Friday 11 October 2019

Compass Points 323

As Halloween approaches, can I draw your attention to Tales of the Troubled Dead: Ghost Stories in Cultural History (£14.99, pb 978 1474417372) which has just been published by Edinburgh University Press. Why do ghosts, even in the age of science, still haunt our storytelling? Catherine Belsey's fascinating answer to this question traces Gothic writing and tales of the uncanny from the ancient past of Homer and the Icelandic sagas, through to the present. Taking the Ghost in Hamlet as a turning point in the history of the genre, she uncovers a ghostly trail vividly charted through accredited records of apparitions and fiction by such writers as Ann Radcliffe, Washington Irving, Emily Bronte, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Henry James, M. R. James and Susan Hill right through to recent blockbusting movies. The Financial Times have just reviewed it and said it was ‘an engaging examination of the persistence of these tales in the western canon.’

And if anyone fancies a bit of a frightening Friday, then have a look at these top ten legendary ghosts!

Great review here of the The BBC National Short Story Award 2019 anthology (£7.99, pb, 978 1912697229) on which says ‘A short story has the ability to move, intrigue and seduce in ways that are specific to the form. Of the five short stories included in The BBC National Short Story Award 2019, each bring those merits and more to the forefront.’

I’m getting very excited indeed about the forthcoming series of War of the Worlds from the BBC – trailer here. Don’t forget that Legend Classics have a handsome edition of War of the Worlds (£8.99, pb, 978 1789550634) which is available now! ‘Yet across the gulf of space, minds that are to our minds as ours are to those of the beasts that perish, intellects vast and cool and unsympathetic, regarded this earth with envious eyes, and slowly and surely drew their plans against us…’

Burning Up: A Global History of Fossil Fuel Consumption (£18.99, pb, 978 0745335612) by Simon Pirani is a a major contribution to understanding the greatest crisis of our time. It recounts the history of fossil fuels' relentless rise since the mid twentieth century; of all the fossil fuels ever consumed, more than half were burned in the last 50 years. Dispelling explanations foregrounding Western consumerism, and arguments that population growth is the main problem, Pirani shows how fossil fuels are consumed through technological, social and economic systems, and that these systems must change. It was mentioned in the New Statesman this week and you can read that piece here. It’s published by Pluto

The six-week publicity campaign for First Aid for Your Child’s Mind (pb, £12.99, 9781788601177) gets underway with The Book Publicist this week, so you can expect lots of coverage in the run up to its publication by Practical Inspiration on 24th October. This title has just been loaded to Netgalley and can be viewed here.  The number of children suffering from anxiety is on the rise and most parents will readily admit that they feel ill prepared when it comes to supporting their child’s emotional wellbeing. Alicia Eaton is a Harley Street practitioner with over fifteen years’ experience of helping children to feel more confident. Whether your child has a fear of dogs, spiders, dentists or injections, struggles with school, performing on stage or sleeping at night, this book will teach you the simple solutions that every parent needs to know.

An excellent signing session at the Royal Academy Bookshop last weekend, with John Hockney talking about and signing lots of copies of The Hockneys: Never Worry What the Neighbours Think (£25, hb, 978 1789550733). This title is shaping up to be a big bestseller for Legend this Christmas!  

We were delighted to see Hassan Blasim's Iraqi Christ named in Literary Hub's '10 Best Short Story Collections of the Decade' you can see that  here. In 2014 it bagged the Iraqi author Blasim and his translator Jonathan Wright the Independent Foreign Fiction prize, now the International Booker. (It was first published by Comma, and is now published in the US by Penguin as The Corpse Exhibition, which is what it’s listed as here.)

Some great PR for Red Door's Mindfulness at Work and Home focussing on Mental Health Day this week, there were pieces in Forbes Online (10 Oct) and BA Up to Speed (11 Oct) and there’s a feature tomorrow in the Daily Telegraph Weekend (12 Oct). There will also be articles in the December issues of Northern Woman and Flight Time. Its author Gillian Higgins has been practicing as a war crimes barrister for the past 20 years. Juggling life at the bar and bringing up her daughter led her to mindfulness, as she wanted to be more present, feel less reactive, sleep better and improve her ability to respond to the challenges that a career and parenting can bring. She has pioneered work in the field of mindfulness amongst her fellow professionals and is building her reputation as a leader in this field. You can find out lots more about the book on Gillian’s excellent website

A truly terrific review for Patrick Kidd's The Weak Are A Long Time in Politics (£9.99, hb 978 1785905339) in the Times last weekend, which said ‘Kidd’s language is as joyously absurdist as Wodehouse's … I predict his masterly volume will be considered vastly more enjoyable, and insightful, than any of the dour official chronicles of our era.’ They also gave a big thumbs up to Peter Brookes' brilliant new collection of acerbic sketches of contemporary political life, Critical Times (£20, hb, 978 1785905209), featuring several cartoons from this master of satire and multiple winner of the Cartoonist of the Year. Both have just been published by Biteback.

Bookshop Day on 5th October was a big hit again this year following Super Thursday on 3 Oct (which saw 426 hardbacks hit the shelves) seems to have driven footfall to the independent bookshops over the weekend, according to the Bookseller. Booksellers have hailed Philip Pullman and Bill Bryson as the highlights of this year with a bumper weekend of events taking place up and down the country. Many indie booksellers think 2019 is shaping up to be a stellar year for publishing. Hungerford Books owner Alex Milne-White said he was optimistic for booksellers in the run up to the festive period, enthusing he couldn't remember there being as many highly anticipated titles this time last year. Hazel Broadfoot of Village Books in Dulwich said ‘I feel quite optimistic for my bookshop because there are loads of really good books out there. It’s a really exciting season, there are stacks of good things.’ Richard Drake of Drake the Bookshop in Stockton said ‘What is really exciting is the number of signed copies that are around, meaning the indies have a slightly different offer to give to our loyal (and new) customers.’ Blackwell's head of marketing and publicity Zool Verjee said ‘the excitement builds towards a very promising Christmas’ while Julie Danskin, manager at Golden Hare Books in Edinburgh, said ‘Indie bookshops all do their own thing so it's nice when there is a national campaign like this. We each put our own spin on it and chat throughout the day. It's always really successful.’ I hear Golden Hare Books were giving away free cakes, which sounds like my sort of books promotion! Here’s hoping all bookshops large and small have an awesome autumn, and a fantastic festive season!

And for this week’s Hot Topics, I don’t think there’s any topic much hotter than the ongoing spat between Rebekah #Wagamama Vardy and Coleen #WagathaChristie Rooney! Here's a summary of the story, here are the best memes so far and here's the brilliant Marina Hyde’s summary in the Guardian!

That’s all 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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