Friday, 18 October 2019

Compass Points 324


Good Vibes Good Life by Instagram guru Vex King (£10.99, pb, 978 1788171823) is flying high for Hay House at the moment, they sold almost 5,500 copies last month, which is their highest monthly volume on any one title had to date. It you’re not stocking it then you are seriously missing out! Vex King is an optimist, visionary and philanthropist. His father died when he was six months old and his single mother raised him and his siblings alone in a traditional Indian household, although they were often homeless. He suffered racist abuse in a violent neighbourhood but did well at school, then went on to work in a corporate job, while pursuing a career in fashion and music production where he worked with stars including Tinie Tempah. He is now a major voice in the world of personal development and spiritual wisdom through his Instagram account @vexking.

If you want a bit of Vex vibes in your life right now, then this  is cool – just take a screenshot/press print screen when you feel the urge, to receive your own personalised message from the universe!

A big serialisation for And What Do You Do? What The Royal Family Don't Want You To Know by Norman Baker (978 1785904912, £20, hb) began last weekend with four pages in the Mail on Sunday, who trumpeted ‘Where did Princess Margaret get £20m and how about the Queen Mother's £70m legacy? In his controversial new book, MP Norman Baker examines the family's finances as he accuses the Windsors of Right Royal Robbery’
 with another extract to follow this weekend. You can read it here. It’s just been published by Biteback. The Daily Mirror said it ‘brilliantly exposes how a Ruritanian farce is ripping us off. Vive la British revolution!’ while Caroline Lucas gave a rather more balanced review saying ‘with our democracy in turmoil, it's right to be asking questions about constitutional reform, and that includes the role of the royal family. Norman Baker tackles the subject with his trademark energy and in forensic detail looking at the facts beyond the headlines. An important book for anyone serious about questioning how our country is run.’

Perhaps now would be a good time to laugh at this  Spitting Image sketch from the 90’s where the royal family lose all their money and move to a council flat…

Great publicity for Up Front (£20, hb, 978-1909245969 ) by Clive Allen in the Mail on Sunday this week, that’s here. Also a fab interview in The Athletic.com here  where Clive revisited all seven of the London clubs he played for. ‘What Clive Allen and I are attempting is no mean feat, a visit to all seven of the London clubs he played for. Throw in a stint playing American football for the London Monarchs, and there can surely be no player with more links to the capital than Allen. Perhaps what we’re doing will become a pub crawl one day.’ Up Front was published yesterday by De Coubertin.

James Baldwin (1924-1987) was an African-American writer who changed the face of Western politics and culture. As a lifelong anti-imperialist, black queer advocate, and feminist, he was a passionate chronicler of the rise of the Civil Rights Movement, the U.S. war against Vietnam, Palestinian liberation struggle, and the rise of LGBTQ rights. In a brilliant new biography James Baldwin: Living in Fire (hb, £20, 978 0745338545) from Pluto, Bill V. Mullen explores how Baldwin's life and work channel the long history of African-American freedom struggles, and explains how he both predicted and has become a symbol of the global Black Lives Matter movement. This is the first major biography of Baldwin in more than a decade and there was a great review of it in the Herald, calling it ‘persuasive and illuminating’ you can read that here.

Exciting news this week that The Comma Press Podcast has been shortlisted for Podcast of the Year by the FutureBook Awards 2019! It’s one of seven shortlisted, alongside podcasts from Penguin, Waterstones and Sara Pascoe. Series One of the podcast focused on the Comma anthology Protest: Stories of Resistance (£12.99, pb, 978 1910974438) with author historians and activists gathered in the studio for engaging and in-depth discussions around the stories and acts of defiance they reimagined. You can read more about that and see all of the shortlists in the Bookseller here here.

This is something I’d like to see a lot more of, an author who dresses up as their own book! This is a moquette-clad Andrew Martin, at last week's sell-out event for Safe Haven’s bestselling new title Seats of London (£12.99, pb, 978-1916045316) at Stanfords in Covent Garden. There was a great feature in the weekend's Observer on the book which you can read here and reviews are also coming in Buses magazine, the magazine of the Twentieth-Century Society, and a feature in It's Nice That.

Congratulations to author Jemma Neville who won the City Award in the 2019 Creative Edinburgh Awards for her exploration of the city's physical, political and social environment in her new book Constitution Street (£12.99, pb, 978 1912489206). You can see all the winners on the Creative Edinburgh website here.  Part memoir, part social history and a call to action, Constitution Street is an antidote to an age of personal and political anxiety. Here, the real-life stories on one street, shared with Jemma Neville and framed by her own, reveal the courage, perseverance and capacity for love within us all. It’s published by 404Ink.

