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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The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

The shadow Home Secretary on fighting radical Islam, protecting children, and why anyone in Labour who's thinking beyond May must 'sort themselves out'
A bad week for the Greens: Leader Natalie Bennett's 'car crash' radio interview is followed by Brighton council's failure to set a budget due to infighting

It's not easy being Green

After a bad week in which its leader had a public meltdown and its only city council couldn't agree on a budget vote, what next for the alternative party? It's over to Caroline Lucas to find out
Gorillas nearly missed: BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter

Gorillas nearly missed

BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
Downton Abbey effect sees impoverished Italian nobles inspired to open their doors to paying guests for up to €650 a night

The Downton Abbey effect

Impoverished Italian nobles are opening their doors to paying guests, inspired by the TV drama
China's wild panda numbers have increased by 17% since 2003, new census reveals

China's wild panda numbers on the up

New census reveals 17% since 2003