Friday, 18 August 2017

Compass Points 226

Is there a man or woman among us who does not love this theme tune?

Super-popular TV channel Gold are about to screen a brand new six-part series on Only Fools and Horses starting on Tuesday August 29th which looks like a real must-watch for the show's millions of fans. (At its height, more than 24 million people watched this classic comedy series, making it Britain's most popular television programme ever!) As well as featuring Sir David Jason and Nicholas Lyndhurst, the new programme gives rare perceptions into the show and what went on both on and off camera. The Story of Only Fools and Horses features previously unseen material as well as insights from the show's biggest fans, such as Jonathan Ross and Danny Baker AND Steve Clark, author of Only Fools and Horses: The Official Inside Story (pb, £9.99, 978 0955891694) which is published by Splendid Books and available now! You can find out all about the new TV series here.  Only Fools and Horses: The Official Inside Story is fully authorised by the family of John Sullivan (the show's creator and writer) and contains in-depth interviews with all the show's stars and a comprehensive episode guide. Its author Steve Clark was the only writer on set for the filming of Only Fools and Horses, and this book gives a thoroughly engaging and unique insight into this legendary series – time to get it back into your bookshops methinks as the new Gold series looks like a biggie!
Are you a fool or do you know your horses? How much do you really know about the classic series – take the quiz here!

The world is littered with castles, once majestic but now standing as ghostly reminders to the way we once lived: an ancient hilltop fortress, a crusader citadel in the West Bank, a fairytale medieval castle fallen into ruin. A beautiful new book, Abandoned Castles by Kieron Connolly (hb, 978 1782745228, £19.99) just published by Amber, explores more than a hundred from all around the globe. From medieval Japanese castles to French foreign legion forts in Morocco, the book ranges widely across history telling a story about the way we fought and defended ourselves. Some are beautiful, others brutal, but each has survived and aged, long after the people are gone. With 150 outstanding colour photographs, Abandoned Castles is a brilliant pictorial examination of castles, forts, keeps, and defensive fortifications from the ancient world to the end of the nineteenth century. This title was featured in the Guardian recently as their Travel Photograph of the Week, which you can see here and as one reviewer said “There is something incredibly romantic about castles…more than anything they are also our link with a different world, places we can explore while walking in the footsteps of people who saw the world in a different way from us. I love this book because of its scope and its beauty and its explanations of why, where and when these castles came to be built…this would make a terrific present.”

In a year when much has been written about Passchendaele; 1917 - The Passchendaele Year: The Diary of Achiel Van Walleghem (pb, £19.99, 978 1911454403) is unique. Not just a forgotten source of the western front, it is one that will change our views on the conflict, and on how men and women tried to cope. It offers a personal documentary and highly individual witness to the terrible events in Flanders in 1917 which epitomized the worst slaughter on the western front of the First World War. This book tells the previously untold story of a village priest, Achiel Van Walleghem who lived just west of Ypres, and kept an extensive day-by-day account. He was very well informed by the officers lodging in his presbytery and, urged by his innate curiosity, he witnessed and noted the arrival of the first tanks and the increasing importance of the artillery. He also visited the camps of the Chinese Labour Corps and the British West Indies Regiment. On 7 June 1917, he awoke early to see the enormous mines of the Battle of Messines exploding. And he was present when a deserter was shot at dawn. He records all this, and much more with an unusual humanity. As a bystander living amidst the troops, he often had a special view of the events that unfolded before his eyes. and equally records the misery of the local Flemish population and their relationship with the British rank and file. This unusual and moving book was published by Edward Everett Root Publishing this spring, and definitely deserves its place on the bookshelves among the weightier WW1 tomes.

Many of us are very disturbed about what appears to be a rising tide of Islamophobia sweeping through the United States and Europe. The Islamophobia Industry by Nathan Lean (£12.99, pb, 978 0745332536) takes the reader through a world of conservative bloggers, right-wing talk show hosts, evangelical religious leaders and politicians, all united in their quest to exhume the ghosts of 9/11 and convince their compatriots that Islam is the enemy. Nathan Lean uncovers their scare tactics, reveals their motives and exposes the ideologies that drive their propaganda machine. Situating Islamophobia within a long history of national and international phobias, The Islamophobia Industry challenges the narrative of fear that has for too long dominated discussions about Muslims and Islam and is a thought provoking and many would say essential read for anyone concerned about the world today. If any bookseller would like a proof to read of this title which has just been published by Pluto, please email Kieran O'Connor to request one.

It's that time of year again, when the very best, bonkers and brilliant from the world of theatre, comedy, circus, dance and performance descend on the beautiful city of Edinburgh; when flyering becomes an art form in itself, and when it's never too early (or too late!) to head to a theatre or pub – or both! Oberon Books are the experts the field of theatrical publishing, bringing you the latest from the writers and theatre-makers at the top of their game, as well as a whole host of fantastic new faces – in short, the very best of the Fringe! Two “Festival Picks” from their list are firstly How to Win Against History (pb, £12.99, 978 1786822918) which the Telegraph called “a work of genius ★★★★★ and Postcards from the Gods said “The thing is so good... Must see. Kill to inherit a ticket.” This new Songbook Edition contains the fully-transcribed piano and vocal arrangements for all fourteen songs from the show, so readers can pour themselves a sherry and sing any of the glamorous roles! 

Or how about Letters to Morrissey by Gary McNair (pb, 9781786822987), the third play in a trilogy of darkly comic works drawing on the joys and struggles of growing up in working class Scotland. It’s 1997. You’re 11. You’re sad, lonely and scared of doing anything. One day you see a man on telly. He’s mumbling, yet electrifying. He sings: “I am human and I need to be loved, just like everybody else does”. You become obsessed with him. You write to him. A lot. British Theatre Guide said “McNair’s writing and delivery, under the direction of Gareth Nicholls, are impeccable, allowing visitors to enter into the young man’s soul and share his love of Morrissey and the musician’s philosophy.” And here is Morrisey singing that seminal line from the song that is something of a spiritual experience for many. Have a look here at the special pages on the Oberon website to find out about all the other Edinburgh Fringe plays they publish – inspiring stuff!

Oyster (978 1846973970) is the second collection from prize-winning Edinburgh poet Michael Pedersen featuring truly gorgeous illustrations from Frightened Rabbit lead singer and songwriter Scott Hutchison and is published on 1 September by Polygon. From Grez-sur-Loing to sizzling summers stretched out in the Meadows and Portobello; 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. It was launched at the Edinburgh Book Festival this week, and Michael was interviewed on BBC Radio Scotland, in The Skinny and in the Scotsman who made the launch one of their Top-10 EIBF picks. Michael was also on the BBC R4 Poetry Show and on BBC Live at the Fest and will be reading at events in Glasgow, London and Nottingham which are virtually all sold out – so there is certainly a demand for this playful and extravagant poet of whom Irvine Walsh said “Michael Pedersen's poems get under my skin. As well as defining and codifying my own experiences, they also challenge them. And I always feel more upbeat and hopeful after having read them. You really can't ask much more from a poet.”

Whatever happened to British protest? For a nation that brought the world Chartism, the Suffragettes, the Tolpuddle Martyrs, and so many other grassroots social movements, Britain rarely celebrates its long, great tradition of people power. However, Protest: Stories of Resistance, edited by Ra Page (hb, £14.99, 978 1905583737) and published by Comma is set to change that! This timely and evocative collection contains stories by twenty authors who re-imagine key moments of British protest, from the Peasants’ Revolt of 1381 to the anti-Iraq War demo of 2003. Written in close consultation with historians, sociologists and eyewitnesses – who also contribute afterwords – these stories follow fictional characters caught up in real-life struggles. Protest features stories by Sandra Alland, Martyn Bedford, Kate Clanchy, David Constantine, Frank Cottrell Boyce, Kit de Waal, Stuart Evers, Maggie Gee, Michelle Green, Andy Hedgecock, Laura Hird, Matthew Holness, Juliet Jacques, Sara Maitland, Courttia Newland, Holly Pester, Joanna Quinn, Francesca Rhydderch, Jacob Ross and Alexei Sayle. It covers events as diverse as the Welsh Language protests, the Poll Tax riots, the Greenham Common marches and the anti-Vietnam demonstrations.  There’s been lots of brilliant publicity for this: there’s a special Protest event coming up at the Edinburgh Books Festival this Tuesday and ahead of that the Skinny has just given it a rave review calling it “a kaleidoscopic feast... A great gathering of voices, a dispersal of perspectives” – you can read the whole piece here. The Protest event at Manchester Lit Fest with three of the authors and hosted by Maxine Peake has sold out in the space of a fortnight! You can listen to editor Ra Page discuss the Protest project on Radio 4's Open Book programme earlier in the year here .

And talking of protests, Protest Vote: How Politicians lost the Plot by Tim Newark (978 1783340729 £8.99, pb) is also getting some great press coverage at the moment! Through riveting inside accounts of how Britain's maverick politicians exploit the behind-the-scenes struggles in the major parties; Tim Newark takes us through the rise of protest voting in Britain. With entertaining portraits of the main players, he exposes the astonishing feuds and raging rows that are happening behind the scenes. The Spectator called it an “excellent and timely history of the decline of the old party system” while the Northern Echo wrote: “Newark’s pacey, racy gossip about political murky doings frequently made me chortle and also cleared up a few mysteries… This book is a treat: a political book which is the antidote to politics, you’ll love it, I promise.” And historian Andrew Roberts called it “brilliant and witty.” It is published by Gibson Square.

Congratulations to the Old Hall Bookshop in Brackley, Northampton which celebrated its 40th birthday recently with champagne and readings. John and Lady Juliet Townsend opened the shop in July 1977 to sell second hand and antiquarian books, shortly afterwards they started selling new books too. At the party last week John was joined by two of his daughters and four of his grandchildren to toast the continuing success of the shop. What a very gorgeous looking bookshop this is! It is now managed by Chris Bridger who is the buyer and along with John personifies the spirit of the place. It looks utterly idyllic – and apparently also has a lovely garden at the rear which is often used for events!