Have you ever wondered if there is a formula for being happy? Would you like to gain control of your life and feel more confident? How can you set about achieving your goals? Amanda Brown’s quest to find answers to these questions has taken her across continents on a personal journey of study and practice as a successful life coach and speaker. She shares her knowledge, insights and success stories in The Lipstick Principles (£12.99, pb, 978 1788601368), which is coming from Practical Inspiration on 21 November. Helen Cornwell Lee said of it ‘Every now and then a book comes along that unlocks and changes the way you see the world in a way that means you want to share it with everyone you care about – this is such a book.’

Ahead of this year’s Forward Prizes for Poetry the Telegraph is publishing the five nominees for the Best Single Poem award which includes Forty Names by Parwana Fayyaz, which was published in PN Review 241 (978 1784101527, £6.99) which Simon Armitage has called ‘the most engaged, challenging and serious-minded of all the UK’s poetry magazines’ and John Ashbery, ‘the most informative and entertaining poetry journal in the English-speaking world.’ Fayyaz's shortlisted poem retells ‘a story told by my father or mother when I was a child about forty women jumping off a cliff to preserve their honour’ and draws inspiration both narrative and lyrical from medieval Persian traditions. You can read the whole poem on the Forward Prizes website here.

Pluto are getting lots of great publicity for their new Outspoken series, and Behind Closed Doors: Sex Education Transformed which you see here looking mighty fine in Foyles. You can listen to its author Natalie Fiennes, talking with Lydia Hughes, a trade union organiser,
and Bryony Walker, a social justice activist involved in the Level Up campaign to change the UK curriculum around consent; talking on the Pluto podcast Radicals in Conversation here.  

There’s a great promotion for Amber’s Visual Explorer Guide: Egypt (pb, £9.99, 978 1782748731) by Trevor Naylor on the MailOnline Travel section which you can see here.  From ancient pyramids and temples to bustling cities and luxury beach resorts these incredible pictures show Egypt in all its glory – have a look!

And in this week’s Hot Topics, here is Times cartoonist Morten Morland’s take on Boris’s Brexit deal, here's Mr Broccoli (who went viral when he shouted 'give peas a chance' during his arrest at the Extinction Rebellion protests) being interviewed by Piers and Susannah and  here's  the new Katy Perry song, Harleys in Hawaii. That’s all 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 nuala@compassips.london

Friday, 11 October 2019

Compass Points 323


As Halloween approaches, can I draw your attention to Tales of the Troubled Dead: Ghost Stories in Cultural History (£14.99, pb 978 1474417372) which has just been published by Edinburgh University Press. Why do ghosts, even in the age of science, still haunt our storytelling? Catherine Belsey's fascinating answer to this question traces Gothic writing and tales of the uncanny from the ancient past of Homer and the Icelandic sagas, through to the present. Taking the Ghost in Hamlet as a turning point in the history of the genre, she uncovers a ghostly trail vividly charted through accredited records of apparitions and fiction by such writers as Ann Radcliffe, Washington Irving, Emily Bronte, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Henry James, M. R. James and Susan Hill right through to recent blockbusting movies. The Financial Times have just reviewed it and said it was ‘an engaging examination of the persistence of these tales in the western canon.’

And if anyone fancies a bit of a frightening Friday, then have a look at these top ten legendary ghosts!

Great review here of the The BBC National Short Story Award 2019 anthology (£7.99, pb, 978 1912697229) on Storgy.com which says ‘A short story has the ability to move, intrigue and seduce in ways that are specific to the form. Of the five short stories included in The BBC National Short Story Award 2019, each bring those merits and more to the forefront.’

I’m getting very excited indeed about the forthcoming series of War of the Worlds from the BBC – trailer here. Don’t forget that Legend Classics have a handsome edition of War of the Worlds (£8.99, pb, 978 1789550634) which is available now! ‘Yet across the gulf of space, minds that are to our minds as ours are to those of the beasts that perish, intellects vast and cool and unsympathetic, regarded this earth with envious eyes, and slowly and surely drew their plans against us…’


Burning Up: A Global History of Fossil Fuel Consumption (£18.99, pb, 978 0745335612) by Simon Pirani is a a major contribution to understanding the greatest crisis of our time. It recounts the history of fossil fuels' relentless rise since the mid twentieth century; of all the fossil fuels ever consumed, more than half were burned in the last 50 years. Dispelling explanations foregrounding Western consumerism, and arguments that population growth is the main problem, Pirani shows how fossil fuels are consumed through technological, social and economic systems, and that these systems must change. It was mentioned in the New Statesman this week and you can read that piece here. It’s published by Pluto


