Friday 26 September 2014

Compass Points 99

Welcome to Issue Number 99 of Compass Points! To celebrate, here’s a little clip of one of my all time fave songs - 99 Red Balloons – but with a difference – this one is played entirely using … red balloons!

While we’re on a numbers theme, here’s the next title from one of our newer publishers, Forty-six: who are dedicated to the best new writing from around the universe, especially Asian literature in translation, as well as Asian-themed non-fiction.  Murong Xuecun is a novelist who writes about corruption in China, and in the past year, he has become one of the most outspoken critics of its censorship. Murong is a columnist for the New York Times who he has emerged as one of China’s leading dissident voices. You can read about how he was summoned by Beijing police on Tuesday after issuing a public statement of surrender over an event marking the 25th anniversary of Tiananmen Square here in the Guardian; and here's a piece he has written about his protest in the New York Times. As Murong writes; according to the Chinese Government he has committed the crime of “picking quarrels and provoking trouble.” 
Leave Me Alone: A Story of Chengdu is the long awaited publication of his first novel. It is an unflinching darkly funny tale of love and life in modern life in China. It is the story of three young men, Cheng Zhong, Li Liang and Big Head Wang and their tragic-comic struggles to make their way in Chengdu, China’s most populated city. Despite their aspirations on the newly capitalist China; the trio’s lives are beset by dead end jobs, gambling debts, drinking, drugs and whoring. Cheng Zhong is married to Zhao Yue. Although he loves her he plays around with other women. But isn’t until he discovers that she is having an affair that he realises exactly how much he stands to loss. Leave me Alone was originally a cult hit in China, when Murong posted it on the internet. It has already been published to acclaim in France, Spain, Germany, Brazil and Australia. Murong headlined at the Hay Festival in 2012, and will be back in the UK in 2015. CNN called him “one of the most famous authors to have emerged in contemporary China and Murong’s high UK and global media profile means there is strong media anticipation for this title. Leave Me Alone (pb, £9.99, 978 9981841933) by Murong is published by Forty-six in November and you can find out more and order it here

Talking of controversial and dissident voices – here is a list of ten literary works that have been banned – and why – makes very interesting reading and certainly makes you glad to live in the UK. I was working at Walker Books when Where’s Wally? (or Waldo) was banned in parts of the US and remember the furore well – crazy as the offending picture is about 1mm square – see it on the left!

“I always knew I wanted to do something in football just like I always knew I wanted to be rich.”  So begins this true account from a British football agent currently working at the heart of the English game. From mere coffee boy, to lowly scout, to multi-million pound wheeler dealer with the Big Four and the cream of the clubs in the UEFA Champions League: The Secret Agent charts this anonymous author’s fast and furious progress through the dressing rooms, board rooms and bedrooms during the most recent days of the premier league. The glamorous field of sports agents was made famous over a decade ago in the Tom Cruise film Jerry Maguire but a romantic comedy this most definitely isn’t – The Secret Agent presents the somewhat darker truth that often lies behind that film’s most memorable line “SHOW ME THE MONEY!!” a witty, worrisome, fearless and occasionally heartless account of ambition, greed, and power in a cut -throat and self-obsessed world. Last January, during the transfer window the football world saw over 2,500 transactions take place and spending of close to $350 million – with sums like these involved it is hardly surprising that the beautiful game attracts no shortage of young men quite prepared to break the rules in order to get their share of the spoils. The Secret Agent: Inside the World of the Football Agent (pb, 978 1909715240 is published by Arena Sport in November, and you can order it here

I love that film – and it does contain some pretty gripping moments – but what would you say are the all time top ten tense movie moments? Is your favourite here?

Poised, elegant and incredibly talented, Audrey Hepburn is one of the best loved actresses of all time. Her legacy as a role model, both on and off the silver screen, is detailed in a new, beautifully illustrated paperback, 100 Reasons to Love Audrey Hepburn which uncovers the 100 unequivocal reasons that make her an icon.  Whether it was her status as a fashion goddess or her amazing ability to portray female characters with such depth, Audrey Hepburn remains one of Hollywood’s brightest stars. The epitome of style and grace, she encapsulates a unique and utterly effortless class, but, did you know Audrey kept a pet deer named Pippin? That she was a gifted linguist, fluent in English, Dutch, French, Spanish and Italian? That she had aristocratic blood from her mother who was a Dutch baroness? That there’s a breed of tulip named after her? Or perhaps that Henry Mancini wrote Moon River especially for her? Ah yes, let’s just have a little look at that fabulous scene shall we. Filled with interesting facts and stunning photos, 100 Reasons to Love Audrey Hepburn reveals the real woman behind the famous little black dress, documenting every fun and fabulous fact you’ll ever need to know about the flawless Audrey. 100 Reasons to Love Audrey Hepburn (pb, 978 0859655309 £12.99) is published by Plexus in November – you can find out more and order it here.

 And for all of you Audrey Hepburn superfans, here are some more of her best moments.

F**k It Is The Answer to so many questions I find – and of course it is also the new hardback coming in November from this incredibly successful brand. How you manage to brand a swear word is anyone’s guess, but author John C Parkin and Hay House seem to have managed it, so good luck to them. More than 400,000 F**k It books have sold around the world and John's work has been translated into 19 languages. F**k It is a very strong brand with a good online platform and a loyal following - John will be promoting this new title to his weekly newsletter email list of over 30,000. F**k It Is The Answer takes the liberating F**k It philosophy (of not worrying so much, letting go more, caring less about what others think and doing your own thing) into a magic 8-ball format that will answer any question you ask. John C. Parkin recruits the magical powers of your own unconscious... or 'fate'... or 'spirit'... or whatever it is that seems to guide us to the correct answer when we allow it. When we relax, trust, and go with the flow, we allow to unfold whatever worldly or unworldly magic it is that makes this work. So... ask your question, and turn to any page in the book for an instant dose of F**k It wisdom! As the Times said, “Everyone can relate to F**k It.”  You can order F**k It Is the Answer (978 1781802991, hb, £8.99) here.

If you’d like more of this philosophy then go to

You booksellers are supposed to be an intelligent, literate bunch – but how good is your grammar - really? Take the test, and then go to the comments page to argue why you’re right and Buzzfeed are wrong!!

Never mind the grammar – it’s the content that’s the most important thing surely, and here’s the perfect gift for readers and an essential resource for book groups everywhere; Bookworms, Dog-Ears and Squashy Big Armchairs: A Book Lovers Alphabet by Heather Reyes is a hugely entertaining, original and informative A - Z of everything you ever wanted to know about books. It contains hundreds of thought-provoking and fascinating entries and bookie facts, plus games to play with books, guaranteed to appeal to all book lovers and is written with all the wit, style and erudition of the author's previous title: An Everywhere: A Little Book About Reading which the Guardian admired as “a love letter to reading”. It tells us why should we should all be xenophile, what the 'author events' of Ancient Rome were like, why we enjoy reading on the loo, why Chaucer was banned in the by the US, which book dedications make us cry and much much more! This title has just been selected as a Bookseller Autumn Buyer’s Guide Highlight and is definitely my tip for an easy Christmas present sell – keep it by the till. Bookworms, Dog-Ears and Squashy Big Armchairs: A Book Lovers Alphabet (pb, £8.99, 978 0992636463) by Heather Reyes is published by Oxygen Books in November and you can find out more and order it here.

And hurrah, hurrah, in a new survey today the 16-24 generation is still firmly in favour of print books, new research shows, with almost three quarters young people saying they prefer print over digital or audio formats. The survey questioned more than 900 people in the 16-24 age group in the UK about their book habits and the research found that most of them think e-books are too expensive. “They told us they like to touch books and see the creases in the spine.” Perhaps not such good news is that online retailer Amazon was the most popular sales channel, used by 75% of respondents, but high street bookshops were also in favour, with 73% of young people choosing to buy their books through this channel. Yippee! Maybe there’s a future for all of us after all. Read the full survey in The Bookseller here.

Something that must have got more young people into reading than almost anything else was surely the much missed Jackanory. So to finish, here’s a clip from one of its best ever episodes; the late great Rik Mayall reading George’s Marvellous Medicine. Sorry about the picture quality - it is 1986 after all!

 Or alternatively, how about watching the much more recent adult version – Crackanory - Rik Mayall reading a final bedtime story – The Weatherman, with Vic Reeves. That should set you up for the weekend!

That’s all for now folks, more next week!

This blog is read weekly by over 700 booksellers as well as publishers and publicists. If you would like to order any of the titles mentioned, then please click here to go to the Compass New Titles Website or talk to your Compass Sales representative.

Friday 19 September 2014

Compass Points 98

Ah, how glad we are on this historic day that two of the most melodious and tuneful sounds in our united kingdom are still available for us all to enjoy as one nation. But which do you prefer? It’s a tricky one - this... or this.  I know, I know, both so lyrical and lovely it’s almost impossible to decide.  What a pity no one has decided to combine them – oh hang on a minute, what’s this I see? Yep, I think we can all agree that this probably not something that is Better Together!

