Friday 24 November 2017

Compass Points 240

Who enjoys the “The Books That Made Me….” feature in the Guardian? Last weekend it was the turn of Essex Serpent author Sarah Perry to discuss her favourites and she chose Dan Rhodes’ When the Professor Got Stuck in the Snow (£8.99, pb, 978 1910709016), published by the fabulous Aardvark Bureau as The Book I Think is Most Underrated. She called it “a comic masterpiece to rival Jerome K Jerome or PG Wodehouse. Like the best comedy, it’s also deeply serious. I am astonished that Rhodes wasn’t crowned with an entire hedge worth of laurel wreaths.” You can read the whole piece here. Hear hear Sarah – and this is the ideal book to have in a winter books display – in fact it could be a snowy books table where you could include a top ten of books about the white stuff – which for me would have to include Snow Falling on Cedars, Miss Smilla's Feeling For Snow, Dr Zhivago, The Call of the Wild, The Long Winter, The Snow Queen, The Snow Goose, The Snowman (both Nesbø and Briggs)…. Any more? You could maybe include Robert Sabbag’s Snowblind too – or would that really not be appropriate?

And here you go – just to get you in the wintery mood – the Top Ten Snow films!

We were all thrilled at the news this week that Sinéad Morrissey’s On Balance published by Carcanet has been shortlisted for the poetry category in the Costa Book Awards – the news was announced at 7.30pm on Radio 4’s Front Row on Tuesday. The full shortlist is on the Costa Books website here. And I found this ten-minute film on YouTube where one of the judges, Simon Savidge (@savidgereads on Twitter) discusses all the books an excellent way to find out a little bit more about all of the titles! In total, 620 books were entered for this year’s awards, and the winners of each category, who will take home £5,000 each, will be announced on 2 January. They will then go on to compete for the £30,000 Costa Book of the Year prize which will be announced on 30 January. Running since 1971, when they were established by Whitbread, the Costa prizes are the only major UK book prize open to authors resident in the UK and Ireland. There’s been plenty of press coverage for the awards already – here's  a good piece in the Guardian. On Balance has also been has been selected as a Book of the Year in the New Statesman by both Sebastian Barry and Andrew Marr who said “I can’t not mention Sinéad Morrissey – a wide-ranging, capacious, brilliant and entirely satisfying collection of poems that will be read many decades hence.” Hilary Mantel also selected it as her Book of the Year in the TLS saying “Sinéad Morrissey gains power with each collection. She’s one of those generous writers whose images and structures open so invitingly that your response is to grab a pen and write back to her: in other words, an inspiration.”

Charlotte Peacock will be on Woman’s Hour on Thursday December 14th talking about her wonderful biography of Nan Shepherd; Into the Mountain (hb, £20, 978 1903385562) which has just been published by Galileo. There has already been a great review in the Observer and there’s an article in Country Life coming up, as well as pieces in The Literary Review and the Spectator. And I’m happy to tell you that Charlotte will be on the BBC 4 programme Open Country, on December 28th. Here you can see a really lovely window display at Golden Hare Books in Edinburgh where it is currently their Book of the Month. This beautifully written book unravels the mysteries, dispels some of the rumours and gives insight into the life and work of this extraordinary writer.

Talking of Scotland, I found this both funny and true – top tips to help you survive a winter north of the border!

The Supermum Myth (£12.99, pb, 978 1910336342) had a splendid launch event in Leeds yesterday and continues to get lots of publicity with a feature in the Daily Mail plus a lot of regional coverage for its authors Dr Rachel Andrew and Anya Hayes. The two authors are booked onto the Scummy Mummies podcast which will be aired in December – this is an influential podcast so should give a boost to sales! You can read a brilliant review of the title here on the MuffinTopMummy blog (love that name!) which says “I’ve read plenty of ‘not-so-supermum’ blogs to know that a lot of mothers aren’t breezing through life in an Instagram-filtered world. But that’s not what I took away from this book. It isn’t simply another regurgitation of ‘we don’t all have this motherhood thing nailed’. It’s both a deeper dive into WHY Supermum doesn’t exist and, crucially, how we can deal with our feelings. Real, practical advice and exercises. Yes, I did say exercises. Because this is a book that you can use, not just read.”

I was very pleased to see this story in the Guardian, bringing us the welcome news that many small indie publishers are reporting booming sales. Some of the big boys may be struggling, but hurrah, figures for sixty of the smallest players in the UK industry show that sales were up 79% in the last year.

You booksellers have more power than you may believe! I loved this story here from the Bookseller all about how Nic Bottomley, owner of Mr B's Emporium in Bath, persuaded our favourite Welsh indie Parthian to reprint a title by promising to buy half its print run! Hummingbird (£10, pb, 978 1910901908) by Tristan Hughes was recommended to Bottomley by a colleague and when he heard the title was going out of print, he persuaded Parthian to reprint by promising to buy half its second print run of 400. "We enjoy practicing a very opinionated form of bookselling at Mr B’s - hand-selling and recommending books at every opportunity", Bottomley said. "And we love nothing more than finding a book, like Hummingbird, that we believe is brilliantly written and that will appeal to many different types of readers – particularly when it’s published by an indie press like Parthian." He added: “My colleague Tom has been going on about Hummingbird non-stop since May and when I finally read it last month I understood why. It has the perfect blend of plot, oddball characters and a superb sense of place. It’s been selling well throughout the summer and we’ve been getting incredible feedback on it from the customers who’ve read it. With three more months of customer conversations, our Christmas catalogue and an event at Mr B’s with the author between now and Christmas, we’re going to need a LOT of copies. I really hope other bookshops give it the reading-time and display it deserves too”. We hope so too – it truly is a lovely book! The Daily Mail called it “Lean and lyrical...beautifully nuanced and utterly touching” and it has a truly gorgeous cover!

