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From drunken nights out with a llama to testicle-eating fishes, it’s a mixed bag of stories you’ve been sharing on social media in 2013.

Among the top twenty Independent articles you’ve been tweeting and posting on Facebook this year, there are serious reports, ferocious comment pieces, astounding research and a fair few articles that pay tribute to the adage ‘the truth is stranger than fiction.’

Saudi Arabia: Driving a 'threat to virgin brides'

If Saudi women are allowed to drive, it will lead to them having premarital sex, a report to a high-level advisory group claims, according to a rights activist.

'I never hated Mark. My religion teaches that forgiveness is always better than vengeance'

Rais Bhuiyan is campaigning for clemency for the man who shot him at point-blank range in a drug-fuelled, post-9/11 hate crime in Texas. Jerome Taylor reports on his extraordinary magnanimity

Women defy Saudi Arabia's driving ban

Activists urging women in Saudi Arabia to defy a ban on driving say some have taken to the road in a planned challenge against the restrictions.

Azerbaijan admits censorship at Biennale

The work of one of Azerbaijan's leading artists, at the centre of an embarrassing dispute at the prestigious Venice Art Biennale, has been removed from the festival after the country's President apparently intervened to say the works were distasteful.

Venetian mask: Azerbaijan censors its own Biennale entry

The Azerbaijan government has staged a literal cover-up at this year's Venice Biennale, the world's most high-profile showcase of contemporary art, by hiding the work of one of its own artists beneath a piece of cloth.

No release for Saudi woman driver

A Saudi woman detained for defying the ultra-conservative kingdom's ban on female drivers will be held in detention for at least 10 more days, a lawyer and rights activist said yesterday.

Yasmin Alibbai-Brown: Sixteen reasons why I object to this dangerous cover-up

A dress code for Muslim women when in public institutions would free up our faith from the grip of fanatics and reintegrate us into our country

Boyd Tonkin: Reality intrudes at the Arabic Booker prize

The week in books

Saudi foreign minister warns against protests

Saudi Arabia's foreign minister said today that dialogue — not protests — is the way to bring reform and warned that the oil-rich nation will take strong action if activists take to the streets.

Will Saudi be the next to rise up?

It is strange to read in the news that the Saudi monarchy has "banned" demonstrations; as if such demonstrations were allowed in the first place.

Joseph Conrad's Malaysia: Cruise exotic cross-currents of food and culture

My purest Joseph Conrad moment in Malaysia came after a dawn flight from the island of Penang down the coast of the peninsula to Kuala Lumpur. Half-awake, I stumbled into the KL arrivals hall to find it a sea of white robes. The crowd trailed cardboard monoliths of baggage tied in string: they were hajjis, just returned from Mecca.

Why did a trusted bodyguard turn fanatical assassin?

By murdering the politician he was supposed to protect, Mumtaz Qadri has become a hero for Islamists
Sport
footballHe started just four months ago
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L to R: Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner), Captain America (Chris Evans) & Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) in Avengers Assemble
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Nigel Farage celebrates with a pint after early local election results in the Hoy and Helmet pub in South Benfleet in Essex
peopleHe has shaped British politics 'for good or ill'
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One father who couldn't get One Direction tickets for his daughters phoned in a fake bomb threat and served eight months in a federal prison
people... (and one very unlucky giraffe)
Arts and Entertainment
Sink the Pink's 2013 New Year's Eve party
musicFour of Britain's top DJs give their verdict on how to party into 2015
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Independent Travel
Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence – Five-star MS Swiss Corona 7 nights from £999pp
Lake Como St Moritz & the Bernina Express 7 nights from £809pp
Vietnam
Lake Maggiore, Orta & the Matterhorn 7 nights from £939pp
South Africa
Spain
Prices correct as of 19 December 2014
Aren’t you glad you didn’t say that? The worst wince-and-look-away quotes of the year

Aren’t you glad you didn’t say that?

The worst wince-and-look-away quotes of the year
Hollande's vanity project is on a high-speed track to the middle of nowhere

Vanity project on a high-speed track to nowhere

France’s TGV network has become mired in controversy
Sports Quiz of the Year

Sports Quiz of the Year

So, how closely were you paying attention during 2014?
Alexander Armstrong on insulting Mary Berry, his love of 'Bargain Hunt', and life as a llama farmer

Alexander Armstrong on insulting Mary Berry and his love of 'Bargain Hunt'

From Armstrong and Miller to Pointless
Sanchez helps Gunners hold on after Giroud's moment of madness

Sanchez helps Gunners hold on

Olivier Giroud's moment of madness nearly costs them
A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

Christmas without hope

Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

The 'Black Museum'

After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

Chilly Christmas

Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect