Wednesday 19 December 2018

Compass Points 287

Happy Christmas! This is the final Compass Points of the year and we would like to wish every bookseller, publisher and publicist a fabulous festive season! Here’s a round-up of the publicity highlights for the final weeks of 2018.

First up is this beautiful ten-minute film made by BBC Future about Brian May and his passion for Victorian stereoscopy. It references Queen in 3D and Mission Moon (which of course have been two of our biggest sellers this year) and is a genuinely fascinating little documentary. As Robin Rees publisher at London Stereoscopic says: “The footage is far higher calibre than the usual live interviews and if I had to pick one item summarising everything we are trying to do LSC, this would be it.” Have a watch I think you will enjoy it!

Another author this year whose passion for his subject really helped shift those copies was the wonderful 96-year-old WWII veteran John Martin, whose appearance on The One Show at the end of November sent A Raid Over Berlin (£8.99, pb, 978 1912681198straight into the bestseller lists. This engaging and compulsively readable true-life tale of the 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 has been a huge and well deserved success for Parthian – and if you didn’t see it, you can watch that One Show interview on the iPlayer here  – it’s 29 minutes in.

The BBC National Short Story Award 2019 is now opened for submissions, so if you fancy dashing off an entry over the holiday – then here's where you should submit it! The new judging panel will be chaired by broadcaster Nikki Bedi, alongside Booker shortlistee Daisy Johnson and previous winner Cynan Jones, and of course the anthology of all the shortlisted stories will be published by Comma next September. 

My Bangladesh Kitchen: Recipes and Food Memories from a Family Table by Saira Hamilton (978 0754834502, £20, hb) was a Bookseller editor’s pick for March saying: "My cookery choice of the month is this enticing book on the authentic cuisine of Bangladesh" and this vibrant book published by Lorenz is packed full of Saira’s much-loved recipes, with everyday classics, regional specialities, street snacks and impressive celebration food too. There are gorgeous photographs, chatty anecdotal descriptions of every dish, and an informative introduction describing the key ingredients and cooking techniques of this land of contrasts.

Great to see a poem from Carcanet’s new selection of Charles Tomlinson’s poetry, Swimming Chenango Lake (£14.99, pb, 978 1784106799) chosen as a Guardian Poem of the Week. You can read it here. As the Guardian writes: “Tomlinson was a wide-ranging poet. His technical scope includes free form and more traditional structures, and he is a master of both. They cohabit enrichingly in Swimming Chenango Lake: a finely chosen collection for existing enthusiasts and an excellent introduction for newcomers.”

We’re loving the antics of the cheeky little Gazelle elves over on Twitter! Check out their festive fun and games at Gazelle Book Services @Gazellian 

Quite a bit of promo for Jeremy Marchant’s excellent title Network Better: How to Meet, Connect and Grow your Business (£12.99, pb, 978 1788600514) which is a very insightful guide to how to conquer any fears you have about this vital business skill, how to do it better, and how to stop tripping yourself up. Most books and presentations on networking stick to its behavioural aspects. But successful networking is also about the successful initiation and nurturing of relationships with other business people, which requires emotional intelligence and an understanding of how to apply it. Network Better provides the necessary vision into what’s going on as well as many tried-and-tested suggestions and encouragements to enable you to do just that. Jeremy will have an article in Business Works, an interview in Financial Management, a featured contribution on Emotional Intelligence & Networking Better in ManageMagazine / Biz Catalyst 360, a guest article in HR News and a feature on the MBA World Book Club. It was published by Practical Inspiration this autumn.

If you’d like to re-connect with your natural side over the festive season, here are two podcasts to listen to from the Royal Horticultural Society, both of which feature London’s Street Trees (pb, £12.99, 978 0993291135) by Paul Wood which is published by Safe Haven. There’s How to help winter wildlife, unusual street trees and are glittered plants a crime against nature?  and also Books Special 2018: Experts pick their favourites old and new, and books for Christmas presents.

