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 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

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