Syrian rebels have taken iconoclasm to new depths, with shrines, statues and even a tree destroyed – but to what end?

Compared writing poetry to the sex act? May he be turned to dust!

Join the gold rush with a weighty winner: literary fiction

This was the year of big books: two 800-page-busters on the Man Booker longlist alone had bookworms lifting weights. The winner, Eleanor Catton’s  The Luminaries (Granta, £18.99), is a good old-fashioned page-turner set in New Zealand during the 19th-century gold rush, but it was its narrative structure, mirroring astrological movements in a beautifully-wrought minuet, that really set it apart.

Yuletide truce: The unofficial 1914 ceasefire when British and German soldiers came out of their trenches to play football and sing carols

The frontline: in the home and abroad: best books for teens

In our final selection of Christmas books for children, we examine the best titles for teens

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.

Arifa Akbar: Let’s ban the latecomers from dramatic readings

"A light appeared deep inside the audience, beaming like a gig-lamp in the hands of a woman below me. It was a Blackberry"

Book review: 'Snake Dance', By Patrick Marnham

A cogent study that follows the trail of lethal cargos that created our nuclear age

Review: "The People in the Trees", By Hanya Yanagihara

The first impressively memorable debut of 2014 arrives with this novel

Do we really need a magical new Harry Potter play?

Fans will undoubtedly buy tickets, but let's hope it isn't a massive let-down

Author Paul Torday at his home in Northumberland

Paul Torday dead: 'Salmon Fishing in the Yemen' author's race against time

Writer had kept his cancer diagnosis private

English film director Edgar Wright

Cultural Life: Edgar Wright, director

Films

Council Christmas card warns London tenants to 'pay your rent'

Postcard advises tenants not to 'overindulge' over the festive period

Rooney Mara in 'The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo'

Stieg Larsson's Girl With The Dragon Tattoo series to be revived under new author

The successful trilogy will be continued by writer David Lagercrantz

Catherine the Great, Russian empress

Page 3 Profile: Catherine the Great, Russian empress

David Cameron in drag?

Geoffrey Hill: Broken Hierarchies: Collected Poems 1952-2012, edited by Kenneth Haynes

Poetry of love, landscape and political corruption

A lack of sense of time or place: Lars Von Trier’s 'Nymphomaniac'
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Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

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Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

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The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

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Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

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A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
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300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
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Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

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Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before