Friday 15 December 2017

Compass Points 243 - Happy Christmas!

Let’s start with some music – favourite Christmas songs anyone? Who likes a brand new re-recording of a classic – such as Ed Sheeran and Anne-Marie singing Fairytale Of New York – you can listen to that here or Sam Smith performing Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas here. You’re welcome!

A nice bit of seasonal publicity from Carcanet - Alison Brackenbury will be discussing Christmas Poetry on the Boxing Day edition of the Today Programme on Radio 4, and she’ll be reading her poem Christmas on the Radio which is published in her latest collection Skies (£9.99, pb, 978 1784101800). Skies is Alison Brackenbury's ninth Carcanet collection and in these poems, Brackenbury sustains delicate proximities between war and love, joy and sadness, summer and winter. It is the poet's quiet conviction to savour life, to take seriously its succulent variety, that defines this collection: the poems attest to the special privileges of age: wisdom, self-sufficiency, a deepening patience with the world; the ability to be, as Brackenbury says of an apple, “self-sweet”. Also, Sinead Morrissey will be appearing on Radio 4's Woman's Hour as part of a day of poetry on 21 December, celebrating the Winter Solstice. She’ll be interviewed and reading her poem, Last Winter from her award-winning collection, On Balance (978 1784103606, £9.99, pb).

John Holmwood, author of Countering Extremism in British Schools: The Truth About the Birmingham Trojan Horse Affair, (£12.99, pb, 978-1447344131) was on BBC Radio 4's Thinking Allowed this week talking about his new book which has just been published by Policy Press. This important title highlights the major injustice inflicted on the teachers in this affair and shows how it was used to criticise multiculturalism, and justify the expansion of a broad and intrusive counter extremism agenda. John Holmwood and his co-author Therese O’ Toole challenge the accepted narrative on this story, and draw on the potential parallel with the Hillsborough disaster to suggest a similar false narrative has taken hold of public debate.

Lovely reviews coming in for The Good Pilot, Peter Woodhouse by Alexander McCall Smith (978 1846974090, £14.99, hb). The Yorkshire Post called it a “shaggy dog story infused with his familiar – and welcome – positivity. A gentle romp through the world of land girls, war-time romance and exceptional pets” while the Mail on Sunday made it one of their Books of the Year and called it “Period pet lit from a pro” which I think is a great strap line – maybe Polygon should put it on the paperback jacket?!

Always love a bit of twitter twaddle about a literary character – so am very much enjoying the current debate as to whether Roald Dahl’s Matilda would beat Stranger Things Eleven in a head-to-head! You can catch up on all the possible answers to that question here!

The BBC National Short Story Award 2018 is now open for entries. The new partner for the Award, Cambridge University, has just been announced, along with the judging panel which includes previous winner K J Orr. The head judge is TV personality and author Mel Giedroyc. It's the thirteenth year of the Award and for the ninth time, Comma will be publishing the shortlist anthology next year. The winning award is worth £15,000 and this will be presented to the author of the best, eligible short story, in the opinion of the judges. There will also be four awards of £600 for the other four shortlisted stories and the deadline for receipt of entries is 9am Monday 12 March 2018. You can find out more here.

We were thrilled to hear that The Recovery Letters edited by Olivia Sagan and James Withey published by Jessica Kingsley is going to be one of the titles given away on World Book Night – 23rd April 2018. The organisers have curated a “diverse selection of commercial and literary fiction, poetry, non-fiction and young adult” for the public, with a spotlight on mental health. The literacy charity aims to "harness” the link between reading and mental health through its selection this year. You can read more about World Book Night in the Bookseller here.  Sue Wilkinson, chief executive of the Reading Agency said: “We know from our work on the Reading Well programme that there is a powerful link between reading and positive mental health. We are delighted to be able to include on the 2018 World Book Night list several titles that deal with this directly as well as others that we hope will lift readers’ moods or help them confront life’s difficulties.” De Waal, described the scheme as “a great opportunity for readers to discover new books and for books to find new audiences”. She added: “Reading and understanding different lives and experiences has never been more important.” The Recovery Letters (978-1785921834, £9.99, pb) is an anthology of letters from by people recovering from depression, addressed to those currently affected. They are interspersed with motivating quotes and additional resources and this powerful collection of personal letters will serve as a comforting resource for anyone on the journey to recovery.