Let’s start with two titles, each featuring a sport from either side of Hadrian’s Wall. Firstly, Behind the Rose by Stephen Jones and Nick Cain This publication is an official licensed product of the Rugby Football Union, the governing body of English rugby, and has exclusive access to the players, the archives and the fans. It is a unique history of the England rugby team told in the players’ own words, from the writers of the bestselling rugby book of 2012-13, Behind the Lions. It is written by two world renowned and award-winning rugby writers (who have a combined Twitter following of over 37k) and is a handsome £25 hardback, with colour and black and white illustrations throughout. This is a complete history of the England rugby union team – told by the players themselves which is based on a combination of painstaking research into the early years of the England team through exclusive interviews with a vast array of Test match stars from before the Second World War to the present day. It is a story etched in blood, sweat and tears; a story of great joy and heart-breaking sorrow; a story of sacrifice, agony, endeavour and triumph. Behind the Rose lifts the lid on what it is to play for England – the trials and tribulations behind the scenes, the glory, the drama and the honour on the field, and the heart-warming tales of friendship and humour off it. Absorbing and illuminating, this is a must-have for all supporters who have ever dreamed of walking the hallowed corridors of Twickenham as a Test match player, preparing themselves for battle in the changing rooms and then marching out to that field of dreams with the deafening roar of the crowd in their ears and the red rose emblazoned on their chest.  Behind the Rose: Playing Rugby for England by Stephen Jones and Nick Cain is published in November by Arena Sports (hb, 978 1909715196 £25.00).

And secondly – for all your booksellers who do well with golfing titles, there’s Jewel in the Glen: Gleneagles, Golf and the Ryder Cup by Ed Hodge with a foreword by Jack Nicklaus (hb, 978 1909715233 £25.00). This is a new updated edition which will include a new chapter on the 2014 Ryder Cup and features interviews with: Gary Player, Lee Trevino, Ian Woosnam, Sam Torrance, Sandy Lyle, Bernard Gallacher, Sir Jackie Stewart, Sir Sean Connery, Andy Murray and even … Alex Salmond!! The Ryder Cup starts in six days time, on 23 September, and this title will be out in November. Tracing the history of the Ryder Cup back to that famous forerunner match in 1921; this book intertwines the histories of the coveted prize with the famous five star resort’s own rich heritage on and off the course. Through a series of over 80 in-depth interviews with an array of international celebrities, Jewel in the Glen reveals what the Ryder Cup and Gleneagles means to them while examining the impact of the tournament on the local community and the wider Scottish society, culture, and economy. This beautiful £25 volume paints a unique and absorbing portrait of Gleneagles and Scottish golf as a whole and is the ideal Christmas present for all golfing fans. It is published by Arena Sport, and you can order Jewel in the Glen here

On the subject of golf, let’s not forget that another very important ballot took place in Scotland yesterday: The Royal and Ancient Golf Club in St Andrews voted in favour of allowing women members for the first time in its 260-year history. The club has 2,400 global members who were entitled to vote and more than three-quarters took part in the ballot. Of those that voted, 85% were in favour of change. I should think so too!

An hour programme called Four Women Poets Today, which features Carol Ann Duffy, Gillian Clarke, Eavan Boland and Liz Lochhead, will be aired on BBC Radio Four tomorrow, on Sat 20th Sept at 8pm. Eavan Boland is a Carcanet author who is celebrating her 70th birthday on 24 September and Carcanet have published two new books by her to celebrate this. A Poet’s Dublin (978 1847774477 £7.99, pb) which collects her greatest Dublin poems, and a long-awaited new collection, A Woman Without A Country (978 184777 217 6, £9.95, pb). There will be piece on Evan Boland in the Guardian shortly, and Colm Toibin is doing a big piece on Eavan’s books and birthday in the Irish Times on September 20. You can find out more and order Woman without a Country here.

Now you may remember last week I mentioned a new publisher who we are very pleased is joining the Compass family: Red Planet Publishing. This is a publisher of some tremendous music books; last week we told you about The Popmaster Quiz Book which is out this month. 
The Rock Atlas: 700 Great Music Locations Throughout the UK and Ireland and the Stories Behind Them by David Roberts features landmark album cover locations plus gravestones, plaques, recording locations, statues and sites of loads of famous and infamous gigs. This is the new revised second edition of this title, which features more than 70 per cent new or revised entries, more than 120 great new photographs – many of them never seen before and more than 70 new interviews. The cover is fab – it’s the hand-tinted David Bowie Ziggy Stardust album image, which Red Planet has exclusive use of. The book contains hundreds of rare and unseen pics including Cream, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Byrds, Jimi Hendrix, and many more! The Rock Atlas by David Roberts (pb, 978 1905959570 £19.99) is published in October by Red Planet and you can find out more and order it here.

Today is International Talk Like a Pirate Day, and in the absence of any suitably piratical themed books, I could have brought you Top Ten Pirate Movie Scenes, or even Top Ten Moments from Pirates of the Caribbean. But better than that I feel has to be this first ever episode starring the most fearsome pirate of them all!

