Friday 10 October 2014

Compass Points 101

We start with two sober – but ultimately inspiring titles. Placed in care at a very early age, Paolo Hewitt went to live with a foster family where he endured extreme abuse and humiliation. Following years of abuse he was sent to Burbank children's home at the age of ten where he met a gang of children. Like him, they w ere outsiders struggling to find their place in the world. Paolo paints a vivid picture of his coming of age in his classic memoir of growing up in care; The Looked After Kid – a testament to the resilience of children who “go to sleep at night believing the world to be a dark and terrible place” but wonderfully emerge from the darkness to shine their lights on all. Irvine Welsh called it: “An uplifting story about refusing to give up on your dreams... real inspiration to loads of people who have had similar backgrounds to Paolo.” This title originally sold 10,000 copies via Mainstream/Random House and has now been fully revised with a new section describing the reaction to the book and the authors' subsequent work with children in care. It is published this month by Jessica Kingsley Publishers
And Paolo Hewitt has also written a brand new title which will be published on the same day. But We All Shine On tells the inspiring story of the author’s journey to track down the group of friends who shared his childhood in care at the children's home. Stepping into the past, Paolo hears remarkable stories about how his friends coped with life both in and out of care. We meet Des, the boy who reinvented himself, Norman, the runaway child who crossed a continent, David, the boy who couldn't be heard, and the curious case of Terry – the child who stood in a school field for four days. Paolo hears about his friends' struggles and triumphs, and discovers many things: about himself, about care, but most of all about the indomitable force of the human spirit – even when faced with the most overwhelming odds. These are two extraordinary titles, and sadly, the stories that Hewitt tells, could not be more pertinent today with the revelations about life in care that come to light on an almost daily basis.  As Dr Robert of The Blow Monkeys says: “Hewitt has shed a light on the murky world of late 60s and early 70s children's homes. An empathetic listener and master story teller his is the authentic voice... from the inside… first hand. The characters are his friends. They trust him. The stories herein are touching, funny and most of all redemptive. It's quite possibly his masterpiece.” These are books that that many people will want to read, and the media will be very interested in. Paolo Hewitt is a well-known journalist with a strong media profile, and there will be a big interview with Margarette Driscoll in the Sunday Times this weekend or next.  The publishers are be backing up the article with ads on Facebook and Twitter mentioning the article and the new book, and I am certain there will be more press coverage to come – the books have evocative covers and these moving accounts of the strength and resilience of children are gripping, insightful and honest and deserve to sell extremely well. But We All Shine On: The Remarkable Orphans of Burbank Children's Home (978 1849055833, £8.99, pb) and The Looked After Kid: Memoirs from a Children's Home (978 1849055888, pb, £12.99) by Paolo Hewitt are published by Jessica Kingsley Publishers on 21 October.

For something a little lighter, don’t forget about Brandon Graham’s hilarious novel Good for Nothing which is being reissued in paperback in time for Christmas by Skyscraper (November 27th, £8.99, 978 095518105 4). This title has had huge number of word of mouth recommendations, and readers on Amazon absolutely love it saying “this is unlike anything I have read lately…a brilliant book and Brandon Graham is a very special writer… both literary and popular…amazing, page-turning, FUN and insightful read. … You MUST share some funny lines with your spouse because it's THAT GOOD. … A seamless, brilliantly-paced book. … I cannot wait for Brandon Graham’s next book… an entertaining, funny and yet poignant look at modern life…” The Daily Mail called it “very, very funny” and Stephen Fry said he was “enchanted.” If you haven’t read it yet – please do – it’s been one of the most universally enjoyed titles here in the Compass Office for this year – and it cheers you up no end!

The News is Read By…  by Charlotte Green (978 1849546911, hb,  £20.00) is getting absolutely loads of publicity at present thanks to Charlotte’s willingness to tell all about her BBC boss’s wandering hands, and other sex pest stories from the 1970’s. You can read some of the revelations from the book in the Daily Mail here and in an article from the Telegraph here – both published last week. This autobiography in fact has far more of interest in it than those headlines might imply; since the broadcaster Charlotte Green is a true national treasure. When news broke that she was to replace James Alexander Gordon as the voice of BBC Radio 5’s football results, the Times announced, “Exquisite voice to announce results of the beautiful game”. Until her retirement in early 2013, Charlotte was the voice of Radio 4. Her warm and perfectly modulated tones reassured millions of devoted listeners that, despite some of the dreadful news stories she had to read out to the nation over a period of 27 years, we were safe in her hands. When she resigned listeners took to Twitter in their thousands to bemoan their loss and colleagues at the BBC gave her a rare spontaneous and emotional send-off. Charlotte was there with us, when we woke up in the mornings and as we drifted off to sleep at the end of the day, when she would read the Shipping Forecast. As the newsreader on Radio 4’s bulletins she describes how she got through the worst news stories, such as the London bombings on 7/7/05, for which she received a Sony Gold Award. Memorably her bulletins would occasionally degenerate into suppressed laughter or a full-on fit of giggles on air during the very serious Today programme. Her highly entertaining autobiography is a the book all Radio 4 and Classic FM devotees will feel compelled to buy for the joy of spending a few hours in her company, and finding out about this wonderfully warm, funny and modest woman whose writing is as beautiful as her voice. I know this is a phrase that you have probably heard one time too many this autumn from various keenie beanie publisher’s reps – but this book genuinely is the perfect Christmas prezzie for all those hard-to-buy-for older rellies! It is published by Robson Press and you can order The News is Read By here

