Friday 23 March 2018

Compass Points 254

We humans have a long history of being drawn to images, of communicating visually, and being enchanted with (our own) faces. And where has that trend taken us? Selfies: Why We Love (and Hate) Them by Katrin Tiidenberg (pb, £16.99, 978 1787437173) coming on 30 April from Emerald is a rich and nuanced analysis of selfie culture, exploring the social, cultural and technological context surrounding selfies and their subsequent meaning. They generate more attention than most other social media content and are persistently attacked as being unworthy of all of this attention, lacking artistic merit and indicating pathological and dangerously stupid behaviour. This title is part of Emerald’s Society Now series which provides readers with a definitive snapshot of the events, phenomena and issues that define our 21st century world. Written by leading experts in their fields these titles offer a thoughtful, concise, and rapid response to issues being globally debated. Previously published titles have dealt with Trump, Brexit, Corbyn and the digital era, which you can find out about on the website. In June comes Understanding Fame Online by Crystal Abidin (978 1787560796, £16.99, pb) which I’m sure will be fascinating – I’ll tell you more about that in the coming weeks! Fracking, drones, celebrity culture, the far right, post-truth society, inequality, obesity, clean eating, terrorism, hipsters, the dark net and the migrant crisis are all topics cued up as potential future books in the series.

If you want to read more about selfies then here's a fun article in the Guardian on exactly how selfies became a global phenomenon, and here are 14 fascinating facts about selfies from the Readers Digest! 

But first - let me take a selfie.

Riga may be over 800 years old as a city, but its status as capital of an independent Latvia is only a century old, with half of that time spent under Soviet rule. Despite this, it has established itself as a vibrant, creative hub, attracting artists, performers, and writers from across the Baltic region. The stories in The Book of Riga (£9.99, pb, 978 1910974384) chronicle this growth and on-going transformation, and offer glimpses into the dark humour, rich history, contrasting perspectives, and love of the mythic, that sets the city’s artistic community apart. It was included in Bookwitty's 16 Books from Latvia to Get Started which you can read here. It’s published by Comma on the 12th April, to coincide with the London Book Fair Baltic Countries Market Focus, which will showcase Latvian, Lithuanian and Estonian literature.

We are delighted to announce that Puffed Out: The Three Little Pigs' Guide to a Growth Mindset (978 1785831171, £14.99, pb) by Will Hussey and Barry Hymer has just been named winner of the Educational Book Award at the Education Resources Awards 2018! The judges said that by ”using a novel approach and a well-known story, Puffed Out introduces pupils to ethics, philosophy and critical thinking. It is exceedingly witty and will help create fun lessons while introducing pupils to new ways of approaching difficult concepts. It made us laugh and think throughout the judging process.” This innovative and entertaining title is suitable for primary and lower secondary teachers and is published by Crown House.  You can find the full list of Education Resources Awards 2018 winners here.

Racism. Two new Biteback titles out this week deal with this ugly subject in very different ways and remind us of a time when “banana throwing and monkey noises were almost normal.” Both have had some excellent coverage. Vince: The Autobiography of Vince Hilaire is, as the Guardian said, “a funny, emotive, and brutally honest insight into a cult figure” – and this this hugely entertaining and candid book tells the story of one of the most exciting footballers and the beautiful game as it used to be played. Big features in The Guardian and The Sun for this one. Behind the Blue Line: My Fight against Racism and Discrimination in the Police by Gurpal Virdi has had loads of press too – with a big piece in The ‘i’ headlined “Racists and bigots drove me out of the police” and articles also in The Voice, The Justice Gap and on BBC Radio 5 Live’s Eye of the Storm slot.

The media were all over the announcement this week that Prince Harry and Meghan Markle have asked Claire Ptak, an east London pastry chef, to make an organic lemon and elderflower cake for their wedding. Kensington Palace said Ms Ptak will create a cake incorporating "the bright flavours of spring" for the May 19 wedding, covered with buttercream and decorated with fresh flowers. This is the sort of publicity that money simply cannot buy for this chef – and she has a book published by Lorenz that I recommend you get front of store asap! The Home-Made Sweet Shop: Make Your Own Confectionery (pb, 978 1780195193, £9.99) by Claire Ptak has over ninety recipes for traditional, hard-boiled, chewy, soft or sticky sweets, candies and chocolates including salt-water taffy, peanut butter fudge, sugar mice and raspberry lollipops! The good news is that they are surprisingly easy to make at home and this fabulous book has step-by-step recipes, a stunning picture of each finished confection as well as an overview of the history of sweets and a cook's guide to ingredients, equipment and techniques. Claire Ptak focuses on using seasonal and organic ingredients and after the announcement on Tuesday, she told of her excitement on Instagram, saying she and the Royals "share so many of the same values regarding food provenance, sustainability, seasonality and of course, flavour!" You can read the whole story here and everywhere else – this really is a terrific bit of promotion for this author!