If you have no desire to talk like a pirate, but would prefer instead that your diction were more like that of her Majesty the Queen; then you’ll be needing two new titles coming in November from Hesperus. The Gentleman's Book of Etiquette and Manual of Politeness, by Cecil B Hartley (pb, 978 1843915416 £7.99) and The Ladies Book of Etiquette and Manual of Politeness, by Florence Hartley (pb, 978 1843915423, 7.99) were first published in 1860 and are now available in two beautiful packaged, flapped paperbacks with a nostalgic style. If the correct rules of etiquette fail you, never fear for these handy guides will instruct you in the correct manner! These indispensable nineteenth century guidebooks will entertain, educate and inspire and although first published in 1860, the witty and useful advice on behaving well often still rings true down the ages. You don’t need to live in the nineteenth century to agree with Hartley that it is rude to finish someone else’s jokes. 
Whatever the situation, whether the reader would like to know how to be as ladylike as possible when seasick or the best colour schemes for bridesmaids’ dresses, these thorough and wide-ranging books will provide sensible and succinct guidance on how best to behave, and indeed how not to behave, as well as shed light into life in the nineteenth century. They are a veritable mine of information and indispensable advice for aspiring ladies and gentlemen!

An Aviary of Small Birds by Karen McCarthy Woolf (pb, 978 1906188146 £9.95) was launched this week with a part in London by Carcanet. This is a debut collection of elegiac poems which address the author’s baby son who died in childbirth. McCarthy Woolf is a major figure in poetry today: a mesmerising performer, a book re viewer, and an anthologist. She has taught poetry widely, notably at Southbank Centre. She has advocated for poetry on BBC News 24, been a PBS Pamphlet Choice judge, read at prestigious venues including the Poetry Society and she has a popular Twitter page. An Aviary of Small Birds has a truly beautiful jacket, and you can find out more and order it here.

Writers Zadie Smith, Lionel Shriver and Rose Tremain join Tessa Hadley and Francesca Rhydderch on an all-female shortlist for the BBC National Short Story Award 2014.It is the second year in which the prize has featured an all-women shortlist. Smith's story, Miss Adele Amidst the Corsets, follows an ageing American performer as she shops for underwear. Tremain's The American Lover is an woman's recollection of a "disfiguring love affair". Shriver's Kilifi Creek looks at a gap year traveller's encounter with morality, while Hadley's Bad Dreams captures the moment a child discovers the unease behind her home life. Rhydderch's The Taxidermist's Daughter centres around the emerging sexuality of a young girl in post-war Wales.The stories will be broadcast on Radio 4 next week from 22nd September by actors including Carey Mulligan and Rebecca Hall, with interviews with the writers on Radio 4's Front Row. The winner will be announced live on Front Row on 30th September, and the five stories are published in a collection by Comma Press: The BBC Short Story Award 2014 (pb, £7.99, 978 1905583676). Alan Yentob, chair of the judges, said: "The enthusiasm of writers, both established and emerging, is very much in evidence in this, the ninth BBC National Short Story Award. With the quality and diversity of the work submitted, it has been a pleasure and a challenge to serve as this year’s chair."

And in honour of today’s momentous news, I’ll leave you with a bit of Bay City Rollers to finish! Superb!

 That’s all for now folks, more next week!

This blog is read weekly by over 700 booksellers as well as publishers and publicists. If you would like to order any of the titles mentioned, then please click here to go to the Compass New Titles Website or talk to your Compass Sales representative.

Friday 12 September 2014

Compass Points 97

It’s always exciting to bring you news of a new publisher arriving in the Compass family – and this week I can do just that! Forty-six are the UK imprint of Make Do Publishing and describe themselves as “a publishing upstart dedicated to the best new writing from around the universe, especially Asian literature in translation, as well as Asian-themed non-fiction, travel guides and multi-media books”. I confidently predict that Asian literature in translation is going to be one of the next ”big things”, and you will be hearing a lot more about Forty-six and their  authors  - who are often outspoken; frequently maverick, and also highly media savvy – all of which will guarantee these books plenty of publicity! You can find out more about Forty-six on the Make Do publishing website here: as their tagline says; new writing, from an expanding universe.

