Friday 29 September 2017

Compass Points 232

On a warm April morning in 1906 a crowd of expectant correspondents from London’s leading newspapers gathered at the Hotel Cecil in the Strand to view the new wonder of the age; the electrobus. This clean, green machine was gearing up to take on the noisy, polluting petrol vehicle, which was just starting to replace the horse-drawn omnibus and surely had the potential to be a game-changer in terms of what it would mean to city-dwellers who were already choking on petrol fumes. Disastrously though, the London Electrobus Company was in the grip of a gang of greedy and fraudulent financiers, who systematically conned shareholders, looted the company's coffers and drove the promise of the electrobus into the ground. A Most Deliberate Swindle: How Edwardian Fraudsters Pulled the Plug on the Electric Bus and Left Our Cities Gasping for Breath (£10.99, pb, 978 1910453421) is crammed with fascinating characters and vividly captures the Edwardian era. As Michael Palin said: “that London could have had electric buses a hundred years ago is extraordinary enough, but as Mick Hamer recounts with great panache, the reason it didn't is even more extraordinary. This is a great tale, expertly told.”
The book was launched this week by publishers Red Door on The Big Lemon which is of course Brighton's own electric bus - here you can see some fab photos! There was also a great review this week for it Nature magazine this week, describing it as an “accomplished expose”. This title has got “ideal Christmas present” written all over it– the Michael Palin quote is nice and big on the evocative cover and it is ideal for anyone interested in the Edwardians, green issues, or transport history – that’s a LOT of readers!
And for a reminiscent one-minute glimpse into what London looked like back in 1906 – click here. 

Henry Jeffreys, drinks writer for the Guardian, tweeted this week that that 20th Century Pub: From Beer to Book Bunker by Jessica Boak and Ray Bailey (pb, £16.99, 978 0957278721) out this month from Safe Haven is a strong contender for his drinks book of the year in a crowded market. Beer expert Robert Protz called this timely reflection on the various different guises of the English pub; “a scintillating read, well-informed, well-argued, painstakingly researched, illuminating and inspiring.” 20th Century Pub celebrates the pub in all its forms with all its triumphs and the failures, and as well as acting as a memorial to what we have lost, it is very optimistic about the future. Jessica Boak and Ray Bailey have been blogging at since 2007. They won the British Beer Writer of the Year award in 2014 and the Fortnum & Mason Online Drinks Writer of the Year award in 2016. With the huge current interest in craft beer and pubs, I think this entertaining and intelligent hardback by these two award-winning writers looks set to do extremely well.

Happy Banned Books Week! Here’s a very amusing piece from US booksellers Barnes and Noble, writing “in honour of this glorious celebration of our freedom to read what we want, and remembering there are people out there still trying to take this freedom away for dumb reasons like not wanting their kids to read the word nipple.” Go here  to laugh at the full list of 11 books banned for completely ridiculous reasons!

Salt Creek (£14.99, hb, 978 1910709412) by Lucy Treloar from Aardvark is shaping up to be a book that sells and sells – right through to Christmas. Think The Poisonwood Bible set in Australia. It’s that kind of novel. The reviews have been superb – and you can see a round-up of them on the promotional leaflet here.  And here is the big interview with Lucy in yesterday’s Guardian. In telling the story of her settler ancestors, the Salt Creek author knew she was on controversial ground. Two years and much praise later, she still feels “torn and filled with conflict”– have a read, it will definitely make you want to try the novel!

Tony Attwood, author of Jessica Kingsley’s The Complete Guide to Asperger Syndrome (978 1843106692, £19.99, pb), and Asperger’s Syndrome (978 1853025778, £12.95, pb) was on the front page of the Guardian on Wednesday, as “the world expert on autism” talking about how he took years to notice the condition in his own son. The piece talks about how easy it is to misdiagnose this condition and Tony also talks about some of the ramifications and consequences of autism, which in his son’s case led to addiction and several periods of imprisonment. You can read that here.
Both of these books are major bestsellers for JKP – and unsurprisingly sales have risen again following the article. If you don’t stock them – you certainly should! You may also be interested to see a really interesting 30-minute documentary made by ABC Television in Australia about Tony, his work and his son which you can watch here.

If there’s one fiction genre which seems to be having a serious “moment” it’s short story collections. Darker With the Lights On (978 0995705258, £12.99, hb) by David Hayden published by Little Island Press has just sold out of its first print run – it will be back in stock in a couple of weeks – so please do order it if you haven’t done already! Readers have raved about this: “Quietly innovative, subtle of tone, full of feeling, this is a superb debut”, “One of the most startlingly brilliant and original debuts I've ever read. Hayden is one hell of a talent”, “These stories captivate and seduce the reader … beautiful, luminous.” Many of you may not be familiar yet with Little Island Press. Founded in 2016, in its own words it "publishes innovative, intellectually ambitious writing in elegant, hardback editions." Having started with poetry, it has this year moved into fiction, including this lyrical collection of twenty tales. David Hayden was at Hodges Figgis this week in conversation with Sinéad Gleeson then on 19 October he’s at Waterstone’s Islington in conversation with David Collard and 20 October at Burley Fisher Books in Hackney. There will be coverage in the Guardian Review and on a Guardian Podcast, in the TLS and the London Review of Books.

