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'
Career Services

Day In a Page

Independent Travel
Bruges
Lake Como
Burgundy
South AFrica
Paris
Northern Corsica
Prices correct as of 21 November 2014
In a world of Saudi bullying, right-wing Israeli ministers and the twilight of Obama, Iran is looking like a possible policeman of the Gulf

Iran is shifting from pariah to possible future policeman of the Gulf

Robert Fisk on our crisis with Iran
The young are the new poor: A third of young people pushed into poverty

The young are the new poor

Sharp increase in the number of under-25s living in poverty
Greens on the march: ‘We could be on the edge of something very big’

Greens on the march

‘We could be on the edge of something very big’
Revealed: the case against Bill Cosby - through the stories of his accusers

Revealed: the case against Bill Cosby

Through the stories of his accusers
Why are words like 'mongol' and 'mongoloid' still bandied about as insults?

The Meaning of Mongol

Why are the words 'mongol' and 'mongoloid' still bandied about as insults?
Mau Mau uprising: Kenyans still waiting for justice join class action over Britain's role in the emergency

Kenyans still waiting for justice over Mau Mau uprising

Thousands join class action over Britain's role in the emergency
Isis in Iraq: The trauma of the last six months has overwhelmed the remaining Christians in the country

The last Christians in Iraq

After 2,000 years, a community will try anything – including pretending to convert to Islam – to avoid losing everything, says Patrick Cockburn
Black Friday: Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Britain braced for Black Friday
Bill Cosby's persona goes from America's dad to date-rape drugs

From America's dad to date-rape drugs

Stories of Bill Cosby's alleged sexual assaults may have circulated widely in Hollywood, but they came as a shock to fans, says Rupert Cornwell
Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

As fans flock to see England women's Wembley debut against Germany, the TV presenter on an exciting 'sea change'
Oh come, all ye multi-faithful: The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?

Oh come, all ye multi-faithful

The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?
Dr Charles Heatley: The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

Dr Charles Heatley on joining the NHS volunteers' team bound for Sierra Leone
Flogging vlogging: First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books

Flogging vlogging

First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books
Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show: US channels wage comedy star wars

Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show

US channels wage comedy star wars
When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine? When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible

When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine?

When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible