Miles Kington: A summer of ghost-writers and things that go bump

Young Theo meets a wizard with glittering eyes called Sven, who promises to take him to a foreign country in return for his soul ...
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The Independent Online

It will soon be time to select your summer books for the beach, so here to help you make up your mind is a list of some of the season's top reading titles.

Wickedness, by Jilly Cooper, Gimlet Press, £15.99

Cooper turns her jaunty eye on the nature of good and evil. Deep in the countryside stands the Roman Catholic seminary of St Eustache, which has a falling intake and looks headed for hard times. Next door, by chance, is a sanctuary for witches under stress, where women who have seen too many things at midnight can go and recuperate. Kept awake one night by a rowdy Black Mass next door, Father Oscar, head of St Eustache's, pops round to remonstrate, which is when he meets the lissome Felicia Wildkraut and things start to take off ... A rollicking, sexy read.

Theo Walcott: My life in Football, by Theo Walcott, Premier Press, £20

Conceived, written, published and remaindered in less than two months - a delivery record in modern publishing.

The Grumpy Old Dogs Handbook, Cash Till Books, £4.99

Having exhausted the complaints of grumpy old men and grumpy old women, someone has had the bright idea of exploring exactly what pisses dogs off. Contributions from celebrity dogs such as Roy Hattersley's Buster, etc. Chief grumbles seem to include being given crisps to eat in pubs, being made to shake hands with total strangers, being left in cars and being neutered.

On Being Freddie, by Alain de Botton, Half Nelson Press, £21.99

Our favourite modern philosopher here ponders the Flintoff question. Cricketer Flintoff has written a book called Being Freddie, though his name is not Freddie but Andrew. De Botton asks just how truthful a book can be about someone if the wrong name is used right at the start - indeed, if the book is not by Flintoff at all but by a ghostwriter. Or is it possible, asks de Botton, that a ghostwriter can produce a more honest life story than the subject would if he wrote in his own words? Or might it be that - anyway, this is one for the philosophy students, even if most sports fans would do well to avoid it.

Sven's Curse, by Ivor Hampel, Loincloth Press, £12.99

Gripping boy's adventure story. Young Theo Walcott meets a wizard with glittering eyes called Sven who promises to take him on a trip to a foreign country, and give him a wonderful time in return for his soul. All Theo has to do when he gets there is sit on a bench every day for two hours. How Theo smells a rat and outwits the evil Sven is at the heart of this pacy drama.

A Hundred Things to do with Unwanted Flags of St George, by Steve Philby, La Basura Press, £8.99

Come the end of the World Cup, this book will be in hot demand. Ideas range from reusing surplus English flags as bandages, knotted handkerchieves and sails for model yachts, to using as a mask in a bank raid in Scotland.

We Need to Talk about Caffeine, by Dr Otto Strang, Allergy Press, £10.99

A look at one of the main poisons in modern life, from the author of the best-selling Anyone for Tannins?

A Dangerous Book for Grumpy Old Men, by Len and Ben Aspro, Placebo Press, £15.99

A brilliant compendium of activity ideas for old men who want to get some exercise by taking their revenge on young people. Chapter headings include: Zimmer Frame Rage, Sabotaging Skateboards, How to Jam a Mobile Phone, Making Imitation Blood, Faking a Mugging, Getting Youth Arrested after a Fake Mugging, etc, etc.

The Theo Walcott Cook Book, Plasticine Press, £18.99

What do you do when you are young, stuck in a foreign country with nothing to do, and bored because nobody seems to know why you're there in the first place? Well, if you've got any common sense, you try the local cooking, and if you like it, you find out how it's done! Now, young Theo Walcott has had the bright idea of introducing us to the delights of German cookery. Mahlzeit, Theo!

More summer books soon ...