We’re loving this piece about our own Hugh Andrew in the Herald – accurately described as “a man of strong and swift opinions” who says “What I hate is the Scotland of tat, of See You Jimmy hats, of tartan and shortbread. It’s as infectious in books as it is infectious in everything else. And it’s an image of Scotland that many cultural bodies seem to think that our country is about. If I have one mission in life, it is to slay that myth. Everything we are about is a challenge to the bargain tat, which illustrates to me both cynicism and a crippling lack of confidence.” You can read the whole article here. 

Who doesn’t love a well-plotted, page turning thriller? Death's Silent Judgement is the exhilarating sequel to Dancers in the Wind by Anne Coates, and continues the compelling and twisty series starring London-based investigative journalist Hannah Weybridge. The series is very much in the best traditions of British women crime writers such as Lynda La Plante and Martina Cole and is attracting very favourable attention from the book bloggers. “Doesn't disappoint. The intricate plot created by Coates in this novel is well-researched and sensitively portrayed. Hannah is a thoroughly modern, feisty woman. Highly recommended.” It has just been published by Urbane and the third title in the gripping Hannah Weybridge series will be out next year!

The latest episode of the entertaining Hitchhiker’s Guide to Scottish Literature Podcast is now available to download: this month, Kristian and Vikki are talking Fanaticism and Enlightenment; and you can find that here!

A mouth-watering recipe from The Homemade Sweet Shop: Make Your Own Confectionery with Over 90 Recipes for Traditional Sweets, Candies and Chocolates by Claire Ptak (pb, 978 1780195193, £9.99) has just been featured in the current issue of Baking Heaven magazine. Hard-boiled, chewy, soft or sticky, sweets are the stuff of childhood memories, and the good news is that they are surprisingly easy to make at home. This fabulous book opens with an overview of the history of sweets and chocolates, and a cook's guide to ingredients, equipment and techniques. More than 90 step-by-step recipes follow, including Salt-Water Taffy, Peanut Butter Fudge, Sugar Mice and Raspberry Lollipops. Each method is clearly set out and illustrated including a stunning picture of each finished confection. Packed with tips and variations, this guide will enable cooks of all abilities to recreate their best-loved sweets and chocolates at home. It is published by Southwater.
And who wouldn’t want to turn their kitchen into a truly scrumptious sweetie factory – just like this one!  

How many of us feel we are constantly trying – and inevitably failing – to be the perfect mum? The Supermum Myth: Overcome Anxiety, Ditch Guilt and Embrace Imperfection (pb, £11.99, 978 1910336342) empowers mothers to stop feeling like a 'rubbish mum' and start having confidence in their own parenting. Author Anya Hayes and psychologist Dr Rachel Andrew use mindfulness and CBT techniques, as well as other established therapies to help you turn around negative thoughts and learn to stop comparing yourself to others, or berating yourself for not living up to the unrealistic notion of Supermum. Instead, you'll learn to view your parenting in a different light, to be kinder and less tough on yourself. It's not about lowering your expectations of yourself, it's about accepting and acknowledging how well you're doing. Both authors have a very strong and popular presence on social media (@anyapilates and @timepsychology), all the #parenting and #mum bloggers are already very enthusiastic about it and there’s no doubt that the thousands of readers who loved Hurrah for Gin: A book for Perfectly Imperfect Parents and The Unmumsy Mum will definitely feel they are meeting up with fellow travellers on the bumpy road that is modern motherhood. The Supermum Myth is published by White Ladder Press in September and I very much like the sound of it!

Let’s finish with some music. Losi Havilio's Petite Fleur (translated by Lorna Scott-Fox) is just out from And Other Stories. This is a powerful and surprising new novel from the author of the cult hits Open Door and Paradises. When his fireworks factory job ends explosively and his wife returns to work, Jose is surprised to realise he has a talent for keeping house: childcare, tidying, cleaning, cooking, gardening, he excels at it all. On Thursdays, he hangs out and drinks good wine with his jazz-loving neighbour. But when Jose's new talents take a sudden and gruesome turn, life, death, resurrection, and domesticity unexpectedly converge. In one single, hypnotic paragraph, Petite Fleur harnesses the unpredictability of Aira, the strangeness of David Lynch and the mysticism of Tolstoy in a discordant riff on suburban life. Litro magazine said it was “lively and entertaining … highly visual language …. in its subtle strangenesses and jarring juxtapositions, Petite Fleur is a far stranger read than many more deliberately surreal works. Reality itself is incriminated.” You can read that review here.  Tweeters also love it; Chris@cjgrool wrote “WTF! I just read Havilio's 'Petite Fleur'   – a chilling, haunting, raunchy little masterpiece!”
So, let’s listen to a rendition of Petite Fleur to finish with today, played by one of my all-time favourite musicians, Sidney Bechet in 1954. Enjoy!

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, 11 August 2017

Compass Points 225

Next Thursday 17 August is A level results day for thousands of students across the UK. In a brilliantly timed publicity coup, author Lucy Tobin will be talking about her bestselling title A Guide to Uni Life: The One Stop Guide to What University is REALLY Like (pb, £9.99, 978 1844552160) on the Steve Wright Show on Radio 2 on the same day. The last time the Steve Wright Show featured this title, it went straight into the top ten of ALL books at Amazon – PLEASE do not let them scoop up all the sales – stock up on this book now and get it front of store – it will sell!! A Guide to Uni Life which is published by Trotman/Crimson offers a unique viewpoint on how to juggle studying, having fun and avoiding money troubles by someone who has lived through the experience themselves and can pass on lots of handy tips and advice. Compass Points has it on good authority from a uni student who has just finished her first year that this title is on fleek – the tips on essay writing were apparently especially useful!  When Lucy talked about her insightful, honest and entertaining paperback on Steve Wright two years ago it sold 2,000 copies in just two months – let’s see if we can do even better this time around!
Another excellent way to find out what student life is REALLY like would be to box set the whole of Fresh Meat – although this three minute clip of Jack Whitehall advertising for a new housemate also gives you a pretty good idea!

Congregations to AardvarkRowena Macdonald’s brilliant debut novel The Threat Level Remains Severe has been shortlisted as one five titles on the Guardian’s Not the Booker Prize. The other titles are: Not Thomas by Sara Gethin (Honno Press), Dark Chapter by Winnie M Li (Legend Press) Man With a Seagull on His Head by Harriet Paige (Bluemoose Books) and The Ludlow Ladies’ Society by Ann O’Loughlin (Black and White Publishing). If you’d like to find out more – and maybe try and get yourself on the judging panel for the final choice – then go to the Guardian page here.
Oberon Books is a must for any culture vulture. This independent UK publisher specialises in the performing arts and are currently running a “Stars” scheme, which means they are looking for bloggers to work with. You can read one popular blogger CultureBean’s enthusiastic response to that cool idea here. And this is why she thinks readers should go out of their comfort zone and read a play!
1) You can interpret the text however you want. Take back some creative control.
2) It’s fun to play each part as you read. Talk out loud and freak out your partner.
3) Dialogue is much quicker to read than prose. Get through a book in a single sitting!

To celebrate Women in Translation month, Gallic are giving away a bundle of their bestsellers on Twitter including the “enchanting” (Irish Times) and “beguiling” (New York Times) novel The Life of Elves by bestselling author Muriel Barbery (pb, £8.99, 978 1910477335). The winner will be selected on 31 August and you can find out more about that promotion on Twitter here.

And then to celebrate World Lion Day yesterday (LOVING these promotional opportunities!) Gallic are giving away copies of Henrietta Rose-Innes’s gorgeous new novel Green Lion (£8.99, pb, 978 1910709252). J M Coetzee said that Henrietta Rose-Innes was “a welcome addition to the new South African literature” and the novel challenges the way we interact with nature, raising questions of endangered species but also about human relations. You can find out about that giveaway here. Henrietta Rose-Innes will be at the Edinburgh Festival and is also is going to the fabulous Golden Hare Books in Edinburgh on 22 August to read from Green Lion and discuss the issues raised by eco-fiction. The book is published the previous day. Can I come up with a witty remark here about lions and hares? No.
Favourite fictional lions? I think my top three would be Michael Morpurgo’s wonderful Butterfly Lion, then the cowardly one from The Wizard of Oz – but top of the food chain must of course be the mighty Aslan! Hear me ROAAAR!

From the top of the food chain to an animal fairly near the bottom? Dogs! Or doggos as the internet rather perplexingly seems to refer to them! Our rep for London and the South-East Sophie is currently being helped out on her calls by the enchanting Carys, an 11-month-old cocker spaniel – who you can see here in Blackwells! Gorgeous doggos frolicking in bookshops are of course “a thing” as evidenced by #BookshopDogs! Carys especially enjoyed subbing in Dogs Enjoy the Morning (pb, £10.99, 978 1848406551) by Benedict Kiely which was originally published in 1968 and is about to be reissued in a lovely new edition by New Island as part of their Modern Irish Classics series. Set in Cosmona, a fictitious village in Ireland, it features a host of weird and wonderful including the doctor and his plump wife; the one-eyed peeping tom, Gabriel Rock; the shell-shocked chaplain; and Whispering Christy.
However, Carys was not quite so keen on Dogs Gone Bad (£6.99, hb, 978 1782743217) which is just out from Amber. This is a hilarious book of 45 quirky real-life deviating dogs. They include the woman in China who crashed her car while giving her dog a driving lesson; a Labrador from 1924 who was sentenced to life in Pennsylvania Penitentiary for having murdered the governor's cat and the dozy guard dog who was retired from a bar after he slept through their only burglary in 12 years! These, and many other true canine stories are featured with fun colour photo montages of the erring pooches along with lots of bizarre tales about the kind of dogs that don’t win awards for bravery; who chase the cops but not the thief; who eat religious offerings or chew up all the Christmas prezzies! 

Refugee Tales Volumes I and II have just been given a great review in Disclaimer Magazine calling them "beautiful and thought-provoking" A special well done to two of the authors whose work is featured in these Comma Press collections and who have just had their novels longlisted for this year’s Man Booker Prize. Ali Smith is longlisted for Autumn (published by Hamish Hamilton); and Kamila Shamsie is longlisted for Home Fire (published by Bloomsbury). Kamila Shamsie was on Channel 4 News this week talking about Refugee Tales II and will also be at Manchester Lit Fest with Marina Warner.

