Friday, 24 January 2020

Compass Points 334


Look out for a big piece in the Daily Mail this weekend on Keenie Meenie: The British Mercenaries Who Got Away with War Crimes (978 0745340791, £12.99, pb) in both the paper and online. This is an utterly explosive account of a secret group of mercenaries based on chilling new intelligence. Keenie Meenie Services are the most famous mercenary business you’ve never heard of, made up of war criminals from Sri Lanka to Oman. They’ve escaped both public perception and penalty, but in this book, extraordinary evidence (only recently declassified) exposes the extent of the war crimes that were committed and the British government’s tacit involvement. It includes testimonies from SAS veterans, spy chiefs, MPs and key figures involved in the Troubles in Northern Ireland and the Iranian Embassy siege. Investigator Phil Miller asks, who were these mercenaries: heroes, terrorists, freedom fighters, or war criminals? There’s already been a big piece on this book in the Observer which you can read here  and there will be loads more with pieces in the Independent, Guardian, Financial Times, WIRED and Prospect and interviews on Novara Media, France 24 and Channel 4 News. It’s just been published by Pluto.

Terrific to see that Kogan Page have nine and Practical Inspiration have four titles shortlisted in the Business Book Awards 2020 which were announced last week. The winners will be announced at a gala dinner on the 23rd of March.
KOGAN PAGE
Start-up Inspiration CategoryStart-Ups, Pivots and Pop-Ups: How to Succeed by Creating Your Own Business by  Richard Hall & Rachel Bell (9780749497460, £ 14.99) 
Sales and Marketing Category
Omnichannel Retail: How to build winning stores in a digital world by Tim Mason & Miya Knights (978 0749484460, £ 19.99)  
HR and Management  Category
Competitive People Strategy: How to Attract, Develop and Retain the Staff You Need for Business Success by Kevin Green (978 0749484545, £ 29.99) 
Driving Performance Through Learning: Develop Employees through Effective Workplace Learning by Andy Lancaster (978 0749497439, £ 19.99)
Strategic Human Resource Management: A HR Professional's Toolkit by Karen Beaven (978 0749484040, £29.99) 
The Robot-Proof Recruiter: A Survival Guide for Recruitment and Sourcing Professionals by Katrina Collier (9780749493226, £19.99). 
Specialist Book Category
The Business Analysis Handbook: Techniques and Questions to Deliver Better Business Outcomes by Helen Winter (978 0749497064, £29.99) 

International Business Book Category
The End of Marketing: Humanizing Your Brand in the Age of Social Media and AI by Carlos Gil (978 0749497576, £14.99) 

An Exceptional Book that Promotes Diversity Category
Building an Inclusive Organization: Leveraging the Power of a Diverse Workforce by Stephen Frost & Raafi-Karim Alidina as  (978 0749484286, £ 29.99).
PRACTICAL INSPIRATION
Sales and Marketing  Category
Your Business, Your Book: How to plan, write, and promote the book that puts you in the spotlight by Ginny Carter (9781788601306, £ 14.99) 
PR for Humans by Mike Sergeant (9781788600552, £ 15.99).
Start-up Inspiration Category
True Profit Business by Karen Skidmore (978 1788600842, £14.99) 
Specialist Book
The Customer Success Pioneer by Kellie Lucas (978 1788600392,  15.99) 
You can see the full shortlists at www.businessbookawards.co.uk/shortlist2020.

All of us love the written word, so you may well enjoy this interesting article in History Today called Pause and Effect, about the past and future of punctuation marks.

A fabulous and extensive feature this month by the author of Yorkshire Coast Path (£14.99, pb, 978 0 9932911 8 0) on the walk in This is Yorkshire magazine. It’s produced by Welcome to Yorkshire (the Yorkshire tourist board), the print-run is 300,000, and it's distributed all over the county and as an insert in the Sunday Times and as an online version. The Yorkshire coast is the second most visited tourist destination in England, but astonishingly, until now there has been no walking guide to its entire length. Andrew Vine, an experienced walker and distinguished Yorkshire journalist, has put this right with this definitive walking guide, bursting with colour photos and covering whole route with OS large-scale maps. It’s published by Safe Haven.

As the world leaders disagree about which direction, we should go, it is inspiring to read Policy Press’s Generation Share (pb, £25, 978 1447350101) which takes readers on a journey around the globe to meet the people who are changing and saving lives by building a Sharing Economy. Through stunning photography, social commentary and interviews with 200 change-makers, it showcases extraordinary stories demonstrating the power of Sharing. From the woman transforming the lives of slum girls in India, to the UK entrepreneur who has started a food sharing revolution; readers can discover the creators of a life-saving human milk bank, a trust cafe and a fashion library who are changing the world. You see it here looking mighty fine on display at Blackwell’s at Kent uni – thanks guys!

Well done Jessica Andrews, who won the Portico Prize last night for her novel Saltwater. Jessica is the author of one of the stories in Comma’s new anthology The Book of Newcastle (£9.99, pb, 978 1905583102), so we are overjoyed to see her receive this award recognising exceptional Northern writing. The Book of Newcastle has itself had absolutely stellar reviews! Karen Langley, said here The Book of Newcastle is a stunning collection of writing, each story is clever, memorable and moving. I suppose it’s the measure of a really good book when you get to the end to find you wish there was more’. The Bright Star wrote 'I unwittingly tore through this collection in little over a day, which is undeniable testament to its vibrancy, virtuosity and command.' Number 9 called it 'engaging and easy-reading,' Cathy Castling said 'great writing has the ability to touch the reader, and the words of these authors definitely stay with you long after you've put the book down.' and  What Kate Read said  'I urge everyone to buy this book, whether familiar with Newcastle or not – explore the city’s past, its future, and its people, whether a trip of nostalgia, or an introduction to the North East.’ 

Congratulations to Practical Inspiration author Celia Gaze whose business won a major award this week. Her team at The Wellbeing Farm were crowned the UK Winners for Events Team of the Year at the National Wedding Industry Awards! All brilliant publicity of course for Why Put a Bow Tie on a Llama? How a Crazy Idea Can Change Your Life and Transform Your Business (pb, £12.99, 978 1788601245)

Comma announced today that they are working with Manchester Metropolitan University to launch a new MA in Publishing, you can read more on that in the Bookseller here. The course will include a focus on employability, supported by the university’s links with the publishing industry and local literature festivals, and an international focus backed by the Northern Fiction Alliance’s expertise in promoting translated literature. Livi Michael, leader of the course, said: ‘We are really excited about this MA which will enrich Manchester's incredibly vibrant landscape of independent presses and cultural opportunities, and reflect the growth of interest in it as a literary capital.’

A wonderful full-page interview with Alison Booth in the January issue of North East Lifestyle magazine talking about her new novel, The Philosopher’s Daughters (£8.99, pb 978 1913062149). This magazine has a print run of 15,500 copies per edition and readership 100,000+ per edition and you can read that article here – it’s on page 98. This is a tale of two very different sisters whose 1890s voyage from London into remote outback Australia becomes a journey of self-discovery, set against a landscape of wild beauty and savage dispossession. It’s out from Red Door on 2 April.

An interesting interview with author Dan Hicks in History Today, who describes himself as ‘a contemporary archaeologist with an anthropological sense of the past’ and deeply mistrusts the phrase ‘global history.’ Good publicity for his book The Brutish Museums: The Benin Bronzes, Colonial Violence and Cultural Restitution (978 0745341767).
 Walk into any European museum today and you will see the curated spoils of Empire. They sit behind plate glass: dignified, tastefully lit. Accompanying pieces of card offer a name, date and place of origin. They do not mention that the objects are all stolen. In The Brutish Museums, Dan Hicks makes a powerful case for the urgent return of such objects, as part of a wider project of addressing the outstanding debt of colonialism. This is a hot topic at present – and there’s certain to be more on this book as we get closer to its publication by Pluto in August.

