Norway to digitize all books and offer them as free downloads

The country's national library will undertake the project, predicting that it will take twenty to thirty years to complete

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug poster

The Hobbit: How much would you have to pay to own Smaug's home?

Features include a throne room, plenty of storage and a handy back door

Peter Higgs is to be honoured with a new £11m space technology centre named after him

The Nobel Prize for Peter Higgs recognises truth in an ancient Greek idea

The old system was familiar, the modern one somewhat more intimidating

With so many students preparing to spend their Christmas holidays under piles of books and papers, we ask: Is a dissertation worthwhile?

Panic is beginning to set in as third-years across the country start to realise just how many words are actually in "12,000 words"

Jesus Christ named history's most successful meme

Authors of a new book used internet-based metrics to declare Christ 'the most significant person ever' 

Hair time: Colin Wilson breaks another literary rule: don't pose for silly pictures

Colin Wilson: Eternal outsider

For ambitious would-be authors, the life of Colin Wilson presents itself as a cautionary tale. Here, Terence Blacker explains where the self-proclaimed genius went wrong

Colin Wilson: Author

Writer and philosopher whose work, beginning with ‘The Outsider’, searched for the meaning of man’s existence

Nothing: From Absolute Zero to Cosmic Oblivion, Edited by Jeremy Webb - Paperbacks review

What goes on in our brains when we’re not thinking? Why do some animals lounge around all day doing nothing? Is outer space completely empty? Why did it take so long for the number zero to be accepted? These are just some of the questions discussed in this intriguing collection of essays on “nothingness” by science writers including Ian Stewart, Marcus Chown, Nigel Henbest, Michael Brooks, Paul Davies and David Fisher.

Portrait of a Novel: Henry James and the Making of an American Masterpiece, By Michael Gorra - Paperbacks of the Year review

I wish I could give this sublime marrying of the art and the life 10 stars. This is very much a writer’s biography, and an absolutely gorgeous demonstration of how to frame a narrative begins, appropriately enough, with the framing by Gorra of the author, Henry James: “Many years later he would remember the way the book had begun. He was old then, and in England ....” It’s a description that mirrors beautifully the framing by James himself of the entrance of his great heroine, Isabel Archer, in The Portrait of a Lady, as “the girl in the doorway”.

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

All Between the Covers wants for Christmas (apart from a canvas book bag for a stocking) is a whole bunch of stuff signed by the brilliant author David Nicholls. Fortunately he has donated some books and film scripts to The Independent’s charity auction, and they can be found on our website. Bidding ends at 11am on 12 December. Nicholls’s lot comprises three books – one of them a boxed hardback of One Day – and three film scripts, including Great Expectations. Covers is keeping the lot under lock and key, only occasionally taking them out to covet them. We can reveal, therefore, that the script for Great Expectations contains the direction: “Ext. Marshes, Kent – dusk”. And ... action!

The Foundling Boy, By Michel Déon - Review

Michel Déon is one of the most acclaimed French writers of the past 50 years, being one of only 40 authors to be dubbed “un immortel” (an immortal) by his peers at the Académie française. Despite having scooped up many prestigious  literary prizes in his home country, only one of his more than 50 books has been translated into English. Up until now, that is. With the publication of The Foundling Boy, highly praised by William Boyd and Paul Theroux, many more can now enjoy Déon’s quiet, wryly funny prose and story-telling abilities.

The Language of dying, By Sarah Pinborough - Paperbacks review

Sarah Pinborough is a chameleon writer, a renaissance woman even, who can turn her hand to a varied range of genres. In her (almost) 10-year publishing career she has written standalone horror novels with titles including The Reckoning and Breeding Ground; the Dog-Faced Gods urban fantasy trilogy; a young adult fantasy series (under the pen name Sarah Silverwood) and a brace of original novels based on the Doctor Who spin-off TV series Torchwood, as well as writing for the TV crime show New Tricks.

My life in travel - Jodie Whittaker

'Hiking the Tongariro Alpine Crossing in New Zealand was extraordinary'
Lava land: volcanic scenery in New Zealand

My life in travel - Jodie Whittaker

'Hiking the Tongariro Alpine Crossing in New Zealand was extraordinary'

The novel cure: Distrust of visionaries

Literary prescriptions for modern ailments

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NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
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Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
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UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

Let the propaganda wars begin - again

'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

Japan's incredible long-distance runners

Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

Tom Drury: The quiet American

His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace
You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

Dave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
Beige is back: The drab car colours of the 1970s are proving popular again

Beige to the future

Flares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
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Bill Granger cooks with fresh cheeses

More delicate on the palate, milder, fresh cheeses can also be kinder to the waistline
Aston Villa vs Liverpool: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful,' says veteran Shay Given

Shay Given: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful'

The Villa keeper has been overlooked for a long time and has unhappy memories of the national stadium – but he is savouring his chance to play at Wembley
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Michael Calvin's Last Word

Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own