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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Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

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Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
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Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
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It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
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Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

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Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones
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Why are we addicted to theme parks?

Now that Banksy has unveiled his own dystopian version, Christopher Beanland considers the ups and downs of our endless quest for amusement
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Iran is opening up again to tourists

After years of isolation, Iran is reopening its embassies abroad. Soon, there'll be the chance for the adventurous to holiday there
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10 best PS4 games

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Record-breaking spending shows FFP restraint no longer applies
Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

‘Can we really just turn away?’

Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
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... and not just because of Isis vandalism
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An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent