Friday 12 January 2018

Compass Points 245

British and Irish fairies have been around since 500 AD. But ever since the Cottingley Fairy Hoax of 1917-21, their credibility and popularity have been in sharp decline. However, with the new-found popularity of fantasy series such as Game of Thrones, those wishing to be “away with the fairies” is on the increase once more, and British fairies are regaining their old lustre. Magical Folk: British and Irish Fairies by Dr Simon Young and Dr Ceri Houlbrook (hb, 9781783341238, £16.99) is the first major history of the tiny folk in almost half a century and as the Herald wrote recently, is “a big insight into the lives of little people… provocative.” This handsome hardback has just been published by Gibson Square, and has already had some extremely good review coverage, with the Mail on Sunday calling it “enchanting” the Independent calling it “a gazetteer of myths, legends, and sightings” and the Sunday Telegraph describing it as “engaging and authoritative… British fairies, it turns out, are classic eccentrics.” It contains black and white illustrations, is 300 pages and has a gorgeous evocative cover – the ideal browse on a cold winter’s night!

The Cottingley Fairies are probably the most famous example – but who’d like to see some others? Here are the Top Five “real” fairies caught on camera! This is a very entertaining five-minute film – but I’m afraid it does seem to be narrated by an alien – or possibly Siri.

The Book of Tbilisi (pb, £9.99, 978 1910974315) was published by Comma Press right at the end of last year – so you may have missed it. It was named as one of World Literature Today's 75 Notable Translations of 2017 – you can read about all of the titles chosen here.  In the 26 years since Georgia declared independence from the Soviet Union, the country and its capital, Tbilisi, have endured unimaginable hardships: one coup d'├ętat, two wars with Russia, the cancer of organised crime, and prolonged periods of brutalising, economic depression. Now, as the city begins to flourish again – drawing hordes of tourists with its eclectic architecture and famous, welcoming spirit – it's difficult to reconcile the recent past with this glamorous and exotic present. With wit, warmth, heartbreaking realism, and a distinctly Georgian sense of neighbourliness, the ten stories in The Book of Tbilisi do just that. This new collection of translated stories is part of Comma’s very popular Reading the City series which already includes Tokyo (978 1905583577), Gaza (978 1905583645), Dhaka (978 1905583805) and Khartoum (978 1905583720). Coming in February is The Book of Havana (978 1910974018) – which I’ll tell you more about next week!

Food and Sex: two appetites the modern world stimulates, but also the ones we are expected to keep under control. But what happens when we don't? Embarking on an affair, lonely wife and mother Naomi blossoms sexually in a false spring while David, the fattest boy at the local comprehensive and best friend of her son, struggles to overcome bullying and the apathy of his divorced mother. Appetite (£8.99, pb, 978 1910453476) by Anita Cassidy is an exciting debut novel which has just been published Red Door; it’s featured in this week’s Bella magazine and there is a feature on Anita coming up in the Guardian. Tipped as one of the Bookseller’s One to Watch in 2018 titles, Appetite is a pacy, thought-provoking novel making a potent statement against Big Food, Big Pharma, Government and the school system, as well as our 'sofa-box-set-take-away' culture. First written as a novel about food and sex, Appetite evolved into a book about love. It is about how people manage their relationships with food, and sex, and other people, and how to take that first step towards change, by becoming more self-aware. Great cover!

I am so pleased to say that Mya Guarnieri Jaradat has been shortlisted for the £4,000 Jewish Quarterly Wingate Literary Prize for her for her exploration of the lives of asylum seekers and migrant workers in The Unchosen: The Lives of Israel’s New Others (£14.99, pb, 978 0745336442). This beautifully written book, which draws on a decade of courageous and pioneering reporting, captures the voices and the struggles of some of the most marginalised and silenced people in Israel today. It is published by Pluto. The prize shortlist, celebrating writing demonstrating the "depth and diversity" of Jewish writing globally, comprises one novel, two memoirs, a work of investigative journalism, a history and a biography and you can read more about it in the Bookseller here.  