Let’s just hear that very funny moment when Charlotte cracks up on air here!

And here is a little compilation of Charlotte Green – and others – reading that classic of British Broadcasting; The Shipping Forecast.

That one doesn’t include that lovely lovely music for the late night forecast though, so let's have a little burst of that shall we!

Well, if that has caused you to all have a little doze for a few moments, imagine if while you were having your afternoon siesta in the stock room you could actually decide what you wanted to dream about. A pretty appealing thought you must agree, and now Lucid Dreaming: A Beginners Guide to Becoming Conscious in Your Dreams by Charlie Morley will show us all how to do just that. A fascinating and accessible introduction to the theory, practice, and innovative techniques behind becoming lucid in your dreams; this book spells out the benefits of living a more awakened life and also contains amazing, real-life case studies and contributions from the world's leading lucid dreaming experts. Lucid Dreaming: A Beginners Guide to Becoming Conscious in Your Dreams by Charlie Morley (978 1781803431, pb, 8.99) is published by Hay House in November.

You can watch Charlie Morley talk abut Lucid Dreaming here on YouTube – it’s had 73,000 views so far!

Well this all sounds a bit like the plot of Inception – and if like me you never really worked out what on earth this film was on about – then you’ll enjoy this honest trailer – i.e. NOT the official one!

Something that probably won’t be featuring in your lucid dreams is a middle aged man in Lycra – but nevertheless, there are an awful lot of them around these days.  How to be A Cyclist: An A-Z of Life on Two Wheels by John Deering and Phil Ashley (hb, 978 1909715158, £12.99) was launched this week in London at a party stuffed full of hearty biking types. As one reader has commented, “this book is both useful and funny, like a bin man in his underwear.” Cycling has never been more popular, and this humorous one-of-a-kind gift book features some stunning photography, as well as much laugh-out-loud advice. It’s an essential manual and source of wisdom for those who would be kings of the road. Many pitfalls await the unwary middle-aged-man-in-Lycra, but fear not, for the Guide is here to steer you through choppy waters. No more passing out halfway up a hill. No more ridicule in the work place. No more hurty knee. And no more sock crimes. Pearls of wisdom are scattered throughout this book like rose petals before a princess on her wedding day. For instance, who could deny that life is too short to drink bad coffee? That a noisy bike is marginally more annoying than a whiney toddler? Or that style should ever be sacrificed for speed? Written by experts who know everything there is to know about cycling, yet never forget that there is nothing funnier than a rabbit playing a trumpet, How to Be a Cyclist is mandatory reading for all bike riders and is out now from Arena Sport. There’s lots of publicity coming up in the cycling mags and on social media – and should be some features in the general press this month too.

And if you want to become a real expert at all that ludicrous cyclist jargon then do have a look at this funny 3 min vid on YouTube here!

I bet you look good on the dance floor. No really – I do. Of course the savvy among you will realise that I am of course referring to those cool and trendy popstrels, the Arctic Monkeys. Arctic Monkeys: Pretend Memories (978 1905959730, £14.95) by Rob Jovanovic is an illustrated paperback biography of the band out from Red Planet Publishing in November. By all accounts it is now time for a good book about this multiple No 1 band, and the fact that there will be no new album before Christmas means this book will be the perfect purchase for their fans. The Arctic Monkeys are the most interesting British band of the 21st century, constantly evolving but ensuring that each album kicks just as hard and fast as the previous one. Alex Turner and co are not going away, this is a band in it for the long haul and their fan base is ultra-loyal. You don’t ‘grow out’ of the Arctic Monkeys. The band is riding higher than ever, which is pretty high. Every album has gone to number one in the UK (while they have also strengthened their following in the US and elsewhere overseas) and this lengthy in-depth appraisal with a 16 pages photographic section should sell really well.

And here is that classic Arctic Monkeys track from 2005, and also Do I Wanna Know? – love the video for this one!

And finally … here’s are some interesting musings on the art of book cover design – and some great examples – now that’s something that you certainly don’t get with an eBook!

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

This blog for booksellers is sent out weekly as an e-newsletter to 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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