The six-week publicity campaign for First Aid for Your Child’s Mind (pb, £12.99, 9781788601177) gets underway with The Book Publicist this week, so you can expect lots of coverage in the run up to its publication by Practical Inspiration on 24th October. This title has just been loaded to Netgalley and can be viewed here.  The number of children suffering from anxiety is on the rise and most parents will readily admit that they feel ill prepared when it comes to supporting their child’s emotional wellbeing. Alicia Eaton is a Harley Street practitioner with over fifteen years’ experience of helping children to feel more confident. Whether your child has a fear of dogs, spiders, dentists or injections, struggles with school, performing on stage or sleeping at night, this book will teach you the simple solutions that every parent needs to know.

An excellent signing session at the Royal Academy Bookshop last weekend, with John Hockney talking about and signing lots of copies of The Hockneys: Never Worry What the Neighbours Think (£25, hb, 978 1789550733). This title is shaping up to be a big bestseller for Legend this Christmas!  

We were delighted to see Hassan Blasim's Iraqi Christ named in Literary Hub's '10 Best Short Story Collections of the Decade' you can see that  here. In 2014 it bagged the Iraqi author Blasim and his translator Jonathan Wright the Independent Foreign Fiction prize, now the International Booker. (It was first published by Comma, and is now published in the US by Penguin as The Corpse Exhibition, which is what it’s listed as here.)

Some great PR for Red Door's Mindfulness at Work and Home focussing on Mental Health Day this week, there were pieces in Forbes Online (10 Oct) and BA Up to Speed (11 Oct) and there’s a feature tomorrow in the Daily Telegraph Weekend (12 Oct). There will also be articles in the December issues of Northern Woman and Flight Time. Its author Gillian Higgins has been practicing as a war crimes barrister for the past 20 years. Juggling life at the bar and bringing up her daughter led her to mindfulness, as she wanted to be more present, feel less reactive, sleep better and improve her ability to respond to the challenges that a career and parenting can bring. She has pioneered work in the field of mindfulness amongst her fellow professionals and is building her reputation as a leader in this field. You can find out lots more about the book on Gillian’s excellent website www.practicalmeditation.co.uk

A truly terrific review for Patrick Kidd's The Weak Are A Long Time in Politics (£9.99, hb 978 1785905339) in the Times last weekend, which said ‘Kidd’s language is as joyously absurdist as Wodehouse's … I predict his masterly volume will be considered vastly more enjoyable, and insightful, than any of the dour official chronicles of our era.’ They also gave a big thumbs up to Peter Brookes' brilliant new collection of acerbic sketches of contemporary political life, Critical Times (£20, hb, 978 1785905209), featuring several cartoons from this master of satire and multiple winner of the Cartoonist of the Year. Both have just been published by Biteback.

Bookshop Day on 5th October was a big hit again this year following Super Thursday on 3 Oct (which saw 426 hardbacks hit the shelves) seems to have driven footfall to the independent bookshops over the weekend, according to the Bookseller. Booksellers have hailed Philip Pullman and Bill Bryson as the highlights of this year with a bumper weekend of events taking place up and down the country. Many indie booksellers think 2019 is shaping up to be a stellar year for publishing. Hungerford Books owner Alex Milne-White said he was optimistic for booksellers in the run up to the festive period, enthusing he couldn't remember there being as many highly anticipated titles this time last year. Hazel Broadfoot of Village Books in Dulwich said ‘I feel quite optimistic for my bookshop because there are loads of really good books out there. It’s a really exciting season, there are stacks of good things.’ Richard Drake of Drake the Bookshop in Stockton said ‘What is really exciting is the number of signed copies that are around, meaning the indies have a slightly different offer to give to our loyal (and new) customers.’ Blackwell's head of marketing and publicity Zool Verjee said ‘the excitement builds towards a very promising Christmas’ while Julie Danskin, manager at Golden Hare Books in Edinburgh, said ‘Indie bookshops all do their own thing so it's nice when there is a national campaign like this. We each put our own spin on it and chat throughout the day. It's always really successful.’ I hear Golden Hare Books were giving away free cakes, which sounds like my sort of books promotion! Here’s hoping all bookshops large and small have an awesome autumn, and a fantastic festive season!

And for this week’s Hot Topics, I don’t think there’s any topic much hotter than the ongoing spat between Rebekah #Wagamama Vardy and Coleen #WagathaChristie Rooney! Here's a summary of the story, here are the best memes so far and here's the brilliant Marina Hyde’s summary in the Guardian!

