Paperbacks

The Djinn in the Nightingale's Eye by AS Byatt (Vintage, pounds 5.99)

A middle-aged female "narratologist" (not unlike AS Byatt) finds herself trapped in a Turkish hotel room with a djinn so large that his shiny toenails block the entrance to her bathroom, and his private parts take up her entire bed. Over room-service of marrons glaces he grants her three wishes: the first being to rejuvenate her stout Yorkshire body, the second being sex with a djinn. Fairy tales don't come more sublime than this.

The Prince of Wales: A Biography by Jonathan Dimbleby (Warner, pounds 7.50)

Poor Prince Charles with his big ears and bad sinuses. Even his Uncle Dickie suggested plastic surgery. Kept up all night at Gordonstoun, pillows raining down on his royal head, the young Prince wrote sad letters home requesting new supplies of Vosene shampoo. Dimbleby on Charles's childhood is a gem; he is less convincing on HRH's "grande plonge" into marriage. Any mention of sanitary protection is studiously avoided.

Colored People by Henry Louis Gates Jr (Penguin, pounds 6.99)

In the little town of Piedmont, West Virginia, your name either ended in "O", in which case you were Italian, or started with "O" in which case you were Irish. If you were black, there were only 300 of you in the entire county, so you kept quiet. Despite his childhood longings for a house as comfortable as the one he saw in Leave it to Beaver, Gates's memoirs recreate a sunlit world of picnics, suppers at "Big Mom's", and learning to write at the kitchen table.

A Suitable Job for a Woman by Val McDermid (Harper Collins, pounds 5.99)

Val McDermid, journalist turned crime writer, sets out to talk to female private investigators, both in Britain and in the US. For any prospective Warshawskis out there, tips include: purchase a wardrobe of long wrap- over skirts (good for outdoor peeing when on surveillance), watch out for dodgy wigs, and frequent the local diner. Listening to these womens' lives, one feels that McDermid has saved the best stories for her own novels.

Highways and Dancehalls by Diana Atkinson (Vintage, pounds 5.99)

By the end of a six-hour shift, a stripper can feel like "a piece of 3-day old lemon meringue pie". And Diana Atkinson should know. Her novel about a high-school drop-out working the honky- tonk joints along Canada's West Coast is largely autobiographical. Written in diary form, the author revels in a twilight world of brand name kitsch where girls are called Shalimar, the nail polish is Maybelline, and the drink of choice is Grand Marnier.

No Place Like Home by Yasmin Alibhai-Brown (Virago, pounds 8.99)

Born the weight of a "medium-sized aubergine", Alibhai-Brown's Ugandan childhood ended just as Idi Amin's reign of terror began. Escaping as much from her family as her country, she boarded the plane along with thousands of fellow Asians for Britain and, in her case, Oxford, where she discovered damp rooms, tidy gardens and the joys of Kentucky Fried Chicken. A candid and far from bitter account of life as an outsider.

Freud: A Life for our Times by Peter Gay (Papermac, pounds 12)

Highly readable and jargon free, this epic life provides a clear-cut path through much disputed terrain. With Freud, more than any other great thinker, the theories and their creator are inseparable. Gay provides a living portrait of the man who revealed the mental topography of the modern world. But whether such an ardent devotee of smoking ("surely one of the greatest and cheapest enjoyments") would want to live in our times is doubtful.

The Oxbridge Conspiracy by Walter Ellis (Penguin, pounds 6.99)

When published last year, this energetic polemic drew furious rebuttals from the likes of Melvyn Bragg (Wadham, Oxon) and Andrew Roberts (Caius, Cantab). What got up their noses? True, Ellis's work has a rancorous obsessive quality. Worse, he is deficient in the quintessential Oxbridge attributes of charm and understatement. But his allegation that two per cent of graduates dominate Britain is unanswerable.

Umbrella by Ferdinand Mount (Minerva, pounds 5.99).

Faultlessly capturing the early 19th-century mix of sexiness and starch, Mount's elegant novella tells the story of Lord Aberdeen. A successful but uneasy figure, he was forced to resign as PM because of his stand against the Crimean War. The story unfolds via cinematic vignettes with Aberdeen's dazzling public life (dining with Napoleon, opining with Metternich) darkened by domestic tragedies.

A Bag of Boiled Sweets by Julian Critchley (Faber, pounds 5.99).

