Friday 21 March 2014

Compass Points 79

Well, maybe many of you today are jumping over the travel guidebooks, jogging round the cookbooks, or dong press-ups in the biographies all in aid of Sports Relief!  One highlight of tonight’s TV is certain to be the Only Fools and Horses special episode – staring David Beckham!  You can watch the trailer for it here! There’s been quite a bit of publicity for this – and many of the features have also mentioned the four Only Food and Horses books, published by Splendid Books – for example there was a big piece in the Sun on Thursday which featured Only Fools and Horses: The Official Inside Story. So make sure you have got all of them – this series is eternally popular – and tonight’s episode will no doubt provide another outpouring of favourable comments on this national treasure of a TV series. First up, as previously mentioned is Only Fools and Horses: The Official Inside Story by Steve Clark with a foreword by Theo Paphitis (pb £9.99 978 0955891694). This book takes us behind the scenes to reveal the secrets of the hit show and is fully authorised by the family of John Sullivan, the show's creator and writer. The book is based on dozens of one-to-one interviews with the show's stars including Sir David Jason and Nicholas Lyndhurst and key members of the production team and it also contains material from the BBC archives. It includes rare photographs and other exclusive material. 
There is also The Wit and Wisdom of Only Fools and Horses, compiled by Dan Sullivan, foreword by David Jason which contains the crème de la menthe of the hilarious one-liners from the series so you can re-live all Del, Rodney, Grandad, Uncle Albert, Boycie, Trigger and the rest of the gang’s funniest and most memorable lines. (£4.99, pb 978 1909109001). And there’s  More Wit and Wisdom of Only Fools and Horses, compiled by Dan Sullivan, foreword by Nicholas Lyndhurst which was published last October (pb £4.99 978 1909109018). Also finally don’t forget The Official Only Fools & Horses Quiz Book which enables the show’s many fans to test their knowledge of the legendary sitcom. This paperback is packed with more than 1,000 brain-teasers about the show including: What name does Trigger know Rodney by? What’s the title of Rodney’s prize winning painting? In which two episodes does Del Boy get arrested? And what is Joan Trotter’s middle name? Plus there’s an episode guide and an exclusive foreword by the show’s creator and writer John Sullivan, who reveals some of the mystery behind the much-loved series and just how he came up with some of television’s most memorable moments (£7.99, pb, 978 0955891663).

In amongst all the commemorative publicity for the First World War, the extraordinary poetry that this conflict generated is getting its fair share of coverage.  The Times ran a 4 page guide to First World War poetry  on 17th March which included A Dead Boche by Robert Graves and cited the Carcanet edition of his Complete Poems Volume 1 (978 857541717)

Staying with World War I, Outside Verdun by Arnold Zweig (translated by Fiona Rintoul) is a novel which sees the conflict from the point of view of a German soldier. A forgotten masterpiece of First World War German literature (first published in Germany in 1933), Outside Verdun is an utterly gripping, heart-breaking story of revenge and sacrifice based on the author’s own first-hand experiences of combat. Epic and engrossing, this is a First World War novel which is a truly authentic first-hand account and which has never been published in the UK – this is a stunning brand new translation. The novel begins when, following the unlawful killing of his younger brother by his own superiors, Lieutenant Kroysing swears revenge, using his influence to arrange for his brother’s unit, normally safely behind the lines, to be reassigned into the very heart of the battle for France. Bertin is the lowly but educated Jewish man through whose eyes the story unfolds; he is the innocent caught in the cross-fire. Outside Verdun not only explores the heart-breaking tragedy of one individual trapped in a nightmare of industrialised warfare but also reveals the iniquities of German society in microcosm, with all its injustice, brutality, anti-Semitism and incompetence. Fiona Rintoul’s brilliant translation captures all the subtleties, cadences and detachment of Arnold Zweig’s masterful prose.  Outside Verdun is published in May by Freight (trade paperback, £12.99 978 1908754523)

Some great publicity for Spring Tide by Cilla and Rolf Borjlind, published this month which you will remember is the compelling crime thriller which opens with a woman buried up to her neck in the sand as the high tide is rapidly approaching. The victim takes her last breath as water fills her nose and mouth – in her stomach, she feels her baby kick. And her waters break. Twenty-four years later, the abhorrent crime remains unsolved; gruesome violence however is still prevalent after all those years and the police have their work cut out trying to keep abreast of the crime wave. Olivia Rönning hopes to join their ranks; she has only one last hurdle to overcome, a challenge to pick a cold case and solve it. Little does she know the world she is getting involved in, the danger she faces and the ugly truths she risks uncovering. The authors of this gripping tale Cilla and Rolf Borjlind were talking about Spring Tide on BBC Radio Scotland's The Culture Show with Janice Forsyth on Wednesday, and you can listen to this interview on the iplayer here. It is just been published by Hesperus (pb, £8.99 978 1843915157) and you can order Spring Tide here.

Who likes a story where the two main characters change places and swap identities? From Trading Places, to Freaky Friday – to Tale of Two Cities – even The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas – this is always makes for a cracking plot in my opinion. The Prince and the Pauper is one of the very best in the genre – an American classic from genius Mark Twain, concerning two boys who change places and alter their paths forever. It is published in May in a new edition by Hesperus Minor (paperback, £7.99 978 1843915034). For those who don’t know the story, it begins in London, 1547 when two young boys meet by chance and strike up a conversation at the gates of a palace. Tom Canty is a poor young boy with few prospects in life; his new friend happens to be Prince Edward VI, the Prince of Wales. The Prince and the Pauper could not be more different from one another: except for the small fact that they look identical. When Tom admires the Prince’s fine garments, he and Prince Edward decide on the spur of the moment to swap clothes. But with cruel irony the Prince is mistaken for a poor beggar in Tom’s rags and is kicked out of his own palace while Tom is taken to be the Prince by everyone he meets. Suddenly the Prince and the Pauper have swapped not only clothes but also their homes, families, lives and their very identities. While the boys are eager to learn about life in someone else’s shoes, they ultimately want to return to their own homes and families. But this proves to be a tall order when nobody believes the prince’s claims that he is really a Prince despite being clothed in rags… In this gripping tale of mistaken identity, we see Mark Twain venturing into historical fiction for children while displaying his typical flair for witty dialogue and incisive satire. The Prince and the Pauper was Mark Twain’s first historical novel and is packed with setting and character description that makes sixteenth century England really come to life. It is in part a social satire, particularly compelling in its condemnation of the inequality that existed between the classes in Tudor England – and above all is a rattling good read that definitely deserves a place on any child’s bookshelf. It has been adapted for film and television many times – even Mickey Mouse has had a bash at playing the two title roles! I rather like the look of  this 1937 version with Errol Flynn and also very much appreciate  this hilariously cheesy version from 1975  Goodness me, who’s that in the starring roles; yes it’s none other than a very young Nicholas Lyndhurst – in his pre Rodney Trotter days. Wow – he must have been very glad indeed to get the Only Fools and Horses gig if only to get out of those tights and give up the silly Artful Dodger accent!

Plenty of publicity coming up for Miracles Now: 108 Life-Changing Tools for Less Stress, More Flow and Finding Your True Purpose by Gabrielle Bernstein which is published in April by Hay House ( £12.99, pb, 978 1781802533). This New York Times bestselling author promises to help readers clear stress and find peace even if they only have a minute to spare. Bernstein knows that most of us don't have time for an hour of yoga or 30 minutes of meditation to dissolve our anxiety, so she has hand-picked 108 techniques to combat our most common problems – from fear and anxiety to burnout and fatigue. Inspired by some of the greatest spiritual teachings; Bernstein offers up spirit-based principles, meditations and practical tools. The book and author were recently featured on (450,000 monthly visitors and in Stylist magazine (circ. 435,000). The book was reviewed in the April issue of Natural Health & Beauty magazine (circ. 60,000) and will be featured in the May issue of Cosmopolitan (circ. 300,000), the May issue of Yoga (circ. 90,000) and a future issue of Psychologies (circ. 73,357). The book will also be featured in the June issue of Marie Claire (circ. 227,000) and the April issue of Soul & Spirit (circ. 50,000). The book and author will also feature in the Daily Express (circ. 500,000). This is all great publicity – and Gabrielle Bernstein is definitely becoming more and more well known in the UK, so order your copies of Miracles Now here!