That’s all 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 nuala@compassips.london

Friday, 4 October 2019

Compass Points 322


The longlist for The Portico Prize for Literature – the UK’s only award for outstanding literature that best evokes the spirit of the North – has just been announced and hurrah, Glen James Brown remarkable novel, Ironopolis (pb, £9.99, 978 1912681099) is on it! Once described as ‘the Booker of the North’, the £10,000 award is open to literature across the formats of fiction, non-fiction and poetry. The longlist of seventeen books explores the myriad themes of identity, belonging, gender, class and you can see the full list here. Ironopolis was selected in The Guardian’s Best Summer Books of 2018, and they called it ‘nothing short of a triumph’ saying ‘Clearly a labour of love, this hugely ambitious debut weaves not only six narratives but multiple timelines, narrative voices and forms.’ Having recently been shortlisted for the Orwell Prize, this is another brilliant achievement for this terrific title!

Hype Yourself (pb, £14,99, 978 1788601238) is an invaluable toolkit for anyone looking for help to build their brand. Crammed full of insider advice, it includes expert tips from journalists and industry specialists and is supported by a stack of online resources. Lucy Werner has over fifteen years of publicity experience, including running her own specialist consultancy focused on start-ups and entrepreneurs. She getting mega amount of publicity for her book, and it’s already at number 3 in ‘hot new releases’ for sales and marketing on Amazon. Lucy has secured a book reviews in Courier, The Homeworker and Everywoman Entrepreneurs and has lined up multiple podcast slots (Greater Than 11%, Women Who Create, Another Brand, Ready for More, The Future is Female, Tobacco & Lemonade, Couple of Co-Founders and Home Business) Q&A interviews, guest posts and speaking events (Cass Business School, Courier Live event, & Shoot, Edit, Chat, Repeat conference, judge at the Hustle Awards and Start Ups). She’s also raised an Insta army for launch week (9 January 2020) with a reach of at least 170k; you can find her @wernchat and there’s lots more information on www.thewern.com.It’s published by Practical Inspiration.

This awe-inspiring piece of art is in Kassel in Germany, and was created by the 74-year-old Argentinian artist Marta Minujín. He is highlighting the topic of political oppression by making a full-size replica of the Greek Parthenon using 100,000 copies of banned books. Part of the Documenta 14 art festival, the massive structure represents the resistance to political repression by taking the symbol of democracy and coating it with the countless written evidence of oppression. Minujín relied on the help of students from Kassel university who together identified over 170 titles that were, or still are, banned in different countries around the world and used the donated physical copies to build the temple. You can see more about it here.

And talking of banned books, in fact there is no such thing as a list of illegal publications in the UK. However, as George Orwell wrote at the end of the Second World War, the ‘sinister fact about literary censorship in England is that it is largely voluntary’. Here is a very good article in the Bookseller on the subject, which points out that ‘increasingly booksellers, already under assault on many fronts, are becoming the target of more and more censorious attention. Where once demands for books to be removed from the public’s hands were due to fears of sedition, subsequently obscenity, today’s reason is "offence". The chance that someone will be offended by a book’s content—or worse, the author’s own behaviour—has become almost commonplace. While publishers and their authors may rise above such criticism, booksellers are all too often on the frontline.’

The serialisation in the Daily Mail for The Hockneys (£25, hb, 978 1789550733) ran yesterday (3 October) and you can view it here.  It’s just been published by Legend. The headline reads ‘Portrait of a very eccentric father who shaped our greatest living artist: He's made millions from his paintings, but as his brother's new memoir reveals, David Hockney's genius was forged in poverty... and neighbours' cruel abuse’. The Mail has a big readership, and according to The Art Newspaper, more than one million people saw the Hockney landscapes show at the RA in 2012 and his retrospective at Tate Britain in 2017 making these the two most popular ticketed exhibitions by a contemporary artist this century. There will undoubtably be a big market for this Legend title.

Here are two Comma colleagues Becca and Zoe discussing gender bias in literary translation on the Translating Women blog, well worth a read!

Congratulations to Rebecca Goss who has been shortlisted in the East Anglian Book Awards with Girl (£9.99, pb, 978 1784107239) This is the much-anticipated follow up collection to acclaimed and prize-winning Her Birth and traces the story of the poet’s recovery since losing her baby daughter. These poems about female identity and female experience, are inspired by pop culture and the artworld (specifically artist Alison Watt), resulting in a fearless exploration of the female body and female desire.  Clare Pollard said of it ‘Rebecca Goss captures both the pleasure and the pain. Girl is a quivering, kicking reminder of what it is to be alive.’