Got any New Year resolutions yet? How about making them online here and then BuzzFeed will reveal your Patronus to you! And yes, I do think it’s a worry if it turns out to be a pig. Accio 2018!

And while we’re on the subject of the wizarding one, I wonder how good our colleagues at Birlinn and all those booksellers north of the border would be at translating the Scots version of Harry Potter and the Philosophers Stone? Does Hoggiehaugh mean Hogwarts, Hagrid, or Hogsmeade for example? You can take that quiz here!
What would you say is the newest superfood trend? Well, I can tell you, it is seaweed, which as you can read in the Telegraph here has seen “sales soar as it swims into the mainstream.” Waitrose has announced that it will stock fresh seaweed in its stores, while sales of the green stuff soared by 125 per cent after Jamie Oliver claimed it had helped him lose weight. “Seaweed is one of this year’s biggest trends in veg which we’re seeing on the menus of some of London’s top and most creative restaurants," says Waitrose’s product developer. And I’m pleased to say that we have the perfect book to capitalise on this; The Seaweed Cookbook: A Guide to Edible Seaweeds and How to Cook with Them (978 0754832874, £15, hb) which has just been published by Lorenz. Its authors Caroline Warwick-Evans and Tim van Berkel are mentioned in the Telegraph piece and there has been loads more recent seaweed related press coverage! The Guardian wrote here about “a cry for kelp” suggesting that its “complete nutrient profile” means “it can heal the world”. The Huffington Post wrote about its many health benefits here, the Daily Mail called it “the latest nutritional powerhouse set to take over from kale as the trendy new ingredient to add to your diet” here and BBC Good Food wrote about its many health benefits here. The Seaweed Cookbook, as you’d expect from Lorenz is gorgeously illustrated and a great price too. It explores the different types of seaweed, tells you where to find them, and includes lots of creative recipes. Whether dried, rehydrated or eaten raw, treated as a vegetable, flaked and sprinkled as a seasoning, or munched as a crispy snack, there is plenty of inspiration with photographs that will leave you eager to get foraging and feasting. Go to the authors’ website to see spreads and recipes from the book – and also find out more about how much media coverage they’ve been getting recently! This is already big – but is going to get even bigger – the authors Caroline and Tim have recently been filmed recently for a new series with Jamie Oliver (Jamie's Friday Night Feasts) which is broadcasting in January.

Primary schools should use books featuring transgender parents or celebrating gender identity, according to fresh guidance from the National Association of Head Teachers. The new guidance has also been endorsed by Stonewall, the government and Ofsted. It covers a range of issues aiming to help schools "become places where all staff can thrive and feel confident to be authentic about who they are” adding "Primary school leaders may want to ensure books featuring trans parents or celebrating gender identity and difference are included in the curriculum". Not everyone agrees with this of course – there was a big piece in the Times this week which you can see here where Chris McGovern, head of the Campaign for Real Education, said: "Indoctrination in the politically correct anxieties, passions and neuroses of adults has no place in school. This latest intrusion into childhood will cause upset, confusion and trauma for many youngsters." Whatever your opinion, here is bound to be a surge in demand for titles addressing this issue for children – and Jessica Kingsley are the market leaders. You will want to stock, A Practical Guide to Gender Diversity and Sexuality in Early Years (pb, £14.99, 9781785922893) by Deborah Price which is an easy-to-read and practical guide for early years professionals on how to discuss this with very young children. How to Transform Your School into an LGBT+ Friendly Place: A Practical Guide for Nursery, Primary and Secondary Teachers (pb, £14.99, 9781785923494) by Dr Elly Barnes MBE and Dr Anna Carlile is coming in April and also do look out for some really excellent picture books on the subject which JKP are publishing in spring and summer 2018. Vincent the Vixen (hb, £9.99, 978 1785924507) by Alice Reeves and Phoebe Kirk is about a fox who is assigned male at birth, but who knows they are actually a girl. With the help of family and friends, Vincent begins to understand their gender identity and the importance of accepting and being authentic to who they truly are. Phoenix Goes to School (hb, £9.99, 978 1785928215) is an empowering and brightly illustrated book for children aged 3+ which is co-authored by a mother and daughter – the main character being based on the daughter who identifies as trans. A House for Everyone is by Jo Hirst who is one of the leading transgender advocates in Australia (well known for their previous children’s book The Gender Fairy) This title includes a guide for parents and professionals and also a lesson plan.