Some books make you so hungry when you read them that you feel you must go straight out and eat right that minute! This next title, Fragrant Heart by Miranda Emmerson which details Miranda’ travels through South East Asia, contains authentic recipes so readers can recreate Miranda’s food and very helpfully has a comprehensive bibliography and Asian food suppliers section at the end of the book so that keen cooks can learn more.  A very good idea as the mouth-watering descriptions of food in this book will certainly make you keen to try the food yourselves – and we can’t all be as intrepid as Miranda and her partner who in 2008 set off for one last big adventure before settling down. They chose to travel through South-East Asia. All did not go to plan: Asian flu, falling off boats and the general chaos of a life abroad challenged them at every step, and yet, in the midst of it all, they fell in love with the culture and culinary delights of China, Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand and Malaysia. Fragrant Heart by Miranda Emmerson (who is a regular contributor to BBC Radio 4) is published in May by Summersdale (pb, £8.99 978 1849535588)

Which would you say are the best books about food and cooking ever written? Not including actual cookbooks of course. Well, personally, much of Hemmingway’s writing makes me long to crack open a cold beer and settle down with something spicy in the sunshine, but here are the best examples of food writing on Buzz Feed – according to them, the top 14 titles every food lover should read.

Well after all of that eating I think we’ll need to do a bit of exercise to burn it off – especially on Sport Relief day. Wild Running by Jen and Sim Benson (pb, £16.99, 978 0957157361) should do the job – if this doesn’t make you feel like donning the lycra then nothing will. Wild Running: 150great adventures on the trails and fells of Britain is the first UK guidebook for those who love to run or want to run, and who dream of exploring Britain’s fantastic collection of mountain, forest and coastal trails. This is Britain’s first guide to the best trail and fell runs 150 hand-picked runs, chosen both for simple navigation and sensational beauty. Graded from beginner to challenging terrain data with safety and training advice this book includes classic races, iconic runs and ‘hard-as-nail’ climbs. I think I'll leave those to someone else if it's all the same to you. It has 1:250,000 route maps and directions with online maps too and GPX downloads for mobiles. Running is the most popular way to keep fit in Britain and off-road running is one of the fastest growing pursuits. Wild Running combines stunning photography, engaging travel writing and practical guidance and is set to become the definitive guide to this sport. This large format paperback has 250 photos and 150 maps and is published by Wild Things Publishing in May.

If that all sounds far too much like hard work, and you’re in the mood for a little more reading on a Friday afternoon, then why not click here to go straight to the Parthian newsletter. In this spring edition you can find out all about the XX Women's Writing Festival – which raised many important issues facing women who write; on writing young adult fiction, writing from life and writing about sex! Parthian is a literary publishing success story based on the west coast of Wales and their list incorporates an innovative range of new fiction, poetry and drama. Central to their mission is a belief in the power of a great book, and what they publish reflects a diverse and contemporary Wales that casts a keen eye on the wider world. Exciting, vibrant, surprising, relevant and original – have a look at their newsletter and their website.

As booksellers, do you support gender specific publishing – i.e. titles such as Usborne's Illustrated Classics for Boys, described by the publisher as "a collection of stories of action, adventure and daring-do [sic] suitable for boys", or Illustrated Stories for Girls, which contains "brand new stories about mermaids, fairies, princesses and dolls".? Well, this week saw the launch of a national campaign to stop children's books being labelled as "for boys" or "for girls" which won the support of Waterstones, as well as children's laureate Malorie Blackman, poet laureate Carol Ann Duffy, Philip Pullman and a handful of publishers. The Let Books Be Books campaign seeks to put pressure on retailers and publishers not to market children's books that promote "limiting gender stereotypes” and a petition calling on children's publishers to "stop labelling books, in the title or on the packaging, as for girls or for boys" because "telling children which stories and activities are 'for them' based on their gender closes down whole worlds of interest," has passed 3,000 signatures. Read about the campaign in the Guardian here

Never mind whether they are for boys or girls: how many books have you read overall? The BBC reckons of the 100 “essential” titles – most people have only read six – and then tend to fib massively about all the others. Well, now in the privacy of your own bookshop, you can take this quick test  – and you don’t have to share the results with your colleagues if it’s too embarrassing!

That’s all for now folks, more next week!

This blog is sent weekly by over 700 booksellers as well as publishers and publicists. If you would like to order any of the titles mentioned, then please click here to go to the Compass New Titles Website or talk to your Compass Sales representative.


  1. I've read 57 books on the list! Yay!

  2. Dangerous Book for Boys - lol - wonder how many it would have sold if it was called the Dangerous Book for Everyone Regardless of Gender?