Friday 23 January 2015

Compass Points 112

Let’s start today with a bit of culture. Something beautiful and lasting, not just silly and transitory - the complete antithesis of all that online stuff we’re so addicted to in fact! As part of the Cultural Olympiad project, renowned poet Simon Armitage was commissioned to write six poems, which have now been carved into rocks in the landscape surrounding the Pennine Way. Stanza Stones is the record of that project, and very excitingly, the book and project will be showcased on BBC One’s Countryfile on Sunday 1 February 2015. The book is filled with pictures of the project as it progressed, of the stones themselves and the treasured Pennine landscape. These accompany Armitage’s poems and his account of the project, as well as the letter-carver’s work diary and the geographical expert who chose the stones’ locations. This is a beautiful book, which should appeal to a wide audience - Simon Armitage is one of the most popular poets writing today who is also well known for his travel of the Pennine Way, documented in 2012’s Walking Home (Faber). Stanza Stones (978 1987587 30 6, hb, £15, 240x165) by Simon Armitage with Tom Lonsdale and Pip Hall (which includes the 6 new poems) is published by Enitharmon Press. You can find out more about it on the Enitharmon website here

And you can see a short film from The British Library where Simon Armitage talks about the project here

While we’re on the subject of poetry and the great outdoors; who do you think claims to be Britain's only humorous gardening poet? No idea? Well that would be Liz Cowley - her first published collection: Outside in My Dressing Gown reached the top of the humorous verse chart on Amazon and was made into a Dublin stage show. Red Magazine called it “Charming, utterly approachable.” while the Sunday Independent said “If you do one thing this week, laugh at Liz’s lines.” Joanna Lumley enthused, “Poignant, approachable, witty, straight from the heart. I recognise myself in it. I think you will too.” Now Still in Slippers: New Poems for Garden Lovers by Liz Cowley (hb, £9.99 978-1-78334-075-0) is published in May (to-coincide with the Chelsea Flower Show) by Gibson Square. This is a lovely collection that will appeal to those who never normally enjoy poetry – funny, touching, beautifully observant, a warm and wonderful journey into a gardener’s heart. From ants to allotments, from weeds and weevils to worms and waterfalls, nothing escapes her as she takes us through the gardeners’ year with a wheelbarrow full of warmth and wit that will make you smile. Still in Slippers: New Poems for Garden Lovers by Liz Cowley is published in May and you can can find out more and order it here

If you can’t wait for spring, and would like to do a bit of virtual gardening right now, all from the comfort of your computer screen – then have a look here at these dazzling  time lapse pictures of blooms blooming – just gorgeous.

The Art of Being Ill: Or How to Be a Better Patient by Jill Sinclair (pb, £9.99, 978 1908754837) published by Freight continues its take over of the media – this week’s publicity includes a big piece in the Express which you can read here and Jill Sinclair will also be on BBC Radio Scotland in the next week, and on the Steve Wright Show on Radio 2 on 3 Feb!

New Year, new you, dry-anuary, get juicing, your body is a temple blah blah blah. If it all sounds a bit tricky and you would like something a bit more spiritual to ease you into 2015, then maybe The Reluctant Yogi: A Quirky Guide to the Practice That Can Change Your Life is for you. Over 1 million people practice yoga in the UK and their number is growing. However, like many people Carla McKay thought that yoga sounded a bit too good to be true. Things changed, however, when a friend persuaded her to give it try for a laugh after she separated from her husband. She did laugh – throughout. But the practice was also different from what she had expected. In The Reluctant Yogi she describes how her disbelief was slowly defeated, and asks experts what yoga does for her. She discovers that yoga has something for everyone of every shape and size, young to old. It will tone your body, calm your mind and make you sleep better, strengthen your bones, boost your immune system and even make you lose weight. The Telegraph said “Humorous…. Carla McKay does for yoga what Lynne Truss did for grammar” while the Daily Mail promises us it “can really change your life.” And talking of the Daily Mail, Carla has been commissioned by that newspaper to write a six part series on yoga, to appear every day in a four-page yoga supplement from 31 Jan. This means that every day for six days there will be four pages of promotion for this book in a national newspaper– so do make sure you have it in stock! The Reluctant Yogi: A Quirky Guide to the Practice that Can Change your Life by Carla McKay (pb, £7.99, 978 1906142995) was  published last year by Gibson Square, and really does show that yoga is not just for health nuts – it has already sold over 5,000 copies in paperback and digital formats. Find out more and order it here

Nope, still not feeling the yoga love? Well maybe this is more the sort of yoga you'd enjoy?