Talking of 2018 titles, we have had such a great time this week at our sales conference, hearing lots of our lovely publishers present us with the many goodies they will be bringing out in 2018! There are plenty of scrumptious titles to salivate over, which I look forward to telling you all about next year – everything from finding your inner unicorn to gripping thrillers, to inspiring literary translated fiction to top political biographies! In the meantime, here’s the Compass team (minus a few) wishing you a very peaceful, profitable and happy Christmas! 

That’s all for 2017 folks! More in the New Year!

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 8 December 2017

Compass Points 242

Here’s a cracking sporting title, which has come very late into the publishing programme for St David’s Press, and which you therefore may well not be aware of. Living My Dream (£13.99, pb, 978 1902719641) by Dave Edwards and Paul Berry is the story of a hard-working and very intelligent professional. Dave Edwards is the first member of the Wales squad to reveal the inside story of the Euros from within the Welsh camp, and the book contains lots of anecdotes and photographs that have never previously been published. Dave played for his hometown club, Shrewsbury Town and also spent twelve seasons at Wolves, before being transferred to Reading in August 2017. He has been capped 43 times for Wales and is a part of the Welsh Golden Generation developed by John Toshack and Garry Speed. Dave started the first game of the Euros against Slovakia and several other games in France as Wales reached the semi-finals. Joe Hart, the England goalkeeper, is an old friend from Shropshire schools football and has written the foreword calling it “a fascinating look at the journey made by all of us who set out as young kids with the dream of one day becoming a professional footballer, and all the obstacles which crop up along the way. Dave Edwards has been one of my best mates in football, all the way through my career, and this book offers some great behind-the-scenes insight into what it is like for a player at a major tournament, and some of the secrets behind Wales’ spectacular success.” Dave has 25.7k followers on Twitter and is very media savvy, which should help publicise this title. The FA of Wales has agreed to give the book profile on their social media and the books’ co-author is the Media Manager at Wolves who will also help generate media coverage. This is a cracking Christmas present book – which should have wide appeal not just in Wales but anywhere there are footie fans!

And Other Stories will begin their year of publishing only women writers in January, with Ann Quin's The Unmapped Country (£10, pb, 978 1911508144). This is a new collection of rare and unpublished writing by the cult 1960s author, which explores the risks and seductions of going over the edge. The stories cut an alternative path across innovative twentieth-century writing, bridging the world of Virginia Woolf and Anna Kavan with that of Kathy Acker and Chris Kraus. Tom McCarthy said of Ann Quin “After her death in 1973 at only 37, Ann Quin’s star first dipped beneath the horizon, disappearing from view entirely, before rising slowly but persistently, to the point that it’s now attaining the septentrional heights it always merited. I suspect that she’ll eventually be viewed, alongside BS Johnson and Alexander Trocchi, as one of the few mid-century British novelists who actually, in the long term, matter.” The collection has been edited by the brilliant Jennifer Hodgson, who spent seven years gathering the stories from archives and collections around the world. The stories are vivid, strange and fresh, and some have said that the unfinished novel that lends the collection its title would have been Quin’s best if it had been finished.” Publicity for this title is going to be everywhere, starting this Sunday (10th Dec) on BBC R4's Open Book when the book’s editor Jen Hodgson will be interviewed by Mariella Frostrup. (This programme is repeated on December 14th.) Then in mid-January there is a serialisation of Jen Hodgson's Introduction to the book in the New Statesman and also an excerpt from The Unmapped Country novel fragment in the TLS as well as a feature piece. We have review coverage confirmed in the Financial Times, the Guardian, the Telegraph, the Irish Times and the Spectator. Sadly, of course Quin’s no longer here to celebrate the launch of the book, so And Other Stories have asked some of their top writers to come and do events in tribute to her – the first of which is Ann Quin: A Celebration with Deborah Levy, Juliet Jacques and Jennifer Hodgson at the London Review Bookshop on the book’s publication date, 18th January. Then on Friday 16th February there is a high-profile afternoon and evening event Who Cares About Ann Quin? at the Royal College of Art.