As many of you will be aware, exactly where you live in the UK can have a starting effect on your health. A new title from Policy Press, entitled Health Divides: Where You Live Can Kill You by Clare Bambra (pb, 978 1447330356, £12.99) was recently Highly Commended at the 2017 BMA awards and explores this subject fully. Although this subject area is already in the public consciousness, it has largely been absent from publications. Health Divides uses extensive maps and visualisations to communicate the subject matter and the judges for the BMA awards said it was “very accessible and engaging to a wide variety of audiences. It is an exceptional book; I found it to be the best I have reviewed by some margin. It is an important subject, elegantly presented in an easy and engaging fashion. Health inequalities should not be tolerated as normal or inevitable and this book adds greatly to that end.” Health Divides examines the social, environmental, economic and political causes of health inequalities, how they have evolved over time and what they are like today, revealing gaps in life expectancy of up to 25 years between places just a few miles apart.

I do appreciate that your bookshops are groaning under the weight of treats from celeb chefs right now; but cookbooks don’t come much more gorgeous and genuine than The Italian Regional Cookbook (hb, 978 0754832409, £25.00) by Italian-cooking expert Valentina Harris. Each area of Italy is examined in turn, with a carefully curated selection of recipes, and detailed instructions and photographs to help you achieve an authentic, and completely delicious, end result. This 624-page comprehensive book is a must-have reference for anyone who is passionate about cooking authentic Italian food.  It’s published by Lorenz and you can see some spreads from it and find out a bit more here.
Betting the House: The Inside Story of the 2017 Election (£14.99, pb, 978 1785902956) which has just been published by Biteback is getting loads of press coverage with articles in the Mail on Sunday, The Sun, the Independent, the Guardian, The Mirror and an interview on LBC plus many more. Through new interviews and candid private accounts from key players, political journalists Tim Ross and Tom McTague have pieced together the inside story of one of the most dramatic and important of elections in recent years – and there are loads of juicy titbits within its pages! I particularly enjoyed the account mentioned in the Guardian slagging off Teresa May’s culinary know-how, saying “Chicken lasagne and boiled potatoes??! As Lynton Crosby apparently quipped, it is possible to tell a lot about a leader from the menus they serve. In this case, it is clear that Theresa May cares as little about respecting the culinary traditions of fellow Europeans.” It sounds Theresa needs a copy of the aforementioned Valentina Harris cookbook pronto! The Mail called Betting the House “the political book of the year … gripping” and there will be more coverage for this one to come I’m sure.

Queen are playing all round the UK during December – they are in Liverpool on 28 Nov, Birmingham on 30 Nov, Newcastle on 1 Dec, Glasgow on 3 Dec, Nottingham on 5 Dec, Leeds on 6 Dec, Manchester on 9 Dec, London on 12,13 and 15 Dec then finally Birmingham on 16 December; so please do make sure that you have lots of copies of Queen in 3D (978 0957424685, hb, £50.00) on display if you have a bookshop in one of these cities! Brian May has been known to pop in unannounced to bookshops while he’s in town and start signing copies for delighted fans – so do make sure you’re prepared for the Santa Claus of rock to call in on you! Here you can see an excellent window display from Waterstones’s in Liverpool which is where the Queen tour kicks off next Tuesday – nice one guys, thanks very much! There was an excellent piece on Queen in 3D in Saga magazine this month – which you can read here and the Scotsman will run a big spread on the book on 1st Dec, including lots of extracts and images from the book. It is published by the London Stereoscopic Company.

There’s never been a better time to be a woman. Thanks to those feminists who fought for liberation, young women today have freedom and opportunities their grandmothers could barely have imagined. Girls do better at school than boys and are more likely to go to university. Yet Dr Joanna Williams argues that rather than encouraging women to seize the new possibilities open to them, contemporary feminism insists on telling them that they are still oppressed. Women vs Feminism: Why We All Need Liberating from the Gender Wars (pb, £14.99, 978 1787144767) has just been published by Emerald, and unsurprisingly is generating a lot of media coverage! The book was launched at a debate; The Battle of Ideas discussing the many issues the book raises which you can watch on YouTube here . And here is Joanna Williams talking on the Channel 4 news about the book in the light of the Sexminster scandal and #Me Too. You can also listen to a podcast by Joanna on Spiked Online here. Clare Fox, from the Institute of Ideas said “For those of us who’ve been involved in fighting for women’s liberation for years, it has been tragic to watch contemporary feminism become the enemy of freedom. Do not despair. Joanna Williams’s wonderful book not only uses erudition, philosophy and polemics to explain how on earth this betrayal has happened but more importantly it is a bravura clarion call urging women to throw off the shackles of hapless victimhood and instead take control of their destiny. I loved every word.” It has a punchy eye-catching cover – and is available now!

