Friday 23 November 2018

Compass Points 284

Let me start by announcing the arrival of our shiny new Compass website! You can find it at Ta-dah! Many of the kind words that all of you lovely booksellers and publishers have said about us are featured on there – as well as lots of information about our history (we’re 20 this year!) a small selection of our bestselling and award-winning titles, our team – and of course the many services we offer. Have a browse; we do hope you like it!

Wowee – fabulous news that Pieces of Me by Natalie Hart published by Legend is shortlisted for the Costa First Novel Award with the judges calling it “a beautiful and heartfelt debut about identity and belonging.” The shortlist was announced on BBC Radio 4 Front Row yesterday evening and you can see the full shortlist on the Costa website here. Loads of media coverage for this popular prize of course – you can see pieces here in the Guardian, Independent, Evening Standard, The Bookseller – the winner of the prize will be announced on 7th January. Pieces of Me (£8.99, pb, 978 1787198036) is, as Tor Udall said “An important and timely story that explores the ongoing impact of war and how it’s often left to the women to pick up the pieces. The way Hart has made a mosaic of different women’s experiences, be they British, American or Iraqi, is profoundly moving. Pieces of Me is a love story that will leave you in tatters and yet there is an enduring sense of women making, mending and creating that gives this book a radiance. I will never forget it.”

Trapped inside a burning Lancaster bomber, 20,000 feet above Berlin, rookie airman John Martin consigned himself to his fate and turned his thoughts to his fiancĂ©e back home receiving news of his death. In a miraculous turn of events, however, the 21-year-old was thrown clear of his disintegrating aeroplane but, as he found himself parachuting into the heart of Nazi Germany, he knew that his problems were only just beginning. His awe-inspiring story, A Raid Over Berlin (pb, £7.99, 978 1912681198) is out this autumn and John (who is 96 and still happily married to wife Adelaide (95) and living in Wales) will be taking about it on The One Show on BBC1 next Wednesday (28 November). This miraculous true-life Second World War survival story of the brave airman who cheated death in the sky, only to face interrogation, the prospect of being shot by the Gestapo, and months of hardship as a prisoner of war; is a poignant reminder of what our veterans endured to secure the freedom we enjoy today. A Raid Over Berlin has been secretly published by Parthian and will be handed to John live on The One Show – this is sure to be a moving and thrilling interview – and of course is absolutely superb publicity for this terrific book!

A fab review for What A Hazard a Letter Is (hb, £14.99, 978 0993291173) in last weekend’s Sunday Times Books section. It called it “A curious, astute and entertaining collection of famous unsent, unreceived (and a few unwritten) letters in history and literature. Some of the most heartbreaking are imaginary... But others still, wild and dashed-off as they might seem, are literature of the highest order … This utterly original compilation takes in Saul Bellow's manic letter-writer Moses Herzog, television's The Young Ones and the wily response of John F Kennedy to a letter from Nikita Khrushchev during the Cuban Missile Crisis... It's a charming book, witty, original and wise.”. It’s published by Safe Haven.

Anyone thinking of getting themselves a literary tattoo for Christmas? A bit of Shakespeare is always a good place to start – here are forty of the best!

Well, we all know what a successful bit of publishing the Michelle Obama book has been this year, but listed right alongside it on the Washington Post's Top 50 Non-fiction Books of the Year is Because We Are Bad by Lily Bailey which it describes as “A powerful memoir depicts obsessive-compulsive disorder not as the almost-charming hang-up seen in popular culture but as a hellscape of tortured routines, phobias and guilt.” You can see the full list here. Because we Are Bad (£7.99, pb, 978 0993040740) is published by Canbury Press.

Some very interesting news regarding the Allen Carr Easyway method – a fully independent Randomised Control Trial (RCT) conducted on behalf of the Irish Government has just found that it is TWICE as effective as the smoking cessation techniques currently offered by the Irish Health Service (which include nicotine patches and gum)! The trial results were reported in the British Medical Journal here. This is a real result for the Easyway method – and the books which are all available from Arcturus. With another RCT currently underway in London, it is genuinely feasible that Easyway may be made available via the Irish Health Service and the NHS. You can read more on Easyway’s own website here and all the titles are listed on the Arcturus website here.

Yasmin Alibhai Brown this week appeared on BBC Radio 4’s Start the Week discussing her latest Provocation title from Biteback, In Defence of Political Correctness (£10, hb, 978 1785904141). In this powerful new book, Yasmin puts forth a spirited defence of political correctness, forcefully arguing that, in spite of many failures, this movement has led to a more civilised, equal and tolerant world. By tracing the history and definition of the term, Alibhai-Brown looks to clarify the very nature of PC, which is ultimately grounded in human decency, understanding and compassion all of which are essential for a safer and kinder world.
Nice one Comma, who were included this week in a list of 10 Innovative Small Publishers to Watch in 2018 on OZY: A News Site You’ll Actually Love because they’re doing "exciting stuff" and publishing "highly relevant and engaging short story collections on war, protest, the refugee crisis and more" You can read the whole piece here.

Quite a bit of publicity coming up for Toshack's Way: My Journey Through Football (£20, hb, 978 1909245716) by John Toshack which has just been published by De Coubertin. The International Wales said: “Ultimately Toshack’s Way is much like the man himself; utterly fascinating, funny, flawed and often frustrating”! John will be interviewed shortly on BBC Radio Wales, BBC Radio Merseyside, ITV Granada, BBC NW Tonight, the BBC World Service, the Liverpool Echo, the Western Mail, the Daily Mail and FourFourTwo so there should be plenty of buzz around for this entertaining read which tells the story in full for the first time of John’s decade at the top as a player in one of football’s most famous institutions; and his unprecedented success as a manager.

