The Saturday Miscellany: How to win the jackpot; The Orient Express in books; Instant ethics; Shelfies

 

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The Independent Culture

Shelfies: Sophie McKenzie

'Last Night' by James Salter

"A mixed bag of short stories builds to an utterly stunning conclusion with the final shocking tale. Bleak but hilarious."

'A Million Little Pieces' by James Frey

"A brilliant portrait of addiction. Ignore the 'memoir' controversy and read it for the power of the story."

'The Secret History' by Donna Tartt

"A murder mystery constructed around a terrible secret; one of my favourite re-reads."

'Ladder of Years' by Anne Tyler

"This funny, sad novel about a housewife who can't live within the limits of her life any longer is also a profound exploration of what it means to be human."

Sophie McKenzie is the author of 'Trust In Me' (£7.99, Simon & Schuster)

How to hit the jackpot

by Oscar Quine

'Antiques Roadshow', eat your heart out. Next time you hit the car boot, be sure to take this three-step guide to spotting hidden treasures from Mark Manning, owner of Regal Pawn and star of 'Pawn Stars UK'.

* "Don't just look in the obvious places. Antiques arcades will already know that an item is valuable so go to places like car-boot and church-hall sales and don't be afraid to rummage in among all the junk."

* "Have an idea what you're looking for. Some things are really valuable which you wouldn't expect – you might ignore an item that looks cheap but

* "Look past the dirt and grime, and carry a magnet and eye glass with you. Gold and silver are not magnetic, and many items have fake marks on them – so learning your basic hallmark stamps will save you time and money."

'Pawn Stars UK', History, Mondays, 10pm

Rotating column: Trans-Europe express

by Alex Lawson

Aphex Twin's return after 13 years caused a buzz loud enough for Richard D James himself to sample. Not just because of the album Syro's musical content, but its marketing tactics. James floated a blimp featuring his logo over London and laid it underfoot on a New York sidewalk. He joined an illustrious musical crowd in harnessing transport to exhilarate the masses.

Pink Floyd flew a pig over Battersea Power Station in 2011 to emulate the cover of Animals (an original attempt in 1976 flew away) while Sony sailed a 10-metre-high Michael Jackson statue down the Thames in 1995. The Sex Pistols also took to the capital's waterway to heighten the buzz around "God Save the Queen" in the Silver Jubilee summer, and their entourage were promptly arrested. Worth thinking carefully before that Hammond organ unicycle stunt, then.

Micro extract: Congregation

"Our world is dangerously polarised at a time when humanity is more deeply interconnected – politically, economically and electronically – than ever before... We cannot afford oversimplified assumptions about the nature of religion."

From 'Fields of Blood: Religion & the history of violence' by Karen Armstrong (£25, The Bodley head)

Instant ethics: Dear Ellen

Q. A friend has flaked out on me three times in a row. Time to unfriend them?

A. Do stop wasting your fun invites on this flake, but don't give up on them completely. Some friends are rubbish at keeping appointments, but wonderful at unfreezing your iPhone. Or doing the voices in anecdotes. Or blagging your way into a nightclub – all equally valuable qualities.

@MsEllenEJones

Four play: The Orient Express* in books

Dracula (1897)

Murder on... (1934)

From Russia, with love (1957)

The Great Railway Bazaar (1975)

*first ran, today 1883

All good things

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Best foot forward

Autumn is all about ankle boots, and we're rather fond of the 'Hebita' from do-no-wrong Spanish footwear brand Chie Mihara. Available in various colours and materials with a colour-blocking toe piece and chunky heel. From £242, chiemihara.com

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Built to last

To celebrate its show, Constructing Worlds: Photography and Architecture in the Modern Age, the Barbican has an exclusive new range of limited-edition prints of London landmarks. From £65, barbican.org.uk

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Life lessons

'Sex & Lovers: A Practical Guide' is a bold educational book for young people addressing questions like 'How do I recognise an STD?' alongside graphic (but tasteful) images. £18.99, Cameron& Hollis

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