And while we’re on the thorny subject of #MeToo and sexual harassment allegations, can I recommend Helen De Witt's brilliant novel Lightning Rods (£7.99, pb, 978 1908276292) from And Other Stories. This is a fantastic backlist title (published in 2013) that seems to have foreseen recent events, a sharp, uproarious satire on sex, work and corporate culture. The Independent on Sunday wrote “Nasty idea; very funny book. Helen DeWitt maintains a strong, clear, narrative voice throughout, pitch-perfectly parodying management speak, corporate culture and self-help bibles” while the Telegraph wrote that this novel by “Helen DeWitt [will be] recognised in the future as one of the most interesting of its time.” Here's  a review from the New York Times calling it a “funny, filthy book” which gives you a good feel for it (as it were!).

Tis the season where we start to eat our own weight in festive treats every day – but of course it IS possible to eat fat and not GET fat – by eating the RIGHT fats (and I don’t think that means pigs in blankets). The Fat for Fuel Ketogenic Cookbook by Dr Joseph Mercola and Pete Evans (978 1401955410, hb, £23.99) which has just been published by Hay House will be featured in January’s What Doctors Don’t Tell You and an exclusive recipe and a Q&A with Dr Joseph Mercola will also be featured in NOW Magazine in January. This new volume is a companion to Dr Mercola's best-selling Fat for Fuel, and is an impeccably researched, beautifully illustrated, comprehensive guide to eating the ketogenic way in epicurean style. In its pages, you'll find a clear explanation of what ketogenic eating is and how it can transform your health together with nearly 100 delicious ketogenic recipes, from basics like Beef Bone Broth, to showstopper entrées like Crispy Duck Confit, to irresistible treats like a Chocolate Fat Bomb!

While most children are thinking about Christmas in an entirely straightforward “Hmm, will-Santa-be-able-to-fit-all-my-presents-down-the chimney-I-wonder” sort of way, sadly for some, the strong emotions involved at this time of year makes it not quite so simple. Jessica Kingsley are the masters of titles helping children deal with worries of all kinds; and My Secret Dog (hb, £9.99, 978 1785924866) by Tom Alexander is a new, beautifully understated hardback which depicts a child's sense of slowly discovering that getting what they want is not as straightforward as it might first appear. 
JKP’s top selling therapeutic children’s title this year has been the fabulous All Birds Have Anxiety (hb, £9.99, 978 1785921827) which humorously explores the symptoms of anxiety disorder and its impact on day-to-day life through colourful images of life as a bird. Kathy Hoopmamn’s previous titles All Cats Have Asperger Syndrome (978-1843104810) and All Dogs Have ADHD (978 1843106517) are also huge bestsellers for the publisher. Other current top titles for the publisher are: The Princess and the Fog (hb, £10.99) which is designed to be read with children aged 5-7 who are suffering from depression. Using metaphor and full of humour, it is a relatable, enjoyable and positive read for all – and also includes a guide for parents and carers by two clinical paediatric psychologists. Big Tree is Sick (hb, £11.99, 978 1785922268) is a warm and comforting picture book portraying the anger and emotion that many children encounter when a close relative or friend is diagnosed with a long-term illness, such as cancer. The story of Big Tree depicts how things are often out of your control and sets out effective strategies for dealing with these emotions in times of illness and loss. Minnie and Max are OK (hb, £10.99, 978 1785922336) is a great confidence builder, to help kids develop a positive body image – an increasingly important issue for young children. And You Make Your Parents Super Happy (£8.99, hb, 978 1785924149) explains why parents decide to separate in simple, understandable language; this candid and reassuring story with its relatable fun characters, can be a lifeline during a confusing time. If you’d like to have a browse through the entire Jessica Kingsley Children’s Catalogue, then it's here!

Good to see Lost Lanes: 36 Glorious Bike Rides in Southern England by Jack Thurston (pb, £14.99, 978 0957157316) from Wild Things in amongst a lovely Christmas Picks display at Foyles this week which you can see here. I’m loving the retro cover look working so well together from many different publishers – all these books look like highly tempting gifts!

We're thrilled to see stories by two New Island authors, June Caldwell and Nuala O’Connor (which are included in their collections in Room Little Darker (pb, £9.99, 978 1848406094) and Joyride to Jupiter £9.99, pb, 9781848406155)) nominated for the Short Story of the Year in the 2017 BGE Irish Book Awards. The winners will be announced at the Gala Dinner and Awards ceremony on 28th November which will be televised on RTE 1. Voting has now closed, but you can read the stories and find out more about these fantastic writers on the Awards website here.

I love this fantastic initiative from Book Trust who suggest you can brighten up Christmas by sending a book gift to a child in care. Through their Letterbox Club, they send book parcels out during the year and for many children, it may be the first time they have had a letter or parcel through the post – and for some, these may be the first books they’ve owned. This Christmas, they want to surprise these children by sending each child a special book gift. Go to the website to find out how you can donate.

That’s all for now folks! More next week!
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Friday 17 November 2017

