Boy Scouts of America to admit openly gay boys

The Boy Scouts of America has thrown open its ranks to gay youngsters, but not adult leaders, in a compromise that some warned could fracture the organisation and lead to mass defections.

A Guide to the future of feminism

When I first heard that Julie Bentley had called the Guides "the ultimate feminist organisation", I thought steady on. Then I realised how true this is

Damned by Despair, Olivier, National Theatre, London

Spare a thought for poor Bertie Carvel. One minute, he's a camp brute of a headmistress swinging schoolgirls round by the plaits in the rip-roaring hit of Matilda. The next, he's being brutish – and strangely camp – all over again, this time, though, as a murderous Neapolitan thug in Damned by Despair, a venture that looks set to go down in history as one of the National Theatre's rare turkeys.

Fact File: Secular Britain

In the beginning, there was Bideford. In February 2012 the High Court ruled council meeting prayers in the Devon town unlawful, and reignited a row about encroaching secularisation that’s been rumbling in the background of British public life for over a century.

What to say to save a life

Convincing someone not to jump is a job for only the most skilled negotiators. Emily Jupp finds out how they do it

How to save a life

Convincing someone not to jump is a job for only the most skilled negotiators. Emily Jupp finds out how they do it

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All About Love, By Lisa Appignanesi
Love: a History, By Simon May

Our shelves groan with love. Out in the visual world, sex sells, but take down any novel, book of poetry or biography and it's clear that, on the page, love is most often the hook. As a magic word that all can use, but few define, its potency might be down to nothing more than the bewildering variety of experiences it covers, next to which the supposedly exotic range of options on the sexual menu seems staid. That this one word can be applied to romantic love, parental love, love between friends and love of God seems perverse, as if it is a deliberate semantic ploy to complicate and intensify our lives.

The Godless Boys by Naomi Wood

Dystopian novels of faith, power and resistance crop up regularly. So the form can feel stale. Yet this assured, involving debut finds a new vehicle – although one that knows its own tradition – to explore this ground. In 1986, England has been a rigid theocracy for 35 years, ever since God "came down... like a cage". The church-burning Secular Movement was quashed; freethinkers expelled. Now, on a northern island, the tribe of the godless inhabit an atheist enclave. Sarah, from the pious mainland, arrives to seek her exiled mother. She meets Nathaniel, one of the zealots who hunt down "signs of churchliness". Wood sketches the back-story with crafty discretion, while a richly imagined setting allows the fable to flourish with the minimum of preaching.

Book of a lifetime: The Brothers Karamazovby, Fyodor Dostoyevsky

'The Brothers Karamazov' has been my friend since I was 18 and first read David Magarshack's 1958 translation. Then as now it struck me as the grandest, richest and strangest of Dostoyevsky's four "big" novels. True, bookish teenagers can be overly partial to "sensitive murderers and soulful prostitutes" (Nabokov's high-nosed dismissal of Dostoyevsky), and there's no denying the delirious melodrama in these books. But having lived with 'Karamazov' for 20-odd years, I am certain Kafka judged it correctly in arguing that Dostoyevsky's characters are not all lunatics – just "incidentally mad", like the rest of us.