Friday 22 February 2019

Compass Points 294

Whoop whoop, it’s the 91st Oscars on Sunday (24th February) and you can see a full line up of all the films and the awards they may or may not win on IMDB here. Bohemian Rhapsody is pretty certain to pick up something – with Rami Malek hotly tipped for best actor – and Queen are playing at the event which will be very well worth watching I feel! This is all going to provide another sales boost for Queen in 3D (hb, £30, 978 1999667429) which has outsold the official tie-in title Bohemian Rhapsody by quite some margin, and is now in its 12th printing worldwide! The DVD release of the film is on 4th March in the UK and Brian May will be back on the radio again after the Oscars; he’s been absolutely tireless in his backing of this book! If you haven’t yet ordered it you are totally missing out – it has been a hugely well reviewed bestseller, and this updated edition including scenes from the making of Bohemian Rhapsody, photographed on set in 3D by Brian May is a must-buy!

If you love the razzmatazz of the Oscars – then you’ll probably enjoy this – ten iconic moments from the Academy Awards’ history! And also, maybe these – ten of the funniest awards show speeches ever!

The audiobook of Comma’s Beta-Life anthology (£12.99, pb, 978-1905583652) was included here in the Radio Times' “best audiobooks and podcasts to download from Audible” alongside the likes of Michelle Obama and Adam Kay! Of the book, they said: "If you’ve friends or family at all interested in tech, chances are you will have heard of this Black Mirror-esque podcast, which brings together 38 scientists and authors (paired together) to imagine how technology will look, and how it will affect life, in 2070. From artificial haute cuisine to synthetically grown skyscrapers and dangerous video games, everything you’ve ever imagined possible and more is discussed." The Guardian said it was “a timely strong anthology which offers a crash course in futurology.”

A great review in the TLS of Elsewhere, Home (978 1846592119, pb, £8.99) by Leila Aboulela, published by Telegram. “Spanning Cairo, Khartoum, Abu Dhabi, London and Aberdeen, Elsewhere, Home by Leila Aboulela looks in on the lives of contemporary British Muslims with ties to more than one place.  With empathy and tenderness, Aboulela navigates classic intergenerational conflict in shifting cultural and religious sands. Elsewhere, Home is a sophisticated and modern narrative of global citizenship.” This really is a wonderful book; Nadiya Hussain, writing in Good Housekeeping called it “A lovely collection of stories about love, loneliness and spirituality” and if you haven’t discovered it yet you really should!

A fascinating article here in the Guardian by Pluto author Paolo Gerbaudo which asks whether “One person, one click” is the way to save democracy and whether although digital parties may help solve a crisis of legitimacy in politics, are they truly democratic? Paolo’s book The Digital Party: Political Organisation and Online Democracy (pb, £18.99, 978 0745335797) addresses the organisational revolution that is transforming political parties in the time of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Cambridge Analytica. Drawing on interviews with political leaders and organisers, Gerbaudo demonstrates that these formations have also revitalised party democracy, involving hundreds of thousands in discussions carried out on online decision-making platforms. Participatory, yet plebiscitarian, democratic, yet dominated by charismatic 'hyperleaders'; digital parties display both great potentials and risks for the development of new forms of mass participation in an era of growing inequality.

Who wants to stand up against mediocrity, reject bloodless orthodoxies, embrace pretension and deal with failure? All of us, right? The book to help is Rules for Mavericks which you see here looking mighty fine in an “Inspirations” display in the Wellcome Shop at Blackwell’s, with the author Phil Beadle@PhilBeadle appreciatively tweeting: Given my mum used to clean for this lot, I am rather moved. This is a how to dream book, a how to create book, a how to work book and a how to fail productively book; it is an examination of the many accusations that any dissident creative will face over a long career stirring things up. It’s published by Crown House.

We were very pleased to see Carcanet, Canbury, Comma, Parthian, Saqi and Wild Things all on the regional and country shortlists shortlist for the new Small Press Award in the British Book Awards! Forty-one small presses are in the running for this new Nibbie which has been launched to celebrate the innovative and nimble publishers making names for themselves outside the mainstream. You can read all about it in the Bookseller here. The regional and country winners, as well as the overall Small Press of the Year winner will be announced at the London Book Fair on 13th March and then shortlisted for the Independent Publisher of the Year which is announced at The British Book Awards on 13th May.

As promised last week, here's the link for the brand new Comma Podcast, episode 1 of which went live this Wednesday. The Bookseller and The Mancunion both ran stories.

A fascinating event coming up at the Essex Book Festival – with two authors talking about their two very modern interpretations of two very classic tales, Chris McCully presents a new translation of the mighty Anglo-Saxon epic Beowulf (pb, £14.99, 978 1784106225) while Philip Terry reads from his version of Gilgamesh, Dictator (pb, £12.99 978 1784106188) playfully returning the poem to its roots in commercial language by rewriting it in a contemporary business style.

Exciting news from Legend, who have just acquired world rights for The Hockneys: Never Worry What the Neighbours Think (hb, £25, 978 1789550733) by John Hockney. The title refers to the philosophy that Kenneth Hockney used to inspire his children; one of the world’s greatest living artists David Hockney, and his siblings John, Paul, Philip and Margaret. This book is a unique insight into the lives of the family by youngest brother John and hardship, successes as well as close and complex relationships are poignantly illustrated by both famous and private pictures and paintings from David Hockney. He has commented about the book “John has a view of me no-one else has” and this is a rare and spirited look into the lives of an ordinary family with extraordinary stories. It's out this Autumn. 

Simon Fishel worked with Robert Edwards during his pioneering early IVF research and was part of the team in the world’s first IVF clinic, with all the trials and tribulations that involved at the time, including a writ for murder! As the science developed over the decades so did his career, as he sought to do more for patients and taught the new technologies to doctors all over the world; even being invited to introduce IVF to China. His fascinating book Breakthrough Babies: An IVF Pioneer's Tale of Creating Life Against All Odds (pb, £14.99, 978-1788600736) is published by Practical Inspiration in March and this account from the frontline of fertility treatment, gives readers a unique insight into not only the medical and scientific advances involved but the human cost and rewards behind this life-changing technology. I

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

Friday 15 February 2019

Compass Points 293

Surprisingly, given how important it is to daily life and the fate of governments, food hardly featured in discussions about Brexit before or immediately after the vote. That was one of Charlie Clutterbuck’s reasons for writing Bittersweet Brexit: The Future of Food, Farming, Land and Labour (978 0745337708, pb, £19.99) as he wanted to stimulate debate about “the sort of food and farming we want for our future.” Since then, “Food Brexit” has slowly made its way up the agenda, and this thought provoking and important book is published by Pluto Press. You can read a really interesting review of it here in Europe Now which calls it “informed, compassionate and exuberant.”

All that lovely golden wheat on the cover of this book takes me back to a time when food production was much less complicated. An era when all that was needed was a bit simple scything!

Exciting news from Comma, who are launching their very own podcast! Series One is looking in more depth at their Protest: Stories of Resistance anthology (£12.99, pb, 978 1910974438) and the first episode drops next Wednesday (20th February) to coincide with the 31st anniversary of Manchester's Section 28 demo of 1988, when the community marched against the legislation which prohibited local authorities to 'promote' homosexuality. The episode will discuss author Juliet Jacques' story Never Going Underground from the anthology, which is set at the time of the march, with Juliet herself, sociology lecturer Em Temple-Malt, and poet and playwright Louise Wallwein. It’s hosted by Comma's CEO Ra Page – I can’t wait to listen, and I’ll give you the link next week! 

How much of your working week are you spending time on things you think you should be doing, and doing them well? This is the question Michael Brown asks at the start of an intriguing article on Manager Magazine, which you can read here. The answer, he says is “I kid you not, a mere 40%. That means that most people reckon they spend three days per week doing things they shouldn’t be doing or doing things they should be doing, but doing them badly.” Michael’s book My Job Isn’t Working! (£14.99, pb, 978 1788600224) summarises what he has learned from working with nearly 10,000 people around the world over 20 years as a business coach, and shares ten proven ways of boosting career mojo. It’s published by Practical Inspiration.

A British author has condemned Amazon for selling books that promote gay “cures”. Damian Barr told BuzzFeed News that the online bookseller is promoting hatred, abuse, and self-harm by featuring guides for the “treatment” of homosexuality. There are numerous examples of such books on Amazon that advocate so-called reparative therapy, including A Parent’s Guide to Preventing Homosexuality and How a Gay Boy Became a Straight Man despite the fact that every mental health organisation in Britain and the USA condemns such practises as dangerous, harmful, and ineffective. Barr is not advocating that this book, or any such book, should be banned, but believes strongly that the world’s biggest bookseller should not bring it into the homes of its customers. You can read the whole feature here.

We LOVE a bookseller’s Staff Pick – so thanks very much to Foyles for these two! Firstly, for the duo from Australian master Gerald Murnane whose newly published titles Border Districts and Tamarisk Row have had such rave reviews here in the UK; the New Statesman saying that “Murnane’s books are expeditions that encompass a territory unlike any other.” And also I spy the brilliant Crown House title Making Every Lesson Count (978 1845909734, hb, £20) which as Foyles says is “suitable for all teachers who want quick and easy ways to enhance their practice.” There are now a whole series of books based on this award-winning title, which you can find out more about on the Crown House website.

A good review for Churchill’s Abandoned Prisoners: The British Soldiers Deceived in the Russian Civil War (978 1612007533, hb, £20) by Rupert Wieloch in War History Online which is out from Casemate next month, calling it “a genuinely interesting history that provides a useful entry point into the confusion of the Russian Civil War. The futility of what they were trying to achieve in Russia seems obvious a century on, but they were crazy times and the spirit of the chaos is alive and well in this entertaining and quite intriguing read.”

The Irish Times' round-up of 50 Books to Keep You Reading All Year Long showcased forthcoming 2019 titles from the UK and Ireland’s indie presses. We were pleased to see Compass publishers with such a fab showing! Comma's Palestine +100 and The Dressing-up Box were included as well The Polyglot Lovers and Berg from And Other Stories. Also The Killing of Thomas Niedermayer and The Cruelty of the Gods: Aesop’s Fables for Our Times from New Island and Tales of Independence and Belonging and Exiles from Parthian. You can see the whole feature here.

You are no doubt aware of Maggie Gee’s latest novel, Blood which was published last week by Fentum Press and is receiving excellent coverage. A good opportunity to remind you of the Maggie Gee backlist, which is all available from Telegram, and comprises My Driver (978 1846590795), My Cleaner (978 1846590085), The Blue (978 1846590139), The White Family (978 1846590436), Where are the Snows? (978 1846590016), My Animal Life (978 1846590900) and Virginia Woolf in Manhattan (978 1846591990) As the Observer commented, “Much of the joy of reading Maggie Gee derives from her ability to take control of a complex and multi-layered narrative and render it as accessible and satisfying as a television soap. Her prose is rich and gossipy; it mixes the highbrow with the vernacular, and is, at times, shockingly cynical.”

There’s a really great interview here with Fred D’Aguiar on the Poetry London website, discussing his new book, Translations from Memory (978 1784106065, pb, £12.99) which has just been published by Carcanet. Boix calls D’Aguiar “one of the most important Guyanese writers of the twentieth century.” This collection focuses on memory and the cultural and racial differences the poet experienced growing up in Guyana as a child and then in 70s Britain as a teenager.

Feminist Book Fortnight 2019 will run from Saturday 4th to Saturday 18th May. Over fifty bookshops took part in the first ever Feminist Book Fortnight last year, with independent bookshops around the country highlighting the diversity of feminist books over the two weeks with displays and lots of events. Participating shops reported lots of full houses and a “thirst” for discussion of feminist issues as well as a celebration of feminist achievements. If you are planning activities for your own bookshop then you can find out loads more on the FBF website. See below for a full list of the many brilliant feminist titles available from Compass publishers. Pictured here are A Suffragette in America, a collection of Sylvia Pankhurst’s writing on her visits to North America in 1911; Emily Wilding Davison: The Martyr Suffragette; The Right Amount of Panic by Fiona Vera-Gray which is based on real-life accounts revealing the sheer volume of work undertaken by millions of women and girls every day just to feel safe in public; and for children aged 7+ there’s 101 Awesome Women Who Changed Our World which is a fully illustrated guide to inspiring women from a wide range of nationalities and fields spanning from science and arts to exploration and activism.

It's a while since we’ve ended with some music, so in anticipation of Feminist Book Fortnight, let’s all sing along to this rousing belter from Mary Poppins! All together now… “though we adore men individually, we agree that as a group they’re rather stupid…”

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

Friday 8 February 2019

Compass Points 292

Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump enjoy an extraordinary degree of power. Since taking to the stage in Donald Trump’s 2017 presidential campaign, the glamorous alpha couple of American politics have raised eyebrows with their dizzying ascent, sparking allegations of nepotism and corruption in the Trump empire. Kushner Inc. Greed. Ambition. Corruption. The Extraordinary Story of Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump (£14.99, pb, 978 1785905001) was acquired by Biteback this week and will be published on 19th March. In this gripping exposĂ©, bestselling investigative journalist Vicky Ward charts Jared and Ivanka’s journey, exploring the dark secrets that lie behind the ties of family loyalty. From perceived conflicts of interest to misuse of personal email accounts and unexplained meetings with Russian officials, this riveting portrait cuts to the heart of two of the most influential figures in US politics today. Like the President, they are disdainful of rules, laws and ethics. Like him, they are driven by ignorance, arrogance and an insatiable lust for power. And, crucially, like him, they pursue a personal agenda that will have profound consequences for American democracy. The publicity for this one is going to be MEGA, kicking off with a major Channel 4 documentary on 17th March and then Vicky Ward will be on BBC2 Newsnight on 18th March; BBC1’s The Andrew Marr Show on 24th March; ITV Good Morning Britain on 19th March; Sky News, All Out Politics on 26th March; LBC with Iain Dale on 19th March; the Moncrieff Show on Newstalk Ireland on 20th March and ABC. There will be features and reviews in the Sunday Times, the Observer, the Spectator, the Times, the Daily Telegraph, the Evening Standard and the Mail on Sunday. This is an author happy to stir up a controversy and a timely publication of a book that should do extremely well!

You may have seen that Alan Turing was named as The Greatest Person of the 20th Century in the live final of BBC Two's Icons series this week. Arcturus have a terrific selection of titles on Turing and Bletchley Park, all of which are listed below and you can also find them on the Arcturus website.  The two titles pictured here are Alan Turing: The Enigma Man (978 1784045357, pb, £4.99) which covers Turing's childhood and school years, his years at Cambridge, the Bombe and its role in defeating the Nazis, the birth of the computer, Turing's conviction for gross indecency, chemical castration and his death. The Alan Turing Codebreakers Puzzle Book (978 1788281911, £10, pb) is published in association with The Turing Trust, and allows readers to test their own codebreaking skills - if you can solve every puzzle in the book you might once have been recruited to join the ranks of Alan Turing's codebreakers! The Trust was set up in 2009 by Alan Turing's closest family and contributes to the future of computer science by supporting people in rural African communities to become computer literate. The full list of Arcturus titles available are: Alan Turing: The Enigma Man (978 1784045357), The Story of Codebreaking (978 1784285449) The Alan Turing Codebreakers Puzzle Book (9781 788281911), The Turing Tests Expert Code Breaker (978 1788887519), The Turing Tests Expert IQ Puzzles (978 1788887526), The Turing Tests Expert Number Puzzles (978 1788887533), The Turing Tests Expert Sudoku (978 1788887502), Bletchley Park Brain Boosting Puzzles (978 1788280389), Bletchley Park Code Breaking Puzzles (978 1788280426), Bletchley Park Codeword Puzzles 2 (978 1788280396), Bletchley Park Cryptic Crosswords (978 1788280433), Bletchley Park IQ Puzzles (978 1788280440), Bletchley Park Logic Puzzles 2 (978 1788280402), Bletchley Park Number and Mathematics (978 1788280457), Bletchley Park One Minute Puzzles (978 1788280419), Bletchley Park Puzzles Braintraining (978 1784044138), Bletchley Park Puzzles Codewords (978 1784044121), Bletchley Park Puzzles Crosswords (978 1784044107), Bletchley Park Puzzles Logic Puzzle (978 1784044114), Bletchley Park Puzzles Sudoku (978 1784044084) and Bletchley Park Puzzles Wordsearch (978 1784044091)

Do Less: A Revolutionary Approach to Time and Energy Management for Busy Mums (978 1401954987, £19.99) gives women the permission and tools to change the way they approach life, and embrace living in tune with the cyclical nature of the feminine. As one reviewer said, Kate Northrup uses her signature, crystal clear wisdom to insist that we stop wearing busyness as a badge of honour and begin to claim our time, our peace, our lives. Then she shows us how” It’s published on 2nd April by Hay House and will be featured in Woman’s Own magazine on March 11th 2019.

Half term looms and for a healthy activity to get stuck into with your kids, look no further than Easy Peasy: Real Coking for Kids (pb, £12.99, 978 1780275284) There’s a fab event coming up in the Edinburgh Bookshop on 16 February with authors Mary Contini and Pru Irvine as they challenge kids to get into the kitchen and cook! The book has sixty genuinely simple recipes guaranteed to tickle the tastebuds, and this event looks like it will be full of food and fun! It’s published by Birlinn.

Hurrah, the reprint is now on the way for Tentacle by Rita Indiana (£8.99, pb, 978 1911508342), thanks very much to all you booksellers for your support for this electric tale of apocalypse sex and time travel from one of the Caribbean’s most extraordinary figures!   If you’d like to read an extract you can do that on the And Other Stories website here. Rita made her name in the Caribbean as a neo-merengue musician, and you can watch some of her music videos here. Or you can read her piece on rap sensation Cardi B for Granta magazine here.

I enjoyed hearing a rousing debate with Ian Dunt, Canbury Press author of Brexit: What the Hell Happens Now? (978 0995497856, £8.99, pb) on the Jeremy Vine Show on Radio 2 this week – you can also hear him on Radio 4 Any Questions here. Based on expert advice, this revised edition of his pithy bestseller (almost 20,000 copies have now been sold) illuminates the UK’s biggest issue, stripped of the spin of its media cheerleaders. The Spectator called it “Admirably brief and necessarily brutal... Whatever your position, you ought to read Dunt because he is willing to face uncomfortable facts. Highly recommended.”

You may have noticed YouTubers: How YouTube Shook Up TV and Created a New Generation of Stars previewed in the Bookseller this week, which called it "both absorbing and highly illuminating." This title is coming from Canbury Press in May and is based on three years of interviews by the British journalist Chris Stokei-Walker with more than seventy-five people. Chris has travelled around the world, attending YouTube events and speaking to producers, powerbrokers and vloggers; and this fascinating title charts the channel’s meteoric rise and attempts to explain what lies behind its extraordinary success.

Brian May was on the Steve Wright Show on Radio 2 again last week, you can listen to that here  . As one of his fans on social media said “Genius, Best guitarist in the world, living legend, beautiful heart, kindest soul, charismatic, lovely, wonderful, friendly, and somebody everyone wants to hang with, even if it's only for a few minutes!! We all love you Dr May. Very much! xxxooo” to which we would add “Hear hear, and you are also one of the best authors we have ever encountered at promoting your books!” Whenever he talks about Mission Moon 3D (£30, 978 1999667405, hb) or Queen in 3D (£30, hb, 978 1999667429) the sales go up – long may it continue!

Ancient Peoples in their Own Words (hb, £19.99, 978 1782747079) is a fascinating premise for a book. Author Michael Kerrigan has taken ancient writing from tomb hieroglyphs to roman graffiti to provide a highly informative, and innovative look into the classical world. Along with famous cases such as the Egyptian Rosetta Stone and Tutankhamun's Tomb, as well as lesser-known examples, biblical texts and a few mysterious, undeciphered cases, this illuminating volume is full illustrated throughout. It’s just been published by Amber and will be featured in All About History magazine this month. It's a two-page article with the front cover shown as well as images from the book.

If any booksellers are thinking of making the jump from shop floor to desk, then they may well be interested in Is Publishing for Me? which is an open day run by And Other Stories on 2nd March at Sheffield Central Library, offering insights into production, editorial, marketing and sales! The £15 ticket price includes lunch and a book and travel bursaries are available. Have a look here for more info.

Jude Jennison started to coach business leaders eight years ago, and early on had a lightbulb moment when she was challenging a group of directors to overcome their fears.  "I thought, 'What am I frightened of? — horses.' So, I decided to go and overcome my fear of horses. In five minutes, I overcame my fear, and in two hours, I learned so much about my leadership." Recognising the potential benefit for others, she trained formally in equine guided leadership and bought her first horse. Now she’s published a book. Leading Through Uncertainty £17.99, pb, 978 1788600194) which is a call to return to the core of humanity to find the natural human characteristics of communication, connection, compassion and community. Jude has drawn on the experience of working with horses to understand the impact of non-verbal communication on leadership. You can read a fascinating article about this on the Financial Management website. It’s published by Practical Inspiration.

Into the River by Mark Brandi won the CWA Debut Dagger and multiple other awards. It’s out in paperback on 1st March and will be the Harrogate Festival’s Book of the Month. Brimming with tension and menace, this is an unforgettable story which was published to great acclaim in Australia. You can find out more on the Legend Press website here.  

We were chuffed that Martina Evans has been shortlisted for the Irish Times Poetry Now Award for Now We Can Talk Openly About Men (pb, £9.99, 978 1784105785). The €2,000 award will be presented as part of the Mountains-to-Sea Book Festival in DĂșn Laoghaire in late March which has been an annual event since 2005. You can find out more about the award here. Now We Can Talk Openly About Men is a collection in two parts, dramatic monologues touching on the Irish War of Independence and the Civil War (two voices: a dressmaker on laudanum and a stenographer in love with a young revolutionary). It is a book of vivid contrasts: age and youth, women and men, the Irish and the English.

All three of the main newsstand magazines about planes (The Flypast, Pilot and Aeroplane Monthly) have now reviewed The Flying Boat That Fell to Earth: A Lost World of Air Travel and Africa (pb, £9.99, 978-0993291166). Half boat, half aeroplane, taking off in a thrilling tumult of spray, the flying boat was the journey of a lifetime, with legendary Empire boats flying up the Nile in nightly hops and alighting on lakes and in harbours all the way down to South Africa. But in 1939 the Empire boat Corsair came down in fog on a tiny river in the Belgian Congo and, through an epic salvage operation, gave its name to a new village in an obscure backwater of Central Africa.

In May comes a major BBC series about Margaret Thatcher, screened on the fortieth anniversary of her becoming Prime Minister. A good opportunity then to tell you about the paperback edition of People Like Us (978 1785904608, pb £9.99) which has just been published by Biteback. There was a price in this in last week’s Mail on Sunday, and its author, Caroline Slocock was interviewed on Newsnight last week. This book should have a long life in the trade, Caroline comes across well in the media and has been extensively interviewed about working for Margaret Thatcher. There will be more publicity to come!

And Other Stories are enjoying widespread coverage for Australian master Gerald Murnane self-claimed 'final' novel Border Districts and his first novel Tamarisk Row (originally published in 1974.) Both have appeared in the UK for the first time. The Guardian Review commented “Strange and luminous. His books are really about the mind behind their characters: the singular, fascinating consciousness that gives them life.” The Sunday Times said: Border Districts excavates a fascinating subject: the experience of encountering fiction, and what our minds unconsciously conjure for us as we read” while the Spectator enthused: Tamarisk Row is a remarkably acute portrayal of what it is to be a bullied, confused boy, while Border Districts is dazzling for its austerity, its cruel purity. Their sentences ring in the ear, and the novels stay with you.” In the New Statesman, Chris Power wrote a wide-ranging piece on Murnane's life and works, concluding that: “From a boy following Bassett Creek to an old man patrolling the borderlands, Murnane’s books are expeditions that encompass a territory unlike any other.” We expect further reviews in the FT, Observer, Irish Times and the London Review of Books.

And finally, if you love memes then you’ll enjoy these fifteen literature-based ones from Buzzfeed!

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

Friday 1 February 2019

Compass Points 291

Politicians continually tell us that anyone can get ahead. But is that really true? The Class Ceiling: Why It Pays to be Privileged (£19.99, hb, 978 1447336068) by Sam Friedman and Daniel Laurison is a shocking and vitally important book which takes readers behind the closed doors of elite employers to reveal how class affects who gets to the top, showing that a powerful class pay gap exists in Britain’s elite occupations. Even when those from working-class backgrounds make it into prestigious jobs, they earn, on average, 16% less than colleagues from privileged backgrounds. Drawing on 175 interviews across four case studies (television, accountancy, architecture, and acting) they explore the complex barriers facing the upwardly mobile. Eye-catching stats from the book include the facts that children of doctors are twenty-four times more likely to go into medicine, children of lawyers are seventeen times more likely to go into law and children of those in film and TV are twelve times more likely to go into the media. There has been a LOT of publicity already for the book with more to come, the authors will be on Radio 4’s Beyond Today this Friday, interviewed for Going Underground RT on Monday and writing The Long Read in the Guardian for Tuesday; here's a big review in this week’s Guardian. You can also read 10 ways to break the class ceiling on the Policy Press blog, Better to smash the class ceiling than rage at it in the Times, Children of doctors and lawyers up to 24 times more likely to get top jobs in iNews, Doctors' children are 24 times more likely than their peers to enter the medical profession themselves in Mail Online, Double ‘pay penalty’ for working-class women in elite occupations in Personnel Today and The performance of merit: hidden barriers to professional success. Channel 4 were the TV company used in the case-study on privilege and broadcasting and have since ‘outed’ themselves and are committed to putting in policy change. This is a fascinating piece about that. The book was launched this week at the London School of Economics, where Pages of Hackney sold out of the 50 copies they had and could have sold many more – the event was full up and people were being turned away; as the LSE tweeted: “it shows how vital sociology is to public debate!” This is an ambitious book which is making a huge impact – so please do get behind it and help make a difference! You can find out more about all the studies behind the book on

A group of young girls set off from Camp Forevermore, a sleepaway camp in the American Pacific Northwest, for an overnight kayaking trip to a nearby island. But before the night is over, they find themselves stranded, with no adults to help them survive or guide them home. The Lost Girls of Camp Forevermore (£8.99, pb, 978 1789550153) by Kim Fu follows these five girls through and beyond this fateful trip, to the women the survivors become. This title has been a New York Times bestselling pick and the UK edition is out from Legend on 15th February. If this sounds a bit like a title by Celeste Ng – well, she’s a fan saying “Kim Fu skilfully measures how long and loudly one formative moment can reverberate.” Publishers Weekly wrote “Fu precisely renders the banal humiliations of childhood, the chilling steps humans take to survive, and the way time warps memory.”

Lucy Adams is on a mission to help organisations bring their human resources departments into the 21st century and aims to provoke the HR community into creating new ways to support businesses in today’s complex. She was HR director at the BBC during one of its most turbulent periods, witnessing four director generals come and go and coped with numerous crises, including executive payoffs and the Savile scandal: she also reduced the corporation’s management by over 30%. Now she has created a handbook showing HR professionals exactly how to step back from their old assumptions about motivating people and to see more creative and effective ways of engaging employees. The HR Change Toolkit (£14.99, pb, 978 1788600439) has only just been published but is already selling like a train and there’s plenty of PR coming too. Lucy has many regular national and international speaking engagements at corporates and conferences, there’s an interview on That HR Podcast, reviews in HR Director, HR News, HR Magazine and Professional Manager, a feature in Training Magazine and two extracts in People Management. Her previous title HR Disrupted (978 1910056509) was a bestseller for Practical Inspiration and it looks as if this will be too!

And if you’d like a masterclass in how NOT to do HR – then look no further than these gems from David Brent!

Comma were in the news this week, with their CEO Ra Page talking about the increasing visa problems for writers coming to the UK, as well as travelling overseas saying “Certain writers are allowed to attend our festivals and certain writers are not.” You can read him in the Bookseller here and listen to him on North Manchester FM here.

De Coubertin’s bestseller You’ll Never Walk (pb, £8.99, 978 1909245815) which has just been published in paperback, continues to get plenty of media coverage. Andy Grant returned to Bootle to catch up with his old friend Jamie Carragher, ten years after that explosion in Afghanistan changed his life – you can see that on Sky Sports here. Andy also discussed that life-changing incident and his journey afterwards on Emma Barnett’s Eye of the Storm show on BBC Radio Five Live.

Staying with a footie theme, Richard Sydenham author of Ticket to the Moon: The Rise and Fall of a European Champion (£18.99, hb, 978-1909245761) appeared on the independent Aston Villa podcast My Old Man Said to discuss his book and Villa’s sharp rise and fall in the 1980s. Ahead of Aston Villa’s 2-1 victory over Ipswich, Richard took a look back at 1981 and when both sides were competing for the First Division title in the Birmingham Mail – that’s here.  

I’m liking the look of this great event coming up at Blackwell's in Oxford: a wonderful evening of poetry and discussion with three of Carcanet's most prominent poets, Beverley Bie Brahic, Alison Brackenbury and Nina Bogin. The evening will be chaired by Bernard O’Donoghue, who has published six collections of poetry, won the Whitbread Prize and been shortlisted for the TS Eliot. It sounds like a terrific evening and you can find out more about it here.

Valentine’s Day is coming up of course, and the perfect gift would be Love Letters (£10, hb, 978-0995647831) This is a picture book for grown-ups which tells a bittersweet tale of the ups and downs of relationships and family life in which “love is an endlessly complicated yet beautiful four-letter word.” You can find out more about this lovely little book by watching this quirky little animation! Deborah Brown has been a portrait and interiors photographer for Vogue, Elle Decoration, the Independent on Sunday, the Sunday Times and The Face. Love Letters will be launched on Wednesday 13th February at the Stoke Newington Bookshop in London; it’s published by Hikari Press.

There’s been great coverage for Angela Readman’s debut novel, Something like Breathing (978 1911508304, £10, pb). Featured in the Daily Telegraph's debut fiction leads of early 2019, they said: “Readman's strength lies... in capturing that teenage state of in-betweenness.” The Financial Times declared: “Readman weaves a fascinating and decidedly original fairytale” and in the Irish Times, Sarah Gilmartin wrote: “From the wilderness of the setting to seminal moments in the girls’ friendship, Readman captures her subjects with ease and clarity. Something Like Breathing is a charming debut whose young voices beguile from the beginning and impart their lessons with a light touch along the way.” We are expecting further reviews from the Guardian, TLS and Sunday Express. Something Like Breathing has just been published by And Other Stories.

Great piece here in the Bookseller this week about Pluto, who celebrates its 50th anniversary this year. Founded in 1969 by Richard Kuper, Pluto published works by Karl Marx, Frantz Fanon and Noam Chomsky, and was well-known for the striking covers of David Pearson, who has designed the cover for a new edition of The Communist Manifesto as part of the anniversary. It is planning events and “celebratory bookshop takeovers” at some of our favourite indie bookshops including London’s Housmans, Five Leaves in Nottingham and News from Nowhere in Liverpool. Commenting on the anniversary, the publisher says: “50 years is a significant milestone for an independent publisher. It’s worth celebrating that. Our commitment to independence, rigorous standards, and a radical and internationalist mission is stronger than ever.” Happy half century Pluto!

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

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