Friday 26 August 2016

Compass Points 181

Popular science is a category that is still selling very well; as are books celebrating women’s achievements – so a title that I think has real potential this autumn is Ada’s Algorithm: How Lord Byron’s Daughter Launched the Digital Age through the Poetry of Numbers by James Essinger (£8.99, pb, 978 1783340712) This is the real-life story of a woman's struggle (she was a contemporary of Darwin) to have her revolutionary ideas heard in male-dominated 19th century Britain. The Independent on Sunday called this: “the story that might have kick-started the computer age a century sooner” when it was published in hardback last year; and Engineering and Technology Magazine said “Anyone who thinks Lovelace's famous contribution to computer science is overrated, should read James Essinger's new biography... This concise and readable account gives Lovelace's work the respect it deserves.” Ada Lovelace was the only legitimate child of Lord Byron, the dangerous romantic poet whose name was a byword for scandal. Over the past decades, she has become a surprise underground star for digital pioneers all over the world, starting with Alan Turing, but also for female scientists in general. Ada’s Algorithm tells the story of Ada Lovelace’s turbulent private life as the poet's daughter and her exceptional achievement. It traces how her scientific peers failed to recognise the extraordinary breakthrough she had made in the middle of the 19th century and suggests that if they had, the computer age could have started almost two centuries ago. Today her fame continues to grow and may soon rival her father's, a tribute to her singular determination and inspiring personality. James Essinger's previous book was chosen as one of the top 5 popular science books of the year by the Economist and the film rights for Ada’s Algorithm have already been optioned by Monumental Pictures who made Suffragette. Ada’s Algorithm is published on 3 September by Gibson Square.
There is an annual Ada Lovelace Day – this year’s is on Tuesday 11 October – which is an international celebration of the achievements of women in science, technology, engineering and maths It aims to increase the profile of women these disciplines, and, in doing so, create new role models who will encourage more girls into scientific careers. There are numerous events across the UK to mark the day, and you can find out more about that here. There is also an evening event to celebrate Ada,  which bills itself as an “an entertaining evening of geekery, comedy and music” with some very high profile speakers from the scientific world  – if you like to see a 3 minute video showing some of the highlights of last year’s event, then go to YouTube here.

Talking of inspirational women who struggled to have their revolutionary ideas heard in a male dominated Britain; don’t forget to stock the Margaret Thatcher Colouring Book (pb, £8.99, 978 1785900990) which has just been published by Biteback. This is for anyone who's ever wanted to express their feelings for Lady Thatcher through the medium of colouring in, offering our proud do-it-yourself nation the chance to decorate the Iron Lady in the technicolour magnificence she deserves. As it says on the cover; in order to protect your freedom of choice, crayons are not included. Featuring a cast of luminaries including Winston Churchill and Ronald Reagan, General Pinochet and Jeremy Corbyn, this brief, beautiful and completely inaccurate illustrated biography of Britain's first female Prime Minister promises hours of creative gratification.
And if Margaret Thatcher is your heroine – then you’ll probably enjoy this mash-up of some of her best lines from The Daily Beast!

Love it, or loathe it; the footie season is now upon us. One footie title that has done extremely well for you – and us – is Pep Confidential by Martí Perarnau which has sold over 20,000 copies in the UK and is regarded as a modern classic on football management and team strategy. So you’ll be very pleased to hear that a follow up is coming from Arena Sport in November: Pep Guardiola: The Evolution. Certain to get masses of media coverage, as the UK’s fascination with its latest European super-manager shows no sign of abating; this new book covers Pep’s second and third seasons with Bayern Munich, as well as his decision to move to the UK and manage Manchester City. For three extraordinary seasons at Bayern Munich, Martí Perarnau was given total access around the German super club – to its players, its backroom staff, its board members and, above all, to its manager, Pep Guardiola. This book takes the reader on a journey through three action packed seasons as Bayern smashed domestic records yet struggled to emulate that dominance in Europe, analysing Guardiola’s management style through key moments on and off the field. Perarnau reveals how Guardiola improved as a manager at Bayern despite failing to land the ultimate prize in European football, examines his decision to leave Germany to take up the challenge at Manchester City and how his managerial style will continue to evolve in the Premier League. This is more than the story of three seasons with one of the biggest clubs in the game. It is a portrait and analysis of a manager and the footballing philosophies that have beguiled the world. It delivers a portrait of some of football’s most spellbinding individuals that is as enthralling as it is utterly unique.  Pep Guardiola: The Evolution by Martí Perarnau (pb, £14,00, 16 pages of colour photos, 978 1909715493) is published on 3 November.
If you’re interested in the latest update on the Pep/Joe Hart bust up you can read all about that here in the Mail,  or have a watch here at four minutes of pure Peptastic perfection!

