Compass Points 19
Your weekly round up of publishing news, publicity information and trivia!
Well, many many congratulations to Hilary Mantel. Writing as someone who has just finished reading – and been utterly gripped by – Wolf Hall I now cannot wait to start Bring up the Bodies which by all accounts is even better! This year’s Booker has perhaps been regarded as the “experimental” or “highbrow” year in comparison to last year’s apparent collection of easy reads, but there has been plenty of support for all the books on the shortlist. Ben Okri (winner for The Famished Road in 1990) said at the Booker dinner that he loved the poetic beauty of Tan Twan Eng's The Garden of Evening Mists. Let’s hope that all six titles on the shortlist continue to get a real sales boost from this prestigious prize!
Sandi Toksvig is all over the place this week, promoting her brilliant new book Heroines and Harridans: A Fanfare of Fabulous Women – with its hilarious illustrations by Sandy Nightingale This book attempts to redress the balance of history – which is often ‘his story’ with many men doing grand things while the women stayed home to make the soup. As you would expect from Sandi, it is a thoroughly eccentric and entirely personal mélange of the many women who were terrifically good fun, may have shaped the world but then often disappeared into obscurity. As Mary Beard said “I guess the Blessed Hildegard of Bingen might feel a bit alarmed to find herself between the same covers as Marie Stopes. But that’s the fun of Sandi Toksvig’s wonderfully eclectic collection of Heroines & Harridans – and the marvellously buxom illustrations of Sandy Nightingale to match. Not a size zero in sight!” Sandi Toksvig is an actor, author and comedian who is very popular on the radio, TV and in the press – among other things she hosts BBC Radio 4’s News Quiz and writes a weekly column for the Daily Telegraph – so she will have lots of opportunities to promote this book – and she will! She was on the Alan Titchmarsh Show (ITV) just this week. It’s a perfect Christmas gift title, and the finished book, which has just arrived in the Compass Office looks terrific – a very handsome looking tome!
Come on, hands up, who (like me) was glued to The Great British Bake Off? Did you want John to win? Or were you rooting for handsome James or pernickety Brendan? Sadly this year’s final didn’t feature anything quite as amusing as the shot of that well endowed squirrel from last year – if you don’t remember, click here to remind yourself! As I’m sure you’re finding, baking books of all description are getting a massive sales boost from the series (viewing figures of 6-7 million!), so don’t forget about The Celebrity Bake Book with its forward by Mary Berry, which was published last month. Celebrities, chefs and politicians have contributed their favourite baking recipes for this excellent title (published in support of The Ben Kinsella Trust which raises awareness about knife crime). Among the tempting treats are Military Wives choir leader Gareth Malone’s Orange Almond Cupcakes; Joanna Lumley’s Fancy Bread & Butter Pudding; Mary Berry’s Best Chocolate Fudge Cake; Nigella Lawson’s Birthday Custard Sponge: Barbara Windsor’s Sour Cream Topped Cheesecake: Lorraine Kelly’s Dundee Cake and Samantha Cameron’s Figs with Barbados Cream!
Who enjoys taking photographs? Just about everyone these days – whether it’s on a phone, ipad or camera. It’s one of the fastest growing interests in Britain today – and there’s never been more opportunity to show your work – via Facebook, blogging or on sites like Pinterest or Tumblr. But how many of us have the know-how to really be creative with our cameras? Photocrafty by Sue Venables is a new fun and quirky ‘how-to’ book aimed at digital SLR camera users who have yet to venture away from their auto setting. The book offers new and exciting ways of making the most of your camera – like a photography course which can be taken at the reader’s own time and pace. “What excites me about photography,” says Sue “is that the possibilities are endless – yet most people don’t even begin to explore beyond the basics. I see Photocrafty as an approach, rather than just a book. It’s about embracing the unknown and being a bit experimental. I want people to be saying ‘what would happen if I try that?’ rather than being stuck with the ‘point-and-shoot’ approach to photography.” It’s getting lots of publicity including the Sunday Express, The Lady, Photography Monthly, Amateur Photographer, the Daily Mail and the Sunday Telegraph.
Marking, planning, stealing colleagues’ milk - teaching has always been a difficult job. The Art of Teaching: Shortcuts for Outstanding Teachers by The Times Educational Miscreant is an outrageous catalogue of teaching aids where the author shares his unique approach to many of teaching’s most taxing problems. Whether it’s marking coursework by weight with Coursework Scales, or planning lessons with the Page-Choosing Money Box, The Art of Teaching is an absolute must for the conscientious teaching professional. The Times Educational Miscreant is also known as James Andrews. His book on thirteen years of teaching, The Bitter Root, was described by the TES as “amusing and eloquent, 9/10” and by the NUT as “a pleasure to read”. There are nearly 876,000 teachers in publicly-funded schools alone – so there will be plenty of takers for this book – it would make a great present – it’s hilarious and has a real ring of truth that anyone who’s worked in a school will instantly identify with! You can look at sample pages from it on James Andrews' very funny blog - here, and you can order the book here.
As David Cameron and Alex Salmond sign the deal on the Scottish independence referendum for autumn 2014, and we all bet on whether Bradley or Andy will be the BBC Sports Personality of the Year; perhaps it’s a good time to remind your customers of the extreme fondness our two great nations have for each other, ahem. Auld Enemies: The Scots and the English by David Ross, illustrated by Rupert Besley is a title that should appeal to and amuse readers from both sides of the border. For almost a thousand years, Scotland and England have been neighbour nations and for more than half that time, they were foreign countries, often at war. Four hundred years ago, they began to share a monarchy; three hundred years ago, they joined in a United Kingdom. A new concept of “Britishness” arose, but for most purposes Scots remained Scots and English remained English, and the old sense of rivalry remained. In olden times, a war of words and propaganda accompanied the fighting. As the countries got to know each other better and the fighting died down, the verbal exchanges continued, and became sharper, more wide-ranging, and funnier. This book provides a unique record of the long contest of verbal warfare across the Border, from its beginnings right up to the present day. Here’s a little film on YouTube giving one person’s entirely unbiased view on the Scotland versus England debate; and you can find out more about the book here.
And lastly for those who just haven’t got the concentration or time to read the likes of Bring Up the Bodies – or any other big fat historical book – you might enjoy this – the entire history of the world in just two minutes!
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That’s all for now folks, more next week!