Friday 6 March 2020

Compass Points 340

International Women’s Day on Sunday of course, and we have many appropriate titles to talk about today, including a collection of writing by women on the future of Europe, a new collection from an award-winning poet, a revolutionary book reclaiming feminism and a thrilling tale of the only woman to sail on the Golden Hind!

But first today is a book about a man! Polarising, combative, unconventional: few embody the fraught nature of British politics today quite like John Bercow. Biteback are publishing John Bercow: Call to Order (hb, £20, 978 1785905582) by political journalist Sebastian Whale on 24th March, which will be serialised in the Mail on Sunday on 15th and 22nd March, after which the author will be doing a LOT of publicity. This includes interviews in the Daily Express, on BBC Westminster Book Talk, on LBC and on Red Box, CapX, the Telegraph’s Brexit Chopper and Iain Dale’s podcasts. There is confirmed review coverage so far in the Times, Telegraph, Observer, Guardian and TLS and I think we can assume that there will be widespread coverage of this assessment of a man who has never been short of controversy.  Based on exclusive interviews with both Bercow’s allies and detractors, the book includes substantial new material on the former speaker's background, character, private life and there are new revelations on the allegations of bullying. John Bercow's own book, published three weeks ago, has sold over 11,000 copies, and this title promises to be a much more engaging read so I think it should do really well!

How to get more sleep is a massive preoccupation of many of us, and How to Sleep: A Natural Method by Lucinda Ford (978 1912054237, £7.99, pb) is a really helpful, clear and straightforward titles which introduces eight easy-to-use techniques for falling asleep. Finding ways to turn off the racing mind and negative thoughts or stress is an essential step, and these simple sleep techniques, along with their accompanying notes, are designed to calm the mind and allow sleep to come naturally. They are distilled from the best of thinking from the East and the West, including cognitive behavioural therapy, mindfulness and meditation, is going to be extracted in the April issue of Fit and Well magazine. Its published by Fairlight

Lots and lots of terrific publicity for Feminism, Interrupted (£9.99, pb, 978 0745340067), including this Guardian article featured at the weekend in which Lola Olufemi appears as a go-to feminist for comments on current trans-rights issues. There is also this on the Guardian books pages, this in Pink News, this on the BBC and this in the Morning Star. This revolutionary book reclaims feminism from merely being a popular slogan, by exploring state violence against women, reproductive justice, transmisogyny, sex work, gendered Islamophobia and much more, showing that the struggle for gendered liberation is a struggle for justice that can transform the world for everyone. Lola will be speaking
at Foyles in London on 25th March, that info is here and at the Oxford Literary Festival on 31st March, that info is here. If any bookseller would like a reading copy of this title which is out from Pluto on 20 March, then do email

Here's a chance to ponder the truth universally acknowledged that Austen’s men are pretty gorgeous. No prizes for guessing who’s top of the list – but who’s last? Here are twenty Austen men rated from ‘trash to would smash’ according to Buzzfeed!

The buzz is really building for Comma’s Europa28 (£12.99, 978 1912697298, pb), a collection of 28 essays and fiction which amplifies the voices of European women and is out next week. The London Magazine said it was ‘informative, touching, and occasionally funny, the book is enough to make one optimistic about the future’ that’s here, you can read Leila Slimani's contributing essay in the Guardian here (we’re expecting an appearance by Leila on Channel 4 very shortly) and Lisa Dwan's contributing essay in the Irish Times here. Europa28 has also been included in Translated Lit's 'Most Anticipated Books of March 2020 and you can see that list here! Information on the Europa28 book tour is featured on the left.

How was World Book Day for you? Here's the usual article in the Guardian lamenting the fact that world dressing up day is only marginally related to books – yes Sonic the Hedgehog and Elsa from Frozen we do mean you! What it is definitely related to, at least in this part of the world, is parental showing off, in fact I think it should be renamed World Mothers Staying Up All Night Making A Costume That Their Child Refuses To Wear Day.

A terrific book tour schedule for On Wilder Seas: The Woman on the Golden Hind (pb, £8.99, 978 1789551136) which is a gripping tale of true feminine courage.  The brilliant bloggers involved are @NorthernReader, @pscottwriter, @JoannaLouisePar, @LoveBooksGroup, @cherylp59, @bookreviewb, @bookpage5 and @thebooktrailer. On Wilder Seas is inspired by a true story of an enslaved woman who seizes the chance to escape, but unwittingly joins Francis Drake’s circumnavigation voyage. Sailing into the unknown, a lone woman among eighty men, this is the tale of one woman’s uncharted voyage to freedom. It’s published by Legend on 16 March.

Talking of Francis Drake, who doesn’t enjoy this moment when Blackadder returns to Queen Elizabeth after his own attempts at circumnavigation….