Today is #NationalDogDay – so a good moment to tell you about Goodbye Pet and See You in Heaven: A Memoir of Animals, Love and Loss by Bel Mooney which has just been published by Robson Press and which has been serialised in the Daily Mail: you can read that here  and here.  When her beloved small dog died, Bel Mooney was astonished at the depth of her ongoing sorrow. Sharing her loss online and in a newspaper article brought a deluge of responses, spurring Bel to explore these feelings further. Why do humans mourn pets? Can animals themselves grieve - and do they have souls? In Goodbye, Pet and See You in Heaven, Bel sets off on an emotional journey to learn more about pet bereavement. Few things chime with the British public more than stories about pets – and Bel’s story has clearly touched thousands of readers – as you can see if you scroll to the comments thread following the Mail serialisation.
So that is LOTS of potential customers for this title! Bel Mooney is one of Britain’s most successful journalists, and both Jilly Cooper: "This beautiful book will bring cheer, comfort and inspiration to thousands of animal lovers, just as Bel Mooney's wonderful advice column helps and guides her readers" and Joanna Lumley: "Anyone who has ever loved and lost an animal will read this with brimming eyes, recognising this strangest and often strongest of bereavements. Bel Mooney's enchanting emotional journey links us all together, and is as wise as it is touching" have endorsed this title.
In the coming weeks, Bel Mooney will feature on BBC London’s Jo Good Show; on LBC’s In Conversation with Steve Allen; on Talk Radio Europe; BBC Radio Northampton; Radio Gorgeous; in Woman’s Weekly; Dogs Monthly; Dogs Today; Pets Magazine and in the Liverpool Echo. She is also due to appear this autumn at the Henley Literary Festival (28th September), Liverpool Literary Festival (29th October), and the Stroud Festival (15th November). Goodbye Pet and See You in Heaven: A Memoir of Animals, Love and Loss (£12.99, hb, 978 1785900600) is available now.

If you’d like to find out whether or not you are “an accomplished woman” – according to the rules of Pride and Prejudice – then why not take this amusing quiz over on BuzzFeed!

Most of us remember reading with horror about the tragic case of “Baby P” – Peter Connelly – in 2007 at the hands of his mother, Tracy Connelly, her boyfriend, Steven Barker, and his brother, Jason Owen. It led to a media furore, a major political crisis and the sacking of Sharon Shoesmith, Director of Children's Services for Haringey live on TV by Ed Balls. Now in Learning from Baby P: The Politics of Blame, Fear and Denial, Sharon Shoesmith puts her side of the story. She carries out a dispassionate analysis of the events which followed Peter Connelly's death, documenting the responses of the media, politicians and the public. She explores the psychological and emotional responses we share when faced with such horrifying cases of familial child homicide, and how a climate of fear and blame which follows such tragedies can lead to negative consequences for other children at risk of harm, and for the social workers striving to protect them. Learning from Baby P is a thought-provoking book which aims to deepen understanding and shed light on the difficult relationship between politics, the media and child protection. The Guardian described it as “a forensic account of a modern-day political witch-hunt” and has just run an excellent article about it which you can read here which asks whether Sharon Shoesmith was made a scapegoat by the media and attempts to understand why and how she became public enemy No 1. It would be understandable if Shoesmith were consumed by bitterness, but she claims one of the first things she did as part of her recovery was “work out the anger”. She is sad that she will never work again, but philosophical. The tabloid media, she believes, will never leave her alone, and will see the publication of the book as a provocation in itself. This week, the Sun and the Mail pounced, accusing her of “profiting” from Peter’s death by publishing the book, but she says she did not receive an advance, and any royalties will be spent on funding her work in raising awareness about child homicides. Learning from Baby P by Sharon Shoesmith (pb, 978 1785920035, £15.99) has just been published by Jessica Kingsley and you can order it now.

