The Hell of It All, By Charlie Brooker

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The Independent Culture

Charlie Brooker, one comes to suspect, is a bit of a misanthrope. This collection of his Guardian columns of the past three years is an unforgiving rant against the follies of humanity and the ephemeral obsessions of newspapers. His talent is for skewering the ridiculous aspects of modern life – conspiracy theories, new child-centric learning methods, Katie Price – with his own well-honed ridicule.

One essay is about the tabloid uproar after the Springwatch presenter Bill Oddie was too emotive while discussing the sex lives of stag beetles. ("Come on big boy, come and get it," said Oddie, imitating the female stag.) Brooker rebels against the anthropomorphism, pointing out that the glassy-eyed animals are, frankly, unsexy. Some columns – an appeal not to vote for Boris Johnson, for example – fall flat in the face of history. But seek out his timelessly brilliant essay on Unvalentine's Day, a day to vent all the agonies of love without the hypocrisy, roses and silent dinners. Wonder how he feels about that now he's announced his engagement to Konnie Huq?