Staying on the subject of refugees, the extraordinary and vivid Voices from the 'Jungle': Stories from the Calais Refugee Camp (pb, £14.99, 978 0745399683) published by Pluto has just been given a terrific review on the socialist website Counterfire which described it as “important” and “moving … please read this powerful book, one way we can respect each other is to listen to each other.” Illustrated with photographs and drawings by the writers, and interspersed with poems, this book should be read by everyone seeking to understand the human consequences of this world crisis. You can read that piece in full here. 
Some superb reviews for The Knife Went In: Real Life Murders and Our Culture (9781783341184 hb, £16.99) by Theodore Dalrymple which has just been published by Gibson Square – and is currently number 24 on Amazon. Peter Hitchens called it “A razor-sharp exposé of our society” in the Mail on Sunday while the Sunday Telegraph wrote “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 Times said “Dalrymple is one of the most interesting men of our times. There is nothing in his tale to celebrate, yet in the telling he deserves the commendation of anybody who values human civilization.” 
Congrats to Carcanet poets Kate Miller (The Observances, pb, 978 1906188153, £9.99) and John Dennison (Otherwise, pb, 978 1847774996, £9.99) who have both been shortlisted for the Michael Murphy Poetry Prize. You can find out more about that one here. 

If you read a newspaper in a shop without paying for it, is it stealing? Do you own the view from your own house? Are you more likely to find God in hospital than a church or a temple? Is it a lie if you believe it? Are you a different person with your clothes off? These questions, strange as they may seem, actually help you’re your brain to work better. By moving away from stock “right or wrong” answers you can create “neural pruning”, which means the mind opens up new pathways and creates new connections. They are to be found in The Compleat Thunks Book by Ian Gilbert (£12.99, pb, 978 1781352724) which has just been published by the Independent Thinking Press and was recently featured in the Daily Express, which you can read here and Ian was also talking about it recently on BBC Radio Sheffield. We are living in an age in which facts don’t count, certainty no longer exists and complexity means we never quite know what just happened, let alone what will happen next. Ian Gilbert believes that to better prepare ourselves for such a world, we need a brain workout that isn’t so much about finding answers as getting our heads around questions – and The Compleat Thunks Book will help you start to look at the world in a whole new light. At times controversial and often provocative, these brainteasers are sure to stimulate philosophical enquiry. Covering as wide a variation of topics as possible from love and lies to parking a car and molesting robots, The Compleat Thunks Book will appeal to people of all ages, tastes and prejudices, and can be used to steer pub or family discussions away from the same old topics! Ian is a leading educational speaker and a man who the IB World magazine named as one of its top 15 educational 'visionaries'. The Little Book of Thunks won the first education book award from the Society of Authors for “an outstanding example of traditionally published non-fiction that enhances teaching and learning”. This new title brings together classic Thunks from a number of his books, as well as hundreds of new ones, all designed to make your brain hurt as you think, question, debate and argue your way to a better understanding of how to survive in a world gone dangerously bonkers.
The Sunday Times Culture section last weekend devoted its front cover and three pages to Kathryn Bigelow and her new movie, Detroit. Kathryn Bigelow directed The Hurt Locker (the first woman to win as Oscar for direction) and also Zero Dark Thirty, so she has a track record for intense, controversial and action-packed yet critically acclaimed thrillers. The Sunday Times piece calls the film “A scalding, immersive race drama, it zeroes in on a little-known incident during that city’s race riots of 1967, in which a battalion of cops and National Guardsmen, thinking they’d heard sniper fire, descended on a flophouse at the Algiers Motel. There they found two white women partying with black men, at which point the evening metastasised into a horror show of racial subjugation, involving a “death game” that would leave three of the men dead and everyone else sworn to secrecy.” All the secrets of that incident and many more are detailed in the Polygon book Detroit 67: The Year that Changed Soul (pb, £9.99, 978 1846973666) by Stuart Cosgrove and it’s the ONLY one available on the subject. We have stickered the stock to reinforce the connection, so it’s as close to a film tie-in as there is! The movie is released on August 25th and I’m sure in the next few weeks there will be even more previews, reviews, interviews and articles to highlight it – you can watch a trailer here. 

