Is there really a way of avoiding Bracknell?

AS CHRISTMAS comes ever nearer, like an express train heading towards an unmanned crossing, I sense a feeling of panic in the air, a lack of ideas for presents, which can best be expressed in the question: "Isn't there some new book out which would make the ideal Christmas gift, if not by Michael Palin, at least by someone else?"

Indeed there is, and today I am bringing you the top Christmas book bargains on the market, any one of which will make the perfect present for someone who can read, or indeed, considering that most Christmas book gifts remain untouched, anyone who can't read.

Women Are From Venus, Men Are From Basingstoke by Dr Graybeard, Garfunkel & Schuster, pounds 13.99. Dr Graybeard has two theories. One is that if you write a book purporting to explain the difference between men and women, you will sell millions of copies. Two, that women are interested in arriving but men interested only in how they got there, which is why men waste half their lives in endless conversations about the best way to avoid Bracknell. But is chatting about B roads and parking spaces another form of sex? Dr Graybeard does not commit himself.

The Thomas Hardy Book of Wessex Girl Jokes edited by Gyles Brandreth, Heritage Ho Ho Press, pounds 13.99. A lovely taste of old England. Sample Thomas Hardy joke: "Hey, did you hear the one about the Wessex girl who was about to get married but found that her fiance had been transported for life on a trumped-up charge by a magistrate who fancied her, and so committed suicide on the day before her wedding day? Well, you have now!"

Eat P J O'Rourke by Will Hutton, HarperJoanCollins, pounds 13.99. The idea behind this book is that if a comedian like P J O'Rourke can write a book about economics, then surely an economist can make a quick buck by doing a book about the economics of the comedy world? Hutton unearths some pretty depressing statistics about the stranglehold exerted on comedy by the handful of huge corporate agencies, and sees no future for comedy unless we can free the means of production and... well, actually, we didn't really understand the rest, but Will Hutton seems pretty cross about something. Not many jokes.

The Late Enoch Powell by Simon Hodder, Heffer & Stoughton, pounds 13.99. A book which will come as a considerable shock to anyone who thought Enoch Powell was still alive.

Lafontaine's Fables by Oskar Lafontaine, Europress, pounds 13.99. A welcome reissue for the best fables by the renowned story-teller, Lafontaine, including such classics as "The Big Goat, the Little Goat and Tax Harmonisation", "The Little Boy Who Cried `Rebate!' ", and "The Crow and the Cheese which Broke EU Pasteurisation Regulations". Endless hours of fun.

The Penguin Book of Conversations edited by Paul Theroux, Penguin, pounds 13.99. It seems unlikely that any of us can remember any past conversation in much detail, but Paul Theroux claims the opposite (he points out, for example, that he can remember chats he had with V S Naipaul years ago, word for word) and he points out that all travel writing includes closely reasoned conversations which may well have taken place, or, if they didn't should have.

The Life of Birds by David Attenborough, Penguin, pounds 13.99. As one of the birds he interviews says, "It's not much of a life as a dolly bird - work all week in a dead-end job, doll yourself up for the weekend, go out, meet some bloke who doesn't even phone back when he said he would, then find yourself pregnant..." Grim and powerful.

How to Write a Cookbook by Delia Smith, Cook Books, pounds 13.99. Back to the basics with Delia, as she shows you how to choose a simple idea, as fresh as possible, then prepare it and serve it up as simply as possible, sprinkling it with lots of lovely photos, then publish it and sell lots and lots of it.

Interviewing the English by Jeremy Paxman, Acacia Press, pounds 13.99. Jeremy Paxman brings his formidable interviewing techniques to bear in this revealing book. Here is a telling sample:

Paxman: What makes you English?

Man: Well, I don't know, really.

Paxman: Come on, don't shilly shally - I want an answer!

Man: Is it something to do with racial background?

Paxman: No - the answer is, the urge to go on TV quiz shows and make a fool of yourself. No points.

More Christmas books soon!

Arts and Entertainment

eurovision
Arts and Entertainment
Fearne Cotton is leaving Radio 1 after a decade

radio
Arts and Entertainment
The light stuff: Britt Robertson and George Clooney in ‘Tomorrowland: a World Beyond’
film review
Arts and Entertainment
Reawakening: can Jon Hamm’s Don Draper find enlightenment in the final ‘Mad Men’?
tv reviewNot quite, but it's an enlightening finale for Don Draper spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
Breakfast Show’s Nick Grimshaw

Radio
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
I am flute: Azeem Ward and his now-famous instrument
music
Arts and Entertainment
A glass act: Dr Chris van Tulleken (left) and twin Xand get set for their drinking challenge
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
MIA perform at Lovebox 2014 in London Fields, Hackney

music
Arts and Entertainment
Finnish punk band PKN hope to enter Eurovision 2015 and raise awareness for Down's Syndrome

eurovision
Arts and Entertainment
William Shakespeare on the cover of John Gerard's The Herball or Generall Historie of Plantes

books
Arts and Entertainment

Game of Thrones review
Arts and Entertainment
Grayson Perry dedicates his Essex home to Julie

Potter's attempt to create an Essex Taj Mahal was a lovely treat

tv
Arts and Entertainment
A scene from the original Swedish version of the sci-fi TV drama ‘Real Humans’
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Hugh Keays-Byrne plays Immortan Joe, the terrifying gang leader, in the new film
filmActor who played Toecutter returns - but as a different villain in reboot
Arts and Entertainment
Charlize Theron as Imperator Furiosa in Mad Max: Fury Road
film
Arts and Entertainment
Jessica Hynes in W1A
tvReview: Perhaps the creators of W1A should lay off the copy and paste function spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
Power play: Mitsuko Uchida in concert

classical
Arts and Entertainment
Dangerous liaisons: Dominic West, Jake Richard Siciliano, Maura Tierney and Leya Catlett in ‘The Affair’ – a contradictory drama but one which is sure to reel the viewers in
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Herring, pictured performing at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival two years ago
comedy
Arts and Entertainment
Music freak: Max Runham in the funfair band
theatre
Arts and Entertainment
film 'I felt under-used by Hollywood'
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.

    Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

    Sun, sex and an anthropological study

    One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
    From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

    Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

    'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
    'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

    Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

    This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
    Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

    Songs from the bell jar

    Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
    How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

    One man's day in high heels

    ...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
    Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

    Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

    Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
    The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

    King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

    The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
    More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

    End of the Aussie brain drain

    More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
    Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

    Can meditation be bad for you?

    Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
    Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

    Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

    Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine
    Letterman's final Late Show: Laughter, but no tears, as David takes his bow after 33 years

    Laughter, but no tears, as Letterman takes his bow after 33 years

    Veteran talkshow host steps down to plaudits from four presidents
    Ivor Novello Awards 2015: Hozier wins with anti-Catholic song 'Take Me To Church' as John Whittingdale leads praise for Black Sabbath

    Hozier's 'blasphemous' song takes Novello award

    Singer joins Ed Sheeran and Clean Bandit in celebration of the best in British and Irish music
    Tequila gold rush: The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product

    Join the tequila gold rush

    The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product
    12 best statement wallpapers

    12 best statement wallpapers

    Make an impact and transform a room with a conversation-starting pattern
    Paul Scholes column: Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?

    Paul Scholes column

    Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?