Identity and marginalisation are the themes that emerge in Letters Home, an anthology of mini mysteries from Martyn Bedford (a Leeds author best known for his YA fiction) which has just been published by Comma Press. Many of the characters in the stories find themselves at a point of redefinition, trading in their old identity for something new. Whether it is an act of retreat or escape fantasising about storming out of a thankless job, or just avoiding a bad-tempered husband for a few moments on Christmas day they each understand the first step in changing a reality, is to reconstruct it. The New York Times wrote “Martyn Bedford is the genuine article, a writer of unmistakable flair and accomplishment” and Jeremy Dyson called these stories “haunting and intimate portraits of vividly different lives that get under your skin and stay there.” Martin has just done a fascinating Q&A session with Big Issue North this week which you can read here and there will also be an interview and review in the Yorkshire Post in the next fortnight.

Hurrah, we have two titles on The Republic of Consciousness Prize longlist! The Republic of Consciousness Prize for Small Presses was founded by Neil Griffiths last year and is sponsored by the TLS. It rewards literary fiction published by presses in the UK and Ireland that employ fewer than five full-time employees. The guiding principle for judging the overall creative endeavour is that the book that wins must represent the best of “hard-core literary fiction and gorgeous prose”. The two books are Sorry to Disrupt the Peace by Patty Yumi Cottrell (£10, pb, 978-1911508007) published by And Other Stories. The judges said of it: “In a year where nearly half of our longlisted books are debuts, this one sticks most closely to the formula we would expect from a first novel: semi-autobiographical, reflecting on a defining episode in the author’s life. This is one of the best examples of this sub-genre to appear in years. Cottrell’s bleakly comic work follows the narrator Helen as she tries to work out why her younger brother committed suicide. Deep, searing and honest, it is all the better for making no concessions to the reader.” 
The other title is Darker with the Lights On by David Hayden (£12.99, hb, 978 0995705258) which is published by Little Island Press. The judges said: “This collection comprises a miscellany of vignettes that are both unsettling and ludic. Eaten apples are regurgitated and made whole, squirrels lecture on storytelling, decapitated heads merrily sing as they bounce across the floor; David Hayden’s debut collection is a joy. Plus, Little Island Press is producing some of the most beautifully made books in the UK today.” The Republic of Consciousness shortlist will be announced at Waterstones in Manchester on February 15, 2018 and you can read about all thirteen titles on the longlist in the TLS here.  

Well, it’s not exactly festive reading, but The Knife Went In: Real-life Murderers and Our Culture (978 1783341184, hb, £16.99) by Theodore Dalrymple has been a number one Amazon Popular Culture Bestseller and has had some amazing reviews. The Mail on Sunday called it “A razor-sharp expose of our broken society… One of the greatest men of our age… Both funny and a badly needed corrective to conventional wisdom… hugely readable … gripping real-life stories… tells a deep truth about the sort of society we have become. A future historian, a century hence, will learn more about 21st Century Britain from this book than from any official document. So will you. Please read it.” And Dominic Lawson writing in the Mail said it showed “the blackest of black… the best of humanity.” The Sunday Telegraph said that “Nobody has observed the fallacies of modern England with a clearer eye, or a more intelligent quill. It would be nice to know that the BBC had heard of him because we could expect to hear him deliver next year’s Reith Lectures.” The Knife Went In is published by Gibson Square.

From an idyllic childhood growing up in Cornwall, to working as press officer at 10 Downing Street, Barbara Hosking had a remarkable career in British politics. She subsequently went on to become part of the rise and development of breakfast television. Exceeding My Brief: Memoirs of a Disobedient Civil Service (£25, hb, 978 1785903557) is also the very personal story of her struggle with her sexuality in the 1950s, a time when being gay could mean social ostracism. Born during the General Strike in 1926, Barbara made her way through London typing pools to executive posts in the Labour Party, then to press officer to Harold Wilson and Edward Heath. Hosking pens vivid and revealing portraits of prominent politicians from the age, including Nye Bevan, Barbara Castle, Harold Wilson and Edward Heath. She was at No. 10 as the terrorist attack took place during the Olympic Games held in Munich, 1972, and she witnessed the initialling of the Treaty of Rome when Britain entered the then Common Market. An enthralling read of a long life well lived, Exceeding My Brief is filled with plenty of anecdotes, about both Barbara’s private and working lives. This book is much more than a memoir. It is a cracking good read. Her life story mirrors the great changes in British society from the time of her birth in 1926 to the present day and her crisp and candid prose is warm, generous, humorous and at times passionate. Lots of publicity for this one; do keep an eye out for a Q&A feature with Barbara in this weekend’s Observer and she’ll also be appearing on Radio 4’s Start the Week a little later this month. There have already been pieces in the New Statesman, The Times and interviews on BBC Radio Cornwall, BBC Radio London, and on the BBC World Service, Weekend. It’s published by Biteback.

The Bookseller have just published their annual book jacket quiz Got It Covered where you can test your knowledge on the year’s book jackets! They’re cut out images to make tiny snapshots from fifty books, all released during 2017 and covering a number of genres, from children's to poetry to cookbooks. The person who gets the most correct answers will win a bundle of books. The closing date for entries is 11.59pm on 31st December, 2017 and you can find the quiz here.

Who’s looking forward to Coco – the new movie from Pixar, which is released on 19th January? Me, me, me – you can see a trailer here. The film is inspired by the Mexican holiday of the Dead of the Dead (Dia de Muertos) and will undoubtedly produce a surge of interest in this dynamic festival, so I know you’ll want to stock up the two Arcturus Day of the Dead-themed books: Sugar Skulls Colouring Book (pb, £6.99, 978 1784048549) and Day of the Dead Dot-to-Dot (pb, £6.99, 978 1784286040). I love these fabulously bright and vibrant covers!

Some fantastic windows for Queen in 3D as the band tour around the country – thanks very much Waterstones! You can see the fab displays inside and out at Sauchiehall St, Glasgow above and below! Absolute Classic Rock radio are running a promo on air for two weeks offering one person the chance to win a copy signed by Brian May which will ensure it gets loads of mentions on-air right through to Christmas! You can find out more on their website here.

Not one, not two but THREE Save Haven titles made it into the Guardian's Christmas Books round-ups! Stephen Moss in Nature Books of the Year said that “London's Street Trees by Paul Wood (pb, £12,99, 978 0993291135) adds a fascinating new dimension to any walk through the city. Small, independent publishers such as Safe Haven continue to outperform in this field.”. Then Huw Richards in Sports Books of the Year said that “Cricket fans will cherish Duncan Hamilton’s The Kings of Summer– a gem that celebrates the remarkable climax of the 2016 County Championship while fearing for the long game’s future.” And Henry Jeffrey in his Drinks Books of the Year wrote “Finally, there’s Jessica Boak and Ray Bailey’s 20th Century Pub (£16.99, pb, 978 0957278721). This thoroughly researched, elegantly written history of the English boozer takes in council estate pubs, road houses, gastropubs and the dreaded theme pub.” Excellent presents all of them!

’Tis the season to drink fizz and eat mince pies while you’re supposedly working! This week we bring you an extract from Rob Temple’s hilarious Very British Problems on the top ten trials and tribulations of the Work Christmas Party. Do any of them strike a chord in your bookshop?!
1. Trying to decide which of your jumpers in varying shades of grey most counts as "novelty".
2. Reading a company-wide email warning you to behave, while drinking a can of gin and tonic at 10am.
3. Thinking that nothing says "Christmas fun!" like getting changed in a damp-floored office lavatory.
4. Finding your table place name next to the CEO and realising that "piss-up" just turned into "tense board meeting while eating turkey".
5. Being unable to concentrate on any conversation when you notice you've one fewer pig-in-blanket than everyone else at the table.
6. Wondering how much thought someone's put into your "Secret Santa" present of "a pack of Biros".
7. The ridiculousness of discussing the recent pay freeze and department budget cuts while wearing a pink paper hat.
8. Knowing the party's really getting into full swing when someone starts crying.
9. Showing off your dancing skills, causing everyone to back away in what you believe to be "awe".
10. Having a hunch that the email you receive on Monday titled "Your behaviour" isn't going to be congratulatory in nature.

