Friday 2 November 2018

Compass Points 281

Fantastic publicity this week for Bristol University Press author and one of Britain's most respected economists Simon Wren-Lewis; when Theresa May was caught lying about him in parliament! The PM misquoted Wren-Lewis who wrote a chapter in John McDonnell's new book which she was waving about and criticising. He then took her to task on Twitter which created a buzz and then wrote an article for the New Statesman How Theresa May Lied About My Views on Economic Policy which references his own forthcoming book The Lies We Were Told. The story has now been covered by the Mirror and the BBC. The Lies We Were Told: Politics, Economics, Austerity and Brexit (£14.99, pb, 978 1529202137) presents some of Wren-Lewis’s most important work, telling the story of how the damaging political and economic events of recent years became inevitable. His widely-read blog Mainly Macro has been a highly influential resource for policymakers, academics and social commentators around the world, and this new title should sell very well – especially given Theresa’s help with promotion!

Great to hear historian Robert Grenville, the author of Amber’s Haunted Places (£19.99, hb, 978 1782745211) interviewed this week as part of a Halloween special on BBC Radio London. Five minutes of fascinating chat about the book! There was also a spooktacular feature on the title in the Mail Online which you can see here headlined Bone-chilling images of the world's most haunted places – this piece has had 1.8K shares which is terrific promotion for this title!  Have a look at all the atmospheric pictures – they really are very evocative and frightening!

I hope Halloween was good for you and your bookshop! If you enjoy the witching season, then you will probably like these -  twenty five creative Halloween costumes all inspired by books!

Big congratulations to Lost Lives, New Voices: Unlocking the Stories of the Scottish Soldiers at the Battle of Dunbar 1650 (£20, pb, 978 1785708473) which has just won Best Archaeological Book at the British Archaeology Awards. You can also watch the video presentation from the day here. This Oxbow title has had some superb reviews – the Hexham Historical Society called it a “fascinating reconstruction of lost lives which does indeed give new voice to the potential of the human spirit to transcend hardship, war, and banishment overseas.” and Medieval Archaeology said “this important book fills a substantial scholarly gap.”

Self-healing is a fast-growing trend, and for those confused about where to start, The Practical Encyclopaedia of Self-Healing: A Mindful Approach to Holistic Fitness by Raje Airey and Jessica Houdret (£20, hb, 978 0754831525), published by Lorenz is ideal. This wide-ranging guide to complementary healthcare is split into easy-to-follow sections, and details all kinds of natural treatments and approaches for body and mind. Specific treatments give fast, effective remedies for colds, allergies, muscular pain, fatigue, depression and more. And over two thousand photographs and illustrations show alternative healing in action, and will help you to achieve optimum health and vitality in simple steps. It’s just had a great review from AHA Quarterly which says “Of course, I like this book! I always like Houdret’s work. … a beautiful presentation that displays gorgeous photography… offers a complete healing package… easily accessible to the reader.”

Want to hear about the day Michael Winner left the queen standing in the rain? Or what happened when Muhammad Ali went AWOL Or what it was like to be a guest at Joan Collins' Dynasty-style wedding? It’s all here in the fabulous Daily Mail two-page serialisation from Jeremy Robson’s publishing autobiography, Undercover (978 1785904097, £25, hb). Great stuff!

A terrific review in the Irish Literary Times here for Dermot Bolger's new novel, An Ark of Light (£12.99, pb, 978 1848406971) “a tale of marriage, the Big House and happiness” which has just been published by New Island. Calling it “expansive and empathetic” the review ends; “this meshing of fiction and biography adds a new and distinctive layer to what is in essence a homage to a life lived fully. An Ark of Light is an act of appropriation – of a female voice, experience, and sensibility – offered to the reader in a form that is as moving as it is distinctive and respectful.” An Ark of Light is a devastating portrayal of a mother’s anxiety for her gay son in a world where homosexuality is illegal and explores a terse relationship between a mother and daughter with nothing in common beyond love. Remarkably affecting and gorgeously rendered, this is a towering achievement by one of Ireland’s best-loved authors.

We’re delighted that the Annual Rylands Reading with Marilyn Hacker on 22 November has been featured in the Top Picks Literature Guide on – you can read that piece here. The annual Rylands Poetry Reading is a very grand affair, not just for attracting a literati audience but also for its backdrop: the cathedral-esque surrounds of the John Rylands Library’s Historic Reading Room. The prestigious programme of readings is run in conjunction with the University of Manchester’s Centre for New Writing and every year features a prestigious poet published by Carcanet. Marilyn Hacker has published twelve books of narrative poems, lyrics and elegies; she is witty, angry, traditional and experimental. Her new volume, Blazons: New and Selected Poems (£14.99, pb, 978 1784107154) will be published by Carcanet in March 2019.