Absolutely loads of publicity for than Hype Yourself (978 1788601238. £14.99, pb) which is definitely leading to customer purchases as this title is flying out of the wholesalers (as well as being #91 on Amazon sales for ALL books ) so do make sure you are getting your share of the sales!! It’s out now from Practical Inspiration.

Have a look here to answer eight questions to find out which Little Women Character you are. Because we can't all be Jo, right?

And in this week’s Hot Topics, here's The Bookseller’s opinion on that Blackwell’s terms letter, here's the trailer for the Taylor Swift documentary and here's everything you need to know about the Coronavirus.

That’s all 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 nuala@compassips.london

Friday, 17 January 2020

Compass Points 333


Celia Gaze has been on BBC Breakfast this week (13 January) discussing Why Put a Bow Tie on a Llama? How a Crazy Idea Can Change Your Life and Transform Your Business (pb, £12.99, 978 1788601245) which has just been published by Practical Inspiration. You can watch that interview here. Stressed and unhappy, Celia resigned from her high-powered health management role and started transforming a neglected farm into an award-winning wedding venue. You only get one chance at life so don’t waste it, is the message of this book which shows you how to be brave and follow your passion. And it’s had loads of publicity; as well as BBC Breakfast, there was a double page spread in the Sunday Express (12th Jan), a three page feature in the January 2020 issue of The Lady magazine ‘How Llamas Saved My Sanity’, an article in the Huffington Post, a four page feature in the northern edition of the Metro and the coverage still to come includes features in Psychologies, Wedding Ideas, County Wedding, Bespoke Bride, Farm Diversity and Hitched magazine. There’s a short film of Celia talking about her book on her website at celiagaze.com

Who saw this article in the Mail this week about what we’ll be eating if Armageddon strikes? According to this expert, the ‘nuclear apocalypse diet’ which could save humanity will be mushrooms and seaweed because they are the only crops that will survive. What good fortune then that Lorenz have the two top books on the subject, The Mushroom Cookbook (978 0754832867, £15, hb) and The Seaweed Cookbook (978 0754832874, hb £15)

Plenty of media interest for Conor McGregor’s comeback fight this weekend, click here for all you need to know as he make his much-anticipated return to the octagon in Las Vegas when he fights Donald 'Cowboy' Cerrone. The Independent are running an extract of De Coubertin’s Chaos is a Friend of Mine (978 1909245907, £14.99, pb) and CNN will be featuring it too. This biography by Ewan MacKenna is a full exploration of McGregor's journey, from his upbringing in the Irish capital, to his early days as a wide-eyed, prodigiously talented martial arts obsessive, to his recent antics outside the ring which have seem him grow bigger than the sport itself.

Good reviews continue to come in for Seats of London (£12.99, pb, 978 1916045316), most recently in the Journal of the 20th Century Society. Here is an absolutely fascinating five-minute film made by its author Andrew Martin, in conjunction with the London Transport Museum, that tells you everything you could want to know about moquette. Genuinely interesting and as the comments say (31,500 views so far) it really makes you want to buy the book and find out more!

Former air stewardess from Ware, Herts Jackie Ladbury has her first book The Potters Daughter (pb, £7.99, 978 1912550234) published by Choc Lit this month and it’s set in Stoke-on-Trent in the heart of the Potteries where she was born. This refreshing and engaging historical romance transports the reader back to the Potteries in 1902, where the difference between the lifestyles of the haves and have-nots are clear for all to see… Female First have featured an article by Jackie all about the book and her writing style this week, you can see that here. There’s plenty of confirmed local publicity for this one too with Herts Life featuring it on their Bookshelves page, Axis magazine covering it in February and the Stoke Sentinel, will feature it next month. The first five booksellers to email info@choc-lit.co.uk with Potter Please in the subject line and their bookshop name and address will win a reading copy!

