Friday 10 January 2020

Compass Points 332

Happy New Year everyone! I hope the Christmas season has been a happy and profitable one for all booksellers with lots of jingling and jangling from your tills! Today’s titles take us on a world tour, from Wales, to the Ukraine, Jamaica, Iran, Egypt and China!

On 14 February, Mr Jones goes on general release in the UK. You can see a trailer for it here. Starring James Norton in the lead role, it tells the story of Welsh journalist Gareth Jones, who first broke the story of the Holodomor (man-made famine) in 1930’s Ukraine when up to ten million Ukrainians died following Stalin's decision to punish them for opposing collective farming. After exposing the famine Jones was murdered a few months later in Mongolia on the orders of the KGB, aged just 29. Jones is a national hero in Ukraine but almost unknown here. The Guardian gave the film four stars – that review is here. Welsh Academic Press has an excellent book that ties into the film, Gareth Jones: Eyewitness to the Holodomor by Ray Gamache (pb, £19.99, 978 1860571282) This is an extraordinary story of the efforts made by the Aberystwyth journalist to investigate the Soviet Government’s denials that its Five Year Plan had led to mass starvation and alert the world to the suffering, exposing Stalin’s policies and prejudices. I think this will get a lot of media attention, the story has resonance today due to Russia's occupation and annexation of Crimea and eastern Ukraine, and also highlights the issue of fake news. Gareth Jones’s credibility and integrity were attacked and denigrated by Soviet sympathizers as the film shows, most famously by Walter Duranty of the New York Times who has since been discredited for publishing stories fed to him by his Soviet handlers.

New Year, new you and all that. Hay House should certainly be your go-to publisher for supplying physical and spiritual nourishment to your customers, so I think it’s helpful to see what their top ten bestsellers are at the moment – see it as a quick hack for ten sure-sellers! 
Good Vibes, Good Life: How Self-Love Is the Key to Unlocking Your Greatness (978 1788171823) by Vex King
Life and Soul: How to Live a Long and Happy Life (978 1788173537) by William Roache
Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself: How to Lose Your Mind and Create a New One (978 1848508569) by Joe Dispenza
Moonology: Working with the Magic of Lunar Cycles (978 1781807422) by Yasmin Boland
Becoming Supernatural (978 1781808313) by Joe Dispenza
Super Attractor: Methods for Manifesting a Life beyond Your Wildest Dreams (978 1401957162) by Gabrielle Bernstein
You Can Heal Your Life (978 0937611012) by Louise Hay
Angel Numbers: The Message and Meaning Behind 11:11 and Other Number Secrets (978 1788173476) by Kyle Gray
The Universe Has Your Back: How to Feel Safe and Trust Your Life No Matter What (978 1781804254) by Gabrielle Bernstein
Fuck It: The Ultimate Spiritual Way (978 1781802960) by John Parkin

Loving this pic of the amazing Stormzy with a copy of Comma’s Refugee Tales III (£9.99, pb, 978 1912697113) anthology this week! Still Disappointed is the #1 trending video on YouTube at present, and you can watch it here.

Lots more reviews for Comma’s Palestine +100 (£9.99, pb, 978 1910974445) this week, including this one from Electronic Intifada that called the collection 'refreshing' and 'unique'. World Lit Today also reviewed the collection, saying it offers 'moments of insight and humour'.

Interesting news from our friends over at Legend, who announced this week that they are launching a new non-fiction imprint called Hero. They say that ‘Hero came to life from a passion to publish non-fiction books that would inspire, provoke conversation and spark ideas. The team are invested in discovering new voices within general non-fiction, well-being, gift, popular science and culture. As its ultimate mission, Hero aims to produce books of the highest quality, provide a global platform for authors and to create conversations with book readers around the world.’ We look forward to hearing more!

The School Fundraising Handbook: How to Maximise Your Income from Grants, Sponsorship and Many Other Sources of Finance (pb, £16.99, 978 1785834264) by Lindsey Marsh is a great way to get schools off to a good start in 2020! It’s an absolute treasure trove of tips, tools and key contacts to help schools in the UK save money and boost their income. This indispensable guide throws schools a lifeline by revealing the abundance of fundraising streams available to them and sharing shrewd advice on how to coordinate specific projects and initiatives successfully and is an invaluable resource for keen parents, school business managers, PTA members and anyone involved in school fundraising. It’s just been published by Crown House.

Coast: Where the Land Meets the Sea by David Ross (£19.99, hb, 978 1782748984) has been picked as Book of the Month in Coast magazine’s February 2020 issue. It says ‘Dorset’s mighty Durdle Door, Bamburgh Castle in Northumberland and Antony Gormley’s iconic iron men at Crosby Beach in Merseyside are just several British coastal sites to star in a new photojournalism book documenting the magic of where the land meets the sea. From deserted beaches and busy ports to surfers’ paradises and a ship-breakers’ yard, Coast is a celebration of shorelines all around the world – a visual feast comprising 160 photographs complete with fascinating captions. Your coffee table will thank you.’ It’s published by Amber

Two terrific events coming up as part of the celebrations for Carcanet’s 50th anniversary. Firstly there’s a launch for Gabriel Josipocivi’s Forgetting (£10.99, pb, 978 1784108908) at Daunt Books in Hampstead on 30th January, you can find out more about that one here and then there’s a PN Review 250 celebration in Manchester on February 3rd, that information is here.

So Brightly at the Last: Clive James and the Passion for Poetry (£18.99, hb, 978 1913062071) was a New Statesman Recommends title over the Christmas period. This offbeat and affectionate book is full of surprises, wit and warmth and is selling extremely well online, so do keep it on display! It’s published by Red Door.

The new series of the Great Pottery Throw Down began this week on Channel 4 and you can find out more about that here. Lorenz have an ideal companion volume, The Practical Potter by Josie Warshaw (978 0754834304, hb, £15) which shows you how to create your own beautiful ceramics, with practical step-by-step instructions. It explains all the basic pottery techniques in six clear sections, each including an inspiring gallery of work by contemporary ceramic artists. Over thirty projects explore the fantastic creative possibilities with clay – from a simple hand-coiled pot needing the minimum of equipment, to a press-moulded plate with printed overlays. Accessible and inspiring, the book uncovers both the practical essentials and the artistic secrets.

Westminster returns this week of course, with a majority government for the first time in recent years. A new book, The Public Affairs Guide to Westminster: The Handbook of Effective and Ethical Lobbying (£19.99, pb, 978 1860571343 ) by Robert McGeachy is the essential handbook for organisations seeking to influence legislation and shape policy development in the UK Parliament and at UK Government level, and is packed with invaluable advice on devising cost effective public affairs strategies and campaigns that achieve success on a limited budget. It's part of a three-book series that includes The Public Affairs Guide to Scotland: Influencing Policy and Legislation (978 1860571268,) and The Public Affairs Guide to Wales (978 1860571428). They are all published by Welsh Academic Press.

And if after less than a week , you are sick of Westminster already, then this from Cassetteboy will probably be right up your street!

Robert Harvey’s Night Sky: Stargazing with the Naked Eye (hb, £19,99, 978 1782749189) made it on the Daily Mail’s Illustrated Books of 2019 list, which you can see here. Night Sky presents two hundred colour photographs of stunning nocturnal vistas all visible to the naked eye ranging from the majesty of the Northern Lights as seen from Norway or Canada, to seeing the clarity of the Milky Way over an Italian forest, from witnessing a lunar eclipse in Indonesia to charting the course of the International Space Station across the Indian night. There are also additional inset photographs indicating the formation of the constellations and fascinating captions It’s published by Amber.

Congratulations to Lorna Goodison, Jamaica's poet laureate who was selected as the recipient of the Queen's Gold Medal for Poetry 2019 and will be presented with the medal by the Queen at Buckingham Palace in 2020. The Gold Medal for Poetry was established by King George V in 1933 at the suggestion of the then Poet Laureate, John Masefield, and is awarded for excellence in poetry. Each year’s recipient is from the United Kingdom or a Commonwealth Realm. On receiving the award, Lorna said ‘I am honoured and deeply grateful. As one of a generation of Commonwealth writers whose engagement with poetry began with a need to write ourselves and our people into English Literature, I feel blessed. Love and justice, hope and possibility, healing and redemption are the themes I've always turned to, and that this enterprise has led to my being placed in the company of the memorable poets who have been awarded this medal before me is truly humbling.’ You can see more on the Carcanet website here.

A great review of Nigel Fletcher-Jones’s Treasures of Ancient Egypt (£19.99, hb, 978-1782748595) in the Jan/Feb issue of Kindred Spirit magazine saying 'This book lavishly illustrates why so many of us continue to be utterly enchanted by ancient Egypt. Looking at different eras of the country’s history and the best of what has been discovered by archaeologists, you learn plenty about the country’s rulers and beliefs. Some of the more obscure pieces will amaze you, such as some of the naturalism found in ancient Egyptian art. If you are unable to travel to the exhibition of treasures from Tutankhamun’s reign in London, compensate with this lovely book.’ It’s published by Amber.

Well, we’re not going to get a better excuse than that for a three minute burst of cultural appropriation, so let’s watch this timeless classic from The Bangles!

Chinese food is justifiably loved the world over, but take a closer look, and you’ll discover that there is much more to this nation’s cooking. A new book from Lorenz, China: A Cookbook: 300 recipes from Beijing and Canton to Shanghai and Sichuan (978 0754831006, hb, £25) by acknowledged expert Terry Tan, is a must-have reference for anyone who is passionate about the food of China. From bustling cosmopolitan cities to remote rural landscapes, the varied food and cooking is explored, from aromatic soups and simple stir-fries to banquet-style roasted meats, with congees, dim sum, and sizzling street food along the way. Its 600+ pages are bursting with local recipes and ingredients, with fascinating background information on regional geography and culinary history and beautiful photographs of both the food and this extraordinary country.

With all that is happening in Iran, Jack Straw has been doing lots of interviews over the last couple of days, including BBC Breakfast, Radio 4’s Westminster Hour and Emma Barnett R5 this week. The Times have asked for a piece too, which hopefully will include a mention of Jack’s excellent Biteback title, The English Job: Understanding Iran and Why It Distrusts Britain (£20, hb, 978 1785903991). This book seeks to illuminate Britain’s difficult relationship with Iran, and in doing so provide a better awareness of this extraordinary country. William Hague said of it ‘Jack Straw has developed a rich understanding of the country’s culture, psychology and history revealed in this book. It will be required reading for anyone who wants to understand how to improve relations with Iran in the coming years, and is an accurate record of the attempts many of us have made to do so.’

The Observer is publishing an article this Sunday (12th January) featuring all the authors that are shortlisted for the Portico Prize, including of course Glen James Brown with Ironopolis (pb, £9.99, 978 1912681099) published by Parthian. The six books explore Northern lives and landscape across fiction and non-fiction and the winnong author will win £10,000 which will be announced on 23rd January

And in this week’s Hot Topics, here's Ricky Gervais telling it like it is at the Golden Globes, here are some eye-popping ice sculptures in China and here are some celeb reactions to Harry and Megan’s decision.

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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