Who doesn’t love a glass of fizz? As Lily Bollinger – late heiress of the famous champagne house – once put it: “I only drink champagne when I’m happy and when I’m sad.” I Love Champagne (hb, £12.99, 978 1910449936) by wine expert Davy Zyw (the youngest ever British sommelier at Le Gavroche, whose party trick is to whip off a cork using his iPhone) has turned his obsession for fizz into a book which has just been published by Freight. In a really brilliant piece of publicity for this highly informative, witty and accessible hardback, there will be a big piece on it in tomorrow’s Daily Mail! This is a fizzer of a title at a sparkling price and it’s brim full of info about the history of champagne, how to drink it and food pairing suggestions; as well as being excellent quality and packed with glossy full colour double page illustrations. It is written with passion, love and a thoroughly infectious sense of joie de vivre! Here are some little soupçons from the article to give you a flavour of the book! Cheers!
  • Champagne makes you tiddly more quickly than normal wine. The carbon dioxide in the bubbles increases pressure in the stomach, which helps force alcohol into the bloodstream via the stomach lining.
  • There are about 49 million bubbles in a standard size bottle.
  • When popped, a champagne cork normally travels at 40mph but some can speed at 100mph. The furthest one has been recorded to travel is more than 175 feet.
  • In France, the Benedictine monk Dom Pierre Perignon (1638-1715) is credited with developing the method of introducing sparkle into the acidic white wines of the region round Reims, now known as Champagne. He is also immortalised as the brand name of one of the most exclusive champagnes, Dom Perignon and famously said to fellow monks: “Brothers, I’m drinking the stars!”
  • Winston Churchill was partial to a bottle of Pol Roger every day. He told Odette Pol Roger, the grande dame of her family’s champagne house who died aged 89 in 2000: “I could not live without Champagne. In victory, I deserve it. In defeat, I need it. My tastes are simple, I am easily satisfied with the best.”
  • Londoners drink more champagne than the whole of America. And, as a nation, we are the biggest consumer apart from France which keep 52% of the bottles they produce.
  • Legend has it that the first champagne coupe glass that was made in the 18th century was modelled on Marie Antoinette’s left breast. Tall thin flutes have replaced them in recent years, as they keep the bubbles alive for longer, making the champagne fizzier. But Davy Zyw says it tastes best in a normal wine glass because the greater surface area and oxygen in the glass allows the individual flavours and aromas to come out.
Let’s finish with the three best songs that mention champagne. Some might enjoy chilling with Oasis in their Champagne Supernova and some might enjoy strawberry champagne on ice (?!?) as served up here by Bruno Mars; but personally I think the master of them all has to be ol’ blue eyes with this dazzling gem. And if any of you super health conscious young ’uns ever wondered why a whole generation grew up thinking smoking looked cool and sexy – here’s the reason.

Compass is on Twitter! Follow us @CompassIPS. Yesterday Twitter celebrated #BookLovers Day and here are some of our favourite tweets about it!
OxbowBooks @OxbowBooks “Outside of a dog, a book is a man’s best friend. Inside of a dog, it’s too dark to read.” Groucho Marx
Melanie Persists @CarverBookCoach “She is too fond of books, and it has turned her brain." Louisa May Alcott.  I love this quote. Here's to powerful women!
Franklin Graham @Franklin_Graham "The Bible is God's book of promises, and, unlike the books of men, it does not change or get out of date." @BillyGraham
Lemon @Lemon_Lifestyle A child who reads will be an adult who thinks!
Random House@randomhouse “Books are the plane, and the train, and the road. They are the destination, and the journey. They are home.” Anna Quindlen
Shu @shusolix "Many people, myself among them, feel better at the mere sight of a book." Jane Smiley
Sallyjo @SallyLovesBooks  “You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me.” C.S. Lewis
Mental Floss@ MentalFloss "There are worse crimes than burning books. One of them is not reading them." Ray Bradbury
@simpsoncessiiee "If you don't like reading, you haven't found the right book" J.K Rowling
Suzanne Pardue @PardueSuzanne “Reading gives us some place to go when we have to stay where we are” Mason Cooley
Sotiria @thinkingxutloud "You know you've read a good book when you turn the last page and you feel a little as if you have lost a friend"
Pamela Paul @PamelaPaulNYT #BookLoversDay? But that's EVERY day here at @nytimesbooks!
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, 28 July 2017

Compass Points 224

Congratulations to Birlinn on their 25th anniversary, and a great piece in the Bookseller today to celebrate! You can read the whole thing on their website but here are some highlights!

"Scottish independent publisher Birlinn is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year. Established in 1992, the publisher has sought to create a “truly national cultural conversation”. And with a publishing programme that crosses five imprints, it also has UK-wide and international reach, publishing both new and established writers. The company was founded by managing director Hugh Andrew, then a freelance sales rep who was keen to try his hand at publishing. “As a rep, much of my travel took me to places and people who kept telling me that if only they had a reprint of ‘x’ or ‘y’, they could sell it,” Andrew says. “I tried to interest the publishers [I represented] in the titles mentioned but did not get very far. So, I decided to publish them myself.” Starting off with four books (two which are still in print), the publisher now has some 800-900 titles in print, and publishes 160 titles a year. With 24 part-time and full-time staff, Andrew says: “I don’t think we can be beaten for quality, reach and market knowledge, particularly in Scottish non-fiction.”

Last year, Birlinn sold 234,180 books for £2.54m, according to Nielsen BookScan, with its bestselling title, 101 Gins to Try Before You Die by Ian Buxton, shifting 20,954 copies. Among the highlights forthcoming from the publisher this year are new books from international bestseller Alexander McCall Smith and the “new Scottish master of crime”, Denzil Meyrick. Birlinn really prides itself on its relationships with booksellers across the country, and we will be working closely with them, as ever, on promotional tables, displays, windows and events”, Andrew adds. Discussing the biggest challenges the publisher has weathered in its 25 years, Andrew says the “steady erosion” of independent booksellers and suppliers, as well as Amazon and price predation, have been big concerns. Despite this, he is pleased to have seen the Birlinn team grow and evolve, adding: “Today the entire Birlinn family is justifiably proud of what has been achieved.”

Great to see a bookseller on the longlist for this year’s £50,000 Man Booker Prize! Fiona Mozley, aged 29, who works at the Little Apple Bookshop in York, has been longlisted for her novel Elmet (published by John Murray), a book about family as well as a meditation on landscape in South Yorkshire. The bookshop, whose staff didn't know her title had been put forward for the prize, called it "fantastic news" and we totally agree! You can see the full list of thirteen titles in the Bookseller here. Congrats Fiona!

Last week we mentioned one of Galileo’s new Rucksack Editions featuring Wordsworth’s poetry, and this week it is the turn of Edward Thomas. A Miscellany edited by Anna Stenning (pb, £9.99, 978 1903385609) which has just had an excellent review in the Sunday Express who called it: "a superb anthology … Thomas was an observant traveller through the countryside of Edwardian England, and with its deep tranquillity and birdsong, the England Thomas explored was another country. This is a proper travel book, complete with rounded corners to fit in pocket or rucksack." Readers are also extremely enthusiastic online about this lovely edition saying “really interesting – and a most readable selection from both his prose and poetry. An attractive design (also with some nice illustrations), obviously intended to stand up to the rigours of being taken with the reader into the great outdoors. Much recommended.” And bestselling author John Lewis-Stempel called it: "An utterly brilliant anthology (and brilliant anthologies are rare things)".

And here is Richard Burton reading what is one of Thomas’s most famous nature poems, Adlestrop.

A fabulous review for Arena Sport’s The European Game: The Secrets of European Football Success (£14.99, pb, 978 1909715486) which you can read here on the popular footie website ESDF Analysis. “As we all know, it can be extremely hard for any form of media to live up to expectations when you have been looking forward to something for a long time. This book not only met my expectations, it far surpassed them … I have read a lot of football books over the years but this one is now firmly entrenched as my favourite, I have no doubt that I will return to read again and again. If you have not yet then I would strongly urge you to purchase this book confident that you will not regret the decision. Well written and fantastically well researched the level of insight in to each club is superb.”

Happy Birthday to John Ashbery who celebrates his 90th birthday! To congratulate him, the Guardian Poem of the Week is one of his early translations of Jean Baptiste-Chassignet's six sonnets, included in Carcanet’s Collected French Poetry (pb, £19.95, 978 1 847772 34 3) which reflects both a long and rich life, and John Ashbery’s lifelong engagement with French poetry. John Ashbery is recognized as one of the greatest twentieth-century American poets. He has won nearly every major American award for poetry, including the Pulitzer, the National Book Award, the Yale Younger Poets Prize, the Bollingen Prize, the Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize, the Griffin International Award, and a MacArthur “Genius” Grant.  Ashbery's poetry challenges its readers to discard all presumptions about the aims, themes, and style of verse in favour of a literature that reflects upon the limits of language and the volatility of consciousness. Writing in the TLS, Stephen Burt declared: “Ashbery seems more contemporary, more topical, now than when he started writing, though the culture has changed around him more than he has changed: he has become the poet of our multi-tasking, interruption-filled, and entertainment-seeking days.” John Ashbery: Collected Poems 1990 - 2000 (£20, pb, 978 1784105259) will be published by Carcanet in January 2018.

Here is Ashbery reading his best-known poem, Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror (pb, £9.95, 978 1857549065). One of the most significant poetic achievements of our time, it was awarded the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Award and the National Book Critics' Circle Award upon its publication in 1976. 

And here he is talking to Time magazine about fame, poverty, art criticism and why he hates the sound of his own voice.

Whether it's an unforeseen financial crash, a shock election result or a washout summer that threatens to ruin a holiday in the sun, forecasts are part and parcel of our everyday lives. We rely wholeheartedly on them, and become outraged when things don't go exactly to plan. But should we really put so much trust in predictions? Perhaps gut instincts can trump years of methodically compiled expert knowledge? And when exactly is a forecast not a forecast? A new myth-busting guide to prediction just out from Biteback, answers all of these questions, and many more. Packed with fun anecdotes and startling facts; Forewarned: A Sceptics Guide to Prediction by Paul Goodwin (pb, £12.99, 978 1785902222) is based on the latest scientific research and lays out the many ways forecasting can help us make better decisions in an unpredictable modern world. It reveals when forecasts can be a reliable guide to the uncertainties of the future and when they are definitely best ignored!

Here's a most amusing compilation of predictions from some of the world's most successful, intelligent people – all of which turned out to be spectacularly, categorically, 100% wrong!

I love it when authors make little promo videos for their books, and here's a lovely one for Joyride to Jupiter (pb, £9.99 978 1848406155) a new short story collection from award-winning author Nuala O'Connor. With prose both lyrical and profound, the these are urgent and humane stories of ill-advised couplings, loneliness and burgeoning hope, full of O’ Connor’s trademark humour and sensuality, and the quest for longed-for truths. A truly stunning collection by one of Ireland’s finest writers, it’s just been published by New Island.

