Happy Birthday Alan Watts

It would’ve been Alan Watts’ 100th birthday this week (6th January).

A key figure in introducing Eastern philosophical and religious thought to Western readers, and a source of inspiration for many (Cheryl Fernandez-Versini recently used his work in some of her lyrics), Watts was born in Kent and raised as an Anglican. He became a Buddhist as a teenager and moved to California in 1951, where he became a counterculture icon and one of the best-known writers of the 1960’s and 1970’s.

The Book

The Book explores an unrecognised but mighty taboo – our tacit conspiracy to ignore who, or what, we really are. We are therefore in urgent need of a sense of our own existence, which is in accord with the physical facts and which over comes our feeling of alienation from the universe.

What is the cause of the illusion that the self is a separate ego, housed in a bag of skin, and which confronts a universe of physical objects that are alien to it? Rather a person’s identity (their ego) binds them to the physical universe, creating a relationship with their environment and other people. The separation of the self and the physical world leads to the misuse of technology and the attempt to violently subjugate man’s natural environment, leading to its destruction.

Explaining man’s role in the universe as a unique expression of the total universe, and interdependent on it, Alan Watts offers a new understanding of personal identity in The Book. It reveals the mystery of existence, presenting an alternative to the feelings of alienation that is prevalent in Western society, and a vision of how we can come to understand the cosmic self that is within every living thing.

Some praise for The Book:

“The best book I’ve ever read on the nature of what actually is, what the world is about, and how you should behave.” – John Lloyd, BBC Radio 4, Desert Island Discs.

“For a new generation of readers… look at this ancient philosophy from a modern counter-cultural standpoint. Alan Watts explores the subject in concrete terms, using current idioms and expressions which will also appeal to the younger reader.” – ‘Vedanta’

“Offering spiritual answers to the problems of a materialistic lifestyle, alienated from the natural world, Watts is the voice of all who seek a deeper understanding of their own identity and role in the world.” – Watkins Review’

“Reminds us how Watts presented complex theories and views in a subtle yet straightforward fashion… Still an iconic figure… he made great breakthroughs in stretching our philosophical horizons.” – Beat Scene’

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Happy First Birthday: Take Home a Souvenir

That’s right! Exactly a year ago today Souvenir Press published its very first blog post. And look how we’ve grown since then. Join us in a trip down memory lane as we count down the five most popular blog posts of the last year – were there any you missed?

What would you like to see more of in the coming year on the Souvenir Press blog? Let us know in the comments below.

5) Chinese New Year: The Year of the Snake

Featuring predictions from the definitive book on Chinese astrology, THE HANDBOOK OF CHINESE HOROSCOPES, seventh edition, by Theodora Lau and Laura Lau. The book contains predictions that will take you right through to 2014. Find out what the rest of the Year of the Snake has in store for you. (Read more…)

4) Happy Birthday to Martin Luther King, Jr.

From January this year, celebrating what would have been the 84th birthday of Martin Luther King Jr, leader of the Black Civil Rights movement in America. His book STRIDE TOWARD FREEDOM, published as part of the Independent Voices series by Souvenir Press, was described by King as  “the chronicle of 50,000 Negroes who took to heart the principles of non-violence, who learned to fight for their rights with the weapon of love, and who, in the process, acquired a new estimate of their own human worth.” (Read more…)

3) Bum Fodder: An Absorbing History of Toilet Paper

Did you miss the official publication day for BUM FODDER by Richard Smyth? Find out  how loo roll was used in espionage, how it relates to corn on the cob, and what mussels have got to do with it. Richard Smyth answers the questions you never thought to ask about the product we can’t live without. (Read more…)

=1) Telling Tales in Latin: A Review

Stephen Addis, a retired Classics teacher with 36 years’ experience of teaching Classics in state and independent schools, reviews TELLING TALES IN LATIN by Lorna Robinson.
“A new and exciting Latin course… It is one of the best Latin course books currently available and will undoubtedly prove to be a great success, particularly with younger children.” (Read more…)

=1) The Book by Alan Watts

Appearing on Desert Island Discs last November, John Lloyd (writer and television producer, best known for his work on Blackadder and QI) chose THE BOOK: ON THE TABOO AGAINST KNOWING WHO YOU ARE by Alan Watts as the book he would take with him to a desert island. He described it as: “The best book I’ve ever read on the nature of what actually is, what the world is about.” (Read more…)

This week’s review round-up

With more wonderful reviews coming in this week for a whole variety of different Souvenir Press titles, this is your chance to read extracts of them all in one place. As always, we’ve got a great mix of titles in here – just another reminder of the eclectic mix we publish here at Souvenir Press.