The Great Siege of Malta is the subject of In Our Time on Radio 4 all this week; and will be available as a podcast after that. Oxbow have the definitive title on one of the most famous battles of the early modern world; The Great Siege of Malta: The Epic Battle between the Ottoman Empire and the Knights of St. John by Bruce Ware Allen (pb, £16.00, 978 15126-01169). Drawing on copious research and new source material, Allen stirringly recreates the two factions' heroism and chivalry, while simultaneously tracing the barbarism, severity, and indifference to suffering of sixteenth-century warfare. The Great Siege of Malta is a fresh, vivid retelling of long hot summer of bloody combat, embroiling knights and mercenaries, civilians and slaves, in a desperate struggle for this pivotal point in the Mediterranean.

You’d think it would be hard to confuse Randall Hansen’s Fire and Fury, a 2008 military history book with a second world war bomber on its cover, with Michael Wolff’s No 1 bestseller Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House, whose jacket shows the US president mid-rant. Yet Hansen, a Canadian academic, wryly revealed this week that the shared title had helped his 10-year-old study to return to three of Amazon’s category bestseller lists. Hilarious! How many other books have benefitted from a title mix-up? Well, titles as diverse as Life After Life, WTF and Autumn have all sometimes been a bit – you can read more about the muddles in this amusing Guardian piece here!

Teeth are often considered the marker of health, attractiveness, success, and even happiness. Yet our approach to dental care has been fearful, costly, and segregated from other parts of the body. We've long known that oral health echoes our overall well-being. But what if we were to flip the paradigm? What if we thought about dental health as the foundation for our physical health? Dr Steven Lin, the world's leading dental nutritionist, has forged a new scientific outlook to reshape our perception of dental disease. The Dental Diet: The Surprising Link between Your Teeth, Real Food, and Life-Changing Natural Health (978 1401953171, hb, £20.50) has just been published by Hay House and was recently featured in What Doctors Don’t Tell You, Psychologies and also Health Triangle Magazine.

Anyone of a certain (my) age may well find this book reminds you of a once very well-known and much quoted poem by Pam Ayres – so here  it is – apparently, it’s now on the GCSE English syllabus! 

On Boxing Day, STORGY magazine reviewed M. John Harrison's You Should Come With Me Now, (pb, £8.99, 978 1910974346) calling it a “a collection of short stories that were quite different and a joy to read. What I really enjoyed most about these short stories is that Harrison leaves each one open to the interpretation of the reader…plays on the mind long after reading, …really make you think out of the box.” You can read that article here. More rave reviews flooded in over the festive period with SF CrowsNest describing M. John Harrison as “a writer in a league of his own” and CNET making the collection one of their Best Sci-Fi and Fantasy Books of 2017. Lastly there was a superb review in The Scotsman who wrote that: “In the far-distant future, when hyper-intelligent scorpions are looking back on the culture of the upright apes that once cluttered this planet, I think they will be frankly bemused that Kazuo Ishiguro won the Nobel Prize for Literature, that Ian McEwan won the Man Booker Prize, that Donna Tartt won the Pulitzer and yet all the time M John Harrison was staring them in the face.” Wow – how can you not want to read it after praise like that! It’s from Comma.

Who’s got a New Year’s resolution to try and become a bit richer in 2018? And who could not be tempted by this story in the Mirror of two lads who quit their £9-an-hour job labouring on building sites to sell rare coins online – and who now make up to £70,000 a year! If this appeals to you – then you’re definitely going to need a new title from Oxbow: A Beginners Guide to Ancient Coins (£9.99, pb, 978 1907427657)! It’s published in the Spink Books Living History series on 31 March. It could easily be the best ten quid your customers ever spent – how about displaying it in your shop next to a clipping of the news article! David Sear is the eminent numismatic (that’s my new word learned for today then) in this field, and this is a really approachable and informative introduction to the hobby. Ancient coins have long fascinated generations of collectors by virtue of their beauty, the stories they tell, and for the unique insight they give into the history of the time in which they were made – they are, quite literally, living history. This guide gives a general background to the fascinating world of ancient Greek and Roman coins, looking back more than twenty-six centuries.

Brexit: What the Hell Happens Now? Very good question indeed, and it was good to see the 2018 edition of this superb title by Ian Dunt at number 5 this week in the Non-fiction Top 10 in the Foyles Politics and History department. Nick Cohen in the Spectator said this was “highly recommended” and Caroline Lucas said called it “compact and easily digestible. I would encourage anyone who is confused, fascinated or frustrated by Brexit to read this book. You will be far wiser by the end of it.” What is special about this book? It is both blunt and informative –  and it is based on extensive research with experts across the law, trade and politics. Michael Gove may think that the British public has had enough of experts, but Ian Dunt and Canbury Press disagree. This incisive and important guide is for people who still believe in evidence and reason.

t’s very definitely the weather for a mug of something healthy and warm, so I’m not at all surprised that Theo Michael’s Microwave Mug Soups (pb, £10, 978 0754833734) has been selling like –  well, like hot soup! Media coverage has been fab – with a reach of over 30 million viewers and looking ahead, there will be more coming through. BBC Radio London want Theo in at the end of this month and the food editor at Time Inc is including some recipes across the magazine portfolio, particularly in Woman & Home. Yes Chef magazine will run a recipe and a book plug in the February issue and Feast magazine is also going to include something in February or March. Everyone loves soup – and it seems everyone also loves this book to with its 50 delicious recipes from around the world, all of which can just be made with only a mug to wash up! It was published in November by Lorenz.

Great news for two of our publishers whose titles have been shortlisted in the Fiction With a Sense of Place category in the highly prestigious 2018 Edward Stanford Travel Writing Awards, which celebrate the broad scope of travel writing. Six of the award's categories are open to a public vote which, combined with the judges’ verdict, will determine the 2018 winners. You can read more in the Bookseller here. The winners will be announced at a dinner on 1st February 2018 during the Holiday and Travel Show at Olympia. The winner of the Stanford Dolman Travel Book of the Year (receives £5,000 and all winners receive an antique globe trophy, to be presented at the awards ceremony. The two titles are Hummingbird (pb, £8.99, 978 0995994607) by Tristan Hughes which is published in paperback by Parthian in March; and The Bureau of Second Chances (pb, £8.99, 978 1846973925) by Sheena Kalayil from Polygon.

If there’s one movement guaranteed to get even bigger throughout 2018 it’s gender diversity. Of course, one of the top publishers for this is Jessica Kingsley, and some of their books have had some excellent press coverage recently. Firstly Fox Fisher and Owl were featured here in the Indy’s 9 LGBT+ people who defined and defied in 2017. They mentioned their forthcoming book too! Then the Metro featured Charlie Craggs, Fox Fisher and Owl, and Jane Fae in their Trans Power List 2017-18: top activists and influencers – with a mention for Charlie’s book To My Trans Sisters (pb, £12.99, 978-1785923432). You can see the whole list here. The Indy 100 listed 12 books that will make you a better person in 2018 which included Juno Roche’s frank funny and poignant Queer Sex: A Trans and Non-Binary Guide to Intimacy, Pleasure and Relationships (pb, £12.99, 978 1785924064) which is published in April – that one is here  and then finally, the Independent in its Review of the Year: The Female Groundbreakers of 2017 included Charlie Craggs, again with a mention of the book here.

OK, it’s Friday, it’s January, we really need a super fun quiz. Try this one over on Buzzfeed to find out How Many Clues Do You Need To See Before Guessing The Movie? For each question you'll see a screenshot from a film. If you correctly name the movie from just the first screenshot you'll score ten points – for each further screenshot you need to see, the score for a correct answer will decrease by two points. And yep, the better you do, the more of a film freak you are!

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

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