Alan Clark's bombshell aside, this is perhaps the only recent political memoir you'd read for pleasure. Critchley is a rare wit and admirable stylist. After an evocative childhood section (which could happily have been extended), his account of ambition slowly deflating into dismay as Toryism mutated under Thatcher is comedy of a high order. A perceptive and finally brave book, as polio catches up with him after a 40-year reprieve.

An Honourable Defeat by Anton Gill (Minerva, pounds 6.99)

Absorbing and uplifting, this account of German resistance to Nazism reveals the immense courage needed in a totalitarian regime, stiff with informers, to work for the defeat of your own country. This survey ranges from top activists such as Admiral Canaris to a teenage gang called the Edelweiss Pirates. Household names make unexpected appearances. Porsche was a close friend of the Fuhrer, while Bosch was a bitter enemy.

The Big Yin by Jonathan Margolis (Orion, pounds 5.99)

On his 1994 tour, Billy Connolly's childhood tales were better than ever but recent material was out of touch. Similarly, his biography retains a modicum of interest when covering shipyard days or early gigs. Steadily, though, a monstrous metamorphosis takes place in the cheeky Glasgow gagster. In the end, it's the royal connection ("as soon as Scarlett was born, Pamela phoned the Duchess") which brings on the dry heaves.

Arts and Entertainment
Jamie Dornan as Christian Grey in Fifty Shades of Grey

film Sex scene trailer sees a shirtless Jamie Dornan turn up the heat

Arts and Entertainment
A sketch of Van Gogh has been discovered in the archives of Kunsthalle Bremen in Germany
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
Eleanor Catton has hit back after being accused of 'treachery' for criticising the government.
books
Arts and Entertainment
Fake Banksy stencil given to artist Alex Jakob-Whitworth

art

Arts and Entertainment
'The Archers' has an audience of about five million
radioA growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Taylor Swift is heading to Norwich for Radio 1's Big Weekend

music
Arts and Entertainment
Beer as folk: Vincent Franklin and Cyril Nri (centre) in ‘Cucumber’
tvReview: This slice of gay life in Manchester has universal appeal
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
‘A Day at the Races’ still stands up well today
film
Arts and Entertainment
‘The Royals’ – a ‘twisted, soapy take on England’s first family’
tvAnd its producers have already announced a second season...
Arts and Entertainment
Kraftwerk performing at the Neue Nationalgalerie (New National Gallery) museum in Berlin earlier this month
musicWhy a bunch of academics consider German electropoppers Kraftwerk worthy of their own symposium
Arts and Entertainment
Icelandic singer Bjork has been forced to release her album early after an online leak

music
Arts and Entertainment
Colin Firth as Harry Hart in Kingsman: The Secret Service

film
Arts and Entertainment
Brian Blessed as King Lear in the Guildford Shakespeare Company's performance of the play

theatre
Arts and Entertainment
In the picture: Anthony LaPaglia and Martin Freeman in 'The Eichmann Show'

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Anne Kirkbride and Bill Roache as Deirdre and Ken Barlow in Coronation Street

tvThe actress has died aged 60
Arts and Entertainment
Marianne Jean-Baptiste defends Joe Miller in Broadchurch series two

tv
Arts and Entertainment
The frill of it all: Hattie Morahan in 'The Changeling'

theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Gillian Anderson and David Duchovny may reunite for The X Files

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Jeremy Clarkson, left, and Richard Hammond upset the locals in South America
TV
News
A young woman punched a police officer after attending a gig by US rapper Snoop Dogg
people
Arts and Entertainment
Reese Witherspoon starring in 'Wild'

It's hard not to warm to Reese Witherspoon's heroismfilm
Arts and Entertainment
Word up: Robbie Coltrane as dictionary guru Doctor Johnson in the classic sitcom Blackadder the Third
books

Arts and Entertainment
The Oscar nominations are due to be announced today

Oscars 2015
Arts and Entertainment
Hacked off: Maisie Williams in ‘Cyberbully’

Maisie Williams single-handedly rises to the challenge

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Eddie Redmayne in The Theory of Everything and Benedict Cumberbatch in The Imitation Game are both nominated at the Bafta Film Awards
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

    Isis hostage crisis

    The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
    Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

    The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

    Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
    Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

    Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

    Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
    Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

    Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

    This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
    Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

    Cabbage is king again

    Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
    11 best winter skin treats

    Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

    Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
    Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

    Paul Scholes column

    The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
    Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

    Frank Warren's Ringside

    No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
    Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

    Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

    The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
    Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

    Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

    Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
    Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
    Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

    Comedians share stories of depression

    The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
    Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

    Has The Archers lost the plot?

    A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
    English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

    14 office buildings added to protected lists

    Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
    Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

    Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

    Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee