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!

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