You may have seen yesterday that submissions for the BBC National Short Story Award 2020 opened, and the judges were announced. It is the 15th anniversary of the prize this year, and Comma are delighted to once again be publishing the anthology in September.If you fancy the £15,000 prize then you can find out how to enter here.

Private Eye mentioned Deception in High Places: A History of Bribery in Britain's Arms Trade this week, which reveals the corruption endemic in Britain’s biggest arms deals over the last fifty years. Based on painstaking research in government archives, collections of private and court papers and documents won by the author in a landmark Freedom of Information Tribunal against the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, the book illuminates a shadow world of bribery and elite enrichment. The Guardian called it ‘a remarkable book that exposes the trickery, humbug, buck-passing, and cover-ups, by successive British governments as they turned a blind eye, and even encouraged, the payment of bribes to secure British arms contracts.’ It’s published by Pluto.

Northern Soul reviewed Comma’s Resist (978-1912697076, £14.99, hb) last week, calling it a 'powerful collection', that’s here. This title has already been hailed as one of Waterstones' ‘Best of 2019’, one of '30 books for autumn 2019' at iNews and one of the '11 best fiction and feminist reads' at Stylist magazine and I’m sure there are plenty more sales to be had before it’s published in paperback in May.

Anyone looking for help to build their brand in 2020 need look no further than Hype Yourself (978 1788601238. £14.99, pb) by Lucy Werner This invaluable toolkit is crammed full of insider advice, includes expert tips from journalists and industry specialists and is supported by a stack of online resources. Lucy took part in a discussion on Badass Women’s Hour on Talk Radio (5/1/20), it was featured in Stylist magazine ’11 books to help kick start your career in 2020’ and there was a recent piece in Courier magazine, reporting on modern business and start up culture. Hype Yourself hit Number 1 in Amazon Hot New Releases in Public Relations, and in fact became the cover pic for Public Relations! There’s lots more to come with a feature in the February issue of Absolutely Mama, and a tonne of scheduled guest blogs, interview Q&A’s and pre-recorded podcast slots!

Carcanet have a Poem of the Week in The Guardian this week, which you can read here. It’s Ghazal: Myself by Marilyn Hacker from her book Blazons: New and Selected Poems, 2000-2018. (978 1784107154, £14.99, pb) which the Guardian calls ‘a beautiful and resonant collection.’ It gathers work from the past fifteen years, mixing politics with narrative poetry and humour, as well as translations from the French and Arabic. This multiple award-winning American poet is the author of thirteen collections, and these poems explore Paris, language, refugees and revolution.

Ongoing publicity for JJ Bola’s Mask Off: Masculinity Redefined (£9.99, pb, 978 0745338743) includes an article for the Guardian, which you can read here, a mention in Creative Review of the striking jacket here and a piece in the Hackney Gazette, that’s here. It’s published by Pluto.

A great endorsement for Europa28 (£12.99, pb, 978 1912697298) which is published by Comma in March from Elif Shafak saying ‘Inspiring, essential, honest and deeply humane... This brilliant collection takes readers on a brave journey into our beloved continent, Europe, daring to tell the stories beyond its centres of power and privilege.’ This anthology brings together twenty-eight acclaimed women writers, artists, scientists and entrepreneurs from across the continent to offer new perspectives on the future of Europe, and how it might be rebuilt.

Quiz time: can you match the pseudonym to the author here?

And finally, have a look at this brilliant alternative to boring old January gym routines! Great stuff and with a banging soundtrack too! It reminds me to remind you that cycling is not just a summer thing – Bikepacking (pb, £16.99, 978 1910636084) from Wild Things has loads of great winter rides and off-road adventures on some of Britain s most beautiful hidden trails and ancient trackways. From easy city-escapes with the family to epic trails in the Scottish Highlands, this ultimate adventure guide is filled with inspiring stories and packed with tips on kit, planning, camping and route-finding. All routes can be reached by train and are accompanied by downloadable maps and GPX files.

And in this week’s Hot Topics, here's actor Laurence Fox getting into hot water on last night’s Question Time over whether the criticism of Megan is racist. Talking of racist, here's some shocking new evidence as why Stormzy may be Britain’s most dangerous racist. And as Donald Trump and Greta Thunberg head to Switzerland for a climate crisis showdown here's what Greta’s parents are getting up to while she’s away!

That’s all 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 nuala@compassips.london

Friday, 10 January 2020

Compass Points 332

Happy New Year everyone! I hope the Christmas season has been a happy and profitable one for all booksellers with lots of jingling and jangling from your tills! Today’s titles take us on a world tour, from Wales, to the Ukraine, Jamaica, Iran, Egypt and China!

On 14 February, Mr Jones goes on general release in the UK. You can see a trailer for it here. Starring James Norton in the lead role, it tells the story of Welsh journalist Gareth Jones, who first broke the story of the Holodomor (man-made famine) in 1930’s Ukraine when up to ten million Ukrainians died following Stalin's decision to punish them for opposing collective farming. After exposing the famine Jones was murdered a few months later in Mongolia on the orders of the KGB, aged just 29. Jones is a national hero in Ukraine but almost unknown here. The Guardian gave the film four stars – that review is here. Welsh Academic Press has an excellent book that ties into the film, Gareth Jones: Eyewitness to the Holodomor by Ray Gamache (pb, £19.99, 978 1860571282) This is an extraordinary story of the efforts made by the Aberystwyth journalist to investigate the Soviet Government’s denials that its Five Year Plan had led to mass starvation and alert the world to the suffering, exposing Stalin’s policies and prejudices. I think this will get a lot of media attention, the story has resonance today due to Russia's occupation and annexation of Crimea and eastern Ukraine, and also highlights the issue of fake news. Gareth Jones’s credibility and integrity were attacked and denigrated by Soviet sympathizers as the film shows, most famously by Walter Duranty of the New York Times who has since been discredited for publishing stories fed to him by his Soviet handlers.

New Year, new you and all that. Hay House should certainly be your go-to publisher for supplying physical and spiritual nourishment to your customers, so I think it’s helpful to see what their top ten bestsellers are at the moment – see it as a quick hack for ten sure-sellers! 
Good Vibes, Good Life: How Self-Love Is the Key to Unlocking Your Greatness (978 1788171823) by Vex King
Life and Soul: How to Live a Long and Happy Life (978 1788173537) by William Roache
Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself: How to Lose Your Mind and Create a New One (978 1848508569) by Joe Dispenza
Moonology: Working with the Magic of Lunar Cycles (978 1781807422) by Yasmin Boland
Becoming Supernatural (978 1781808313) by Joe Dispenza
Super Attractor: Methods for Manifesting a Life beyond Your Wildest Dreams (978 1401957162) by Gabrielle Bernstein
You Can Heal Your Life (978 0937611012) by Louise Hay
Angel Numbers: The Message and Meaning Behind 11:11 and Other Number Secrets (978 1788173476) by Kyle Gray
The Universe Has Your Back: How to Feel Safe and Trust Your Life No Matter What (978 1781804254) by Gabrielle Bernstein
Fuck It: The Ultimate Spiritual Way (978 1781802960) by John Parkin


Loving this pic of the amazing Stormzy with a copy of Comma’s Refugee Tales III (£9.99, pb, 978 1912697113) anthology this week! Still Disappointed is the #1 trending video on YouTube at present, and you can watch it here.

Lots more reviews for Comma’s Palestine +100 (£9.99, pb, 978 1910974445) this week, including this one from Electronic Intifada that called the collection 'refreshing' and 'unique'. World Lit Today also reviewed the collection, saying it offers 'moments of insight and humour'.


