Books

Why I’m now scared of book clubs

12 July 2014 9:00 am

Writing frankly about Jamaica has made me nervous of invitations from strangers. How would this one turn out?

Kindles will kill off the bookish loner (thank God)

14 June 2014 8:00 am

Kindle highlights turn the lonely pleasures of reading into a communal event

If Alex Salmond is cutting bureaucracy, why does he have so many quangos?

31 May 2014 9:00 am

Escape committees An LSE/Institute for Government report estimated the cost of Scottish independence at £2.7 billion, a sum arrived at…

Dear Mary: How can I make my polite English husband interrupt like a German?

24 May 2014 9:00 am

Q. My dear English husband has never mastered the knack of timing his interventions in conversation. He hesitates politely, and…

Some consumer advice: do not sell your daughter for a bottle of 90-year-old port

24 May 2014 9:00 am

Port, or Hermitage? This does not refer to personal consumption. I was trying to remember Meredith’s Egoist, in which one…

Portrait of the week

29 March 2014 9:00 am

Home David Cameron, the Prime Minister, said that inheritance tax ‘shouldn’t be paid by people who’ve worked hard and saved…

Jeffrey Archer’s diary: My personal trainer only smiles when I’m in pain

15 March 2014 9:00 am

The week leading up to publication is a strange time for any author. You subject yourself to doing everything from…

Is any kind of sex still taboo in literature?

8 March 2014 9:00 am

Is there any kind of love that novelists still can’t touch?

Alexander McCall Smith’s diary: Meeting Babar’s creator

8 February 2014 9:00 am

As any author will tell you, literary festivals differ widely. If you are invited to Willy Dalrymple’s Jaipur Festival, with…

Dear Mary: How can I make my friends read the book I gave them?

8 February 2014 9:00 am

Q. I gave a copy of Dan Russel the Fox by Somerville and Ross to a couple I know to be…

How the MPs' expenses scandal proved the wisdom of Alain de Botton

1 February 2014 9:00 am

Whenever I’m tempted to pretend to be nicer so that fewer people hate me, I remember my old friend Alain…

By the book: The NSA is behaving like a villain in a 1950s novel

18 January 2014 9:00 am

The continuing drip-feed of stories about governments and friendly-seeming internet giants sifting through our data has left some citizens feeling…

Martin Vander Weyer: How many times must we save the City?

14 December 2013 9:00 am

Top of my Christmas reading pile is Saving the City by Richard Roberts, a new account of the largely forgotten…

Damian McBride: Why I clutched at my trousers in front of Jeremy Paxman

28 September 2013 9:00 am

They say nothing beats the feeling of seeing your book in print. But for me, the proudest moment was presenting…

Seamus Heaney's poems are for Protestants too

7 September 2013 9:00 am

Seamus Heaney’s poetry from the other side of Northern Ireland’s divide

The views that inspire writers

31 August 2013 9:00 am

Do writers really need inspiring landscapes? Or the opposite?

What a tortoise can teach us

3 August 2013 9:00 am

Five lessons from my new pet

It’s the summer of the topless man – and there’s nothing we can do to stop it

20 July 2013 9:00 am

Topless men. What does that mean, then? I was opposite one on the tube the other day, heading north from…

The greatest novel in English – and how to drink it

20 July 2013 9:00 am

Which is the greatest novel in the English language? Let us review the candidates: Clarissa, Pride and Prejudice, Middlemarch, The…

Dear Mary: How can I stop friends from coming to my book launch?

13 July 2013 9:00 am

Q.  I have far too many friends to be able to invite them all to my forthcoming book launch. How…