! From the Beast to the Blonde by Marina Warner, Vintage pounds 10.99. As a child, Warner read fairy tales in the knowledge she would soon be expected to grow out of them. But why, she asks, when "there is nothing in the least child-like about fairy stories?" This learned, blissfully written dissection of the genre argues that, belonging peculiarly (if not exclusively) to women storytellers, they are a form of literary guerrilla action against the male appropriation of "serious" narrative literature. In between the wicked stepmothers and talking beasts, the subjects are certainly not trivial - sexuality, economics, crime, death - and Warner provides a useful corrective to Jung and his symbols by pointing up the social conditions under which these stories were produced and continually transformed.

! Ireland and the Irish by John Ardagh, Penguin pounds 7.99. "Ireland has always been a special case." From his opening sentence, Ardagh adopts that hazy focus on Ireland which normally steals over the eyes as a fourth Crested Ten slips down. Every country is a special case, you want to shout, particularly when selling itself to a bemused foreign journalist. Plodding its way through the Irish stereotypes to test them for veracity, the book is larded with I've-been-there pronouncements such as "I liked Northern Ireland much better than I expected". Well, that's all right then. There are undoubtedly insights to be had here, but you'd learn almost as much from Roddy Doyle's Barrytown books and have a better time.

! East, West by Salman Rushdie, Vintage pounds 5.99. For readers intimidated by the author's weightier output, these short stories provide an entirely reader-friendly introduction to Rushdie. The title indicates where the points of his twin compasses are planted: East is represented by three marvellously simple tales set in his native country and West by a trio of more allusive, Eurocentred fictions. The final, previously unpublished three stories are about East-West, the Asian experience of England, the place where the compasses are screwed together. The lovely cadences of the prose and very funny dialogue make this book an unmixed delight.

! You'll Never Be Here Again by Mark Blackaby, Gollancz pounds 5.99. Paul and David went to university together, now they are flatmates. David is the beautiful one who entertains a string of equally gorgeous babes. Paul is the tongue-tied computer nerd who narrates the history of their friendship and the sticky end it comes to, detailing on the way his own stuttering difficulties with girls. In its patient reconstruction of student firsts - poker game, doormat honk, kick in the teeth - Blackaby's Betty Trask winner offers a leisurely, misty-eyed lead-up to an abrupt and bloody finale.

! Going Native by Stephen Wright, Abacus pounds 6.99. With Wright, a novelist of the Robert Stone school, American nihilism is the juice that drives the interstate gypsies, video junkies and crack-pipe suckers who populate his pages. Wylie and his wife are middle-incomers in cake-mix America when, without warning and halfway through his own dinner party, he walks out, steals a car and drives away to become Man With No Name. The incidents in his odyssey are each a short story - hitchers picked up, dreamers and drop-outs met along the way - but though the shifting scenes indicate movement, the moral is static. Motives are artificial. To be natural, to be native, is to act without purpose because life is "a culture for the incubation of mystery".

! Shostakovich: A Life Remembered by Elizabeth Wilson, Faber pounds 12.99. Shostakovich was a musician of astounding natural gifts, arguably the only composer flying on the same plane as Mozart in the known history of music. He was also, by reason of time and place, required to live out the creative dilemma with an intensity rarely visited on artists - a brutal struggle between his private impulses and the political imperatives of Joe Stalin's state. The man's resilience emerges as heroic. This is not a biography but a compilation of contemporary memoirs. It gives a splendidly coherent and occasionally very moving portrait.

! The Quark & the Jaguar by Murray Gell-Mann, Abacus pounds 8.99. No, not a story about German yoghurt smeared across Morse's windscreen, but an attempt (no less) to improve on Hawking and sketch a research strategy to discover the Meaning of Life. As scientific heavyweight, Gell-Mann is entitled to climb in the ring with Hawking. Master of 13 languages, the 1969 Nobel- laureate (he discovered and named the quark which, with the electron, is the ultimate building block of matter) is encyclopedically learned about the world beyond science, and frankly lets it show. You need to be physics-literate to get the most out of this, but even science-flunks might find it worth a dip.

Arts and Entertainment
Shades of glory: Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend

Glastonbury Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend will perform with Paul Weller as their warm-up act

Arts and Entertainment
Billie Piper as Brona in Penny Dreadful
tvReview: It’s business as usual in Victorian London. Let’s hope that changes as we get further into the new series spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
No Offence
tvReview: No Offence has characters who are larger than life and yet somehow completely true to life at the same time spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
The Queen (Kristin Scott Thomas) in The Audience
theatreReview: Stephen Daldry's direction is crisp in perfectly-timed revival
Arts and Entertainment

Will Poulter will play the shape-shifting monsterfilm
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating

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

    General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

    Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

    He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
    General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

    On the margins

    From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
    Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

    'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

    Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
    Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

    Why patients must rely less on doctors

    Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'
    Sarah Lucas is the perfect artist to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale

    Flesh in Venice

    Sarah Lucas has filled the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale with slinky cats and casts of her female friends' private parts. It makes you proud to be a woman, says Karen Wright
    11 best anti-ageing day creams

    11 best anti-ageing day creams

    Slow down the ageing process with one of these high-performance, hardworking anti-agers
    Juventus 2 Real Madrid 1: Five things we learnt, including Iker Casillas is past it and Carlos Tevez remains effective

    Juventus vs Real Madrid

    Five things we learnt from the Italian's Champions League first leg win over the Spanish giants
    Ashes 2015: Test series looks a lost cause for England... whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket

    Ashes series looks a lost cause for England...

    Whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket, says Stephen Brenkley
    Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

    Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

    Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

    Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
    China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

    China's influence on fashion

    At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
    Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

    The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

    Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
    Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

    Rainbow shades

    It's all bright on the night
    'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

    Bread from heaven

    Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
    Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

    How 'the Axe' helped Labour

    UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power