if you’re determined to give it a go, you might enjoy this eclectic collection (or eclection) of David Mitchell’s attempts to make light of all that darkness. Scampi, politics, the Olympics, terrorism, exercise, rude street names, inheritance tax, salad cream, proportional representation and farts are all touched upon by Mitchell’s unremitting laser of chit-chat, as he negotiates a path between the commercialisation of Christmas and the true spirit of Halloween. Read this book and slightly change your life!
Jon Ronson - The Men Who Stare at Goats
In 1979, a secret unit was established by the US Army. Defying all known military practice - and indeed the laws of physics - they believed that a soldier could adopt a cloak of invisibility, pass cleanly through walls, and, perhaps most chillingly, kill goats just by staring at them. They were the First Earth Battalion. And they really weren't joking. What's more, they're back and fighting the War on terror. So unbelievable it has to be true - this is the real-life account that inspired the film. The reviews include: 'Simultaneously frightening and hilarious' - "The Times"; and, 'Not only a narcotic road trip through the wackier reaches of Bush's war effort, but also an unmissable account of the insanity that has lately been done in our names' - "Observer".
Tom Stoppard - Every Good Boy Deserves Favor / Professional Foul
In this volume are the latest plays of Tom Stoppard, author of such contemporary classics as _Jumpers, Dirty Linen, The Real Inspector Hound,_ and _Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead._ It is Tom Stoppard's very special skill as the master comedian of ideas in the modern theater to create brilliant, biting humor out of serious concerns. Virtually assaulting the audience with a cascade of words and a conspicuous display of intellect, Stoppard, in _Every Good Boy Deserves Favor,_ contrasts the circumstances of a political prisoner and a mental patient in a Soviet insane asylum, to question the difference, if any, between free will and the freedom to conform. The situation, in which the mental patient "hears" an orchestra, is both chilling and funny as we are introduced to two men who happen to share the same name, are incarcerated in the same cell, and are attended by the same doctor. _Professional Foul_ poses metaphysical problems in dazzling theatrical form. Employing high-spirited comedy and a serious attempt to debate a moral absolute, Stoppard considers the nature of ethical choice: is right or wrong determined by a recognized ideal, or must right or wrong be judged according to the particular situation?
Terry Deary - Potty Politics
This guide tells the truth about potty prime ministers, loony lords, vile voters, mad manifestos, crazy canvassing and potty political history. As well as this, a potential candidate is tracked to find out exactly what it takes to become an MP.
Hunter S. Thompson - Kingdom of fear
Be afraid. Hunter S. Thompson – hellraising author of _Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas_, high priest of hedonism and supreme chronicler of the American nightmare – tells the uncensored story of a life dedicated to excess in this outrageous autobiography. Here, for the first time, the godfather of Gonzo journalism takes on the subject no one else could handle: himself. It’s a tale of fast living, hard drinking, sharp writing and ingesting most illegal substances known to humanity. Of crazed road trips, girls, guns, bikes, brushes with the law and accidentally being accused of trying to kill Jack Nicholson. And it’s an explosive, no-holds-barred assassination of America today.
Neil Postman - Amusing Ourselves to Death
The prophetic landmark work exploring the corrosive effects of electronic media on a democratic society. Originally published in 1985, Neil Postman s groundbreaking polemic about the corrosive effects of television on our politics and public discourse has been hailed as a twenty-first-century book published in the twentieth century. Now, with television joined by more sophisticated electronic media from the Internet to cell phones to DVDs it has taken on even greater significance. Amusing Ourselves to Death is a prophetic look at what happens when politics, journalism, education, and even religion become subject to the demands of entertainment. It is also a blueprint for regaining controlof our media, so that they can serve our highest goals.
Caitlin Moran - Moranifesto
'I’ve lived through ten iOS upgrades on my Mac – and that’s just something I use to muck about on Twitter. Surely capitalism is due an upgrade or two?’ When Caitlin Moran sat down to choose her favourite pieces for her new book she realised that they all seemed to join up. Turns out, it’s the same old problems and the same old ass-hats. Then she thought of the word ‘Moranifesto’, and she knew what she had to do… This is Caitlin’s engaging and amusing rallying call for our times. Combining the best of her recent columns with lots of new writing unique to this book, Caitlin deals with topics as pressing and diverse as 1980s swearing, benefits, boarding schools, and why the internet is like a drunken toddler. And whilst never afraid to address the big issues of the day – such as Benedict Cumberbatch and duffel coats – Caitlin also makes a passionate effort to understand our 21st century society and presents us with her ‘Moranifesto’ for making the world a better place. The polite revolution starts here! Please.
Diana Wynne Jones - The Tough Guide to Fantasyland
Imagine that all fantasy novels—the ones featuring dragons, knights, wizards, and magic—are set in the same place. That place is called Fantasyland. The Tough Guide to Fantasyland is your travel guide, a handbook to everything you might find: Evil, the Dark Lord, Stew, Boots (but not Socks), and what passes for Economics and Ecology. Both a hilarious send-up of the cliches of the genre and an indispensable guide for writers, The Tough Guide to Fantasyland has been nearly impossible to find for years. Now this cult classic is back, and readers can experience Diana Wynne Jones at her very best: incisive, funny, and wildly imaginative. This is the definitive edition of The Tough Guide, featuring a new map, an entirely new design, and additional material written for it by Diana Wynne Jones.
Neil Gaiman - Don't Panic
'It's all devastatingly true - except the bits that are lies' Douglas Adams Don't Panic celebrates the life of an ape-descended human called Douglas Adams who, in a field in Innsbruck in 1971, had an idea. This is also the story of what that idea became: The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy - the original radio series which started it all, and the five book 'trilogy', the TV series, almost-film, computer game, towel and website that followed. Acclaimed author Neil Gaiman also tells the whole story of Liff, the Universe of Dirk Gently, and everything else Douglas ever worked on, including his posthumous collection The Salmon of Doubt. As Douglas himself said, it is 'certainly the most outstandingly brilliant book to have been written about The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy since this morning.'
Nancy Mitford - The Pursuit of Love
Nancy Mitford’s most enduringly popular novel, The Pursuit of Love is a classic comedy about growing up and falling in love among the privileged and eccentric. Mitford modeled her characters on her own famously unconventional family. We are introduced to the Radletts through the eyes of their cousin Fanny, who stays with them at Alconleigh, their Gloucestershire estate. Uncle Matthew is the blustering patriarch, known to hunt his children when foxes are scarce; Aunt Sadie is the vague but doting mother; and the seven Radlett children, despite the delights of their unusual childhood, are recklessly eager to grow up. The first of three novels featuring these characters, The Pursuit of Love follows the travails of Linda, the most beautiful and wayward Radlett daughter, who falls first for a stuffy Tory politician, then an ardent Communist, and finally a French duke named Fabrice.
Tom Sharpe - Wilt on High
A humourous novel in which a further series of mishaps await Henry Wilt at Fenland Technical College. Things soon get out of hand when he is suspected of drug dealing and his wife decides to perk up his home brew with herbal stimulants. From the author of GRANTCHESTER GRIND and WILT.
Sue Townsend - Adrian Mole - The Wilderness Years
Wednesday April 3rd. I am twenty-four and one day old. Question: What have I done with my life? Answer: Nothing. Grahame Greene died today. I wrote to him four years ago, pointing out a grammatical error in his book, The Human Factor. He didn't reply. Adrian Mole has at last reached physical maturity, but he can't help roaming the pages of his diary like an untamed adolescent. Finally given the heave-ho by Pandora, he seeks solace in the arms of Bianca, a qualified hydraulic engineer masquerading as a waitress. Between his dishwashing job and completing his epic novel, Lo! The Flat Hills of My Homeland, Adrian hopes that fame and fortune will not keep him waiting much longer.
Chris Anderson - Free
http://www.wired.com/images/multimedia/free/FREE_Audiobook_unabridged.zip The New York Times bestselling author heralds the future of business in Free. In his revolutionary bestseller, The Long Tail, Chris Anderson demonstrated how the online marketplace creates niche markets, allowing products and consumers to connect in a way that has never been possible before. Now, in Free, he makes the compelling case that in many instances businesses can profit more from giving things away than they can by charging for them. Far more than a promotional gimmick, Free is a business strategy that may well be essential to a company's survival. The costs associated with the growing online economy are trending toward zero at an incredible rate. Never in the course of human history have the primary inputs to an industrial economy fallen in price so fast and for so long. Just think that in 1961, a single transistor cost $10; now Intel's latest chip has two billion transistors and sells for $300 (or 0.000015 cents per transistor--effectively too cheap to price). The traditional economics of scarcity just don't apply to bandwidth, processing power, and hard-drive storage. Yet this is just one engine behind the new Free, a reality that goes beyond a marketing gimmick or a cross-subsidy. Anderson also points to the growth of the reputation economy; explains different models for unleashing the power of Free; and shows how to compete when your competitors are giving away what you're trying to sell. In Free, Chris Anderson explores this radical idea for the new global economy and demonstrates how this revolutionary price can be harnessed for the benefit of consumers and businesses alike.
Alan Alexander Milne - When We Were Very Young
A A Milne's two classic collections of verse - When We Were Very Young and Now We Are Six - are brought together, and are illustrated throughout with E H Shepards original line drawings, which have become classics in their own right.
David Lodge - Small World
The unbridled greed, pettiness, buffoonery and intellectual gobbledegook in the world of higher scholarship are the topics of this thorough and thoroughly funny "roman à English department". It's interesting for a couple of reasons, aside from its humour and lampoonery: it's an insider's view of things--always the best kind--and it takes its old- fashioned time telling a story, complete with reasonable digressions about the state of literary criticism and what may or may not be a realistic view of the academic life.
Anthony Horowitz - Point Blanc
When an investigation into a series of mysterious deaths leads agents to an elite prep school for rebellious kids, MI6 assigns Alex Rider to the case. Before he knows it, Alex is hanging out with the sons of the rich and powerful, and something feels wrong. These former juvenile delinquents have turned well-behaved, studious—and identical—overnight. It's up to Alex to find out who is masterminding this nefarious plot, before they find him.
Malala Yousafzai - Christina Lamb - I Am Malala
When the Taliban took control of the Swat Valley in Pakistan, one girl spoke out. Malala Yousafzai refused to be silenced and fought for her right to an education. On Tuesday, October 9, 2012, when she was fifteen, she almost paid the ultimate price. She was shot in the head at point-blank range while riding the bus home from school, and few expected her to survive. Instead, Malala's miraculous recovery has taken her on an extraordinary journey from a remote valley in northern Pakistan to the halls of the United Nations in New York. At sixteen, she has become a global symbol of peaceful protest and the youngest nominee ever for the Nobel Peace Prize. I AM MALALA is the remarkable tale of a family uprooted by global terrorism, of the fight for girls' education, of a father who, himself a school owner, championed and encouraged his daughter to write and attend school, and of brave parents who have a fierce love for their daughter in a society that prizes sons. I AM MALALA will make you believe in the power of one person's voice to inspire change in the world.
Stephen Fry - Rescuing the Spectacled Bear
On New Years Day BBC 1 broadcast a programme about Stephen Fry going to Peru to track Paddington Bear's roots and more seriously to rescue a Spectacled bear, one of the world's endangered species. At Easter a follow up programme was shown on BBC 2, they went back, and helped rescue a mate for the young bear they had found on their first trip. Stephen is now gripped by drawing the world's attention to these bears and has written a diary of his time in Peru. It is packed with lovely colour pictures of Stephen, bears and Peru, and it is, of course, wildly funny. Stephen Fry is set to become the Diane Fossey of the bear world.
Terry Pratchett - Wintersmith
'Crivens!' Tiffany Aching put one foot wrong, made just one little mistake... And now the spirit of winter is in love with her. He gives her roses and icebergs and showers her with snowflakes, which is tough when you're thirteen, but also just a little bit... cool. If Tiffany doesn't work out how to deal with him, there will never be another springtime... Crackling with energy and humour, Wintersmith is the third tale in a sequence about Tiffany Aching and the Wee Free Men - the Nac Mac Feegles who are determined to help Tiffany, whether she wants it or not.
Edward W. Said - Orientalism
In this highly acclaimed seminal work, Edward Said surveys the history and nature of Western attitudes towards the East, considering Orientalism as a powerful European ideological creation – a way for writers, philosophers and colonial administrators to deal with the ‘otherness’ of Eastern culture, customs and beliefs. He traces this view through the writings of Homer, Nerval and Flaubert, Disraeli and Kipling, whose imaginative depictions have greatly contributed to the West’s romantic and exotic picture of the Orient. In his new preface, Said examines the effect of continuing Western imperialism after recent events in Palestine, Afghanistan and Iraq.
Adrian Plass - Cabbages for the King
They are his 'cabbages' and Adrian the greengrocer - an ordinary man trying to live up to a high calling. Adrian is however quick to point out that, whereas he will be known by his fruit when he gets to heaven, the greengrocer will be known by his fruit and veg.