. The Trump Phenomenon (Emerald, 978 1787143685, £14.99, pb) is a short book, in the Society Now series, which focusses on who Trump is, the narratives about him and his candidacy that evolved during the campaign, who his supporters are and what their worldview is, and the role of the media, right-wing Christians, and the Republican Party in making Trump’s victory possible. And don’t forget The Wit and Wisdom of Donald Trump (Skyscaper ,978 1911072157, pb, £5.00) which consists largely of blank pages, divided into sections under headings such as: How I will bring peace to the world; How I will protect the rights of women and How I will demonstrate restraint, civilised behavior, and compassion.

n November 2013 two mass burials were discovered unexpectedly on a construction site in the city of Durham in north-east England. Over the next 2 years, a complex jigsaw of evidence was pieced together by a team of archaeologists to establish the identity of the human remains. Today we know them to be some of the Scottish prisoners who died in the autumn of 1650 in Durham cathedral and castle following the battle of Dunbar on the south-east coast of Scotland. Fought between the English and the Scots, this was one of the key engagements of the War of the Three Kingdoms. Using the latest techniques of skeleton science, a fascinating new book; Lost Lives New Voices (pb, £20, 978 1785708473) gives back to the men a voice through an understanding of their childhood and later lives. This is a really absorbing story, and unsurprisingly is attracting a lot of attention. The exhibition linked to the book (which has been recognised as an official event for the European Year of Culture) will be attended by Dan Snow who will cover it, and the book, on his immensely popular History Hit podcast. There will also be a talk from the authors at Durham Book Festival. Lots of press coverage to come – here's a good piece about it in the Herald and there will be lots more. On Monday 21st May is a special Celebrity Who Do You Think You Are? episode, which will feature one of the descendants of the Scottish soldiers. The identity of the descendant is embargoed until the episode airs, but the preview for the season can be seen here.  Britain’s Greatest Cathedrals last week focused on Durham and included the results of this enthralling project – you can watch that here.  Lost Lives, New Voices: Unlocking the Stories of the Scottish Soldiers at the Battle of Dunbar 1650 is published by Oxbow, on 16 May.

Happy Restoration of Independence Day to all our Latvian writers, friends and colleagues! On this day 28 years ago, Latvia proclaimed its independence from the USSR, and the restoration of the Republic of Latvia. So what better time to tell you that The Book of Riga (pb, £9.99, 978 1910974384) is the May reading pick for the Air Baltic in-flight magazine, calling it “perfect”! There’s also a great review of it from blogger Jackie Law which you can see here.  "The city shines through as a beguiling survivor of its history, adapting whilst retaining its hold on certain citizens and visitors. I had never before considered visiting Riga. After reading this collection, I am tempted."  It’s published by Comma.

While we’re on the subject on anniversaries, let’s mention May Made Me: An Oral History of the 1968 Uprising in France (pb, £12.99, 9780745336947 £12.99) by Mitchell Abidor. The mass protests that shook France in May 1968 were exciting, dangerous, creative and influential, changing European politics to this day. Students demonstrated, workers went on general strike, factories and universities were occupied. At the height of its fervour, it brought the entire national economy to a halt. The protests reached such a point that political leaders feared civil war or revolution. Fifty years later, here are the eye-opening oral testimonies of those young rebels. By listening to the voices of students and workers, as opposed to that of their leaders, May ’68 appears not just as a mass event, but rather as an event driven by millions of individuals, achieving a mosaic human portrait of France at the time. This book reveals the legacy of the uprising and how those explosive experiences changed those who took part, and the course of history. There has been quite a bit of publicity around the fiftieth anniversary of the riots – here's  a feature on the BBC website for example – and this book (which is published by Pluto) is both powerful and moving. There will be an interview with Mitchell on BBC Radio 4’s Start the Week and reviews in London Review of Books, the TLS and Literary Review.

Austrian poet Evelyn Schlag will receive the Medal for Poetry at the Hay Festival for her contribution to the festival’s upcoming Armistice anthology. Carcanet are publishing the latest collection of her work All Under One Roof (pb, £12.99, 978 1 784102 24 1) in June. Once more, Karen Leeder’s brilliant translations render Schlag’s poems wonderfully into English and there is also a new essay by the author in which she discusses the sources, politics and strategies of her writing. Love remains a central theme for Schlag, and Leeder’s selection traces a uniquely Austrian imagination at the heart of contemporary European poetry. You can read more about the Hay Medals in the Bookseller here.

Universal Basic Income is a welfare concept where all citizens receive an unconditional sum of money from the government. It is hailed as a progressive system and its proponents include billionaires Mark Zuckerberg, Elon Musk and Richard Branson. Others believe it to be a dead-end utopian ideal that distracts from more practical and cost-effective solutions. The idea is being increasingly debated – and Policy Press have an excellent book on the subject: It’s Basic Income: The Global Debate (978 144734390 5, pb, £14.99). Its author Stewart Lansley was on Radio 4 this week discussing it – and you can hear that interesting programme here. This is an engaging and indispensable guide to this innovative policy idea, which contributes to wider conversations about the future of work and the role of welfare. It features contributors from a wide variety of fields, political stand-points and geographical locations and covers a very broad range of themes, relevant to audiences of all backgrounds and concerns. It offers a mixture of long and short pieces with appeal to readers with varying amounts of time – and also includes international case studies.

Very pleased to hear that Michael Pedersen’s Hello I Am Scotland from his latest collection, Oyster, has been chosen as one of the best Scottish poems of 2017 for the Scottish Poetry Library's By Leaves We Live anthology! From Grez-sur-Loing and festive nights to sizzling summers, Michael Pedersen’s unique brand of poetry captures a debauchery and a disputation of characters, narrated with an intense honesty and a love of language that is playful, powerful and penetrative. Oyster also features wonderful bespoke illustrations from Frightened Rabbit lead singer and songwriter Scott Hutchison – what’s not to love! You can see Michael reading his work here.  

You may not yet have heard about Egress, a new biannual literary magazine devoted to showcasing the most innovative writers on both sides of the Atlantic today? The first edition (which is published by Little Island Press) is available now, and features, among others, Gordon Lish, Diane Williams, Sam Lipsyte, Kathryn Scanlan, David Hayden and Kimberly King Parsons. You can read a terrific interview with its editors David Winters and Andrew Latimer here and if you’d like to order Egress (£12 per issue, ISSN 2515-2491) for your bookshop, then please talk to your Compass account manager or find out more here.

25% of people with eating disorders are men, but the stigma attached to male eating disorders means that this growing issue often slips under the radar. In Weight Expectations (978 1785923586, pb, £9.99) which is published by Jessica Kingsley on 21 June; stand-up comedian Dave Chawner provides a uniquely honest insight into living with anorexia. Part memoir, part self-help guide, this witty book explains how an ordinary teenage boy became anorexic, how his obsession with controlled eating and weight loss ruled his life for years, and how he started his journey to recovery. There’s going to be plenty of publicity for this brave and open book – including a piece in The Metro on how his anorexia negatively affected Dave’s sex drive, and interviews in the Daily Star and Independent. It's frank, funny and honest with lots of practical and achievable tips for anyone in a similar situation – and reading it could change the life of someone struggling with mental health issues.

The majority of people in the UK still identify as working class, yet no political party today can confidently articulate their interests. So, who exactly IS working class and how do political parties gain their support? Based on the opinions and voices of lower and middle-income voters, The New Working Class: How to Win Hearts, Minds and Votes (978 1447344186, pb, £12.99)  by Claire Ainsley proposes what needs to be done to address the issues of the 'new working class'. This insightful book has just been published by Policy Press, and you can read some interesting interview with Claire on the Conservative Home website here and in the Mirror here. This is the first book based on the opinions and voices of low income voters which offers evidence-based policy suggestions based on robust attitudinal data.

Pride and Prejudice is consistently rated as one of readers all time faves – and what happens to the five Bennet sisters is a perennial source of fascination to many, so I am sure that What Kitty Did Next (978 1910453612, £8.99, pb) by Carrie Kablean is going to be very popular! Published on 28 June by Red Door, it is set in 1813 when nineteen-year-old Kitty is left at home in rural Hertfordshire with her neurotic and nagging mother, and a father who derides her as silly and ignorant. Kitty is lonely, and at a loss as to how to improve her situation. But when her world unexpectedly expands to London and the Darcys' magnificent country estate in Derbyshire, things start to change… And for those who need an introduction to the Bennet girls – I think this is still pretty perfect!