Have a look here for more about Little Island – and twenty-nine other small indie literary publishers who are punching way above their weight. What an inspiring list this is!

Joseph Conrad is regarded as one of the greatest novelists to write in the English language. To celebrate his name, as well as his vision, Conradology out from Comma in November is an anthology of fifteen all-new, specially commissioned short stories and essays, rejoicing in, responding to and critiquing the literary legacy of Joseph Conrad. The Book Blast blog included it in their pick of Top 10 Reads for Independent Minds which you can see here – (Carcanet and Aardvark books are included in this too I see!)

You may have read in the Bookseller last week, that one of our wonderful publishers And Other Stories has launched a £5,000 book prize to find “the next great writer” in the North. The Northern Book Prize has been developed with New Writing North and will be celebrated with a free event in Sheffield, to where And Other Stories recently relocated from London, on 19th October, as part of the Off The Shelf literary festival. As well as the £5,000 prize, the winner will also receive editorial support from the publisher to develop the manuscript if needed, as well as a contract for worldwide publication. Stefan Tobler, founder of And Other Stories, said “we are not the first and definitely won’t be the last to say that the publishing industry is much too focused on one city. There is a thirst to have more literary fiction published in the north.” He also revealed that since the press moved from London to Sheffield he had noticed a difference in the “quality of the working lives” of his staff, and Tara Tobler, And Other Stories editor and Stefan's wife, added: “We hope to tap some of the extraordinary literary energy in the North and are confident the prize will only grow in prestige and popularity in the years to come.” Submissions for the prize will open on 16th November and close on 1st February 2018. The winner will be revealed at the Northern Writers’ Awards Ceremony, in June 2018 with And Other Stories aiming to launch the winning book during Off the Shelf next year. You can find out more on the And Other Stories website here.

Lots of you will have noticed the difference between the book jackets of titles published in the US and UK. This really interesting piece in the Guardian examines the reasons behind this – looking particularly at Hillary Clinton’s What Happened? (published by Simon and Schuster), concluding that the US one “looks stylish and elegant; the UK one is dreadful” and then asking “why did the Americans get it right and the British so wrong when UK book design is supposedly the envy of the world?” Hmm – a slightly overly subjective view from the Guardian on this one perhaps?

Here's a fantastic new book by “Mushroom Man” Michael Hyams and Liz O'Keefe. The Mushroom Cookbook: A Guide to Edible Wild and Cultivated Mushrooms And Delicious Seasonal Recipes to Cook with Them (978 0754832867, £15, hb,) has gorgeous full page photographs by Jon Ashford and has just been published by Lorenz. Michael Hyams is at the centre of the mushroom world, sourcing them, providing them to markets and restaurants, and sampling the results at home, in cafes and in the dishes of Michelin-starred chefs. This guide to edible fungi contains a full directory of wild and cultivated types and fifty tempting and original recipes to use them through the seasons. The delicious recipes are grouped seasonally, from Pulled Rabbit and Morel Ravioli or Chestnut Mushroom and Mousseron Tart to Kale and Shiitake Soup and a Gourmet Mushroom Burger. Yum! Two of the spread are below.

Kyle Gray says he's been able to see angels since he was four years old and was a guest on ITV’s Loose Women this week, when he talked about his belief in guardian angels and the release of his new book Light Warrior: Connecting with the Spiritual Power of Fierce Love (978 1781808528, £10.99, pb) which is out from Hay House in November. You can see that here. Angels by Kyle (978 1781802632, pb, £8.99) came out at the start of this year and was recently featured in Soul & Spirit magazine who called him “the hottest name in spirituality” and Light Warrior will be featured in December’s Spirit and Destiny magazine on their ‘Rising Star’ page. 
So, what exactly is a light warrior? Some of you may well be surprised to hear that you actually are one! A light worker is anyone who has heard the internal call to make a difference in the world and a light warrior is someone who chooses to respond to the call. Light Warrior is a manual for those who are ready to take action and gives you the spiritual armoury to help you including warrior workouts that will help you to create a loving connection with your angels and increase your psychic protection. Kyle Gray is a bestselling author and speaks at sell-out tours all around the world. He is based in Glasgow where he runs his boutique Yoga & Meditation studio The Zen Den. You can find out more at

Ooh – I liked this story – one publisher has decide that “sexists” no longer deserve to be considered for publication – and is refusing to even look at any manuscript that arrives with a letter addressed to “Dear Sir”. Excellent!