Interesting news from our friends over at Legend, who announced this week that they are launching a new non-fiction imprint called Hero. They say that ‘Hero came to life from a passion to publish non-fiction books that would inspire, provoke conversation and spark ideas. The team are invested in discovering new voices within general non-fiction, well-being, gift, popular science and culture. As its ultimate mission, Hero aims to produce books of the highest quality, provide a global platform for authors and to create conversations with book readers around the world.’ We look forward to hearing more!

The School Fundraising Handbook: How to Maximise Your Income from Grants, Sponsorship and Many Other Sources of Finance (pb, £16.99, 978 1785834264) by Lindsey Marsh is a great way to get schools off to a good start in 2020! It’s an absolute treasure trove of tips, tools and key contacts to help schools in the UK save money and boost their income. This indispensable guide throws schools a lifeline by revealing the abundance of fundraising streams available to them and sharing shrewd advice on how to coordinate specific projects and initiatives successfully and is an invaluable resource for keen parents, school business managers, PTA members and anyone involved in school fundraising. It’s just been published by Crown House.

Coast: Where the Land Meets the Sea by David Ross (£19.99, hb, 978 1782748984) has been picked as Book of the Month in Coast magazine’s February 2020 issue. It says ‘Dorset’s mighty Durdle Door, Bamburgh Castle in Northumberland and Antony Gormley’s iconic iron men at Crosby Beach in Merseyside are just several British coastal sites to star in a new photojournalism book documenting the magic of where the land meets the sea. From deserted beaches and busy ports to surfers’ paradises and a ship-breakers’ yard, Coast is a celebration of shorelines all around the world – a visual feast comprising 160 photographs complete with fascinating captions. Your coffee table will thank you.’ It’s published by Amber

Two terrific events coming up as part of the celebrations for Carcanet’s 50th anniversary. Firstly there’s a launch for Gabriel Josipocivi’s Forgetting (£10.99, pb, 978 1784108908) at Daunt Books in Hampstead on 30th January, you can find out more about that one here and then there’s a PN Review 250 celebration in Manchester on February 3rd, that information is here.

So Brightly at the Last: Clive James and the Passion for Poetry (£18.99, hb, 978 1913062071) was a New Statesman Recommends title over the Christmas period. This offbeat and affectionate book is full of surprises, wit and warmth and is selling extremely well online, so do keep it on display! It’s published by Red Door.

The new series of the Great Pottery Throw Down began this week on Channel 4 and you can find out more about that here. Lorenz have an ideal companion volume, The Practical Potter by Josie Warshaw (978 0754834304, hb, £15) which shows you how to create your own beautiful ceramics, with practical step-by-step instructions. It explains all the basic pottery techniques in six clear sections, each including an inspiring gallery of work by contemporary ceramic artists. Over thirty projects explore the fantastic creative possibilities with clay – from a simple hand-coiled pot needing the minimum of equipment, to a press-moulded plate with printed overlays. Accessible and inspiring, the book uncovers both the practical essentials and the artistic secrets.

Westminster returns this week of course, with a majority government for the first time in recent years. A new book, The Public Affairs Guide to Westminster: The Handbook of Effective and Ethical Lobbying (£19.99, pb, 978 1860571343 ) by Robert McGeachy is the essential handbook for organisations seeking to influence legislation and shape policy development in the UK Parliament and at UK Government level, and is packed with invaluable advice on devising cost effective public affairs strategies and campaigns that achieve success on a limited budget. It's part of a three-book series that includes The Public Affairs Guide to Scotland: Influencing Policy and Legislation (978 1860571268,) and The Public Affairs Guide to Wales (978 1860571428). They are all published by Welsh Academic Press.

And if after less than a week , you are sick of Westminster already, then this from Cassetteboy will probably be right up your street!


Robert Harvey’s Night Sky: Stargazing with the Naked Eye (hb, £19,99, 978 1782749189) made it on the Daily Mail’s Illustrated Books of 2019 list, which you can see here. Night Sky presents two hundred colour photographs of stunning nocturnal vistas all visible to the naked eye ranging from the majesty of the Northern Lights as seen from Norway or Canada, to seeing the clarity of the Milky Way over an Italian forest, from witnessing a lunar eclipse in Indonesia to charting the course of the International Space Station across the Indian night. There are also additional inset photographs indicating the formation of the constellations and fascinating captions It’s published by Amber.

