Friday 1 March 2019

Compass Points 295

We are loving this fun 1-minute promotional video from Oxbow for Reinventing Sustainability: How Archaeology Can Save the Planet (pb, £25, 978 1785709920). On Facebook, the video reached almost 10,000 people, and had over 4,000 views of ten seconds or more! There have been many books written about what we can learn from the failures of the past, but Erika Guttmann-Bond has taken a more optimistic view, focussing on what we have to learn from past successes. With case studies and solution, she controversially suggests we combine some aspects of early technology with new systems and inventions such as solar energy, to create a healthier, more sustainable and environmentally richer planet.

Our attitudes to health, life and death are changing fast and Words in Pain: Letters on Life and Death by Olga Jacoby (hb, 978 1911072355, £15.00) is a rediscovered treasure which will appeal to diverse readers with its clear-headed musings on the nature of illness and loss. First published anonymously in 1919, these letters from a dying woman to her doctor display an attitude which is fiercely independent of religion but full of hope. They illuminate the development of rationalist thought, humanism and liberal education and provide comfort for those who try to come to terms with dying, without religion to cushion the blow. It is published by Skyscraper next week and has had some great pre-publicity. Sandi Toksvig said “these wonderful letters prove that true immortality lies in what we leave behind. For those of us who cannot accept the consolation of religion, they provide a sane and comforting view of how to live and, more importantly, die. A feminist, rational and heartening voice about the big stuff.” Canon Mark Oakley said “The freshness, courage and insight of Olga Jacoby help us come to terms with human collage and complexity. This is a marvellous book.”

I’m very much looking forward to Comma’s The Book of Cairo (£9.99, pb, 978 1910974254)  which is published this month and it seems I’m not the only one; it was included in Translated Lit's Most Anticipated Books for March, you can see that here .These ten short stories showcase some of the most exciting, emerging voices in Egypt, guiding us through one of the world’s largest and most historic cities as it is today, from its slums to its villas, its bars and its balconies, through its infamous traffic. Appearing in English for the first time, these stories evoke the sadness and loss of the modern city, as well as its humour and beauty.

The Chartered Management Institute Management Book of the Year category winners have been announced and hurrah, Myths of Leadership is this year’s winner in the Aspiring Leaders category! You may be thinking, blimey, there are over 50,000 leadership books available already, so why does the world need another one? Well, as Jo Owen tells us in a terrific article here that his book was written because there are so many leadership books; 50,000 is a problem, not a solution! Myths of Leadership is designed to help you find your way through the vast sea of fads and falsehoods and his article lets you in on four of the biggest myths out there!  You can find all the shortlists and category winder on the CMI website here. Myths of Leadership (£14.99, pb, 978 0749480745) is published by Kogan Page.

Chris Wallace-Crabbe's Rondo (pb, 978 1784106430, £9.99) has been shortlisted for the Kenneth Slessor Prize for Poetry in the New South Wales Premier's Literature Awards. This collection is full of sharp wit and humour, the Times Literary Supplement called him “a witty, endearingly slangy, yet unostentatiously philosophical Australian poet.” It’s published by Carcanet.

Hmm, methinks Trump should definitely have had a read of the excellent Pluto title Talking To North Korea (pb, £14.99, 978 0745337852) before he had his recent chat with Kim Jong-un. This provocative account blasts apart the myths which paint North Korea as a rogue state run by a mad leader, and while acknowledging that it is deeply flawed and repressive state, it nonetheless shows that sections of the leadership are desperate to modernise and end their isolation. Informed by extraordinary access to the country's leadership, Glyn Ford investigates the regime from the inside, providing game-changing insights.

Lord Horatio Herbert Kitchener is most famous today as the face of the poster that led the country's recruitment drive during the early part of the First World War. But in recent years, with the recent release of records by the government, it has been the nature of his death that has stirred up passions long forgotten. There is lots of promotion coming for Who Killed Kitchener? (hb, 978 1785902376, £20) when it’s published by Biteback later this month. The keynote publicity includes a serialisation in the Daily Mail from 20th March, an interview on the BBC Today programme on the 20th March, ditto Sky News and there are confirmed reviews in the Sunday Times (24th March), the Telegraph and the Spectator. There will also be interviews with author David Laws on the Afternoon Show, BBC Radio Scotland and Newstalk Ireland. Local radio includes an interview on Radio Somerset (David was formerly the MP for Yeovil) and of course both Iain Dale and Eamonn Holmes will be interviewing David on their respective radio shows. David will also be discussing Who Killed Kitchener? at the Hay Festival on Tuesday 28th May.

What’s not to love about Olivia Coleman’s totes emosh speech at the Oscars! Jacqui Harper, author of Executive Presentations: Develop Presence to Speak with Confidence and Skill (pb, £15.99, 978 1788600163) agrees calling it “a masterclass” and she has written a great blog post entitled What Oscars 2019 Teaches Us About Public Speaking in The HR Director – you can read that here . Shortlisted for the 2019 Business Book Awards, Jacqui’s book equips executives to give compelling and clear presentations using what you say, how you use your body, and your mindset to transform the way you think. Her rich blend of tools, tips and expert advice will help you become a consistently outstanding communicator. Lots of reviews and features coming up for this one in the business media.

Very sadly Labour MP Paul Flynn died last week, so I will just remind you about his excellent book How to Be An MP (978 1849542203, pb) which is published by Biteback. With a foreword by the Speaker John Bercow, here is a guide for anyone and everyone fascinated by the quirks and foibles of Westminster Palace, covering all species of backbencher and providing every hardworking MP and political enthusiast with the know-how to survive life in Parliament. How to Be an MP is indispensable reading for anyone wishing to make a mark from the back bench and in the process, it provides the outsider with a riveting insight into life as a Member.

Hurrah, The GCSE Mindset (978 1785831843, £18,99, pb) by Steve Oakes and Martin Griffin is a finalist in the 2019 Education Resources Awards’ Educational Book of the Year category. This super-practical title contains forty activities for transforming student commitment, motivation and productivity and offers a wealth of concrete, applicable tools designed to supercharge GCSE students’ resilience and organisation. A full listing of the awards’ shortlists can be found here here.

A very interesting article here about the pioneering women in north-eastern Syria, who have escaped from Isis to start over in a female-only commune. This article is part of a Guardian series on possible solutions to some of the world’s most stubborn problems, and there is an interesting Pluto title on this subject: Revolution in Rojava: Democratic Autonomy and Women's Liberation in Syrian Kurdistan (£16.99, pb, 978 0745336596). The title has been hailed as “a possible way forward out of the tragedy of the Middle East, and more than that: a possible way forward out of the catastrophe that is capitalism. This book is of great help... A careful and detailed account that is filled with personal narrative, it is both easily accessible and very informative.”

Dave Eicher and Brian May have been all over the place this month talking about Mission Moon 3D Reliving the Great Space Race (£30, hb, 978 1999667405). You can see a short talk by Brian before the Bath event here.  And over on Twitter here you can get a glimpse inside the 2019 Astrofest as David Eicher and Brian May presented the book to a captivated audience of 800. As Steve Wright put it on Radio 2 recently, "beautifully photographed, this is ideal for me … I love Queen and I love space … I’m in heaven!" If you missed that great interview with Brian you can hear it here!

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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