The first title coming from Forty-six is The Book of Sins by Chen Xiwo which is published in October. Chen Xiwo has been described as “one of China’s most outspoken voices on freedom of expression for writers” and this title caused an international sensation when the author sued the Chinese government to explain why they had banned it. It is an edgy exploration of sexual deviance which should certainly appeal to fans of Irving Walsh and early Ian McEwan. The Book of Sins is a journey to the dark side of the psyche. Seven linked novellas probe the relationship between sexual and political dysfunction and corruption, using topics like rape, incest, S&M, impotence, and voyeurism as metaphors for the decay of society. In I Love My Mum, a disabled man who is in an incestuous relationship with his mother, at her demand and using a whip she provides, beats her to death. In Bin Laden’s Kidney, a resident of an exclusive gated community indulges in voyeuristic fantasies about the sex life of his neighbours. In Going To Heaven, the young son of a village undertaker tries to convince his friend to enter a suicide pact. Blimey – this should cause a bit of a sensation I think, and you’ll be pleased to hear that Chen Xiwo will be visiting the UK in October to promote this title.  This week he has written all about his court case defending his book against the Chinese government on his blog, which you can read here. The Spectator and Economist have already written about Chen Xiwo with the Spectator saying “I haven’t been much drawn to erotica or political allegory but Chen Xiwo changed that”. Equal parts terrifying and addictive, this fluent English translation by Nicky Harman of The Book of Sins by Chen Xiwo (pb, 9789881677563 £9.95) will bring a major writer and dissident voice to wider prominence and you can find out more and order it here – it has a very eye-catching cover as do all the Forty-six titles.

Who can name the seven deadly sins? Wrath, greed, sloth, pride, lust envy, gluttony – although interestingly the cover of The Book of Sins replaces wrath with murder and sloth with incest – maybe wrath and sloth are too common in our lives these days to count as sins – or maybe that’s just my life.  Anyway, the last truly chilling portrayal of the seven sins was probably in Se7en – what a film that was. Watch the trailer here to remind yourself – hard to believe it’s almost 20 years old.

Carcanet is delighted to announce that Jamaican poet Kei Miller's The Cartographer Tries to Map a Way to Zion (pb, £9.95, 978 1 847772 67 1 )has been shortlisted for the 2014 International Dylan Thomas Prize!  The collection, already shortlisted for the Forward Prize in the Best Collection category, dramatises what happens when one system of knowledge, one method of understanding place and territory, comes up against another as the eponymous cartographer tries to find the rastaman's eternal city of Zion.  The news has been reported on the BBC – you can read their piece about the Dylan Thomas Prize here

Who likes the PopMaster Quiz on Radio 2? Oooh yes, me, me, me. Possibly many of you are too busy selling books in the mornings to catch it this iconic quiz which is on air during the Ken Bruce show every morning  at about 10.30am, but it is massively massively popular. If you want to have a go – without suffering the potential embarrassment of coming across as a total dimbo on the radio; then you can play along right now in the privacy of your own bookshop on your computer here. And even better – now everyone can play along without needing a computer or the radio – when they order the official Radio 2 PopMaster Quiz Book, published by Red Planet containing hundreds of official questions and answers by Phil Swern and Neil Myners. From October onwards, the book will be trailed on BBC Radio 2 following the daily quiz. The book has official BBC branding and obviously readers can use it to test their own knowledge or play with friends: it’s the ideal Christmas book for any age! The PopMaster Quiz Book (£9.99, pb 978 1905959501) is published this month and you can find out more and order it here. The observant among you may have noticed that this book’s publisher: Red Planet is another new publisher for us at Compass – more on them next week!

According to Winston Churchill, Alan Turing made the single biggest contribution to the Allied victory against Nazi Germany with his code-breaking machine. The world is also indebted to Turing's genius for inventing the modern computer. It was clear that Turing had a remarkable mind from an early age. He taught himself to read in just three weeks. At his first school, the headmistress said, 'I have had clever and hardworking boys, but Alan has genius.' In 1954, he was found dead, poisoned by an apple laced with cyanide. Alan Turing: The Enigma Man by Nigel Cawthorne is the story of his life. This biography covers Turing's childhood and school years, the years at Cambridge and his disagreement with Wittgenstein, his time at Princeton and the Turing machine, the Bombe and its role in defeating the Nazis, the birth of the computer, Turing's conviction for gross indecency, chemical castration and his death. It really is very hard to think of a more fascinating and pertinent story than Turing’s – and never has he and his work been more prominent in the public awareness: Bletchley Park has been recently renovated and re-opened by the Duchess of Cambridge to huge fanfare. And if that wasn’t reason enough to order this excellent title; a film called The Imitation Game about the life of Alan Turing starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Keira Knightly is scheduled for release in November 2014. Yep, you read that right, two of the biggest stars of the moment – and it looks like a pretty gripping film too – you can watch a trailer for The Imitation Game here. Alan Turing: The Enigma Man (978 1784045357, £5.99, pb) includes 20 photos and is published in October by Arcturus: I would strongly suggest you order plenty of copies now!

The Poetry Book Society’s once-in-a-decade Next Generation Poets selection was announced yesterday and hurrah, four Carcanet poets have been chosen: Jane Yeh for The Ninjas (pb, £9.95 978 1847771476) 
Tara Bergin for This is Yarrow (pb, £9.95 978 1847772367)
Rebecca Goss for Her Birth (pb, £9.95 978 184777238) 
Kei Miller for A Light Song of Light (pb, £9.95 978 1847771032) This is a really big publicity opportunity and it’s great that Carcanet are leading the charge with four poets out of the total twenty (more than any of the other publisher!) The news has already been reported on the BBC news which you can see here and in the Guardian: which you can read here -  we hear from the Guardian that this piece is getting loads of traffic.  There’s also a big article in the Telegraph headed Is this Really Poetry’s Next Generation? And all the other broadsheets will cover this for sure – it was mentioned on BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme too. Congratulations Carcanet – it’s been a good week for you!

Ever wondered who invented the tin opener? Or where the phrase “mutton dressed as lamb” came from? Eating the Alphabet is a dictionary of the essential and the ridiculous relating to all things food and drink. People and inventions, recipes and their origins, vegetables and fine wines; all are served up and dissected to reveal the curiosities that we swallow up every day. Among the many fascinating entries are ‘A’ for Artusi and the case of minestrone and cholera; ‘M’ for Marilyn Monroe and her artichoke crown; ‘P’ for Proust and his incessant Madeleine; ‘Q’ for Quiche and how an Italian ambassador mispronounced it to barmaids… and lots more! Eating the Alphabet: An A-Z of Curiosities from the World of Food by Robert Booth (978 1909657595, £9.99, hb) is a perfect gift book for Christmas. Food writer Paul Levy said “The first Indian restaurant in London? What Balzac ate for dinner? And was it kinky when the Prince of Wales said he preferred ‘mutton dressed as lamb’? Robert Booth’s wondrously eccentric Eating the Alphabet contains the diverting and wacky answers, plus a hundred other things both you and I didn’t know about the subjects of food and drink.” It is published by Benefactum in October and you can order Eating the Alphabet here

What happens if you eat all the yummy things mentioned in Robert Booth’s book? You’ll get fat that’s what – better not give it to Katie Hopkins then - who's seen this   mash up - very funny!

And finally, if Christmas is coming then one thing is guaranteed, theatres round the country will be mounting productions of The Nutcracker, and zillions of little five year old moppets dreaming of being the next Darcey Bussell will be dragged along to see it.  Speaking as one who has sat through several such performances, the actual story of this ballet is by no means easy to grasp – in fact much of it is downright confusing. What a bit of luck then that Hesperus Minor are publishing the original story in a beautiful new edition – all ready for those doting parents and grandparents to give to their offspring! Best known as the inspiration for Tchaikovsky’s ballet; The Nutcracker by ETA Hoffmann is a charming book in its own right. Full of magic and childish wonder, this coming-of-age novella has something for everyone: toys that come to life, a mouse king and his army, magical princesses, beautiful dolls, ferocious battles and dark undertones. It truly has all the elements of a fairy tale. Younger readers will be enchanted by this timeless fable exploring a child’s imagination, where good meets evil, while older readers will be intrigued to discover the background to the famous ballet libretto .This timeless tale is full of the magic of Christmas, but is a delight to read at any time of the year and its enduring popularity is testament to its originality and charm. The Independent said “If you’re unfamiliar with Hoffmann’s work, imagine an early 19th-century German Tim Burton and you’ll be pretty close”. The Nutcracker by ETA Hoffmann (£7.99, pb 978 1843915324) is published in October and you can order it and find out more here

And here’s one of the most famous moments from the ballet – the Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy danced here by Nina Kaptsova from the Bolshoi Ballet.

That’s all for now folks, more next week!

This blog is read weekly by over 700 booksellers as well as publishers and publicists. If you would like to order any of the titles mentioned, then please click here to go to the Compass New Titles Website or talk to your Compass Sales representative.

