Katy Guest

Katy Guest is the literary editor of the Independent on Sunday

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Don't eat sprouts if you'd rather not

It's only early December and already I am sick of supermarkets getting all confused about the meaning of Christmas. There's Iceland, spoiling Christmas for everyone by associating it in our minds with prawn rings and some horror called a "beef garland". Then there's Sainsbury's, whose adverts claim to show "the moments that make Christmas special – brought to you by Sainsbury's", while actually showing all the special things that can't be bought in a shop.

Proposals have been announced for new parents to be able to share leave of up to 50 weeks between them

It's feminism not masculism, why Amazon is cheap, feline charms and why some things should stay private

As an equalist, I see equal access to parental leave as an essential first step to true equality

Yule love it: seasonal stalls at the Grote Markt in Bruges

A winter's tale in Bruges

This medieval Belgian city provides the perfect setting for Christmas markets and other festive activities, says Katy Guest

Book Review: The Valley of Amazement, By Amy Tan

Amy Tan has made her name, with novels such as The Joy Luck Club (1987) and The Bonesetter’s Daughter (2000), writing about difficult mother-daughter relationships, the wobbly connections between America and modern China, and family secrets. In her seventh novel, set mostly in Shanghai as it evolves through the 20th century, she has surpassed herself.

Go on, really shock me! Show me your cardie

When David Dimbleby revealed his new scorpion tattoo last week, there were those who rolled their eyes and implored the 75-year-old to act his age. It seems to me that 75 is the perfect age to get a tattoo: you know your own mind; your parents can't stop you; you don't have to worry about it looking silly when your skin starts to sag; and if you do decide that you hate it, you probably won't have to spend another 75 years regretting it.

Supermodels David Gandy and Rosie Huntington-Whiteley in the Marks and Spencer's Christmas TV ad

Marks & Spencer: Your average customer does not look like Rosie Huntington-Whiteley

There are excuses, and there are M&S excuses

The “Bechdel Test” for Swedish films: Welcome to the modern world, where women speak about more than just men

Shakespeare might fail the test too - but we're not in the 1500s anymore

Book review: Ammonites & Leaping Fish: A Life In Time, by Penelope Lively

Not a memoir, exactly, but rather “the view from old age”, Penelope Lively’s “life in time” is a reader’s pure delight. For starters, the book is a beautiful object in itself, as her books often are.

British households threw away 7.2 million tons of food in 2011

Let's check out of this supermarket swizz

Ending two-for-one deals on perishables is a positive step, but there is more to do

Going easy on parking tickets? At last, a victory for the oppressed driver

For too long councils have bathed in cash from this wronged demographic

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Day In a Page

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

The model for a gadget launch

Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

Get well soon, Joan Rivers

She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

As the collections start, fashion editor Alexander Fury finds video and the internet are proving more attractive
Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy

Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall...

... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy
Weekend at the Asylum: Europe's biggest steampunk convention heads to Lincoln

Europe's biggest steampunk convention

Jake Wallis Simons discovers how Victorian ray guns and the martial art of biscuit dunking are precisely what the 21st century needs
Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Lying is dangerous and unnecessary. A new book explains the strategies needed to avoid it. John Rentoul on the art of 'uncommunication'
Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough? Was the beloved thespian the last of the cross-generation stars?

Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough?

The atomisation of culture means that few of those we regard as stars are universally loved any more, says DJ Taylor
She's dark, sarcastic, and bashes life in Nowheresville ... so how did Kacey Musgraves become country music's hottest new star?

Kacey Musgraves: Nashville's hottest new star

The singer has two Grammys for her first album under her belt and her celebrity fans include Willie Nelson, Ryan Adams and Katy Perry
American soldier-poet Brian Turner reveals the enduring turmoil that inspired his memoir

Soldier-poet Brian Turner on his new memoir

James Kidd meets the prize-winning writer, whose new memoir takes him back to the bloody battles he fought in Iraq
Aston Villa vs Hull match preview: Villa were not surprised that Ron Vlaar was a World Cup star

Villa were not surprised that Vlaar was a World Cup star

Andi Weimann reveals just how good his Dutch teammate really is
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef ekes out his holiday in Italy with divine, simple salads

Bill Granger's simple Italian salads

Our chef presents his own version of Italian dishes, taking in the flavours and produce that inspired him while he was in the country
The Last Word: Tumbleweed through deserted stands and suites at Wembley

The Last Word: Tumbleweed through deserted stands and suites at Wembley

If supporters begin to close bank accounts, switch broadband suppliers or shun satellite sales, their voices will be heard. It’s time for revolution