Do Chocolate Lovers Have Sweeter Babies? – Jena Pincott

“A fun take on the traditional pregnancy book… with lots of unusual information… A great read… It really gives you an understanding about what’s happening to you, both physically and psychologically.” – Book of the Month, Pregnancy & Birth magazine (review not online at present)

The Book – Alan Watts

“Watts’ views are therefore now more relevant than ever … this last great taboo – the question of who or what we are – could never be more pressing.” – Philosophyonline.co.uk

Modesty Blaise – Peter O’Donnell

“A rollicking adventure that outpaces James Bond at his most lethal.” – Daily Mail

Terribly English – Rupert Besley

“What’s funny about the English? … Quite a lot… A guide book with a difference… a gem.” – Let’s Talk (review not available online)

Are you a blogger interested in reviewing any of the titles from Souvenir Press? Take a look at our blog post, ‘Calling All Bloggers’ for information on how to get in touch. I’ll be happy to send you a copy of our latest catalogue to peruse – just give me a shout.

Have you seen a review that we’ve missed? Let me know!

2013 at Souvenir Press

Happy New Year!

Hello and welcome to 2013 with Souvenir Press. 2012 was a fantastic year for us, and we’ve got high hopes that 2013 will be even better! In the next few weeks details of our 2013 titles will be going up on our website, we will get our new season’s catalogues in, and the office will find itself in a flurry of new year activity.

But rather than throw that at you all, let’s ease ourselves gently into the new year with a run-down of our best-selling ebooks of 2012.

1) The Book – Alan Watts

By a huge margin, this was our best-selling ebook of 2012. Since a mention on BBC Radio 4’s ‘Desert Island Discs’ by John Lloyd in mid-November, we have reprinted the paperback edition three times, and the e-book has been selling just as well! John Lloyd described it as “the best book I’ve ever read on the nature of what actually is, what the world is about, and how you should behave” – why not take a look and see if you agree with him?

2) The Artist’s Way – Julia Cameron

One of our biggest selling ebooks last year was from our backlist – we originally published the hardback of ‘The Artist’s Way’ in the early 1990s. A comprehensive 12-week programme designed to help you unlock your creativity, why not start the new year by reading ‘The Artist’s Way’? Or maybe your novel will wait until next year…

3) Hypnobirthing – Marie Mongan

Marie Mongan is the founder of the HypnoBirthing (R) programme which has helped thousands of couples through its practice. This book details her breakthrough approach to safer, easier, comfortable birthing. Any normal, low-risk pregnancies can use the exercises outlined in this book, leading to a peaceful birth. So if you, or someone you know, is expecting a baby this year, point them towards ‘Hypnobirthing’ by Marie Mongan.

4) The Trachtenberg Speed System of Basic Mathematics – Jakow Trachtenberg

Jakow Trachtenberg believed that everyone is born with phenomenal abilities to calculate, he devised a set of rules that allows every child to make multiplication, division, addition, subtraction and square-root calculations with unerring accuracy and at remarkable speed. If you or your child struggles with mathematics, read this book and give it a go – it may just change your life!

5) The Hidden Science of Lost Civilisations – David Wilcock

One of our new titles for Spring 2012, ‘The Hidden Science of Lost Civilisations’ takes a look at the myth that the world would end in 2012. As the calendar has ticked over to 2013, it is clear this hasn’t been the case. Wilcock’s theory was that it would instead usher in a new golden age for mankind, and his book provides a blueprint for this golden age. A stunning synthesis of hidden science and lost prophecies, connecting science with ancient wisdom to predict what lies ahead for mankind.

6) The Artist’s Way Workbook – Julia Cameron

The workbook accompaniment to ‘The Artist’s Way’ (number 2 on our list), this helps you to follow the 12-week programme Cameron outlines, including space to work. Unlock your creativity and introduce it into your daily life.

7) The Elephant in the Classroom – Jo Boaler

Another best-selling mathematics title from Souvenir Press, this book was the subject of a huge article in the Telegraph in October. An indispensable guide for parents and teachers, this book offers concrete suggestions on ways to teach maths well, and ways to help children in the home, that will offer new and more effective ways of learning maths. This is a new approach that helps all children, even those who think that they could never enjoy maths. If your son or daughter is struggling, why not give this a go?

8) Undoing Depression – Richard O’Connor

Richard O’Connor writes from the perspective of one who has suffered two major episodes of depression during his lifetime, and also as someone who works as a psychotherapist, giving him a unique insight into the condition. ‘Undoing Depression’ examines how depression affects emotions, behavior, relationships, and self, and discusses healthier and more adaptive ways of thinking, feeling, and living happier lives.

9) Welcome to Biscuit Land – Jessica Thom

We only published this in October 2012, but already this is one of our biggest-selling ebooks of 2012! Jessica Thom has Tourettes Syndrome, and this inspiring book tells the story of a year in her life. Insightful, funny, sad and above all honest, this book has already touched the hearts of many. Through the book, and her blog as Touretteshero, Jessica Thom aims to raise awareness of living with Tourettes Syndrome. A must-read.

10) And the Band Played On – Randy Shilts

Not a book to be taken lightly, ‘And the Band Played On’ covers the origins and early years of the AIDS epidemic in the 1980s. A masterpiece of investigative reporting, this weaves together the personal stories of those in the gay community with reports from the medical and political establishments, exposing how AIDS was ignored, or denied, as a threat by many national institutions. A phenomenal book of immense social, medical and historical importance.

Happy Christmas!

Happy Christmas to all our readers from the whole team here at Souvenir Press!

If your Christmas goes anything like mine, by now you will have given and received all your presents, and you’ll be in that awkward space between meals, waiting for dinner to be ready. Or waiting for the Queen’s speech. Or waiting for something good to appear on TV.

Well, fear not. Some of you lucky readers will have been given book tokens. Some of you even luckier readers might have received e-readers, so now’s the perfect chance for you to work out what to buy, or what exciting books to load onto your brand new e-reader. And we’ve got some fantastic suggestions for you.

Welcome to Biscuit Land by Jessica Thom

Welcome to Biscuit LandWithout a doubt, one of the most inspiring titles you will read this year. Jess has Tourettes Syndrome, which means that she makes sounds and movements over which she has no control. Follow a year in her life and the whole spectrum of her experiences, from the heartwarming to the heartbreaking. Witness the kindness and the cruelty of strangers. And above all, meet Jess: courageous, optimistic and inspiring.

Bum Fodder by Richard Smyth

Bum FodderDo you use toilet paper? Well, of course you do. Everybody does. It is one of the most important (but least talked about) inventions of the 1800s. Well, not inventions. It was invented long before then. But that’s when it broke through into mainstream society. But how much do you actually know about loo roll? Not much? Time to learn! A fascinating history of a product that we all take for granted, and can’t live without.

The Book by Alan Watts

The BookEveryone’s talking about it. John Lloyd on Desert Island Discs called it “the best book I’ve ever read on the nature of what actually is, what the world is about, and how you should behave.” It’s been reprinted twice in the last month. Alan Watts presents a critique of Western culture and a healing alternative. Offering spiritual answers to the problems of a materialistic lifestyle, this book may just change your life.

The Digital Diet by Daniel Sieberg

Digital DietMaybe you’re looking ahead to 2013, trying to plan your new year’s resolutions. How about this one: take a step back from the technology that is increasingly running our lives, and instead reconnect with friends and family in the real world. The Digital Diet will help you to take control back of your life, find time for real friends and most importantly, make technology work for you… not the other way around.

Modesty Blaise: A Taste for Death by Peter O’Donnell

Taste for DeathOr maybe you’re just looking for some entertainment. A Taste for Death was serialised on BBC Radio 4 in the week before Christmas, in an adaptation starring Daphne Alexander as Modesty Blaise, and written by Stef Penney. If you heard the adaptation, now is the perfect opportunity to pick up a copy of the book and see what they had to cut out. Hint: the book has a sword fight in it! And you can find out about the whole series.

Whatever you do over the festive period, we hope it is happy and peaceful, and we will see you in the new year. Happy Christmas, everyone, and best wishes from all of us at Souvenir Press.