There have been two lovely pieces featuring Wild Guide Wales (pb, £16.99, 978-1910636145) recently in the Sunday Times travel sections and also the Saturday Guardian which you can see here . As per with this series, the stunning photos and the engaging travel writing makes you want to head off there right now – especially on this sunny Bank Holiday weekend! Published this month, with over 600 secret adventures and 500 places to eat and sleep; the Wild Guide to Wales and the Herefordshire and Shropshire Marches. takes you to places no other guidebook reaches and is the perfect guide for a wild exploration or the ultimate weekend escape.

The 2018 Roehampton Poetry Prize shortlist has just been announced, and we’re very happy to see that On Balance by Sinead Morrissey is on it! You can find the whole shortlist of six here. The prize is given for the best poetry collection of the year written by a poet of any nationality who is currently living in the UK. The prize is valued at £5,000 and the winner will be announced later this month. The judges said “the collections we finally selected are outstanding: each, in its own way, sure in its skill and compelling in its vision.” On Balance won the 2017 Forward Prize for Best Collection; and was also shortlisted for the 2017 Costa Book Awards and the 2018 Piggott Poetry Prize. The Independent called Sinead “the outstanding poet of her generation” and in this collection she considers great feats of human engineering – ships, planes, robots – as we struggle for balance and poise in a world full of ecological and economic instability.

Talking of balance and poise, whose mood isn’t improved by watching this
tortoise on a skateboard.

That’s all for now folks! Enjoy the sunshine!

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, 27 April 2018

Compass Points 258

“I remember thinking that all of life was there … the chaotic, beautiful, hair-raising mess of life. And it was being enacted by people who lived in dying pit villages, who grafted in a factory making military shells. I wanted to do something like that with this book.” So writes Glen James Brown about his novel which revolves around the changes that come to a lost industrial North East England. Stranded on the outskirts of the council estate nicknamed Ironopolis, three generations know many stories and keep many secrets. Ironopolis (£8.99, pb, 978 1912109142) which is published by Parthian on 1 June is a stunning debut with the potential to win prizes and get broadsheet reviews. "Bold, polyphonic, daringly structured yet beautifully paced, Ironopolis is an ambitious and exciting achievement. Few British writers attempt, as Glen James Brown does here, to reckon with the national tragedy that is Britain’s abandonment of social housing; even fewer do so with such confidence. Brown moves with ease not only between voices, but between emotional registers. In doing so, he constructs a novel of both intimacy and reach; one that, even as it risks asking the big questions, never loses touch with the individual voices and lives. This is an abundant, striking novel, marking the arrival of an equally abundant, equally striking talent." wrote author Sam Byers. This outstanding novel should have a strong resonance with lovers of regional, working class, literary fiction and if any bookseller would like a proof copy to read, then please email Eddie Matthews

The Saturday section of last weekend’s Telegraph had a MASSIVE piece (front cover and two more pages) by Jack Thurston featuring his new title Lost Lanes West 36 Glorious Bike Rides in Devon, Cornwall, Dorset, Somerset and Wiltshire (978 1910636138, pb, £16.99). Its predecessor Lost Lanes (978 0957157316, pb, £14.99) featuring bike rides in London and the South East has been a massive bestseller, and this new title with the same enticing mix of stunning photography, downloadable GPX, and handmade maps should do just as well. It’s just been published by Wild Things. In it, Jack takes you on a freewheeling tour of the lost lanes and forgotten byways of Cornwall, Devon, Dorset, Somerset and Wiltshire and shows readers how to enjoy the best traffic free rural rides from the seashore into the heart of the west country. Escape to ancient trackways, chalk downs, prehistoric remains, river swims and picnics in sun-dappled woodlands. Climb to the windswept heights of Dartmoor and Exmoor and descend beneath the towering crags of Cheddar Gorge – you can read the Telegraph piece which is entitled 15 cycling adventures with a great pub included here.

Pretty sensational news yesterday that WhatsApp plans to ban the under-16s. As Charles Arthur explores in the Guardian here; the real talking point is how on earth they think they are going to enforce this policy. Charles is an expert on all things techy, and the author of the forthcoming Cyber Wars – which is fully credited in the Guardian article. Cyber Wars: Hacks that Shocked the Business World (£14.99, pb, 978 0749482008) explores the dramatic inside stories of some of the world's biggest cyber-attacks; the real game changers that make organizations around the world tremble and leaders stop and consider just how safe they really are. This book provides a gripping account of why each hack happened, what techniques were used, what the consequences were and how they could have been prevented. This book has loads of great disaster computer stories in – from TK Maxx to Sony, to political campaigns to Talk Talk and is timely, well-written, informed, and entertaining. Reading it will place you amongst those who really know where we are heading with cyber security and is essential for everyone who uses technology: which these days is basically everyone! It’s published on 3 May by Kogan Page

