Diaries 1969-79/Diaries 1988-98 by Michael Palin

It’s pleasing to discover that Michael Palin is not nice all the time. He is particularly irrritated by his neighbour Mr O’Rourke, who would not have been out of place in Paddington. O’Rourke claims he once doubled for Michael Caine in a movie: ‘I’ve got eyes just like his you see. It was only in…

The Bedwetter by Sarah Silverman

Tales of a Horse-Faced Jew Monkey is Sarah Silverman’s at-times-excellent memoir. Actually, she didn’t choose that title – nor did she go for Straight From the Horse-ish Mouth. Instead, because of her childhood diagnosis of enuresis, she plumped for The Bedwetter. Her bladder was too small, which meant she regularly wet the bed, making childhood sleepovers…

Fire And Fury: Inside The Trump White House by Michael Wolff

‘Not only didn’t he read, he didn’t listen…And he trusted his own expertise – no matter how paltry or irrelevant – more than anyone else’s. What’s more, he had an extremely short attention span, even when he thought you were worthy of attention.’ Michael Woolf’s description of Donald Trump would be funny in different circumstances.…

The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien

‘Oh no! Not another fucking elf!’ These are the words that C.S. Lewis is reputed to have groaned to J.R.R. Tolkien when both met up at Oxford’s Eagle & Child to read each other their works in progress. (Actually, I now find it seems it was not Lewis, who was far too nice to say…

Jerusalem: The Biography by Simon Sebag Montefiore

For any stable genius who is, like, really clever but has not considered all the complexities of – to take an example at random – the US recognising Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, Simon Sebag Montefiore’s Jerusalem: The Biography is a good place to start. There is, one would imagine, enough sex and lewd talk in…

Murder On The Orient Express by Agatha Christie

Murder On The Orient Express. As evocative titles go, it’s right up there. This modern reproduction of the 1930s Crime Club edition of the book even has what seem to be the original creases embossed on the dustjacket. Hercule Poirot would have admired the detail. The story begins in Syria – Aleppo, to be exact; the governess…

The Dark Is Rising by Susan Cooper

‘And none shall stop the Dark from rising!’ Think of this as an alternative Christmas classic. It starts conventionally enough: boy has birthday. Boy told of his unique power as part of a secret, magical brotherhood stretching back into pre-history. Boy understandably surprised. Boy meets destiny. Thus, the plot of The Dark Is Rising. The second…