Congratulations to Lorna Goodison, Jamaica's poet laureate who was selected as the recipient of the Queen's Gold Medal for Poetry 2019 and will be presented with the medal by the Queen at Buckingham Palace in 2020. The Gold Medal for Poetry was established by King George V in 1933 at the suggestion of the then Poet Laureate, John Masefield, and is awarded for excellence in poetry. Each year’s recipient is from the United Kingdom or a Commonwealth Realm. On receiving the award, Lorna said ‘I am honoured and deeply grateful. As one of a generation of Commonwealth writers whose engagement with poetry began with a need to write ourselves and our people into English Literature, I feel blessed. Love and justice, hope and possibility, healing and redemption are the themes I've always turned to, and that this enterprise has led to my being placed in the company of the memorable poets who have been awarded this medal before me is truly humbling.’ You can see more on the Carcanet website here.

A great review of Nigel Fletcher-Jones’s Treasures of Ancient Egypt (£19.99, hb, 978-1782748595) in the Jan/Feb issue of Kindred Spirit magazine saying 'This book lavishly illustrates why so many of us continue to be utterly enchanted by ancient Egypt. Looking at different eras of the country’s history and the best of what has been discovered by archaeologists, you learn plenty about the country’s rulers and beliefs. Some of the more obscure pieces will amaze you, such as some of the naturalism found in ancient Egyptian art. If you are unable to travel to the exhibition of treasures from Tutankhamun’s reign in London, compensate with this lovely book.’ It’s published by Amber.

Well, we’re not going to get a better excuse than that for a three minute burst of cultural appropriation, so let’s watch this timeless classic from The Bangles!

Chinese food is justifiably loved the world over, but take a closer look, and you’ll discover that there is much more to this nation’s cooking. A new book from Lorenz, China: A Cookbook: 300 recipes from Beijing and Canton to Shanghai and Sichuan (978 0754831006, hb, £25) by acknowledged expert Terry Tan, is a must-have reference for anyone who is passionate about the food of China. From bustling cosmopolitan cities to remote rural landscapes, the varied food and cooking is explored, from aromatic soups and simple stir-fries to banquet-style roasted meats, with congees, dim sum, and sizzling street food along the way. Its 600+ pages are bursting with local recipes and ingredients, with fascinating background information on regional geography and culinary history and beautiful photographs of both the food and this extraordinary country.

With all that is happening in Iran, Jack Straw has been doing lots of interviews over the last couple of days, including BBC Breakfast, Radio 4’s Westminster Hour and Emma Barnett R5 this week. The Times have asked for a piece too, which hopefully will include a mention of Jack’s excellent Biteback title, The English Job: Understanding Iran and Why It Distrusts Britain (£20, hb, 978 1785903991). This book seeks to illuminate Britain’s difficult relationship with Iran, and in doing so provide a better awareness of this extraordinary country. William Hague said of it ‘Jack Straw has developed a rich understanding of the country’s culture, psychology and history revealed in this book. It will be required reading for anyone who wants to understand how to improve relations with Iran in the coming years, and is an accurate record of the attempts many of us have made to do so.’

The Observer is publishing an article this Sunday (12th January) featuring all the authors that are shortlisted for the Portico Prize, including of course Glen James Brown with Ironopolis (pb, £9.99, 978 1912681099) published by Parthian. The six books explore Northern lives and landscape across fiction and non-fiction and the winnong author will win £10,000 which will be announced on 23rd January

And in this week’s Hot Topics, here's Ricky Gervais telling it like it is at the Golden Globes, here are some eye-popping ice sculptures in China and here are some celeb reactions to Harry and Megan’s decision.

That’s all 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 nuala@compassips.london