It's now officially St George's mushroom season! People tend to think of mushrooms as being an autumn thing, but now is the time to make the most of these beautiful short-seasoned mushroom nuggets of spring! I love the looks of this fantastic spring risotto recipe using St George’s mushrooms together with morels; from Mushroom Man Michael Hyams and food writer Liz O’Keefe’s fabulous Mushroom Cookbook (978 0754832867, hb, £15) which was recently featured in Delicious Magazine as you can see here. It won Best Mushroom Cookbook in the World Gourmand Cookbook Awards and it’s published by Lorenz.

World Book Day (snowy or otherwise) was a while ago now – but how fab are these  pictures of some of the best costumes – such as these Atwood inspired teachers!

People are going properly bonkers for Tubing (£8.99, pb, 978 1910453568) – a highly original thriller with a fantastic hook which is out from Red Door on 10 May. Fay Weldon called it “a modern-day Looking for Mr Goodbar” and Matt Thorne said it was “sharp, smart and deeply erotic, this intelligent thriller offers surprises all the way to the end of the line. Essential, compulsive reading” Others have praised the “plenty of shocks to be had along the journey. I tore through the final pages with my breath held. I will never be able to travel the tube again without thinking about this novel.” Tubing is a cracking read with an intriguing premise: “as the twists racked up I found it impossible to put down” said Elizabeth Hayne. Red Door are doing a LOT of publicity for this one – including some online advertising – and it looks very good! You can find out more about its breathtaking premise and plot on their website here.  

Most of us think of daring commando raids as being a staple of World War 2, but the First World War also had a notable forerunner to these, the centenary of which was last week. The Zeebrugge Raid was part of a two-pronged attack on German U-boat access to the sea via Belgium – an operation involving the Royal Navy and Royal Marines. Author Christopher Sandford tells the incredible and gripping story in his new book Zeebrugge: The Greatest Raid of All (hb, £19.99, 978 1612005041) which has just been published by Casemate. The dramatic story of the 1918 Zeebrugge raid and the men who volunteered in their hundreds for this suicidally dangerous mission, is based on first-hand accounts, and you can read a fascinating article about it on the Forces Network website here. The editor said it was one of their most read articles, and there was also a super piece on War History Online here. Both pieces went up on Facebook where they got a lot of likes – there is a lot of interest in this cracking story, which Churchill called the “most intrepid and heroic single armed adventure of the Great War.”

Waterstone’s boss James Daunt has shared his hopes that the chain will continue to open fresh stores under its new ownership, following the chain's sale to Elliott Advisors yesterday He told the BBC the retailer’s new parent should mean the 283-store chain will grow a lot faster. Despite Elliott’s reputation as an aggressive investor, it has not acquired Waterstone’s to force through change, Daunt said. He expected instead Elliott will “see us grow and ultimately sell us for a nice profit - that's what private equity people do". You can read about this in the Telegraph the Guardian and the BBC.

Readers are really enjoying She’s Fallen by Alex Clare (£8.99, pb, 978 1911293125) which has just been published by Impress Books. This is the second book to feature gender transitioning DI Robyn Bailley and as much as readers have loved the unfolding of the crimes and subsequent investigations what they’ve found equally compelling is “the way in which Alex has taken such a big issue and rendered it meaningfully visible by exploring its smallest and otherwise generally invisible (to outsiders) implications. Given the shocking and totally unexpected ending, I’ve no idea what will come next for DI Bailley, but I can’t wait to find out.” “Robyn is a beautifully developed character, realistic and representative of the experiences many trans women go through yet with plenty of individuality.”

Some of the world’s most iconic bookshops have become tourist destinations – I enjoyed this piece in the Metro entitled Confessions of A Book Tourist with a nice shout-out for the fabulous Bookworms of Cromer!