A very thought-provoking article here in Stylist by Winnie M Li, Legend’s author of Dark Chapter (pb, £7.99, 978 1785079061) entitled A Message to Everyone Who Dares to Say Women Shouldn’t Travel Alone. Winnie was raped during a solo trip to Belfast but she refuses to let that incident stop her from travelling independently. “It saddens me to think that there may be young women who will not be allowed to travel now, because of what happened to Grace Millane. We are not meant to live our lives in fear, shackled by the spectre of “what might happen”. Lots of things can happen, and the majority of them are good. So get out there, discover the world, live the life you want to lead. And realise that even if you travel solo, you’re not alone. There are so many of us women out there doing the same.”

Most beautiful book covers ever in 2018? See if you agree with this selection from Buzz Feed!

Under the Wig (£16.99, hb, 978 1912454082) from Canbury Press continued its stonking run of superb reviews and stellar sales by being named as one of the best law and order books of 2018 by the Times under the heading “Escapism, extortion and everyday sexism: Put down the papers and indulge your mind during the Christmas holiday with the best of this year’s law and order books.” You can see the selection of ten titles here.

There will be a review of Tentacle (pb, £8.99, 978 1911508342) by Rita Indiana, translated by Achy Obejas, which has just been published by And Other Stories in this Saturday's Guardian Review. Tentacle is an electric novel with a big appetite and a brave vision, plunging headfirst into questions of climate change, technology, Yoruba ritual, queer politics, poverty, sex, colonialism and contemporary art. Bursting with punk energy and lyricism, it's a restless, addictive trip.

The Sheffield Telegraph included Comma’s New Uncanny (£7.95, pb, 978 1905583188) anthology in their Christmas books wish list, saying: "It might not be a conventional holiday read, but if Christmas starts to get a bit saccharine, this sounds like the perfect read to cut through it all." You can read that  here.

Super to see a massive feature for the gorgeous Amber title Ireland: The Emerald Isle (hb, 978 1782746560 £19.99) in the Daily Mail last week, saying: “Here's something we can ALL agree on about Ireland – it's beautiful! Jaw-dropping pictures capture the Emerald Isle's landscape in all its glory.” You can have a look at a selection of the 150 pictures which the Mail correctly describes as “mesmerising” here.  

Congratulations to debut Palestinian author Nayrouz Qarmout who has made World Literature Today’s list of 75 Notable Translations of 2018! The Sea Cloak (£9.99, pb, 978-1905583782) her first short story collection (translated from Arabic into English) will be published by Comma in February 2019. You can find the full list of all the notable translations here.

“If you are told you’re something often enough, you begin to believe it. Eventually, you become it. Racism can institutionalize not only the person being racist but the person on the receiving end . . . racism imprisons you and it’s incredibly difficult to escape.”  A really interesting piece here in the Irish Times, looking at the increasing awareness of racism in 2018 on the terraces and asking if it is very different to the experiences of Howard Gayle, Liverpool’s first black footballer in the 70s and 80s, with reference to what it calls “one of the most under-the-radar sports books of the past few years, 61 Minutes In Munich (hb, £16.99, 978 1909245396).” It’s published by de Coubertin.

Everyone loves a bit of Disney at Christmas, right? So this is a good moment to tell you about How to Read Donald Duck: Imperialist Ideology in the Disney Comic by Ariel Dorfman and Armand Mattelart (978 0745339788, £14.99, pb) which is out from Pluto next March. First published in 1971, How to Read Donald Duck shocked readers by revealing how capitalist ideology operates in our most beloved cartoons. Having survived bonfires, and being dumped into the ocean by the Chilean army, this controversial book is certain to ruffle feathers (see what I did there) and examines how the hapless mice and ducks of Disney, curiously parentless, marginalised and always short of cash, not only reflect capitalist ideology, but are active agents working in this ideology's favour. How to Read Donald Duck is a devastating document of twentieth-century political upheaval and a reminder of the dark undercurrent of pop culture. Ariel Dorfman, who has written a new introduction for this edition, has been getting some good publicity already – there’s an author article in the Guardian here and an interview here on Democracy Now.

And if you’d like to see a bit of Donald daftness – without worrying too much about its imperialist undertones – then this is for you; Donald Duck’s Snow Fight, from 1942. Happy Christmas!

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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