Compass Points 239

Well done to Parthian, who had a cracking night at the Welsh Literature Book Awards in Cardiff last week, winning four out of the five awards!! Pigeon (£8.99, pb, 978 1910901236) by Alys Conran won the Welsh Book of the Year and the Wales Arts Review People’s Choice Award and the Rhys Davies Trust Fiction Award – a veritable hat trick! Pigeon is a journey through the uneasy half-forgotten memories of childhood; a wonderful story about wishful thinking and the power of language. And many congrats to Peter Lord who won the Creative Non-Fiction award for The Tradition: A New History of Welsh Art (hb, £50, 978 1910409626) which surveys the evolution of the visual culture of Wales from the Renaissance to the end of the twentieth century in a new, single-volume history – full of the most sumptuous pictures of over 400 landscapes and portrait paintings, prints and sculptures. On behalf of the judging panel, Jonathan Edwards said: “This year’s winning books are a real celebration of just how exciting, vibrant and diverse literature in Wales currently is. These writers are great talents who have succeeded in proving that Wales is a world-class contributor to literature.” Parthian are having a great year with loads of prize winners – I would really recommend having a quick browse through their excellent website to find out a bit more about this vibrant, surprising and original publisher, which reflects both a diverse and contemporary Wales and the wider world.
As the Huff Post dramatically puts it “Bookworms, ready yourselves for next level awesomeness: the most beautiful library has opened in China which can house up to 1.2 million books.” Have a look here to see some pictures – the 33,700 m² space uses cascading bookshelves to create stairs, seating and the layered ceiling - all of which are filled to the brim with books. I must say it is pretty awesome!

Shockingly, the use of foodbanks in Britain is increasing. This hugely topical issue is succinctly addressed in a shocking and provocative new title from Policy Press: Hunger Pains: Life Inside Foodbank Britain by Kayleigh Garthwaite (pb, £14.99, 978 1447329114). The book provides a highly accessible analysis of food bank use in the UK – why people are there, how it affects their health and how they feel about it. Drawing on hundreds of hours of compelling interviews, Hunger Pains emphasises the harsh reality of food bank use for the growing number of people forced to turn to them for help, told in their own words. It offers a serious challenge to contemporary thinking about the factors driving increasing food bank use, and dispels the damaging myths that food bank users are seeking emergency food as a result of flawed lifestyle choices. This title has just been awarded the prestigious Peter Townsend Prize at the 2017 BMA Awards and Dr Garthwaite hopes “the recognition the prize brings allows the messages of the book to reach a wider audience, and hopefully help to begin a new conversation about foodbank use going forward.” 
Taking a different angle entirely on the subject of food; there was a big feature in the Telegraph for The Course of History: 10 Meals That Changed the World by Struan Stevenson with recipes by Tony Singh (hb, £16.99, 978 1780274911) which you can read here. Many decisions which have had enormous historical consequences have been made over the dinner table, and have been accompanied (and perhaps influenced) by copious amounts of food and wine. In this book Struan Stevenson brings to life ten such moments, exploring the personalities, the issues and of course the food which helped shape the course of history. Accompanying Struan's analysis are the actual recipes, researched and recreated by acclaimed chef Tony Singh. 10 Meals That Changed the World has just been published by Birlinn and is ideal Christmas present fodder – it even has a picture of a turkey on the front!
Food through the ages – I think that’s the ideal opportunity to watch another Epic Rap Battle of HistoryGordon Ramsay vs Julia Child here!

Worryingly, amidst all the stories of sexual harassment in Hollywood and Westminster, a survey by the Bookseller finds that over half of women have experienced something similar in our own industry. A recent poll found that 54% of female respondents in the book trade reported sexual “harassment, assault or predatory behaviour”. You can read the full story in the Guardian here.

Yippee – I am pleased to say that Choc Lit have three titles on the shortlist for the Romantic Novelists Association 2017 Awards which will be announced and presented by Prue Leith on 13th March in the Gladstone Library, London. You can find the shortlists in full on their website but the Choc Lit titles are Little Girl Lost (978 1781893227, pb, £7.99) by Janet Gover which is up for The Epic Romantic Novel category. The Velvet Cloak of Moonlight (£7.99, pb, 978 1781893203) by Christina Courtenay is the the Paranormal or Speculative Romance Novel category and Girl Having a Ball (Kindle only) by Rhoda Baxter is shortlisted for the Romantic Comedy Novel of the Year. Good luck to all three authors!
Talking of choc – what’s your favourite bar of the sweet stuff? Have a look here to see the Top Ten Chocolate Bars – and find out if you agree with the number one choice?

In 2015, in response to a challenge issued to the publishing industry by Kamila Shamsie, And Other Stories declared that in 2018 it would only publish female authors – and now we’re nearly there! If you’d like a catalogue of the 2018 And Other Stories publishing programme, you can request one over on Twitter @andothertweets. Shadow Attorney General Shami Chakrabarti, has recently expressed her support for the idea and And Other Stories is the only publishing house to have taken up the challenge to make 2018 a Year of Publishing Women (YPW2018, for short).In the wake of research suggesting that women are far less likely to be awarded major literary prizes YPW2018 has given the publisher the impetus to address biases that sideline women writers – biases which are particularly acute in fiction in translation where only about 30% of fiction published is written by women. Constraints can be creative though, and And Other Stories believe their 2018 list is all the richer for the many wonderful new authors you’ll find on it! In this first half of the year, there are classic authors Ann Quin and Norah Lange, with whom it is about time the world got better acquainted, there are novels by lauded contemporary writers Cristina Rivera Garza, Christine Schutt and Fleur Jaeggy, as well as the first novel by a brilliant young Catalan writer, Alicia Kopf. Order a catalogue from them and have browse for yourselves!
OK all of you grammar geeks out there in your bookshops – what would you say is the most important bit of punctuation – and the one that the internet is killing off fastest? Have a read here  of this amusing article on Buzzfeed, about the demise of the full stop – or period as Americans call it!

