The Big Six: Literary hideaways

From a Dewey Decimal hotel and a replica of Windsor Castle's library in India to Dylan Thomas's former drinking den

Andy McSmith's Diary: Conservative candidate’s racial sensitivity falls flat as a pancake

“One thing I have become very sensitive about is this accusation that Conservatives are somehow racist,” Edward de Mesquita, who is standing as a Conservative candidate in West Hampstead, in London, told the Camden New Journal. “Conservatives are not racist. So many of the Conservatives have foreign wives, after all.

Ann Cleeves' book of a lifetime: 'Le Grand Meaulnes'

Le Grand Meaulnes (translated as The Lost Estate in the most recent Penguin classic) was a set text for our A level French and like The Catcher in the Rye it should be read in adolescence.

255th anniversary of the British Museum: Google Doodle celebrates institution's opening

Google has celebrated the 255th anniversary of the British Museum with a Doodle on its search page.

Review: 'The Lie' by Helen Dunmore

A Great War novel that traverses themes of delayed trauma and survivor guilt

Just when you thought Drew Barrymore’s extensive career couldn’t get any more varied, she goes and adds a high-profile job in publishing to her already over-flowing curriculum vitae

‘I'm never going to tell you to lose weight’: Drew Barrymore promises change in new high-profile editor's role. Change and egg sandwiches

The actress, director, producer, photographer and vinter adds ‘editor’ to her CV, as she takes on the role of as editor-at-large at Refinery29

Figures such as this 7th or 8th century tomb guardian show a new side to China

More than just vases: British Museum showcases the worldly masculinity of the Ming dynasty

An exhibition at the British Museum will show that Cold War-era ideas on China’s past gave a short-sighted view of the country

Is it serious? Manchester medical student Tom Leach's notes become worldwide internet hit

His notes and blog got him labelled an 'industry innovator' after the site attracted thousands of other students

Gone with the Wind actress Alicia Rhett dies aged 98

Rhett was one of the last remaining cast members from the 1939 classic

More than a million pupils have been fingerprinted at their secondary school

Privacy concerns raised as more than one million pupils are fingerprinted in schools

An estimated 31 per cent of schools did not consult parents before using the biometric technology

Pervez Musharraf rushed to hospital with heart scare while on the way to treason trial

He was due to face allegations of high treason when the incident occured

Between The Sheets: What’s really going on in the world of books

Books about royalty were a highlight of 2013, with the birth of Prince George (right) unleashing a right royal deluge of biographies of the young family, picture books of the young family, children’s books with cute cartoon versions the young family ... our favourite was by Nicholas Allan (practically a royal biographer since the huge success of his searingly insightful portrait The Queen’s Knickers in 1998): The Royal Nappy shows regal diapers since Henry VIII’s which, oddly, don’t get a mention in the year’s favourite history genre – the biographies of characters from Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall books. And still they come: Robert Hutchinson’s Thomas Cromwell and Susan Bordo’s The Creation of Anne Boleyn are out in the new year.

John Travolta and Samuel L Jackson in Quentin Tarantino's 'Pulp Fiction'

Pulp Fiction and Mary Poppins added to US National Film Registry

The films are among 25 titles deemed to hold cultural significance

Stocking fillers: pop-ups, poems and smut

Amazon had better set its drones to attack because beautiful paper books just get better and better. Anyone left disappointed by the Fifty Shades phenomenon might prefer some literary smut in the form of Erotic Stories, edited by Rowan Pelling (Everyman’s Pocket Classics, £10.99). A collection of stories and fragments from Boccaccio to Sarah Waters, it tiptoes from the suggestive – in Guy de Maupassant’s “Idyll”, which begins with a train “plunging abruptly into the black-mouthed tunnels like an animal into its lair” – to the rather shocking – a piece by Edith Wharton, “My Little Girl”, discovered after her death.

Arifa Akbar's Week in Books: The joy of letters, from chatty to catty, in old and new forms

The form has changed but the impulses remain the same. The quickening of the heart can lie in an inbox too

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Tim Vine has won the funniest joke award at the Edinburgh Festival 2014
peopleTim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award, has nigh-on 200 in his act. So how are they conceived?
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Jamie and Emily Pharro discovering their friend's prank
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Taylor Swift crawls through the legs of twerking dancers in her 'Shake It Off' music video
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Our resilience to stress is to a large extent determined by our genes
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sportBesiktas 0 Arsenal 0: Champions League qualifying first-leg match ends in stalemate in Istanbul
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Pornography is more accessible - and harder to avoid - than ever
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The eyes have it: Kate Bush
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Day In a Page

Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence – MS Swiss Corona - seven nights from £999pp
Lake Maggiore, Orta and the Matterhorn – seven nights from £899pp
Sicily – seven nights from £939pp
Pompeii, Capri and the Bay of Naples - seven nights from £799pp
Istanbul Ephesus & Troy – six nights from £859pp
Mary Rose – two nights from £319pp
Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

A descent into madness in America's heartlands

David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home
Lauded therapist Harley Mille still in limbo as battle to stay in Britain drags on

Lauded therapist still in limbo as battle to stay in Britain drags on

Australian Harley Miller is as frustrated by court delays as she is with the idiosyncrasies of immigration law
Lewis Fry Richardson's weather forecasts changed the world. But could his predictions of war do the same?

Lewis Fry Richardson's weather forecasts changed the world...

But could his predictions of war do the same?
Kate Bush asks fans not to take photos at her London gigs: 'I want to have contact with the audience, not iPhones'

'I want to have contact with the audience, not iPhones'

Kate Bush asks fans not to take photos at her London gigs
Under-35s have rated gardening in their top five favourite leisure activities, but why?

Young at hort

Under-35s have rated gardening in their top five favourite leisure activities. But why are so many people are swapping sweaty clubs for leafy shrubs?
Tim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award: 'making a quip as funny as possible is an art'

Beyond a joke

Tim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award, has nigh-on 200 in his act. So how are they conceived?
The late Peter O'Toole shines in 'Katherine of Alexandria' despite illness

The late Peter O'Toole shines in 'Katherine of Alexandria' despite illness

Sadly though, the Lawrence of Arabia star is not around to lend his own critique
Wicken Fen in Cambridgeshire: The joy of camping in a wetland nature reserve and sleeping under the stars

A wild night out

Wicken Fen in Cambridgeshire offers a rare chance to camp in a wetland nature reserve
Comic Sans for Cancer exhibition: It’s the font that’s openly ridiculed for its jaunty style, but figures of fun have their fans

Comic Sans for Cancer exhibition

It’s the font that’s openly ridiculed for its jaunty style, but figures of fun have their fans
Besiktas vs Arsenal: Five things we learnt from the Champions League first-leg tie

Besiktas vs Arsenal

Five things we learnt from the Champions League first-leg tie
Rory McIlroy a smash hit on the US talk show circuit

Rory McIlroy a smash hit on the US talk show circuit

As the Northern Irishman prepares for the Barclays, he finds time to appear on TV in the States, where he’s now such a global superstar that he needs no introduction
Boy racer Max Verstappen stays relaxed over step up to Formula One

Boy racer Max Verstappen stays relaxed over step up to F1

The 16-year-old will become the sport’s youngest-ever driver when he makes his debut for Toro Rosso next season
Fear brings the enemies of Isis together at last

Fear brings the enemies of Isis together at last

But belated attempts to unite will be to no avail if the Sunni caliphate remains strong in Syria, says Patrick Cockburn
Charlie Gilmour: 'I wondered if I would end up killing myself in jail'

Charlie Gilmour: 'I wondered if I'd end up killing myself in jail'

Following last week's report on prison suicides, the former inmate asks how much progress we have made in the 50 years since the abolition of capital punishment