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.

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