Friday 18 January 2019

Compass Points 289

Congratulations to Carcanet, Fairlight and New Island, who all have titles on the thirteen-book longlist for the Republic of Consciousness Prize for Small Presses. This is the prize for literary publishers (five employees or less) backed by the TLS and Arts Council England. You can find out lots more on the TLS website here,  but they champion genuinely small publishers – which of course we at Compass do too – so hurrah! They point out that despite small press publishing apparently now being “a thing”; this year’s Man Booker Prize didn’t longlist a single one and also that “the British Books Awards Best Small Press Category means a company with less than a million pounds a year in revenue, but by contrast, we at the Republic of Consciousness go for fewer than five full-time employees, and aim for the less number-based criteria of hard-core literary fiction, and gorgeous prose.” The titles are The Cemetery In Barnes (£9.99, pb, 978-1784105464 ) by Gabriel Josipovici: “a beautifully patterned work, both playful and serious, which reminds us that he is one of our great writers”; Bottled Goods (£7.99, pb, 978 1912054305 ) by Sophie van Llewyn: “If you’re looking for intrigue, psychological depth and the darkly comic in a book that can be read in one hour, this is for you” and Follow Me to Ground (£9.99, pb, 978 1848406889 ) by Sue Rainsford: “It achieves something quite uncanny: believability. This book is deeply evocative of what it might be like to find true healing in nature, if not in ourselves.” The announcement of the 2019 shortlist will be on 2 March.

Did you know that drawing for just 30 minutes lowers your stress levels? By engaging more of your brain, it can help you focus better. Lots of great tips like this are in Draw a Better Business by Cara Holland (£14.99, pb, 978 1910056639) which has a great triple page spread in the current issue of DIVA magazine, the leading monthly glossy for lesbians and bi women in the UK and Europe spotlighting all that is fresh, funny, exciting, controversial and cutting-edge. Great publicity for this title which is an illustrated practical guide for freelancers and business people who want to tap into their innate creativity and learn to use visual skills and techniques to gain the business benefits. Cara has worked with companies such as TimeWarner, Google and the NHS and has a lot to say about the benefits of working visually! It’s published by Practical Inspiration.

Friday Quiz anyone? Can Buzzfeed guess your star sign based on which books you like?

The mega-publicity started yesterday for the Stuart Barnes memoir, Sketches from Memory (£16.99, hb, 978 1909715714), with a special edition of the Times’ Ruck podcast (regularly topping the sports podcast charts), discussing the book with Stephen Jones, released yesterday. There are confirmed extracts in the Times in the week of the England v France game (w/c 4th Feb) followed by confirmed and rather brilliant reviews in the Times, the Guardian, the Sunday Times and Rugby World. Stuart Barnes has been the face and voice of rugby union on Sky Sports since 1994 and he will be on TV screens throughout the Six Nations tournament and there are events, social media competitions and a full-page ad for this title in the Official Guide to the Six Nations magazine, so it will be hard to miss! Tom English on BBC Sport called it “A blast. Barnes is one of rugby’s original thinkers. He looks at the game like few others” while the Guardian said “there is something for everyone in these honest, trenchant, revealing and occasionally poetic pages… vintage Barnes”. Stuart will be at Hodges Figgis in Dublin on 31st January and at Toppings, Bath on 19th March 2019. It’s published by Arena Sport.

A fascinating article here  in the Guardian this week entitled “Growing Pains: How the Climate Crisis is Changing British Gardens”. It chimes perfectly with the Lorenz title Gardening in a Changing Climate (£14.99, hb, 978 1903141625) which is a truly inspirational book looks looking at the garden styles of nine individual regions which have always dealt superbly with heat, drought and water shortages. Each one represents a gardening specialism: the Italian Garden, the Islamic Garden, the Patio Garden, the Mediterranean Garden, the Gravel Garden, the Desert Garden, the Bush Garden, the Flower Desert and the Jungle Garden and each chapter explains the essence of the style and includes a practical tutorial, a colour planting plan and a step-by-step project. The beautiful gardens photographed range from world-famous locations such as the Tresco garden in the Isle of Scilly to the patio gardens of Cordoba, Spain, the desert gardens of Arizona, the Hamilton Gardens in New Zealand and the Beth Chatto gravel garden in the UK.

t’s a US website, so not all the titles are as well known here, but I very much enjoyed this – the Strange But True Stories Behind Your Favourite Childhood Books! It includes such gems as the fact that Charlie, from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, was actually supposed to be black. According to Roald Dahl’s wife, he changed Charlie’s race because his agent convinced him that a black protagonist might not appeal to potential buyers. And did you know that Beatrix Potter was obsessed with mushrooms? Nope, me neither!

Caught Beneath The Landslide: Manchester City in the 1990s (hb, £18.99, 978 1909245808) had a brilliant review recently in When Saturday Comes saying “The author displays impressive levels of research throughout with many anecdotes, including private conversations and phone calls, quoted verbatim rather than paraphrased, displaying an admirable trust in both the credibility and recall of his sources. It adds to the integrity of a fascinating and insightful book that ought to be enjoyed far beyond Manchester City’s fanbase.” You can read that here. It’s published by De Coubertin

We’re pleased to hear that A Handbook of Food Crime (£85, hb, 978 1447336013) by Allison Gray and Ronald Hinch, has been chosen as a Choice Outstanding Academic Title. The books have been selected for the significance of their contribution to the field and their value as an important – often the first – treatment of their subject, and you can find out more about the award here. A Handbook of Food Crime talks about immoral and illegal practices in the food industry and what to do about them. As the authors say: “Big problems require big solutions, and there is a role for everyone.” Through discussions of food safety, food fraud, food insecurity, agricultural labour, livestock welfare, genetically modified foods, food sustainability, food waste, food policy, and food democracy, they argue for the importance of thinking criminologically about food and propose radical solutions You can read more on what food crime is and why it can't be ignored in this blog piece by Allison. It’s published by Policy Press.

I know I often use the phrase “rave review” but this one in the Guardian for Glen James Brown’s stunning debut novel Ironopolis (pb, £9.99, 978 1912681099) really is! “this unflinching depiction of an estate’s glory days and its eventual decline is nothing short of a triumph… wry, multilayered … hugely ambitious… a fascinating, absorbing world…” you can read the whole piece here.  High praise and richly deserved for this Parthian title which came out in paperback in November – all who have read it in the Compass office have absolutely loved it too!

Things fall apart when empires crumble. This time, we think, things will be different. They are not. This time, we are told, we will become great again. We will not. In Rule Britannia (£12.99, hb, 978 1785904530), which was published this week by Biteback, Danny Dorling and Sally Tomlinson argue that the vote to leave the EU was the last gasp of the old empire working its way out of the British psyche. Fuelled by a misplaced nostalgia, the result was driven by a lack of knowledge of Britain’s imperial history, by a profound anxiety about Britain's status today, and by a deeply unrealistic vision of our future. And yet, there is hope. In this wide-ranging and thoughtful analysis, Dorling and Tomlinson argue that if Britain can reconcile itself to a new beginning, there is the chance to carve out a new identity. Rule Britannia is a call to leave behind the jingoistic ignorance of the past and build a fairer Britain, eradicating the inequality that blights our society and embracing our true strengths.

And in these days of political splits and rifts, these maps made me laugh as they point out some of the more basic divisions that exists in our nation!

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

This weekly blog is written for the UK book trade. If you would like to order any of the titles mentioned, then please talk to your Compass Sales Manager, or call the Compass office on 020 8326 5696. Every Friday an e-newsletter containing highlights from the blog is sent out to over 700 booksellers and if you’d like to receive this then please contact

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