Many of us are used to “sharing” music – even though it is illegal – i.e. passing on downloaded tracks to friends and family so they don’t have to cough up for the new Tay Tay album themselves. And the same thing is happening with eBooks, albeit on a smaller scale. However, the bestselling US fantasy novelist Maggie Stiefvater is leading a chorus of writers warning readers that if they download pirated e-books, then authors will not be able to continue writing because they will be unable to make a living. This is a growing trend, and a particular worry for publishers at a time when eBook sales are slightly in decline. eBook piracy is “a very significant issue and of great concern” to publishers, said Stephen Lotinga of the Publishers Association, which works to take down and block pirated eBooks links and sites. You can read more on that story in the Guardian here. 
Talking of eBooks, it is very interesting to look at how being a bestseller on a Kindle can sometimes also lead to increased sales of the physical book. Fifty Shades of Grey being probably the most famous example of this. With that thought in mind, I will tell you that The Visitors by Catherine Burns (hb, £14.99, 978 1787199859) is a massive Kindle bestseller at the moment and is currently number one the suspense/horror category. This dark, unsettling, yet compulsively readable novel came out in hardback this Autumn from Legend, and it’s published in paperback in June 2018 when I have a feeling it’s going to be BIG! Marion lives with her domineering older brother, John in a decaying Georgian townhouse on the edge of a northern seaside resort. A timid spinster in her fifties who still sleeps with teddy bears, Marion does her best to shut out the shocking secret that John keeps in the cellar. Until, suddenly, John has a heart attack and Marion is forced to go down to the cellar herself and face the gruesome truth that her brother has kept hidden. As questions are asked and secrets unravel, maybe John isn't the only one with a dark side? Legend said this title is perfect for fans of Paula Hawkins and Ruth Ware and as I say, the eBook stats speak for themselves as to its addictive readability!
We all know how well Catcher in the Rye sells – 65 million copies in total and around 250,000 a year. We also know how famously reclusive its author JD Salinger was before he died eight years ago at the age of 91. A new film Rebel in the Rye, starring Nicholas Hoult shedding new light on this very private man which received good reviews, came out this autumn – you can see a trailer here. The film also stars Zoey Deutch, who currently features in the video for the new Ed Sheeran single, Perfect. However, unfortunately the third big name in this biopic (and it was all looking so promising) is Kevin Spacey, so let’s skip straight onto telling you about the biography which provided much of the information used in the film. J.D. Salinger: A Life Raised High by Kenneth Slawenski (£20, hb, 978 1904590231) is a definitive profile of one of the most famous authors of our time and provides a detailed, highly readable account of Salinger’s life – it’s published by Pomona. Slawenski is a world-renowned expert on Salinger and based in the US, he was able to do first-hand research, conducting many interviews and gaining access to library-held records and files. The Sunday Times called it “an intriguing study of a famous recluse” and the Observer said that “Slawenski demystifies his subject and presents a wonderful portrait of a writer fastened unerringly to the truth.” The film will have undoubtedly raised interest in Salinger – so do order this biog for your gift book tables. 
A lovely review here in the TES this week for Teaching Creative Thinking: Developing Learners Who Generate Ideas and Can Think Critically by Bill Lucas and Ellen Spencer (£16.99, pb, 978 1785832369) published by Crown House – I really can’t recommend this title highly enough! They say “Lucas and Spencer have provided well-evidenced solutions for an important element of modern education. It is an immensely practical guide and is suitable for all teachers – except those for whom creativity is pedagogical indulgence and superfluous debauchery.” And it’s currently a staff pic in Foyles!

William Letford will be on Radio 3’s The Verb this evening at 10pm, talking about his second Carcanet collection Dirt. You can listen to that once it’s available on the iPlayer here. These poems embrace a good life stitched together with bad circumstances, bungled chances, missed callings. Whether loitering on the street corner, “poackets ful eh ma fingers”, or stumbling from a bar “like a monkey in the jungle of traffic, stinking, wild and free”, the characters in Letford's poems deliver one thing in spades: heart. “On Friday I visit my seventy-seven-year-old granny. She’s smoking a joint. It's not a surprise.” Letford's words are lightly worn yet carefully measured; they move between English and Scots, lyrical and concrete, accumulating what the poet has described as an array of textures. Nicholas Lezard writing in the Guardian said “The pleasure I have gained from new Scottish genius William Letford's poems will, I am confident, stay with me forever.”
A terrific review for the new biography of Muriel Spark; Appointment in Arezzo (£12.99, hb, 978 1846973758) by Alan Taylor in the Guardian yesterday – which you can read in full here “fascinating” “valuable” “astute” “revealing” and “beguiling” are just some of the glowing adjectives applied to this title which has just been published by Polygon.