As we predicted last week, loads and loads more publicity for Justice for Laughing Boy: Connor Sparrowhawk: A Death by Indifference by Sara Ryan (£12.99, pb, 978 1785923487) – a mother's memoir which tells the story of her son's premature death while in NHS care, and her subsequent campaign for justice. The Guardian are running an extract from the book on 11 October, the day before the verdict against Southern Health is announced. This will be big news, whatever the outcome! Sara Ryan was on the Today programme this week and will also be on BBC Breakfast and Radio 5 Live. Justice for Laughing Boy is published by Jessica Kingsley on 19 October.

There are lots of books out this year commemorating the 100 anniversary of the Russian Revolution of course, but The Russian Countess: Escaping Revolutionary Russia (pb, £19.99, 978 1911293071) is the unique and very personal account of Countess Edith Sollohub, who found herself trapped, separated from her three young sons, stripped of her possessions and fearing for her life. This new deluxe edition of this bestselling title has had endorsements from all the big names in Russian history. Simon Sebag Montefiore called it: “A classic of the last years of the tsars that’s essential reading. Charming, touching, tragic and thrilling, this is a superb memoir from the doomed but decadent and elegant world” while Antony Beevor writing in The Sunday Times said it was “fascinating and beautifully written … a revelation, and one of the great memoirs from that era.” This “thrilling tale of danger, war, and escape” (Daily Mail) stands out for its vivid style, depth, insight – and above all, its readability. It’s just been published by Impress.

Well, any excuse – and it’s always good to end with a bit of music – so I hope you will enjoy this “Russian” classic – from Boney M – can you believe it’s 40 years since it was a hit. Yes.

It was National Poetry Day this week of course, and the Bookseller reported the welcome news that poetry sales are booming, with sales up by around a sixth in volume and value compared to this last year. Part of the celebrations included an international call for readers to submit poems that could be lost to future generations. From Assyrian to Irish Gaelic, the National Poetry Library is launching a major new project to collect the poetry of thousands of languages in danger of dying out, and preserve them for future generations. According to Unesco, of the 7,000 languages spoken in the world more than half are endangered, with one dying every two weeks. Chris McCabe from the library said: “By the end of the century, Unesco estimates that half of our languages will be lost, and when languages go, their poetry goes too.” You can read more about this story here.

Over on Twitter we enjoyed @Red Lion Books in Colchester’s game for National Poetry Day – tweeting anti-kindle limericks such as this one:

Spy novel lover called Jane
Her Kindle drove her insane
The battery failed
as the spy was unveiled.
Now she’s back reading real books again!
And this
A lass of a ‘certain age’
Stamped on her Kindle in rage.
For it wouldn’t display
Fifty Shades of Grey
Now she’s back with the printed page

Anti-kindle limericks are ticking a lot of boxes for me, so naturally @Compass IPS was only too happy to join in with our own offering:

A political reader named May
Whose Kindle broke down every day
Exclaimed WTF
I'm not having much luck
Thank goodness for bookshops - hooray!

Compass is on Twitter! Follow us @CompassIPS. Here are some of our favourite tweets from this week …

Sophie P-N‏ @sophparkes Bloody loved the #NFA roadshow tonight. Great to meet and hear new/new-to-me authors and publishers all in one room. And midweek wine!
Anness/Lorenz Books‏ @Anness_Books Syrup steamed pudding ... even easier in the pressure cooker, yum yum #bakeoff #NewCompletePressureCooker
The Oldie‏ @OldieMagazine #HughHefner: He may have been the most sex-obsessed oldie of modern times, but his manners were impeccable @Playboy
Oberon Books‏ @OberonBooks WIN a gorgeous bundle of poetic books, by tweeting us your fave line of poetry. Good luck! #NationalPoetryDay #books #poems
The Refugee Tales‏ @RefugeeTales Happy #NationalPoetryDay from #RefugeeTales. Hooray for poetry in our anthology giving space for refugee and detainee voices. Poetry rocks!
Amazing Dyslexic‏ @amazingdyslexic Too excited with the rather lovely tag on Amazon today of #1 best seller!!! Thank you for supporting us #amazingdyslexic @JKPBooks
Waterstones @Waterstones 'Poetry is like a bird, it ignores all frontiers.' – Yevgeny Yevtushenko #NationalPoetryDay
Comma Press‏ @commapress “This is a book that gathers energy and urgency as it goes on” - Bookmunch on Protest
Oberon Books‏ @OberonBooks retweeted Frau Welt‏ @DasFrauWelt I once asked Angela Lansbury how she seemed so relaxed on opening night. Her reply: "If they don't like it, fuck 'em."
GermanForeignOffice‏ @GermanyDiplo @Twitter is considering #280characters! Or as we say in Germany: 4 words. #Rindfleischetikettierungsüberwachungsaufgabenübertragungsgesetz

That’s all for now folks! More next week!

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