It was great to see Resist: Stories of Uprising (£14.99, hb, 978 1912697076 ) included in The i Newspaper’s roundup of '30 books for Autumn 2019' alongside the likes of Jessie Burton and Philip Pullman, you can read that here. It’s out on 17 October from Comma.

Parthian have for a long time been firm believers in the sharing of literature across borders and cultures and are delighted to be taking part in Raising the Velvet Curtain which is a series of events presenting a vibrant new generation of Slovak writers and artists to mark 30 years since the Velvet Revolution of 1989. As part of the programme, Uršuľa Kovalyk, author of The Night Circus and Other Stories (pb, £8.99, 978 1912681044) will be taking part in a writer’s tour along with award-winning author and translator Ivana Dobrakovová and the hugely popular contemporary author Balla. The tour will begin in Manchester (22 Oct 7pm, Blackwells) with an event presented by Julia Sherwood and bestselling author Glen James Brown before going on to Oxford 23 Oct, 5pm, St Antony’s College) Cambridge (24 Oct 6:30pm, Heffers) and finally London (25 Oct 7:15pm, British Library). Blending the naturalistic and the fabulistic, the elusive, delicate stories in The Night Circus and Other Stories fold fable and fairy tale into the everyday, domestic settings of kitchen, garden, car. Seemingly quotidian routines and unremarkable lives are pierced by Kovalyk’s precise, sensual prose, to reveal the magic lurking just beneath the surface of the daily skin of existence.

When her identical twin Laurel dies, seventeen-year-old Willow’s life falls apart. With her parents’ marriage faltering, she finds escape at her uncle’s cottage which is idyllic, but the forest is filled with secrets. What is Joe hiding from her? And who is the Slaughter Man who steals through Willow’s sleep? The Slaughter Man by Cassandra Parkin is a disturbing and beautifully written novel, dealing with themes of grief, sanity and fear. This is an emotionally challenging book redolent with darkness but also hope. Cassandra is doing a month-long Insta tour for this Legend title – full details below.




If you want to take part in this year's Books Are My Bag Readers Awards, or urge your customers to do so, then the vote is open now! This year's awards, now in their fourth year, include seven shortlists chosen by booksellers across the UK and Ireland, while the Readers' Choice Award – nominated and voted for entirely by booklovers – completes the set. They're the only book awards curated by bookshops and voted for by booklovers and you can find out more here.

Jo Lloyd won the BBC National Short Story Award 2019 for her story The Invisible, as covered by The Guardian, The Bookseller and Lithub. Jo's story along with the rest of the shortlisted stories can still be listened to on BBC Sounds and read in the Comma anthology (£7.99, pb, 978 1912697229) of course!

Lots of publicity coming up for Mindfulness at Work and Home: A Simple Guide (£9.99, pb, 978-1910453803) There will be pieces in the Daily Telegraph Weekend as well as features in Ni4kids, Families, Forbes online, Northern Woman, Parent Talk, People Management, Tatler and HR Review. There have also been features on BBC Surrey & Sussex and articles in Fly Be and BA’s in-flight magazines, which have huge readerships!  This book is a highly practical guide to practising mindfulness, packed with hints, tips, quotes and answers to frequently asked questions. Written by a barrister who uses mindfulness everywhere and referencing the latest scientific research, Gillian Higgins shares its simplicity, how to practice and explains why it's good for us. She also tackles some of the bigger issues such as how mindfulness can help us to reduce stress, tame our self-critical voice, overcome fear, improve sleep and reduce anxiety. It’s just been published by Red Door.

Terrific reviews for two Comma titles giving varied perspectives on Palestine this week. Gal-dem gave a stellar review of Nayrouz Qarmout's The Sea Cloak (£9.99, pb, 978 1905583782) here, as did the Mancunion here and The National reviewed Palestine +100 (£9.99, pb, 978 1910974445) alongside interviews with contributors Mazen Maarouf, Selma Dabbagh and Basma Ghalayini here.

Got a bit of time on your hands? Well, according to Buzzfeed, only true book lovers will make it past level twenty on this never-ending literary quiz!

And in this week’s Hot Topics, here's  the trailer for the new BBC adaptation of HG Wells’ War of the Worlds, here's  the latest on the most eagerly awaited game of the year, the dystopian Death Stranding and finally, when this school orchestra’s rendition of the theme from Space Odyssey was played on Radio 2, record numbers of listeners phoned in to say it was the funniest thing they’d ever heard! Have a listen – it will cheer up your Friday no end!

That’s all 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 nuala@compassips.london