As you may have spotted in the Bookseller, the "revealing" political autobiography of Wales' First Minister Rhodri Morgan is set to be released by University of Wales Press in September, following his sad and sudden death aged 77 this spring while cycling in the lanes near his home. The book promises to recount Morgan's turbulent relationship with Tony Blair and those running the New Labour project, along with the party establishment’s campaign to prevent him becoming Labour leader in Wales, despite being the choice of party members and union members. The open and honest memoir also features stories on Tony Blair, Alastair Campbell, Peter Mandelson, Neil Kinnock, John Prescott, Margaret Thatcher, Jeremy Paxman, and Jilly Cooper, among many others. Its publisher said: "From the master of the colourful soundbite, this is the fast-paced, highly amusing, inside story of the decade leading up to the creation of the Welsh Assembly and the first ten years of that institution’s history. The book is an entertaining and candid account of Morgan's sometimes turbulent, often controversial, but never boring, political life. Rhodri’s warmth, wit and down to earth manner was unusual for the straight-talking and politically gifted mind behind it – something that colleagues at the Press greatly enjoyed and admired him for. Rhodri’s character shines through in his writing, providing a stimulating narrative through the fascinating and eye-opening stories he shares of his experiences and run-ins throughout his political career. The University of Wales Press is both proud and grateful to have captured Rhodri’s legacy, and this unique book is tribute and testament to Wales’s first First Minister, the father of Welsh devolution." Rhodri: A Political Life in Wales and Westminster (hb, £24.99, 978 1786831477) will be published on 24th September to coincide with Labour’s Annual Conference in Brighton. There’s certain to be more publicity to come for this one!

The latest episode of the Hitchhiker’s Guide to Scottish Literature Podcast is available to download here and in this month’s episode, Vikki and Kristian are talking myths and fairy tales, with special reference to Naomi Mitchison’s Travel Light. The podcast also includes an interview with Joan Lennon reading the opening of her new YA novel Walking Mountain (pb, £6.99, 9781780274560) which has just been published by Birlinn. Undiscovered Scotland said of it that “it is perhaps inevitable that any book that can be described by the phrase "epic quest" evokes comparisons with The Hobbit, and it's a comparison which is entirely justified in terms of the way the world Joan Lennon has created draws the reader in and keeps you completely enthralled. This is a great book we'd strongly recommend to the young reader or readers in your life” while the Herald wrote: “Another compelling futuristic story, fantastic and baroque. Lennon's world is laced with captivating detail, from the strange animals, gows and marmoldes, to the extraordinary figure at the heart of the story, The Meteor Driver.”

John Fleming and Hugh Honour: Remembered by Susanna Johnston (hb, £20, 978 1783341115) is the first memoir on these bestselling giants of art history, who died last year and has just been published by Gibson Square. This candid and funny memoir seasoned with their eccentricities and humour, is full of delightful gossipy detail about these great English aesthetes and eccentrics who lived in Tuscany. They were the last living giants of art history known to all students and lovers of art, sculpture and architecture through their authoritative and bestselling books, in particular A World History of Art. There was a Country Life review on 19 Jul, and there have also been pieces in the Oldie, Literary Review, the Spectator, The Lady and the Daily Mail.

Who doesn’t love a literary cartoon! I  love this  from the Guardian’s fab Tom Gauld on the 200th anniversary of Jane Austen’s death!

In between dodging the showers and beating off the wasps, lots of us will be trying to eat outside in our gardens as much as possible this summer! In recent years, one of the biggest trends in al fresco dining has been the rise of the outdoor oven – and sales of the excellent Lorenz title Wood-Fired Oven Cookbook by Holly and David Jones (hb, £9.99, 978 1903141946) have also risen accordingly! This bestselling cookbook contains 70 recipes for incredible stone-baked pizzas and breads, roasts, cakes and desserts, all specially devised for the outdoor oven and illustrated in over 400 photographs. It offers everything you need to know about cooking in a wood-fired oven, from lighting a fire to recipes, menu suggestions and timing guides. Whether you want your oven to become a pizza party sensation, the centre of cookout weekends or your new outdoor kitchen, this book is an inspiration. There was a great blog piece on it on the popular food blog Eating Covent Garden which you can see here – lots of delectable pics from the book are featured!

A sobering piece on the BBC website here as Detroit recalls the five days of violent unrest fifty years ago that left twenty-four people dead and more than a thousand injured. As the director of the Detroit Historical Museum says: "Detroit's story is America's story" – don’t forget about the superb Birlinn title on this subject Detroit 67: The Year That Changed Soul by Stuart Cosgrove (pb, £9.99, 978 1846973666). This title is the second in a “Soul Trilogy” from Stuart that started with Young Soul Rebels: A Personal History of Northern Soul (pb, £9.99, 978 1846973932) and will culminate in Memphis 68: The Tragedy of Southern Soul (hb, £16.99, 978 1846973734) which is published in October. 
The book opens with the death of the city's most famous recording artist, Otis Redding, who died in a plane crash in the final days of 1967, and then follows the fortunes of Redding's label, Stax Records, as its fortunes fall and rise again. But, as the tense year unfolds, the city dominates world headlines for the worst of reasons: the assassination of civil rights leader Martin Luther King. You’ll be hearing a lot more about this book in future Compass Points for sure – but for now let’s end by watching a live recording of the great man himself, from that pivotal year in soul music history.

Compass Points is away next week! Next newsletter and blog post out on 11 August!

This blog is taken from an e-newsletter which 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.