Three Carcanet titles are listed in the TLS’s Books for the Year – hurrah! Martina Evans, Now We Can Talk Openly About Men (£9.99, pb, 978 1784105785), Dick Davis, Love in Another Language (£20, pb, 978 1784105075) and Frederic Raphael, Against the Stream (£19.99, pb, 978 1784104368) are all selected. And Jenny Lewis’s Gilgamesh Retold (£12.99, pb, 978 1784106140) is also a Book of the Year in the New Statesman with Gavin Francis writing “This year the books that have made the deepest impression are new translations of two classics. Gilgamesh Retold by Jenny Lewis reworks the ancient epic – it’s innovative, graceful, erudite and utterly unputdownable.” You can see all of the New Statesmen Books of the Year choices here.

Biteback titles have also made a good showing in the Books of the Year round-ups. Caroline Slocock’s People Like Us (£20, hb, 978 1785902246) was deemed “a unique, unwarty political portrait” in The Spectator’s Books of the Year 2018, and The Telegraph Christmas Books 2018 round-up suggests you try Slocock’s book “for a fresh look at a much-mythologised woman”. People Like Us is especially relevant at the moment, with Caroline’s account of Thatcher’s final weeks in power drawing obvious parallels with the current precarious position of No. 10’s present occupant. Indeed, Caroline spent much of Friday talking about her own experiences in Downing Street and the book’s wider themes looking at women in power on BBC Radio 4’s, Today Programme, LBC’s Shelagh Fogarty Show and BBC News 24.

Ayesha Hazarika and Tom Hamilton’s illuminating Punch and Judy Politics (£20, hb, 978 1785901843) was also named as one of The Telegraph’s Best Books of 2018, where it was hailed as “a splendid insider account of the regular punch-up that is Prime Minister's Questions, packed with entertaining anecdotes”. Punch and Judy Politics will be included in the Guardian’s forthcoming yearly round-up, and has recently been reviewed in the Times Literary Supplement and Literary Review, after great reviews elsewhere: “Zippy and insightful”, Cap X; “Invaluable” The Guardian; “Unashamedly makes an argument that PMQs do indeed matter, with expertise, charm and humour”, Medium; and “One of the year's best books on politics” by Total Politics.

The Society of Authors and a number of writers have criticised YouTube for emailing its users saying Article 13 (part of the EU's proposed copyright directive) would prevent them from uploading videos. YouTube emailed a letter to all its users this week encouraging them to protest against saying: “Imagine an internet where your videos can no longer be seen. Imagine an internet without your favourite creators. Imagine an internet where new artists are never discovered. It could happen in Europe.” But Tim Gallagher, public affairs manager at the Society of Authors, said YouTube is being “disingenuous” to claim that Article 13 harms creators. “The fact is that YouTube and similar organisations don’t like Article 13 because it will finally force them to take action to protect creators and tackle copyright infringement on their sites. This is welcome progress for creators and users alike.”  You can read more on this story in today’s Bookseller here.

Kamila Shamsie, who wrote a story about the refugee experience based on her meeting with a former immigration detainee for the Comma anthology, Refugee Tales: Volume II (£9.99, pb, 978 1910974308) wrote a piece for the Guardian this week about Britain's “hostile environment” – you can read that here.

Great to see The Wisdom of Love in the Song of Songs (£25, hb, 978 0995647824) by Stefan Gillow Reynolds selected as one of the Tablet’s Books of the Year this week saying “The merging of the different forms of love yields new insight into the divine and human affair.” The Wisdom of Love in the Song of Songs brings cohesion and context to the many mystical, academic and secular interpretations of one of the greatest love poems of all time. It deserves to be read by all who are willing to have their hearts and minds stretched and enlarged. It’s published by Hikari.

Any northern booksellers out there with novels or story collections written and ready to publish? It’s time to get submitting them then to The Northern Book Prize as the closing date is 18th December! This is an annual prize awarded to an unpublished book-length work of ambitious literary fiction either written by a writer living in the North of England or by a writer who has a strong connection to the North. When And Other Stories relocated its main office to the city of Sheffield, they conceived this prize as part of their commitment to Northern writers. Each year, the winner of the Northern Book Prize receives an advance (currently worth £5,000), creative editorial support from And Other Stories and a contract for the book’s worldwide publication, distribution and representation .You can find out more and submit your work here.

And if your book isn’t quite ready yet, then maybe you should have a look at The Book You Were Born to Write: Everything You Need to (Finally) Get Your Wisdom onto the Page and into the World (hb, 978 1401955601, £19.99) which is out from Hay House this month. This book offers a simple, step-by-step path for turning your transformational idea or story into a finished book as quickly as possible. With humour, encouragement, and common sense, book industry veteran Kelly Notaras demystifies the publishing process so you can get started and keep writing, and successfully share your message with the world! An article written by Kelly will be featured in an early 2019 issue of the Writing Magazine and on their website.

Let’s finish with some music! Have you got the Xmas toons blasting out in your bookshops yet? If not, maybe these Top Ten British Christmas Songs will give you some inspiration! Alternatively, if you are mourning our imminent (allegedly) departure from our more cultured neighbours, then these Medieval Carols from Europe may be more to your taste,

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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