We’re thrilled to announce that Saqi has been shortlisted for the 2018 Inclusivity in Publishing Award at the London Book Fair. This award is one of seventeen categories which together make the London Book Fair International Excellence in Publishing Awards. The winners of each category will be announced on Tuesday 10 April. Saqi’s aim has always been to publish works that help demolish cultural barriers and encourage conversations. They’ve always been open to controversial and challenging ideas, creating opportunities for dissident voices to speak for themselves. A good time methinks to remind you about two important Saqi titles which were published in 2017. The Things I Would Tell You: British Muslim Women Write (978 0863561467, £12.99, pb) was a Guardian Best Book of the Year. From established literary heavyweights to emerging talent, the writers in this ground-breaking collection blow away the narrow image of the 'Muslim Woman'. Hear from users of Islamic Tinder, a disenchanted TV chat show host and a plastic surgeon blackmailed by MI6. Follow the career of an actress whose dreams of playing a ghostbuster spiral into repeat castings as a jihadi bride. Among stories of honour killings and ill-fated love in besieged locations, we also find heart-warming connections and powerful challenges to the status quo. Don’t Panic, I’m Islamic was a Sunday Times Humour Book of the Year. How can you tell if your neighbour is speaking Muslim? Is a mosque a kind of hedgehog? Can I get fries with that burka? You can't trust the media any longer, but there's no need to fret: Don't Panic, I'm Islamic: Words and Pictures on How to Stop Worrying and Learn to Love the Alien Next Door (£12.99, pb, 978 0863569999) provides you with the answers and includes cartoons, graffiti, photography, colouring-in, short stories and more in an explosion of expression, creativity and colour. By contributors from around the world, these subversive pieces are provocative and laugh-out-loud funny.

The Ted Hughes Award shortlist is announced, and hurrah, Caroline Bird is on it with In These Days Of Prohibition. Caroline’s fifth collection with Carcanet confronts dark regions of the human psyche with surrealism, sharp observation and humour. The judges found it “powerful, disturbing – yet witty and very funny in places; redemptive.” The Ted Hughes Award for New Work in Poetry, presented annually by The Poetry Society since 2009, celebrates the outstanding contributions made by poets to our cultural life, acknowledging the possibilities of poetry both on the page and beyond. The £5,000 prize is awarded next week.

It was great to see a mention of the wonderful Room Little Darker by June Caldwell in this interesting Guardian article about whether the so-called renaissance of the short story is a genuine “thing” or just a publishing myth! From one of Ireland's most grindingly authentic and radically original talents and published originally by New Island, Room Little Darker explores the clandestine aspects of modern life through jagged, visceral tales of wanton sex, broken relationships and futuristic nightmares – if this is the sort of thing you like – then you’ll absolutely love it!

A nice review last weekend in the Observer which you can see here for The British Mosque by Shahed Saleem (£60, hb, 978 1848020764) which is published by Historic England. There are an estimated 1,500 mosques in Britain, most of them built in the last decade or so. For all their visibility and significance, little has been written about their origins, how they come into being and why, who designs them and what they are trying to achieve. Saleem’s book sets out to put this right and aims to be the “first ever overview and explanation of Islamic architecture in Britain”. “Mosque design,” says academic Tim Winter, “has historically reflected the local cultures of the Muslim world. A mosque in Java bears no resemblance to a mosque in Bosnia, or a mosque in Senegal.” The question underlying The British Mosque, is, then, what one should look like in Britain.