The autumn tern begins next week, and a whole new generation of keenie beanie students set off to university to discover the joys of great English literature and poetry. Glyn Maxwell (who has long been regarded himself as one of Britain’s major poets) wrote On Poetry (pb, £12.99, 978 1849430852) in 2012 which The Spectator called “a modern classic” and the Guardian described as “the best book about poetry I’ve ever read.” His new title published next week, expands on some of the ideas in On Poetry but Drinks with Dead Poets is not exactly criticism – it’s part comic novel, part dream-memoir and part autobiography; in fact it’s unlikely to be quite like anything you’ve read before! It starts when poet Glyn Maxwell wakes up in a mysterious village one autumn day. He has no idea how he got there but he has a strange feeling there’s a class to teach. And isn’t that the poet Keats wandering down the lane? Why not ask him to give a reading, do a Q & A? Perhaps hit the pub with the students afterwards? The term stretches languidly ahead, and soon Byron, the Brontës, Emily Dickinson, Yeats, the War Poets and more, are all on their way to give readings in the humble village hall.  When they’re there, every word they speak is drawn from their letters, diaries, journals or essays. These are words put into new contexts as Q and A, as pub-chat, as passing conversation. Maxwell and his students meet THE poets; they talk, they drink, they fall in and out of love. Drinks with Dead Poets is a gorgeous gem of a book, which I think will strike a chord with many readers and poetry lovers – it is truly written from the heart from the author who Simon Armitage called “compelling, original, charismatic and poetic”. You can order Drinks with Dead Poets (hb, £12.99, 978 1783197415) from Oberon Books now.
And who better to champion to the work of dead poets – and to make the argument for reading poetry in general – than the late great Robin Williams – in this iconic scene from one of my all-time favourite films.

The Great British Bake Off is back – hurrah! To finish with; how about these hilarious top 20 Bake Off innuendos brought to us by Cosmopolitan – ooh er missus – we LOVE them!

That’s all for now folks! More next week!

This newsletter is sent weekly to over 700 booksellers as well as publishers and publicists. If you would like to order any of the titles mentioned, then please talk to your Compass Sales Manager, or call the office on 020 8326 5696.

Friday 19 August 2016

Compass Points 180

August is Women in Translation month – as you probably all already know! If you are late to the party but want to join in – then there are lots of great recommendations under the #WIT over on Twitter. And Other Stories of course have lots of ideal titles for this promotion, and Carcanet too are celebrating by throwing the spotlight on some of their finest female translators and translated poets. Here are their excellent recommendations from six different countries. From Austria they’ve chosen Friederike Mayröcker’s Raving Language: Selected Poems 1946-2006 translated by Richard Dove. This is one of Europe's most exciting avant-garde writers who really pushes the boundaries of language. Powerful pared-down poems from post-war Germany can be found in Sarah Kirsch’s Ice Roses: Selected Poems which is translated by Anne Stokes. The War Works Hard by Dunya Mikhail translated by Elizabeth Winslow is a painful exploration of exile and one women's view of the war in Iraq. From Lebanon, Alphabets of Sand by Venus Khoury-Ghata, translated by Marilyn Hacker is a collection of haunting and luminous poems which negotiate the poet's dual Lebanese-French heritage and finally Selected Poems by Natalya Gorbanevskaya, translated by Daniel Weissbort and Valentina Polukhina is a momentous selection whose publication helped to free the poet from false imprisonment in a Soviet psychiatric hospital. You can find out more about all of these titles on the Carcanet website here.
What do you think is the UK’s most popular fairytale? Beauty and the Beast? Snow White? Find out here in today’s Bookseller!

The Not the Booker 2016 shortlist has been revealed – and many congratulations to Freight who have a title on it! This annual award is run by the Guardian as alternative to the official Booker prize and they have now narrowed their longlist of 147 contenders to six novels, all of them from indie publishers. These are: The Combinations by Louis Armand (Equus), The Less Than Perfect Legend of Donna Creosote by Dan Micklethwaite (Bluemoose Books), Walking the Lights by Deborah Andrews (Freight Books), The Summer That Melted Everything by Tiffany McDaniel (Scribe), Chains of Sand by Jemma Wayne (Legend Press) and What Will Remain by Dan Clements (Silvertail). If you’d like to get involved, read reviews of the books  and vote for your favourite, then go to the Not the Booker Guardian page here.