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 1 December 2017

Compass Points 241

So excited and pleased for all of our friends and colleagues at Birlinn, who last night won Publisher of the Year at the Saltire Awards in Edinburgh. The judges said “Over 25 years Birlinn has consistently published interesting important and quality books with high production values. Their development in recent years and work to increase their public engagement has shown them to be a publisher evolving with the industry and their audience.” Alexander McCall Smith said that “nobody could deserve this honour more than Birlinn. This team of energetic and highly creative people has achieved wonders over the last few years, proving that Scottish publishing, once the envy of the world, can do it again. Not only are their books fascinating and useful – they are beautifully designed and printed. I am delighted with their success.” You can find out more here .Hip Hip Hooray for Birlinn!

Staying in northern climes; every year, during Book Week, Scottish Book Trust ask members of the public to take part in some sort of vote. For this year they asked people to vote on their favourite song inspired by a book, poem or piece of writing. And the results are in! Go here to listen to the Top Ten Book-inspired Songs of All Time as voted for by book lovers in over 60 countries!

Lots more great endorsements for Carcanet’s On Balance (£9.99, pb, 978 1784103606) this week: Sinead Morrissey's On Balance was a worthy winner of the 2017 Forward Prize. A celebration of resourcefulness, from motherhood to the first woman to build an aeroplane, its language is as poised as the acrobats it catches” said the Sunday Times in their Books of the Year feature. It was also chosen as one of the Guardian’s Books of the Year who said: “The poem Nativity, if it stood alone, makes Sinead Morrissey's On Balance a sweet Christmas choice, but it is only one of a number of thought-provoking poems in her sixth, prize-winning collection. Morrissey floats the reader glimpses of desires unmet, memories still fluid; the stories swim beyond the edge of the page, buoyed up by possibility.” And the TLS Books of the Year feature said: “Poet 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.”

Anyone looking for some extra gift ideas for their bookshop could do a lot worse than having a quick read through the Oberon Christmas newsletter which you can read here and gives you some ideal presents for lovers of musical there, dance enthusiasts, SF fans and more. For the theatre fan they recommend Gielgoodies: The Wit, Wisdom and Gaffes of John Gielgud (978 1783190072, £9.99, pb) compiled by Gielgud’s biographer Jonathan Croall with a prologue by Simon Callow. This is a glorious compendium which brings this merry and much‐loved man vividly to life: his lightning wit, his love of scandal and gossip, his wicked delight in putting down his fellow‐artists, his relish of bawdy humour. “What a lovely idea, and such fun to dip into.... a wonderful theatrical stocking filler for Christmas” said Dame Eileen Atkins.

It's the 1st December – who’s got their tree up yet? And does the way you decorate your tree say something about your personality? Obviously yes – but can it actually determine which Hogwarts house you’re in? Take this BuzzFeed quiz to find out!

Many congratulations to New Island, who won an award at the Irish Book Awards this week. Best Crime Fiction Book was won by Julie Parsons’ gripping novel The Therapy House (pb, £11.99, 978 1848405776). I really really recommend this author; the New York Times said of her that “Julie Parsons takes the psychological suspense thriller to places it rarely dares to go” and the Irish Times said Julie Parsons was Irish Crime Fiction before there was Irish Crime Fiction. Before domestic suspense was a thing, before Girls had Gone on Trains or anywhere else, Parsons was writing intelligent, nuanced psychological thrillers under the spell of the two weird sisters of mystery, Patricia Highsmith and Ruth Rendell... Quite simply, if I read a better book this year, I will be astonished.” It has a great cover – and you can see Julie Parsons talking about it on YouTube here.

A super review in the Spectator this week for Malacqua (£10, pb, 978 1911508069) which has just been published by And Other Stories saying “Pugliese’s novel has its own compelling voice, filled with the sound of water rushing, gushing, flowing, hammering on rooftops, falling in threads from the sky.” You can read that piece here. The publication of Malacqua in English marks the fortieth anniversary of its original Italian publication, when despite phenomenal initial success, the novel was withdrawn from publication at the author’s request, and not reissued until after his death in 2012. Now translated into English for the first time, Malacqua remains a timely critique and a richly peopled portrait of a much-mythologised city – Naples.

Have you ever felt that reading a good book makes you better able to connect with your fellow human beings? If so, the results of a new scientific study back you up, but only if your reading material is literary fiction – pulp fiction or non-fiction won’t do! New research shows works by writers such as Charles Dickens and Téa Obreht sharpen our ability to understand others' emotions – more than thrillers or romance novels – have a look at this fascinating piece of research as reported in the Guardian here. 

A couple of weeks ago there was an excellent BBC programme about Ovid which you can see on the iPlayer here. In it, Michael Wood explores the life, works and influence of one of the world's greatest storytellers who died 2,000 years ago. When an Elizabethan literary critic said that the witty soul of Ovid lived on in ‘honey tongued Shakespeare' they were just stating the obvious. Ovid, everyone knew, was simply the most clever, sexy and funny poet in the western tradition. His Metamorphoses (translated by Arthur Golding, 978 185754776 4, pb, £9.95) is often called the most influential secular book in European literature. It’s published by Carcanet, as is Amores (pb, £7.95, 978 1857546897); the work that first made Ovid famous, and infamous. A scandal in its day, and probably in part responsible for Ovid's banishment from Rome, Amores lays bare the intrigues and appetites of high society in the imperial capital at the time of Caesar Augustus. Clandestine sex, orgies and entertainments, fashion and violence, are among the subjects Ovid explores: the surface dazzle and hidden depths, secret liaisons and their public postures. This Carcanet translation by Tom Bishop closely follows the movement and metre of the original verse, rendering his world of love, licentiousness and conspiracy so as to catch Ovid's raciness!

Every year Rough Trade (bookshops in Bristol, London, Nottingham and New York) pick their Top 20 Books of The Year; a reflection of the Rough Trade team's favourite reads, what their customers talk about and what’s been in most demand across their shops. How delighted were we to find THREE Compass titles on the list! Sound System: The Political Power of Music by guitarist Dave Randall (£12.99, pb, 978 0745399300) which is published by Pluto; examines the power of music from Glastonbury to the Arab Spring and is a staggering and gripping insight into commodity and culture and music’s power to manipulate.
Memphis 68: The Tragedy of Southern Soul by Stuart Cosgrove
(978 1846973734, hb, £16.99) from Polygon is a powerful, moving account of a turbulent America and the music at its heart. Intertwining politics and pop culture, Cosgrove writes the realities of segregation and soul. Grant and I: Inside and Outside the Go-betweens (978 1785585845, pb, £16.99) which is published by Omnibus Press, is a rock memoir akin to no other. Part music industry exposé, part buddy-book, this is a delicate and perceptive celebration of creative endeavour as Robert Forster pays tribute to a band who found huge success in the margins, who boldly pursued a creative vision, and whose beating heart was the band’s friendship. You can find the whole list here. 

The Times made Salt Creek by Lucy Treloar (978 1910709412, £14.99, hb) one of their Best Books of the Year describing it as “an excellent debut.” This brilliant and absorbing historical novel exploring the Australian pioneer experience comes very highly recommended – the Mail called it “empathetic and beautifully written, the story drives deep into the pioneering experience with the confidence of a writer perfectly at ease with her subject” while Good Housekeeping said it was “a historical novel in its grittiest, most real form.” It’s published by Aardvark Bureau.

Good news from Waterstones this week, as Managing Director James Daunt announces that they are to open five new bookshops in the run-up to Christmas and plan up to fifteen more for 2018. The new stores, in St Neots, Deal, Weybridge, Epsom and Blackheath in London mean that Waterstones will have opened 20 new shops since 2015 – the chain was sold by HMV to Russian billionaire owner Alexander Mamut in 2011 for £53m. You can read more about that story here.

This week saw the publication of M. John Harrison's new collection You Should Come With Me Now: Stories of Ghosts (£9.99, pb, 978 1910974346) published by Comma, which has already garnered praise from the likes of Neil Gaiman, Robert Macfarlane and Olivia Laing. This week, M. John answered Twenty Questions in the TLS, which you can read here and they also featured a story from the collection, The Crisis which you can read here. M. John was also on the Guardian Books podcast this week, which you can listen to here and Ursula K Le Guin writing in the Guardian said “The wit and effortless elegance of the writing are impeccable.” The White Review also reviewed the book this week, saying: “Harrison’s most interesting work picks and chooses multiple genres, mixing them into fictional brews of dreamlike intensity that can haunt your mind for days after reading them” – you can read that here. It is a strange beast, but definitely one for literary fiction enthusiasts, and lovers of all things peculiar. Weird stories for our weird times perhaps. If you would like a reading copy them please contact Sarah Cleave at

A quick reminder that Charlotte Peacock will be featured on Radio 4 Woman’s Hour on December 14th, and Radio 4’s Open Country on December 28th talking about Into the Mountain: A Life of Nan Shepherd (hb, £20, 978 1903385562). This first ever biography of the enigmatic writer whose image now appears on the Scottish £5 note has had some great press coverage – the Observer called it “engrossing.” It’s published by Galileo.

Well done to Neil Powell’s Was and Is: Collected Poems (pb, £14.99, 978 178410 2326) which is the winner of the 2017 East Anglian Book Awards for Poetry. This anthology of playful and elegiac poems by the celebrated biographer of Amis and Britten includes published and uncollected poems from the past fifty years and explores landscape and seascape, music and poetry, friendship and memory They are all inspired by jazz, one of Powell’s favourite subjects, and it’s published by Carcanet.

Here you see an amusing giant “Welsh books” display at the newly refurbished St David's Centre in Cardiff sent in by Compass’s man in the west – featuring titles such as Robinson Croeso and the Dai Vinci Coed – well I thought it was funny anyway! Rather ironically, the one thing the St David’s Centre doesn’t boast is… a bookshop!

Compass is on Twitter! Follow us @CompassIPS. Here are our favourite tweets from the week!
WaterstonesLiverpool‏ @waterstonesl1 WOW!! This very much just happened! @DrBrianMay called in to the store to say hi! Thanks so much! @londonstereo @compass_david @QueenWillRock
Compass Academic‏@CompassAcademic Chuffed to be at the launch of @JKPBooks’ #ToMyTransSisters down at @WaterstonesTCR. It’s great to be part of it!
#Readwomen‏@Read_Women For #smallpressweek a shout out to all those small, independent publishers bringing us exciting women's writing! To name just a few: @LinenPressBooks; @andothertweets (#YPW2018); @TiltedAxisPress @DeepVellum
Waterstones Glasgow‏@WaterstonesGla @QueenWillRock & @adamlambert in Glasgow this weekend, thought we’d celebrate with @DrBrianMay book #Queenin3d @londonstereo @compass_david
Alison Hennessey‏@Alison_Edits Walked past @Foyles earlier and was admiring their window display for 'Book Friday' rather than 'Black Friday.' Can we all make that a thing?
Waterstones‏V@Waterstones 'Blessed is the man who, having nothing to say, abstains from giving us wordy evidence of the fact.' - George Eliot, born #OTD in 1819 #WednesdayWisdom
RedDoor Publishing‏@RedDoorBooks Writing's a beach... Or next to one on the #RedDoor #weekend #retreat! Visit  for more details #amwriting
Sam Read Bookseller‏@SReadBooks Light up your dull days with a good book... #Grasmere #BookshopWindows
Kerrie O' Brien‏@kerriepoetry Support your independent bookshops this Christmas @BooksUpstairs @gutterbookshop @DubrayBooks @ravenbooks
Sue Flint‏@tweetsue13 Tea & Chemo (Urbane) is a 'must read' for anyone fighting breast cancer. I have written a review on  - do have a browse @jaxbees and my twitterpals who are fighting the good fight.
The Refugee Tales‏@RefugeeTales Great to meet @vincecable with @Shokap and hear @LibDems support #Time4aTimeLimit - cross party support growing for end to indefinite detention. @GatDetainees @DetentionForum @commapress
That’s all for now folks! More next week!
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