Do you subscribe to the view that “Football is a gentleman's game played by hooligans, and rugby is a hooligan’s game played by gentlemen"? Well, whatever your personal view, a well-written sports books will always sell well, and Carwyn: A Personal Memoir by Alun Richards is certainly such a title. The Times described  it  as “One of the most readable books on rugby... a stylish contribution to the game’s history.” while the Observer called its author  Alun Richards “a craftsman, a wordsmith who can compel you to re-read and savour a sentence, a paragraph or a number of pages...” Carwyn James (1929-1983) treated rugby football as if it was an art form and this son of a miner was a cultivated literary scholar, an accomplished linguist, a teacher, and a would-be patriot politician, who also won two caps for Wales at outside-half. He was the first man to coach any British Lions side to overseas victory, and still the only one to beat the All Blacks in a series in New Zealand. That was in 1971, and it was followed in 1972 by the triumph of his beloved Llanelli against the touring All Blacks at Stradey Park. These were the high-water marks of a life of complexity and contradiction. His subsequent and successful career as broadcaster and journalist and then a return to the game as a coach in Italy never quite settled his restless nature and after his sudden death, alone in an Amsterdam hotel, his close friend Alun Richards set out to reflect on the enigma that had been Carwyn. The result, a masterpiece of sports writing, is a reflection on the connected yet divergent cultural forces which had shaped both the rugby coach and the author; a dazzling sidestep of an essay in both social and personal interpretation. Carwyn: A Personal Memoir by Alun Richards (pb, £8.99, 978 1910409862) is published by Parthian in May, and you can find out more and order it here

I Me: The Science of Self-Love. Whether you think that is a title that represents everything that is wrong with Britain today, or a book you really fancy reading, will no doubt depend on your age and attitude to self help books in general! In this paperback, bestselling author David R Hamilton (who has a background as a scientist and a PhD in chemistry) fuses science with self-help, to offer simple yet powerful strategies for learning to love yourself. Throughout I Heart Me, you will learn that loving yourself means more than feeling good about yourself or being kind to yourself - it's about being self-confident, being unconcerned about whether you're liked, and about living your own life, not someone else's idea of what your life should be. You will be touched by the profound wisdom held in the pages of this book, and inspired by the simple ways in which you can achieve significant breakthroughs in your own self-love journey. Hmmmm.  I Me: The Science of Self-Love (£12.99, pb, 9781781801840) by David R Hamilton is published by Hay House in February and  will feature in Glamour magazine (circ. 405,000) and also Tesco magazine (circ. 1.9 million). The book and author will also feature in the February issue of Top Sante (circ. 50,000) and Soul & Spirit magazine (circ. 45,000).

There is probably no better expression of self-love than now ubiquitous selfie – but in case you have been living under a rock for the last year and haven’t seen any - here’s a 90-second video showing some of the most infamous!

 Perhaps our second biggest obsession today after taking selfies, is asking Google to sort out our lives for us. Have you ever wondered how it would feel if Google were actually a man, sitting there with his infinite filing cabinet, listening to our ludicrous requests? Wonder no more; this is how it would be!

Goodness me, isn’t it cold today? But at least we are in our nice warm homes and bookshops, and not stuck out on the great ice barrier in Antarctica. Shackleton’s Heroes is a genuine treasure of Antarctic history, and an almost unbelievable tale of real heroes who risked themselves for the lives of others. It has been pieced together from never-before-published diaries from a hundred years ago and tells the extraordinary story of how a small party of men, against almost insurmountable obstacles, put down vital food depots on the Great Ice Barrier for Sir Ernest Shackleton’s 1914–1917 Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition. Their efforts to help each other survive comprise some of the most incredible feats of heroism in the history of polar exploration, which until now have been entirely overshadowed by the legendary feat of Shackleton on the other side of the continent after the sinking of the Endurance. The complete story is revealed here for the first time, through the diaries of these forgotten men, written out on the ice and at their base camp. We can experience their pain and suffering through their own words, 100 years after the original expedition began. With a foreword by Sir Ranulph Fiennes, Shackleton’s Heroes is an adventure story of the highest calibre. Shackleton’s Heroes by Wilson McOrist (978 1849548151, hb with photos and drawings, £20.00) is published by Robson Press in March and you can find out more and order it here

And finally, which have been your favourite book jackets from the last 12 months? Have a look here at this selection, chosen by the Bookseller.

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

This blog is taken from our Compass Points 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 click here to go to the Compass New Titles Website or talk to your Compass Sales representative.

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