Bone Deep (pb, £8.99, 978 1846974182) was a Bookseller highlight last week for July – this title is perfect for summer reading promotions. Sandra Ireland was shortlisted for the Saltire First Book of the Year for her debut Beneath the Skin last year of which the Daily Mail said “Ireland writes about powerful and troubling subjects and shows how the past can have devastating consequences”. The rights for Bone Deep (which is published in July by Polygon) have been bought in hotly contested auctions in the USA (Simon & Schuster) Germany (Penguin) and India so there’s no doubt that this writer is one to watch out for! Bone Deep is a contemporary novel of sibling rivalry, love, betrayal and murder which will appeal to fans of Louise Welsh, Helen Fitzgerald, and Evie Wyld. The cover got loads of positive comments at the London Book Fair – so I hope all you booksellers who didn’t see it like it too! If anyone would like a proof to read of this spellbinding psychological thriller then please email

Another great plug in last week’s Guardian for London's Street Trees: A Field Guide to the Urban Forest (pb, £12.99, 978-0993291135 ) by Paul Wood which you can read here. This caused a real surge in its Amazon ratings and the Safe Haven website also had lots of extra hits. Publicity like this really does make people want to buy the book – and this isn’t just a London thing – there is a lot of love for urban trees all over the UK! I absolutely LOVE Paul’s blog there are some gorgeous pictures of trees on it as well as interesting articles like Engaging people with trees through technology.  Paul did a guided street tree walk from Daunts at Hampstead Heath yesterday, and then in early May there’s another one coming up starting at the Broadway Bookshop in Hackney.

Lots of press coverage for Life and Soul: How to Live a Long and Healthy Life (hb, £18.99, 978 781809778) by William Roache which is published on 19 June by Hay House. William Roache is well-known worldwide of course for his portrayal of Ken Barlow in Coronation Street and now aged 86, he still appears regularly in the show. In Life and Soul, William shares his strategy for keeping fit and healthy, for maintaining his youthful looks and for coping with life's most challenging times. He speaks openly and honestly about how his lifestyle gave him the strength to live through recent events, including the deaths of his wife Sara, and close friend Anne Kirkbride, as well as a harrowing court case. William will be on Loose Women on Friday 15th June, BBC Breakfast and then Granada TV News on 20th June and RTE TV on 22nd June. He’ll also be on the Steve Wright show on BBC Radio 2, BBC Radio 5, BBC Radio Manchester (20th June) and Newstalk’s Pat Kenny Show (22nd June) – so basically all over the airwaves – you won’t be able to miss him! There’s an extract and interview in the Daily Mirror (10th/11th June), the Daily Mail (12 June), the Sunday Express, the Sunday Mirror and the Daily Mail as well as interviews in OK!, the Radio Times and others. He will be doing events at the Waterstones Arndale Centre on 20th June, Waterstones Trafford Centre on 21st June, and a book signing in Dublin on either Fri 22nd June or Sat 23rd June. William Roache MBE is one of Britain's most beloved actors and this personal philosophy for living a rich and rewarding life should have a big market.

He's the longest running member of the show so let’s have a look at William Roache’s very first appearance on Corrie back in 1960 here!

The question of who exactly is entitled to live where in the world is back in the news big time this week, and there was a great piece on Refugee Tales on the Public Books website which you can read here. It says: “Through its engagement with Chaucer’s 14th-century Middle English frame narrative, Refugee Tales takes us back to a crucible of English culture in order to construct a new one in which the recognition of humanity across borders is paramount: where the social and political response to immigration involves believing in, respecting, and upholding the dignity of people whose life experiences lead them to faraway new places.” Refugee Tales (978 1910974230) and Refugee Tales Two (978 1910974308) are both £9.99 paperbacks and published by Comma.

This is great – a hundred book memes – that promise to “keep you laughing for days!”

Congratulations to Yuri Herrera who has been shortlisted for the Dublin Literary Award for his magnificent noirish tragedy The Transmigration of Bodies (978 1908276728, pb, £8.99) which is published by And Other Stories. The winner will be announced on 13 June, and you can find out more and see the full shortlist on their website here.

Biteback’s The New Serfdom by Angela Eagle MP and Imran Ahmed, was published this week and asks if the UK is one of the wealthiest, most successful nations in the world then why do so many people feel short-changed? This became the focus of a much commented on piece in The Spectator and the authors have also written about their book in the Huffington Post and Labour List. It has been featured in Politico, City AM and Guido Fawkes, with further pieces expected in Progress magazine, the Independent, Fabian Review, Order Order, The House, PoliticsHome and others. At a time of huge political upheaval and ever-increasing inequality, The New Serfdom (pb, £12.99, 978 1785903137) asks how can we build a successful economy, powered by a happy and productive workforce that benefits everyone? And if Angela and Imran can really answer that question, then I think Putin, Trump and May had better hand them the reins pronto!

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