Walking the Lights by Deborah Andrews (pb, £9.99, 978 1910449882) was published in June and tells the tale of recently graduated young actor Maddie who lives the slacker life in mid-90s Glasgow with deadbeat boyfriend Mike. Estranged from her mother due to a violent step-dad, most of the young couple's meagre resources go on drink and drugs. Maddie and some friends harbour hopes of putting on their own production of The Tempest. As she moves from one low-paid jobbing acting role to another, and from the abusive relationship with Mike to talented artist Alex, can Maddie confront the past and find a way of living in the present? Walking the Lights perfectly evokes 90’s Britain and those living on the margins, while others prosper. This is a compelling study of one young woman learning the life of an actor, as she learns how to live life, negotiating the self-destructive temptations of young adulthood. It has already had some great five star reviews: “In Maddie, Andrews has created a damaged heroine so warm, likeable and credible the reader is powerless to resist falling for her” and “Grim but very readable and, ultimately, uplifting” are typical. You can see a great YouTube vlog review for Walking the Lights here and you can read an extract from it in The Skinny here.

One of the more unusual stories this week is that a new beer going to be made from yeast swabbed from Roald Dahl's writing chair. WTF? Read the whole story here in the Independent – but yes, it’s true, Mr. Twit's Odious Ale concocted by micro distillery 40FT Brewery and food designers Bompass & Parr has been brewed utilising yeast swabbed from the wood of Roald Dahl's famous writing chair; a specially-adapted armchair created to ease the pain of a back injury sustained during WWII, as the author avoided writing at a desk. With the permission of Dahl's estate, brewers took a swab from the chair itself, which will be used to culture all the yeast needed for the beer. Hmmm.

The Indomitable Frank Whitcombe: How a Genial Giant from Cardiff Became a Rugby League Legend in Yorkshire and Australia from Martin Whitcombe and Bill Bridge is getting some absolutely brilliant review coverage: it’s been described as “a real belter” and “a gem”. This title was published in May by St David’s Press and tells the incredible story of rugby league legend Frank Whitcombe (1913-1958); one of the greatest Welsh rugby league forwards of all time who played for Bradford Northern, Wales, and Great Britain. called it “one of the greatest rugby titles we’ve ever seen” and wrote “It’s quite obvious that the sport of rugby has changed since the early days, but it’s always great to take a trip down memory lane.   The Indomitable Frank Whitcombe is an extra special text because it is written by Frank’s grandson, who carried on the family tradition with Leicester Tigers and England B, and Bill Bridge, who was sports editor of the Yorkshire Post for almost 30 years. Frank was a one-of-a-kind athlete and person.  He was good at everything he tried and actually started with boxing but decided to go the rugby route and the rest is history.  Whitcombe didn’t have an easy time as an elite player, reaching his peak in a turbulent era.  It was a rough time for all involved and even world-class rugby players paid the ultimate price during WWII.  
Sports peaked after the war and rugby was no different.  Whitcombe headed off to Australia in one of sport’s most epic journeys, the Indomitables Tour of 1946. It’s hard to pick out the proudest moment of his career, considering the fact that he won the Rugby League Challenge Cup three times, the Rugby League Championship three times, and was capped by both Wales and Great Britain.   Simply put, Whitcombe had an illustrious career, one that literally spanned the world.  He was the ultimate teammate, a great person, and an even better role model for future stars.  Tragically he passed away in 1958 at the young age of 44. Frank Whitcombe’s brilliance came in multiple ways: stardom in the golden age of rugby, putting his mark on his family’s sport legacy, and perhaps most importantly, setting a standard for the game moving forward.
The book was a joy from cover to cover, full of great memories from his life and times.  The collections of photos and statistics make the book that much approachable.  We have to commend the authors for putting together one of the greatest rugby titles we have ever seen.  It is a great book for a great man.” This title looks like one that will sell right through the Autumn and be an ideal Christmas present for sports loving fathers and grandfathers. The Indomitable Frank Whitcombe (pb, £19.99, 978 1902719474) is available now.

Absolutely LOVE this story reported in the Independent here about the wand shop Mystical Moments in Huddersfield; who has banned Harry Potter fans because they’re not genuine wizards. The Sun originally reported how the owner Mr Carter, 57, is refusing to sell the wands to them because they are not to be used for yelling “Expecto Patronum”, but instead are intended for use in drawing protective circles, warding off evil forces, or to bring good fortune. "You wouldn’t believe how many real witches and wizards there are knocking about" Mr Carter stated. "They know they can come here and reveal themselves without people thinking they’re mental. I don’t have customers who have been Harry Potterfied. If I had someone come in wanting a wand just because they liked Harry Potter I would not sell them one, no matter how much they were offering." However, much as I love this story – I love JK Rowling’s retort even more. In response to the headline Harry Potter Fans Banned for not being Real Wizards she tweeted “Oh yeah? Well I don’t think they’re real wands.” Genius.

And while we’re on the subject of Harry Potter; BuzzFeed recently visited Leviosa — a Harry Potter convention in Las Vegas — and asked the fans which they considered were the most underappreciated moments in the series. Here's the top 16 they came up with!

Claire Fox’s Provocations title I Find That Offensive (pb, £10.00, 978 1849549813) published by Biteback is still provoking plenty of reaction in the press. There is an interesting article in the Huffington Post here which argues forcibly against Claire’s declaration that today’s ‘generation snowflake’ women are a fragile, thin-skinned younger generation that can’t cope with conflicting views, let alone criticism. All good stuff and should keep the book selling nicely!

Another Biteback Provocations title, The Myth of Meritocracy by James Bloodworth (pb, £10.00, 978 1785900532) sparked a great piece in the Guardian. Entitled Is the New Meritocracy a sham? it begins “No sooner had Theresa May announced her first cabinet than the Daily Mail trumpeted the “March of the new meritocrats”. Goodbye old Etonians (give or take a Boris), hello state-school kids. While the Labour party was tearing itself apart, the Tories had taken the country out of Europe, probably destroyed the economy for generations to come, seen off its leader and yet somehow emerged rebuilt and glowing with egalitarian promise. Forget David Cameron’s Notting Hill set, this was the Grange Hill set. May herself was (partly) state-educated, her chief of staff, Nick Timothy, is a working-class lad made good by a grammar school education, Justine Greening is the first education secretary to go to a mainstream comprehensive secondary school, and the party’s new chairman, Patrick McLoughlin, is a former miner. Only 30% of the cabinet has been privately educated and 44% had Oxbridge degrees.” You can find that Guardian piece here : it is very readable and makes lots of very thought provoking points.
If you’re one of the many booksellers who have written a book – and are hoping to make the transition from bookseller to published author – then you could probably do a lot worse than read these words of wisdom from Urbane founder and MD Mathew Smith writing on on how to get that elusive deal!

Today marks the 80th anniversary of the great twentieth-century Spanish poet Federico García Lorca’s death. Lorca’s A Season in Granada (pb, £7.95, 978 0856462993) published by Carcanet has a fabulously summery cover and brings together poems and letters and an essay previously unpublished in English. The writings form a dazzling, elegiac celebration of the city of Granada, where Lorca grew up, where he studied, and to which he returned frequently in his life and in his imagination. And where he would die. In Christopher Maurer’s words, the twenty poems in the two Suites, Poem of the Fair and Summer Hours, draw on “the structural ideas and whimsical tone of one of Lorca’s favourite composers, Claude Debussy. The idea was to capture some phenomenon – the moon, the hours of evening, the ocean, wheat fields, flamenco – in a series of stylized ‘moments’. These poems, essays and letters are remarkable for their freshness and vitality, and go right to the heart of his extraordinary and passionate vision.”

What better way to finish today than with a piece of music by one of Lorca’s favourite composers? In celebration of the glorious weather we’ve been enjoying recently I think Prélude à l'Après-midi d'un faune composed in 1894 by Debussy is still one of the most evocative pieces for a hot languid summer afternoon ever written. Enjoy!
Rather than bringing you any tweets from this week, here are some of our favourite book displays so far this summer...

Loving the look of this Polygon breakfast launch at the Edinburgh Book Festival for the latest Alexander McCall Smith title The Bertie Project – just look at those delicious bites of yumminess from Valvona Crolla!
Sunlight catching the lovely selection of #WiTMonth titles in Pages of Hackney including lots from And Other Stories.
A nice display for Tom Pickard’s The Winter Migrants at Forum Books in Corbridge, Northumberland
Urbane thriller author Christopher Lowery in WH Smith with The Angolan Clan and The Rwandan Hostage
A great selection of #FreightAtTheFestival titles in Edinburgh
A packed theatre at the London School of Economics to see Sir Malcolm Rifkind talking about his new book Power and Pragmatism published by Biteback
Five Leaves Bookshop in in Nottingham, who has turned its 'Fiction in Translation' section into a 'Women in Translation' display and has made Lina Wolff’s Bret Easton Ellis and Other Dogs published by And Other Stories, its August Book of the Month.

That’s all for now folks! More next week!

This blog is taken from a newsletter which is sent weekly to over 700 booksellers as well as publishers and publicists. If you would like to order any of the titles mentioned, then please talk to your Compass Sales Manager, or call the office on 020 8326 5696.