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!

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Keira Knightley and Benedict Cumberbatch star in the Alan Turing biopic The Imitation Game

film
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Radio 4's Today programme host Evan Davis has been announced as the new face of Newsnight

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell Williams performing on the Main Stage at the Wireless Festival in Finsbury Park, north London

music
Arts and Entertainment
Carrie Mathison returns to the field in the fourth season of Showtime's Homeland

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Crowds soak up the atmosphere at Latitude Festival

music
Arts and Entertainment
Meyne Wyatt and Caren Pistorus arrive for the AACTA Aawrds in Sydney, Australia

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Rick Astley's original music video for 'Never Gonna Give You Up' has been removed from YouTube

music
Arts and Entertainment
Quentin Blake's 'Artists on the beach'

Artists unveils new exhibition inspired by Hastings beach

art
Arts and Entertainment
MusicFans were left disappointed after technical issues
Arts and Entertainment
'Girl with a Pearl Earring' by Johannes Vermeer, c. 1665
artWhat is it about the period that so enthrals novelists?
Arts and Entertainment
Into the woods: The Merry Wives of Windsor at Petersfield
theatreOpen-air productions are the cue for better box-office receipts, new audiences, more interesting artistic challenges – and a picnic
Arts and Entertainment
James singer Tim Booth
latitude 2014
Arts and Entertainment
Lee says: 'I never, ever set out to offend, but it can be an accidental by-product'
comedy
Arts and Entertainment
tvThe judges were wowed by the actress' individual cooking style
Arts and Entertainment
Nicholas says that he still feels lucky to be able to do what he loves, but that there is much about being in a band he hates
musicThere is much about being in a band that he hates, but his debut album is suffused with regret
Arts and Entertainment
The singer, who herself is openly bisexual, praised the 19-year-old sportsman before launching into a tirade about the upcoming Winter Olympics

books
Arts and Entertainment
music
Arts and Entertainment
Jon Cryer and Ashton Kutcher in the eleventh season of Two and a Half Men

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Ben Whishaw is replacing Colin Firth as the voice of Paddington Bear

film
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
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.

    Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

    Screwing your way to the top?

    Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
    Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

    Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

    Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
    Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

    Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

    The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
    The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

    The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

    Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
    Climate change threatens to make the antarctic fur seal extinct

    Take a good look while you can

    How climate change could wipe out this seal
    Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier for the terminally ill?

    Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier?

    Some couples are allowed emergency hospital weddings, others are denied the right. Kate Hilpern reports on the growing case for a compassionate cutting of the red tape
    Man Booker Prize 2014 longlist: Crowdfunded novel nominated for first time

    Crowdfunded novel nominated for Booker Prize

    Paul Kingsnorth's 'The Wake' is in contention for the prestigious award
    Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster to ensure his meals aren't poisoned

    Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster

    John Walsh salutes those brave souls who have, throughout history, put their knives on the line
    Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

    Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

    A $25m thriller starring Sam Worthington to be made in God's Own Country
    The 10 best pedicure products

    Feet treat: 10 best pedicure products

    Bags packed and all prepped for holidays, but feet in a state? Get them flip-flop-ready with our pick of the items for a DIY treatment
    Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy': A land of the outright bizarre

    Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy'

    A land of the outright bizarre
    What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

    What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

    ‘Weird Al’ Yankovic's latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do The Independent’s experts think he’s missed out?
    Can Secret Cinema sell 80,000 'Back to the Future' tickets?

    The worst kept secret in cinema

    A cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
    Facebook: The new hatched, matched and dispatched

    The new hatched, matched and dispatched

    Family events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped the ‘Births, Deaths and Marriages’ announcements
    Why do we have blood types?

    Are you my type?

    All of us have one but probably never wondered why. Yet even now, a century after blood types were discovered, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for