Friday 5 September 2014

Compass Points 96

Exciting news to start with - we’ve just head that The Peculiar Life of a Lonely Postman by Denis Thériault is going to be a BBC Radio 2 Book Club title. We don’t have a confirmed date yet, but it will be either late November/early December, so great timing for Christmas. We are now rushing to sticker stock before publication date of 12th September. I don’t know how many of you listen to Simon Mayo’s Book Club – but I do and I think it’s great! It’s on Mondays, during his Drive Time Show (5-7pm) which has a colossal number of listeners, so it’s fantastic publicity for books. Better still, at least one, and often all of the panel usually love the book – and it really makes you want to go straight out and buy it – which I’ve actually done on more than one occasion. There’s always a live interview with the author, and some questions from fans. You can find out a bit more about it here. So make sure you have plenty of copies of this title - it is looking like we’re going to have to reprint already. The Peculiar Life of a Lonely Postman is an original, subtle and touching novel, by award winning Canadian author Denis Thériault. Bilodo lives a solitary daily life, routinely completing his post round every day and returning to his empty Montreal apartment. But he has found a way to break the cycle – Bilodo has taken to stealing people’s mail, steaming open the envelopes and reading the letters inside. And so it is he comes across Ségolène’s letters. She is corresponding with Gaston, a master poet, and their letters are each composed of only three lines. They are writing each other haikus. The simplicity and elegance of their poems move Bilado and he begins to fall in love with her. But one day, out on his round, he witnesses a terrible and tragic accident. Just as Gaston is walking up to the post-box to mail his next haiku to Ségolène, he is hit by a car and dies on the side of the road. And so Bilodo makes an extraordinary decision – he will impersonate Gaston and continue to write to Ségolène under this guise. But how long can the deception continue for? The Peculiar Life of a Lonely Postman by Denis Thériault (pb, £7.99 978 1843915362) is published by Hesperus this month, and you can find out more and order it here.

Now, as all I’m sure all of you highly educated booksellers know, a haiku is a unrhymed, syllabic poetic form adapted from the Japanese tradition, composed of three lines of 5, 7 and 5 syllables. They are often inspired by an element of nature, a moment of beauty or a poignant experience. To celebrate the publication of The Peculiar Life of a Lonely Postman, Hesperus Press is running a haiku writing competition in association with National Poetry Day. Send in your haiku by 26th September 2014 and you could win the fab 1st prize of a top quality creative writing course in London and a year’s free subscription of Hesperus Nova books or the 2nd prize which is a year’s free subscription of Hesperus Nova books. Either submit your haiku via Twitter including #peculiarpostman and @hesperuspress or email your haiku to . The competition start date is 12th September 2014 and it closes on 26th September 2014. The winner will be announced on National Poetry Day on 2nd October 2014.

OK, I've decided to have my own Friday afternoon celebration for The Peculiar Life of a Lonely Postman – my top five songs about postmen! First up, The Marvelettes, then I think it should be the big nosed one. Next up must be the indomitable Fats and then a bit of a choice from left field; but I do love this film and its lovely soundtrack. No doubt though that number one has got to be Elvis – and wasn’t he utterly gorgeous back then in 1962!

Who’s a fan of Breaking Bad? No doubt you were pleased to see it win a massive Five Emmys at the 66th Primetime Emmy Awards, including taking home the top prize for Outstanding Drama Series. Wanna Cook? The Complete, Unofficial Companion to Breaking Bad published by Myrmidon in May has been doing outstandingly too, one of the top selling books for Myrmidon this year. There's no better book out there on Breaking Bad. Glenn Walker of BIF BAM POP (whatever that is!) said "There are a lot of books out there that say they are the unofficial companion guides to whatever television series, but let me say up front, Ensley F. Guffey and K. Dale Koontz have found the perfect formula. Wanna Cook? is the primer for how those books should be written.". Wanna Cook? really is the must-have book for all Breaking Bad fans, and you can order it in paperback on 978 1905802968.

If you don’t mind some serious spoilers - click here to watch the top ten scenes from this badass series.

Now we’re definitely into back to school mode here at Compass – don’t forget about Clever Child: 100 creative play ideas for your two- to five-year-old (pb, £12.99 9781859063491) which will boost your child’s emotional, intellectual, physical and social development with 100 activities designed to give your toddler the best start in life. This is crammed with easy-to-play activities which will helps children learn and grow and includes 10 counting flashcards. Medical journalist Julian Chomet and consultant paediatrician Caroline Fertleman are both parents writing from personal experience, along with the benefit of the latest research into the effect of creative play on child development. It’s just been published by Connections and you can find out more and order it here.

And from good education to… yes you’ve guessed it; here’s one of my favourite Bad Education moments!

There have been lots and lots of positive reviews for the hilarious new title from Alexander Call Smith, Fatty O Leary’s Dinner Party (hb, £9.99 978 1846973000) this summer. There’s been an interview in the Sunday Express (10.8.14), a piece in the Daily Mail (8.8.14) and also features in Scotland on Sunday, Woman’s Weekly, The Spectator and The New Statesman. You can order Fatty O'Leary's Dinner Party here
In more good new for Alexander McCall Smith, he has just been shortlisted for the Scottish Children's Book Awards, for Precious and the Mystery of the Missing Lion. The awards are split into three age categories: Bookbug readers (3-7 yrs), younger readers (8-11 yrs) and older readers (12-16 yrs). McCall Smith's Precious and the Mystery of the Missing Lion (pb, £6.99 978 1846973185) is in the younger readers' section. Run by Scottish Book Trust and voted for by children, these book awards are Scotland's largest with a total prize fund of £12,000. Shortlisted authors and illustrators receive £500 per book, and the three winning books receive £3,000 each. 
Scottish Book Trust said: "The Scottish Children's Book Awards are much more than a celebration of Scottish literature - they are about expanding children's horizons far beyond their physical boundaries and barriers." The full shortlist is: BookBug Readers: Princess Penelope and the Runaway Kitten by Alison Murray (Nosy Crow), Robot Rumpus by Sean Taylor, illustrated by Ross Collins (Andersen Press) and Lost for Words by Natalie Russell (Macmillan). Younger Readers:  Precious and the Mystery of the Missing Lion by Alexander McCall Smith (Birlinn), Attack of the Giant Robot Chickens by Alex McCall (Kelpies) and Pyrate's Boy by EB Collin (Kelpies). Older Readers: Dark Spell by Gill Arbuthnott (Kelpies), The Wall by William Sutcliffe (Bloomsbury) and Mosi's War by Cathy MacPhail (Bloomsbury).  Precious and the Mystery of the Missing Lion was published by Polygon in July and you can order it here

Plenty of Carcanet poets are reading their work at literature festivals all around the UK this autumn. Have a look at the Carcanet Events Listing web page for a full list of details – there’s loads going on. The main highlights to mention are:

  • Manchester Literature Festival featuring Lorna Goodison, Kei Miller, Caoilinn Hughes, Tara Bergin and Tom Pickard.
  • Cheltenham Festival featuring Kei Miller, Lorna Goodison and Karen McCarthy Woolf.
  • Off the Shelf Festival in Sheffield featuring Mimi Khalvati and Togara Muzanenhamo.
  • Durham Book Festival featuring Tom Pickard.
  • Aldeburgh Festival featuring Togara Muzanenhamo, Tom Pickard and Karen McCarthy Woolf.
While we’re talking about the poet Tom Pickard (see above); earlier this summer, Jeremy Paxman lamented that modern poetry has “connived at its own irrelevance” by not appealing to “ordinary people much more”. He spoke as chairman of the Forward poetry prize judges, and his honest comments predictably caused a storm in the teacup world of the poets he meant. Tom Pickard was not among them, and one suspects Paxman would find him rather delightful. A poet who has had many jobs, from dyker to documentary maker, Pickard writes contemptuously of “bloated tomes by toady poets who sit in circles blowing prizesup each other’s arseholes with straws”. Pickard, you might guess, does not mince his words. 
This is the introduction to a glowing review in the Sunday Times this August featuring Hoyoot: Collected Poems and Songs (pb, £19.95, 978 1 847772 54 1) by Tom Pickard, which came out from Carcanet in June. You can have a look at the article here. Allen Ginsberg called Tom Pickard “one of the most live and true poetic voices in Great Britain and Paul McCartney said of his writing “With sharp vision he dissects his gut reaction and reminds us to appreciate the cool clear beauty of our own situation.”
You can find out more about Hoyoot on the Carcanet website here.

Hands up if you’ve been surprised to find that your summer long consumption of rose wine, chorizo sausage, plates of fried calamari and mid morning treats from the patisserie seems to have added quite a few inches to your girth? Yup, me too. Hurrah, what’s this I see, the Make Your Own Rules Diet by Tara Stiles. This sounds like the ideal book for me; making up my own diet rules will surely allow me to incorporate plenty of chocolate milkshakes and krispy kreme doughnuts into my new autumn regime. Let’s have a look here to see Tara promoting her book. Oh dear, unfortunately she appears to be waving around sticks of celery and pureeing broccoli and kale, which is not really what I had in mind. Nevertheless, Tara Stiles is an immensely popular and successful author; her YouTube yoga and healthy living videos get millions of views, as do her Twitter and Facebook accounts and her two previous books have been bestsellers.  In Make Your Own Rules Diet, Tara Stiles introduces lots of easy and fun ways to bring yoga, meditation and healthy food into your life. This empowering full colour hardback guide is sure to have plenty of fans. Make Your Own Diet Rules (hb, 978 1401944353 £18.99) will be featured in Red Magazine (250,000 circulation) in December, and is published by Hay House in November.

Stanley I Resume: Further Recollections of an Exuberant Life, the entertaining musings of Boris’s dad Stanley Johnson are getting plenty of publicity, including an interview on Radio 5 Live and a big serialization in the Daily Mail under the heading Witty. Ebullient. More like Boris than Boris! His father's new memoirs are a truly rip-roaring read. You can have a look at the article here – very entertaining, and I think this illustrated hardback would make a good Christmas present for any fans of Boris! Stanley I Resume (hb, £20, 978 1849547413) has just been published by Robson Press and you can find out more and order it here.

 That’s all for now folks, more next week!

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