18-24 May 2020 is mental health week, and Andy Salkeld’s Life is a Four-Letter Word: A Mental Health Survival Guide for Professionals (£14.99, pb, 978 1788601559) is published by Practical Inspiration on 14 May. Andy struggled with depression, anxiety, stress and ultimately suicide whilst working as a high-flying and often highly-strung accountant and in his book, he gives a brutally honest critique of the high-pressured life of professionals and the toll it can place on mental health and well-being. The book is full of great advice and warnings of common pitfalls, equipping readers with the confidence, tools and understanding to save themselves and their colleagues when they are struggling. There will be a six-week publicity campaign by The Book Publicist for this title which so far includes being A Recommended Read by We Are The City, an article for the The HR Director, events for International Day of Happiness on 20th March, a  piece in the April issue of Therapy Today, and article on mental health in the workplace for We Are The City, a Podcast/Vodcast retrospective Breaking the Stigma' tour with Squire Patton Boggs, a panel discussion launch event Leeds in association with Wellington Place businesses on the mental health crisis, during Mental Health Awareness Week on 19th May, a panel discussion launch event in association with Price Waterhouse Coopers on 20th May, a launch event at Blackwell’s Holborn on 22nd May , a podcast slot with Dark Coffee Podcast mental health and wellbeing podcast, a review in PQ Magazine (an award-winning magazine for part-qualified accountants), a webinar for the Institute of Chartered Accountants of England and Wales The Net Present Value of Happiness in April, a slot on Men's Radio and regular blog posts for The HR Director.

Hurrah, Comma have been longlisted for Book Podcaster of the Year in the London Book Fair’s UK Book Blog Awards! The others on the list are Backlisted, Down the Rabbit Hole, Literary Friction, Sentimental Garbage and We’d Like A Word. You can find out more about the awards here.

A thought-provoking article in today’s New York Times entitled Why Is Europe So Islamophobic? by Narzanin Massoumi, who is a co-editor of the Pluto book What Is Islamophobia? (£18.99, pb, 978 0745399577) which is fully credited in the article, you can read it here. As racist undercurrents in many western societies become manifestly entrenched, the need to understand what perpetuates Islamophobia has never been greater. This book demonstrates that it is not simply a product of abstract, or ideological processes, but of concrete social, political and cultural actions undertaken in the pursuit of certain interests. It concludes with reflections on existing strategies for tackling Islamophobia, considering what their distinctive approaches mean for fighting back.

Featuring over fifty crags and sixty-nine routes in England, Scotland and Wales, Hard Rock (hb, 978 1912560295) epitomises all that is great about traditional climbing in Britain. Ken Wilson’s first edition of Hard Rock was published in 1974 and quickly established itself as the definitive representation of British rock climbing. His vision for the book’s format as part guidebook, part literary celebration and part coffee table visual showcase is one that has been much copied but never equalled and in this new edition published today, editor Ian Parnell has ensured Hard Rock continues to honour the original concept, in particular keeping the route, not the climber, centre stage. UK Climbing has just shared this terrific 7-minute video of Vertebrate’s MD, Jon Barton, climbing a classic Hard Rock route, Right Unconquerable on Stanage Edge.

Anglican priest and Carcanet author Rachel Mann has been reflecting on her journey of identity as a trans woman as part of Radio 4’s Lent Lectures this week, you can listen to that here. Rachel is the author of five books, including Fierce Imaginings: The Great War, Ritual, Memory and God and her poetry was anthologised in Carcanet's New Poetries VII.

A really gorgeous feature in Guardian Travel last weekend by Geoff Allan, talking about his new title, Scottish Bothy Walks: Scotland’s 28 Best Bothy Adventures (£16.99, pb, 978 1910636190) which has just been published by Wild Things. Have a look here – if it doesn’t make you immediately want to set off for a hike in the hills, then I don’t know what will! A follow-up to the bestselling The Scottish Bothy Bible (£16.99, pb, 978-1910636107), this beautifully illustrated walking companion guides the reader on a mix of day walks and multi-day adventures with detailed maps, highlighting the incredible wildlife, geography, history and culture that you will find along your walk.

I’m really pleased to tell you that award-winning poet and dramatist Caroline Bird’s The Air Year is the Telegraph Poetry Book of the Month, saying ‘Bird’s poetry is consistently, effortlessly fun’ – you can read that article here. A Carcanet poet since she was 15 years old, Bird has twice been shortlisted for the Dylan Thomas Prize. This is her sixth collection, her previous titles In These Days of Prohibition was shortlisted for the T.S. Eliot Prize and the Ted Hughes Award. She also was one of the five official poets at the 2012 London Olympics. These poems about identity, place, and finding oneself while lost in the moment are darkly humorous with telling social commentary and the book will be launched with a reading at The Second Shelf in London on 26th March.

And in this week’s Hot Topics, here are the facts on whether you’ll get a refund if an event you’re planning to attend this spring and summer is cancelled due to you know what, here's a fun map where you can check how wealthy your neighbourhood is, here's a man who was jailed for licking an ice cream on social media and here's the first look at the Line of Duty Sports Relief special, featuring Lee Mack!

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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