Let’s finish with a little round up of some of our latest books looking mighty fine up and down the country as you can see here! Thanks Waterstone’s Liverpool for a super promotion here of Post-Truth: How Bullshit Conquered the World (pb, 978 1785902147, £9.99) by James Ball from Biteback – a terrific book in a terrific shop!
Tis the season for putting books under a tree – and we’d absolutely love to while away some time reading beneath the enormous book tree in Blackwell’s new bookshop in the Westgate Centre, Oxford – nice one Charlie Young and all the team there, fitting a whole tree into a busy bookshop takes some doing!! We also very much admire this fabulous Angel Tree that’s just gone up in Happy Glastonbury!
As we mentioned before, thanks very much to Foyles on Charing Cross Road for choosing Teaching Creative Thinking as this week’s staff pick!
And this isn’t a bookshop as such, but we’re absolutely loving a gorgeous display of the sumptuous new hardback from Lorenz; The Mushroom Cookbook: A Guide to Edible Wild and Cultivated Mushrooms and Delicious Seasonal Recipes to Cook with Them (978 0754832867, £15, hb,) by Michael Hyams with its gorgeous full-page photographs by Jon Ashford; at Harwoods of London – which is a family run company supplying fresh fruit and vegetables in New Covent Garden Market in London! Books as one of your five a day – we love it! And a big “Hello and Welcome” to the brand-new Rother Books, who have just opened on the High Street in the historic town of Battle, East Sussex! Happy trading!
Last week we brought you the new John Lewis ad – this week here is massively popular vlogger Zoella, telling you what she thinks of it and Xmas ads in general. I’ve never watched Zoella before, and nice and lovely as she undoubtedly is, I Just. Don’t. Get. It. How is this interesting exactly? I guess I’m not her target market mind you! But if this is what young people are doing instead of reading, gawd help us. And talking of things I don’t get – am I the only person totally baffled by the M&S Christmas Paddington ad?! The best bit is when he says “F*** you little bear” at the end.

On the subject of Christmas, don’t forget about our brilliant offer – an extra 5% discount on any of our Christmas Stars, which you can get by contacting your local Area Sales Manager or Nuala at and quoting XMAS17. Look at last week’s post below this to see all of the titles included!
Compass is on Twitter! Follow us @CompassIPS. Here are our favourite tweets from the week! 
Compass Academic‏@CompassAcademic We’re celebrating working with some great uni presses during #UPWeek. Hurray for you guys @BrisUniPress @UniWalesPress @UCLpress!
Muriel Spark 100‏@MurielSpark100 Come celebrate the launch of @PolygonBooks Spark Centenary publications & Alan Taylor’s 'Appointment in Arezzo: A Friendship with Muriel Spark' at @Waterstones_Edi on Mon 20 Nov, 6.30pm. Interesting talk guaranteed & Prosecco incl. 
The Refugee Tales‏@RefugeeTales Our Christmas ad for @RefugeeTales isn't out. We're using our funds on support for those who have suffered detention. Walk with us. New walk launches on 20 Jan. Keep the date free!
Suffolk Libraries@SuffolkLibrary The Huntingfield Paintress by @Pammieholmes is a good story with sympathetic characters, set in nineteenth-century Suffolk 
Helen Lewis LitPR‏ @LiterallyPR Lovely @TheoCooks does it again with a mouth-wateringly impressive range of sophisticated but ridiculously quick & easy #soup recipes @Anness_Books A perfect gift for #foodies at just a tenner!
Literature Wales‏@LitWales Pigeon by @alysconran is the People's Choice Award winner for #WBOTY17 Congratulations Alys!
Rother Books‏@RotherBooks Bags have been delivered - very exciting! Ready for first day's trading tomorrow!
ebb & flo bookshop‏@ebbandflobooks #authors who put an Amazon link on your profile, please remember indie bookshops too. We need the advertising a bit more tbh @BAbooksellers
Lillie Langtry‏@Lillie_Langtry Yay! Excited about @andothertweets Year of Publishing Women in 2018!
Impress Books‏@ImpressBooks1 Home Is Nearby is a contemporary fiction novel that tells the vital story of migrant experience, of lost roots, and of the importance of art and expression during oppression #literaryfiction #contemporaryfiction
Lighthouse Bookshop‏@Lighthousebks Behold our MIGHTY WALL OF RADICAL BOOKS #makethebigotstremble! #RadicalBookFair starts in 12 hours- time for a cheeky brew #edinburgh
That’s all for now folks! More next week!
This blog is sent as an e-newsletter every Friday 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 10 November 2017

Christmas Stars!

Hello booksellers, this week we are bringing you a special Compass Points, which features some of the highlights from 2017 - ideal for your seasonal book tables and windows! You’ll need to see how gorgeous they look, so go where you can see all the jackets. And just to make you extra merry, we’re giving you an early Christmas present! You can receive an extra 5% discount on any of these titles, by contacting your local Area Sales Manager and quoting XMAS17. If you don’t see a Compass Manager, then please contact Nuala at Compass Towers on 020 8326 5696 or to place an order.  Merry Christmas everyone!

Two BIG Bestsellers!
The sales of these two titles have been stratospheric this year – thanks very much to all the shops that have supported them! And there’s still plenty of time to get some extra Christmas sales! Queen in 3D (978 0957424685, hb, £50.00) from the London Stereoscopic Company is a unique collection of original, highly personal snapshots of the legendary rock group; the first book ever to be published about the by a member of the band and certainly the first book of its kind in the world. The Bothy Bible (978 1910636107, pb, £16.99) from Wild Things has been a Waterstone’s Book of the Month, and there has been huge praise for this lovely book which reveals the country’s unique and often hidden network of bothy cabins and mountain huts in jaw-droppingly beautiful landscapes. I am LOVING the juxtaposition of Freddy Mercury with Scottish bothies, which somehow seems to sum up everything that is diverse and wonderful about our fabulous independent publishers!
Film and Music
The Radio Times Film Guide 2018 (978 0992936440, pb, £27.50) is an essential present for any real film buff. And two must-have music titles are Young Soul Rebels (978 1846973932, pb, £9.99) Stuart Cosgrove’s personal history of Northern Soul, and Captain Fantastic: Elton John’s Stellar Trip through the 70’s (978 1846973741, hb, £16.99) by Tim Doyle both of which are published by Birlinn.

Will ye take a wee dram…?
Booze and Christmas. They go together like the new John Lewis ad and a box of tissues, Father Christmas and Coca Cola – well you get the general idea. Here are four of the best drinks-related gift books. Whiskies Galore (978 1780274423, hb, £16.99) is a personal journey of discovery and adventure around Scotland’s best island distilleries by expert Ian Buxton and the Pocket Guide to Whisky by Blair Bowman (978 1780274324, pb, £7.99), also from Birlinn does exactly what it says on the tin (or should that be bottle) in a way that is both informative and entertaining. Sticking with a whisky theme is The Great Drams of Scotland: A Conversational Meander Through the Rich History of Scotch Whisky and the Brands That Have Brought it to Life (978 1910453346, hb, £20.00) which shows that the art of storytelling is alive and well in the hands of Greg Dillon as he brings his take on well-chosen whisky tales from the past and present, separating the facts from the fiction. His love of whisky drips through every chapter, and is authentic, incisive and entertaining. That’s from Red Door. And Twentieth Century Pub: From Beer House to Booze Bunker (978 0957278721, pb, £16.99) published by Homewood Press is a culmination of more than a decade looking and thinking about pubs of all kinds. With a huge current interest in craft beer and pubs, this is timely reflection on the various different guises of the English pub from early working pubs, the architecturally modern pubs of the 1950s and 60s, to mock-Tudor roadside inns, corner locals and 1980s theme pubs! Jessica Boak and Ray Bailey, award-winning beer writers and bloggers, have their own inimitable and informative writing style which they bring to this highly entertaining paperback.

Five top titles to take you away from Britain 2017, and into a different place and time – with five expert writers as your guide. The Germans and Europe by Peter Millar (978 1910050897, hb, £20.00) from Arcadia. Ten Meals that Changed the World by Struan Stevenson (978 1780274911, hb, £16.99) from Birlinn. My Journey to Egypt by Jean-Francois Champollion from Gibson Square (978 1783341078, pb, £12.99). The History of England’s Cathedrals (9781907605925, pb, £20.00) by Nicholas Orme from Impress and A Most Deliberate Swindle by Mick Hamer (978 1910453421, pb, £10.99).

Current Affairs
What a year of turmoil it’s been! And what better way to try and make sense of it all than with these timely titles. In an age of fake news and post-truth politics these highly readable book fight back with research, accuracy and analysis. Protest Stories of Resistance (978 1905583737, hb, £14.99) assembles twenty authors to re-imagine key moments of British protest, from the Peasants Revolt of 1381 to the anti-Iraq War demo of 2003 from Comma Press. In Darkness Over Germany (978 1911350194, pb, £15.00) first published in 1943, and now from Arcadia; Amy Buller recounts the hopes and fears of Germans engulfed in the rise of fascism during the 1930s. The Sun Tyrant (978 1785902215, pb, £12.99) from Biteback uncovers the oddities and tragedies at the heart of the world's most secretive regime – North Korea; and Memphis 67: The Tragedy of Southern Soul (978 1846973734; hb, £16.99) is the second title in Stuart Cosgrove’s brilliant Soul Trilogy and follows the fortunes of both the music and the civil rights movement fifty years ago.
The ideal titles to curl up with over the festive season as I’m sure I’m not the only person to find that reading about someone else’s life is an excellent way to escape from your own relations! Our top four recommendations are: Appointment in Arezzo (978 1846973758, hb, 12.99) in which Alan Taylor writes about his lifelong friendship with Muriel Spark which is just out from Polygon. Shouting in the Street by Donald Trelford (978 1785902529, hb, £25.00): The Adventures and Misadventures of a Fleet Street Survivor – that one’s from Biteback. Into the Mountain: The Life of Nan Shepherd (978 1903385562, hb, £20.00), is Charlotte Peacock’s enlightening biography of this elusive and important writer, published by Galileo. The Man who was George Smiley (978 1785902970, pb, £9.99) by Michael Jago published by Biteback is the first full-length biography tracing the life of the remarkable investigator, interrogator and agent runner who was the inspiration for John le Carré's perfect spy.
Fabulous Fiction
Five top titles from five unique voices: Cesar Aira, Alexander McCall Smith, Antoine Laurain, Ece Temelkuran and Glyn Maxwell – what’s not to love?! The Lime Tree (978 1911508120, £8.99) from And Other Stories; The Good Pilot Peter Woodhouse (978 1846974090, hb, £14.99) from Polygon; The Portrait (978 1910477434, pb, £8.99) from Gallic, Women Who Blow on Knots (978 1910901694, pb, £10.99) from Parthian and The Autumn Term (978 1786821409, pb, £8.99) published by Oberon all have their own very different stories to tell in compellingly original style.

Short Story Collections
This genre is very definitely on the up in 2017 – and a collection of brilliant stories makes an ideal gift as well as the perfect title to dip and out of during the holiday season. Here are three of the best collections: Worlds from the Words End (978 1911508106, pb, £8.99) cements Joanna Walsh's reputation as one of the sharpest writers of this century. Wearing her learning lightly, her stories make us see the world afresh while showing us she has read the world. It’s published by And Other Stories. Banthology (978 1910974360, pb, £9.99) is an urgent and timely collection bringing together seven specially commissioned stories from the so-called banned nations: Iran, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen. Written in response to Trump’s ban, it showcases new works by previously un-platformed writers, exploring the emotional and personal impact of all restrictions on movement. Refuge Tales 2 (978 1910974308, pb, £9.99) which is also published by Comma is the second volume of stories which set out to communicate the experiences of those who, having sought asylum in the UK, find themselves indefinitely detained. Here, poets and novelists create a space in which stories that are routinely discredited, disrupted and disbelieved can instead be safely heard and welcomed.

Curling up with some really good travel writing is one of the great joys for the armchair adventurer. Here are three very different titles – which all share an enthusiasm for discovering somewhere new. All at Sea: Another Side of Paradise (978 1911350231, pb, £9.99) is the new book from Arcadia from Julian Sayarer who won the Stamfords Travel Book of the Year for Interstate.  This book begins on the small island of Surin, near the naval border of Thailand and Myanmar, where an indigenous people known as Moken 'sea gypsies' struggle to maintain the same timeless existence as their ancestors. As real estate developers, oil exploration and industrial tourism reshape the waters they call home, Sayarer receives a mysterious offer from an idealistic Luxembourger determined to tell a tale of the Moken on film, and in search of a writer to detail the efforts of his motley crew… In Search of Nice Americans (978 1785902635, pb, £12.99) goes off-grid, on the road and state to state in Trump's America in the company of Geoff Steward, who with his blend of waspish wit and mischievous charm, takes you on an affectionate travel romp! Journeying coast-to-coast across the US with Steward might just remind you that, despite the post-Trump hysteria, there are many normal and decent Americans out there. That one’s from Biteback. And finally, The Wild Guide to Scotland (978 1910636121, pb, £16.99) guides you to over 800 wild swims, ancient forests, lost ruins and hidden beaches, including inns, wild camping, local crafts, artisan whisky distilleries and wild places to stay – all with the most stunning photography. This is the ultimate adventure to be had from the comfort of the sofa!

And relax. Poetry must surely be the best way to reduce the Christmas chaos. Here are three of our favourites to give as gifts, all with a natural theme. Fugitive Colours (978 1846973864, hb, £12.99) by Liz Lochhead is a stunning new assortment which marks the end of Liz’s term as Scotland's Poet Laureate. This collection is beautiful, sensitive and brilliant, and it’s published by Birlinn. Zoology (978 1784102166, £9.99) is Gillian Clarke's ninth Carcanet collection, following her T. S. Eliot Prize-shortlisted Ice. The collection opens with a glimpse of hare, whose “heartbeat halts at the edge of the lawn”, holding us “in the planet of its stare” and the title delves into a whole well of memories drawing us into the Welsh landscape of the poet's childhood and the richness of nature. Edward Thomas: A Miscellany (978 1903385609, pb, £9.99) by Anna Stenning is published by Galileo in one of their lovely Rucksack editions which are attractively designed and intended to stand up to the rigours of being taken with the reader into the great outdoors. This is a lovely anthology of Edward Thomas's writings in both prose and verse, judiciously arranged by themes such as 'Footpaths & Roads', 'The Historic Landscape', 'Seasons & Weather', in a way which guides the reader skilfully through the range of his evocative and beautiful writing.

White Ladder are THE authorities on parenting titles, and these five are top sellers for this year – and beyond. My Pregnancy 2018 (978 1910336373, pb, £14.99) is the only parenting annual that is revised every year, and as Mother and Baby says gives new mums “everything you need to know.” Baby Names 2018 (978 1910336397, pb, £6.99) is also fully revised every year, and gives parents a choice of over 8,000 of the year’s most popular names to choose for their little ones! Baby Wise (978 1910336311, pb, £12.99) by expert Rachel Fitz-Desorgher gives parents a fresh, empowering approach to parenting for their baby’s first year. Siblings by renowned clinical psychologist Linda Blair (978 1910336250, pb, £12.99) has had rave reviews and is the only handbook you need for managing sibling rivalry, coping with arguments and handling family fights. And finally, The Supermum Myth (978 1910336342, pb, £12.99) tells you how you can overcome anxiety, ditch guilt, and embrace imperfection! Who wouldn’t want a bit of that over the holidays?!
Not many of us have got much enthusiasm for exercise over the Christmas break – but plenty of us enjoy curling up in an armchair reading about other people working up a sweat! Arena Sport have plenty to enjoy here, but here are three of the best. Three Weeks Eight Seconds: The Epic Tour de France of 1989 (978 1909715530, £14.99) by Nige Tassel brings one of cycling's most astonishing stories to life, examining that extraordinary race in all its multi-faceted glory, with fresh first-hand testimony from riders, team bosses, commentators, journalists and family members. Money: The Life and Fast Times of Floyd Mayweather (978 1909715578, pb, £9.99) is the remarkable story of one man’s ascent from unbelievably bleak origins to become the highest-paid sportsman on the planet. It is a story of greed, arrogance, abuse, extraordinary boxing ability and unrivalled ambition and Tris Dixon explores it all in a searing, insightful and often brutal exposé of one of the greatest athletes the world has ever seen. When Lions Roared: The Lions, the All Blacks and the Legendary Tour of 1971 (978 1909715523, hb, £17.99) by Tom English and Peter Burns delves into the very heart of that famous summer as Lions, All Blacks and provincial players recount their memories to bring to life one of the most celebrated tours in rugby history - one that changed the game forever and continues to resonate powerfully to this day.

Remember – you can get an extra 5% discount on any of these titles, by contacting your local Area Sales Manager or Nuala and quoting XMAS17. 

And finally – it must be Christmas because here's  the John Lewis ad! What do you think? Normal Compass Points will be back next week!