In August, Pope Francis will visit Ireland; the first papal visit to the country for almost 40 years. You can find out more on the BBC website here. No better time then, to display the magnificent Illustrated History of the Popes (£19.99, hb, 978 0754830252) by Charles Phillips which came out last autumn from Lorenz. This authoritative guide to the lives and works of the popes of the Catholic church has over 450 images and is a comprehensive guide to the 266 men who have been Pope. Divided into three historical sections in chronological order; The First Popes; The Crusades and the Reformation; and Into the Modern Era; this lavishly illustrated reference book is both fascinating and informative.

Driverless cars. Much debated – and extremely topical with the dreadful news this week that a self-driving Uber killed a pedestrian in Arizona – you can see more on that here. Emerald are publishing Autonomous Driving: How the Driverless Revolution will Change the World by Andreas Herrmann, Walter Brenner and Rupert Stadler (978 1787148345, £19.99, hb) on Monday which really could not be more relevant. The authors are very well known and respected academics and Rupert Stadler is CEO at Audi who are investing a lot of money into PR for the book. Emerald are also running a full publicity campaign for it so there will be loads of press coverage. There will be advertising, social media campaigns, author podcasts and news and radio appearances by the authors – there have already been reviews in the Evening Standard, and Business Money. Autonomous Driving is a must- read for anyone interested in the next technological revolution, and in how we may be living and working in a future once considered science fiction. The race toward self- driving vehicles has revolutionized the motor industry, with technology replacing traditional manufacturing as the driver of development. But how far away are we from the finish line - and what will the driverless world look like when we get there? The road towards social acceptance of and trust in self- driving vehicles will perhaps be the trickiest to navigate of all and this title addresses this – and all the other crucial issues on this controversial subject.

Sheena Kalayil won the Writer’s Guild Award for Best First Novel and was shortlisted for a Stanford’s Travel Writing Award for her novel Bureau of Second Chances – this was a big hit for Polygon selling over 4,000 copies. Coming in June is Sheena’s second novel The Inheritance (£8.99, pb, 978 1846974502) which is beguiling everyone who reads it – if you would like a proof please email Rights are being snapped up for this one worldwide which is the sure sign of a forthcoming hit; a Commissioning Editor at Penguin Random House said “I started reading Inheritance last night and found it near impossible to put down – she has such a beautiful writing style and the relationships could not be more topical. This is the kind of book I would take forward in a heartbeat if it wasn’t for the close pub date.” This is an exquisitely written and powerful novel about a passionate young woman’s search for identity set in London, Lisbon and Kerala – WHS Travel have already picked it as a Superlead title.

A Party with Socialists In It by Simon Hannah (978 0745337470, pb, £12.99) was a Guardian Book of the Day last week, they described it as “pithy” and “astute” and you can read the whole review here  For over a hundred years, the British Labour Party has been a bastion for working class organisation and struggle but has it ever truly been on the side of the workers? This history guides us through the Bevanite movement and the celebrated government of Clement Attlee, to the emergence of a New Left that was highly sceptical of the Labour party during the Wilson era. It explores the move towards Blairism and the disheartening story of the decline of the Labour Left after their historic defeat in the 1980s. With the emergence of socialist leader Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour Party’s fate rests in the balance. Will they reconcile their internal divisions or split into obscurity? It’s published by Pluto

Ghost Towns by Chris McNab (£19.99, pb, 978 1782745501) is the latest in the evocative and hauntingly beautiful Abandoned series from Amber and will be featured in Architectural Digest next week on pub date. Gold rush towns abandoned when the gold has run out, towns deserted when caught in war zones, settlements evacuated due to natural disasters or chemical spills; seeing a town with devoid of people is an uncanny feeling. Where has everyone gone? And why aren't they coming back? From Pripyat in Ukraine to Bodie in California to English villages requisitioned by the Ministry of Defence during World War II, from Greek leper colonies to deserted Italian mountain villages, Ghost Towns explores a wide range of desolate urban environments from around the globe with 150 striking colour photographs exploring the mysteries of lost worlds. You can see some spreads on Amber’s Facebook page here. This is a gorgeous series – Abandoned Castles (£19.99, hb, 978 1782745228 )was featured in the Mail recently which you can view here and you can catch up with some more of Amber’s Spring Highlights here.

With the news this week that Jacqueline Wilson is to continue the story of Tracy Beaker as an adult – here’s an amusing look on the BBC website at some other famous literary children  who grew up…

That’s all for now 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

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