Friday 28 February 2020

Compass Points 339

Carol Vincent, the author of Tea and the Queen (£40.00, 978 1447351955, hb), was on Thinking Allowed on BBC Radio 4 on Wednesday, you can listen to that here. Carol explored the way in which children are being taught about ‘fundamental British values’ such as democracy and tolerance and asks whether this government-imposed requirement too easily results in a celebration of reductionist symbols and stereotypes of Britishness? Drawing on observations of teaching, as well as teachers' views and experiences Carol's book which has just been published by Policy Press analyses how teachers make sense of the mandatory promotion of these values, and what ideas of citizenship and identity they offer to their pupils. This is the first research book to look at this subject in detail and is highly topical, exploring the intersection of counter terrorism/extremism policy and education.

And talking of fundamental values, here are the top ten movies that definitely overdid the Britishness! Cor blimey guvnor, I think you’ll all enjoy these truly painful stereotypes!

The ability to climb cracks is at the core of a climber's craft. Crack Climbing (£26, pb, 978 1911342762) by Pete Whittaker (widely regarded as one of the best crack climbers in the world) provides a single point of reference for all crack climbing techniques, regardless of the grade you climb. Pete is touring throughout March to promote his book which has just been published by Vertebrate. The tour encompasses Horsham, Andover, Exeter, Leamington, Glasgow, Aberdeen, Inverness, Stirling, Penrith, Brecon, Cheltenham, Malvern, Caernarfon, Chesterfield, Gateshead and Sale and you can find out more about that here.

A really interesting guide to contemporary Arabic literature in translation here in RTE this week. One of the authors talked about is Hassan Blasim, the award-winning short story writer of The Iraqi Christ and The Madman of Freedom Square. His eagerly awaited debut novel, God 99 (978 1905583775, £9.99, pb) is coming from Comma in July.

Terrific article here in the Guardian this week by award-winning journalist and author Mary O Hara, author of The Shame Game arguing that extreme inequality and poverty is caused by political choices, so we need a new narrative to challenge the stereotype that it is caused by personal flaws or bad life decisions. Drawing on a two-year multi-platform initiative, this book by, asks how we can overturn this portrayal once and for all. Crucially, she turns to the real experts to try to find answers the people who live it. The Shame Game (978 1447349266, £19.99, pb) was published this week by Policy Press.

Here’s some literary Friday fun! Prof Kathryn Sutherland, Austen expert and trustee of the Jane Austen House Museum has come up with what BBC Arts claim is ‘the hardest Pride and Prejudice quiz ever.’ You can try it here to see if you know your Bingleys from your Bennets, your Wickhams from your Williams, and indeed Fitzwilliams!

How can we put the ‘human’ back into Human Resources? Combining her own research with twenty years’ experience of leading OD and cultural change, Kath Howard encourages HR leaders to think big and to think personal. Accessible and compelling, People Not Paperclips (978 1788601337, pb, £14.99) is a refreshing blend of practical insights, stories, and tools that will help you create an environment in which people can do their best work. It’s just been published by Practical Inspiration and there are articles in the newsletter of  the Academy of Executive Coaching, the March issue of Business & Management Magazine entitled 'How to move beyond free fruit and table tennis to really engage staff', three pages in The HR Director and a feature on which you can read here.

We mentioned this a few weeks ago, and we now have more information for you! Track Record (pb, £13.99, 978 1902719832) the autobiography of Olympic gold medallist Darren Campbell will be published on 21 May by St David’s Press – how exciting! Darren is one of Britain's most successful and popular athletes, yet despite his prominence as a public figure the true story that lies behind his fame and success has not been made public, until now. Track Record tells Darren’s remarkable story as an athlete, businessman and broadcaster. From painfully humble and deprived beginnings in a father-less home on one of Europe ‘s most notorious inner-city estates, Darren reveals his life growing up on the streets of Moss Side, Manchester and how breaking out of a cycle of misbehaviour and petty crime via his athletic ability transformed his life.

Some good publicity for The Last Blue Mountain (£12.99, pb, 978 1912560424), which is published by Vertebrate next week. There’s a great review on LoveReading which you can read here saying ‘as I reached the end of The Last Blue Mountain and closed the final page I confess I said a silent thanks. It was not just to the late Ralph Barker for writing this excellent book, but to Tony Streather and his fellow climbers, who are the kind of men who inspire us and whose tales of bravery and resilience will continue to enthral for generations to come.’ There’s more information in the Bookseller here.

Tune into Radio 3 tonight at 10pm to hear poet Mina Gorji on The Verb with Ian McMillan as they explores the language of leaving, resettling and exile with songwriter Ana Silvera and poets John McAuliffe, Igor Klikovac, and Andr√© Naffis-Sahely. You’ll be able to listen to it here. Mina Gorji’s colourful and vivid first collection, The Art of Escape (pb, £9.99, 9781784108823) continues her meticulous exploration of 'the strange and sometimes darker side of nature' and the different forms and meanings of escape: dandelions crossing the ocean, the journey of a gall wasp from Aleppo to England, the transformation of an armadillo into music. It’s just been published by Carcanet.

And in this week’s Hot Topics, Compass Points is a coronavirus-free zone, so here's the new song from Lady Gaga, here's the UK’s Eurovision entry and here's the latest Taylor Swift video!

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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