What’s it really like being a writer? Social media – of course – has the answer. Here  are twenty-five of the best tweets on the subject – from “Being a writer is just constantly googling synonyms” to “Me: *writes for hours* Me: THAT MUST HAVE BEEN SO MANY WORDS. At least half a million. Okay, okay, let's be realistic, it's probably only like ten thousand. Word count: 247 words.”

Bestselling author Chris Lewis and superstar megatrends analyst Dr Pippa Malmgren were interviewed live on Sky News this week, talking about their new book The Leadership Lab (pb, £14.99, 978 0749483432), which has just been published by Kogan Page. Covering everything from how to build a new type of leadership trust when other spheres of public power have been overturned, to robots overtaking companies and worldwide indebtedness affecting business, this book explains not only why the old rules no longer apply, but also how to blaze a trail in this new world order and be the best leader you can be.

The Truth Waits (£8.99, pb, 978 1787198012) by Susanna Beard, has just been published by Legend, and is off on a month-long blog tour including: Mad on Reading, Buttercup Review, Crime Reads and Coffee, Quirky Bookwork Always, Great Reads and Tea Leaves, Anne Bonny Book Reviews, Book in the Bag, Donna’s Book Blogs, Robin Loves Reading, Read Along with Sue, Rich Reviews, My Bookish Blogspot, Amy’s Bookshelf, Cennins Book Reviews, Short Book and Scribes, B for Book Review, Book Reviews for U, Orchard Book Club and Booking Good Read . The title was launched at The Marlow Bookshop this week and there’s also an event coming up at Daunts in Holland Park on 8th November. There have been interviews with Susanna on BBC Berkshire and Marlow FM.  A recent review said of it “This novel bears all the hallmarks of a great thriller. It not only deals with huge issues like greed, guilt, evil and revenge, but with Anna’s deeply personal search for justice, reconciliation, forgiveness and trust. Her journey takes her to the very limits of herself but, at its heart, The Truth Waits is also a story about love in its best forms and I defy anyone not to get swept up in it.”

I think you will enjoy these funny illustrations all about our love for books!

Quite the social media buzz for Landscape Beneath the Waves, by Caroline Wickham-Jones (£29.95, pb, 978 1789250725) which has just been published by Oxbow – with hundreds of likes and shares for its post on Facebook. The study of the now submerged landscapes that our ancestors knew represents one of the last barriers for archaeology and only recently have advances in underwater technology reached the stage where a wealth of procedures is available to explore this lost undersea world. This volume considers the processes behind the rising (and falling) of relative sea-levels and then presents the main techniques available using case studies projects around the world. It is written for all archaeologists, whether they work on land or at sea, and offers an easily accessible introduction to the exciting realm of underwater archaeology.

Apparently nearly half of Brits think we should be proud of our colonial heritage, and 43% think the British Empire was a good thing. There’s a really thought-provoking article here on the reasons for that on which has been much commented on on social media! A good time to remind you about two new titles: firstly, the Pluto book Staying Power: The History of Black People in Britain (pb, £16.99, 978-0745338309) which is out now, and also Rule Britannia: Brexit and the End of Empire (hb, £12.99, 978 1785904530) by Danny Dorling and Sally Tomlinson which is published by Biteback in January. Both these brilliant books offer somewhat more nuanced views than those you may find over on Twitter…

A brilliant event coming up at Waterstone’s Deansgate next Thursday for two Carcanet authors: Claiming the Great Tradition: Women Recalibrate the Classics. Chaired by Michael Schmidt, Jane Draycott will discuss her translation of the 14th-century poem Pearl (£8.99, pb, 978 1 784106 59 1) whose account of loss and consolation has retained its force across six centuries, and Jenny Lewis will talk about Gilgamesh Retold (£12.99, pb, 978 1 784106 14 0), and how she captures the powerful allure of the world’s oldest poem giving it a fresh dynamic while creating a fast-paced narrative for a new generation of readers. This sounds absolutely riveting and I’m sure it will be super-popular!

An excellent launch party in Cardiff recently for cricketer turned broadcaster Alan Wilkins’ book Easier Said Than Done: A Life in Sport (£20, hb, 978 1902719610). “Good guy, fine sportsman and the best TV sports presenter Wales has ever produced” said BBC presenter Phil Steele who hosted the event, which included a question and answer session capturing highlights of Wilkins’ life and career. Alan was quite “bowled over” by the reaction as you can read here on Expo Sport! Published by St David’s Press, Alan’s story is written with great humility and humour, and should inspire anyone who has experienced a set-back in life. As Clive Lloyd said “Alan epitomises what sport is all about” and this super book would make the perfect prezzie for any sports fan.

I enjoyed Twenty Ways AI is Changing Our Lives, here on Expresso this morning. No doubt at all that robots are clanking ever faster from the screens of science fiction into our actual lives and Canbury Press has the perfect guide to our robot future: Hallo Robot: Meet Your New Workmate and Friend (978 1912454051, £14.99, pb). It's illustrated, very readable and an ideal present for a techie teenager or a curious adult. 

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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