Books

Mike Love, with Brian Wilson in the background, on TV in Los Angeles, 1962

Bad vibes among the Beach Boys

26 November 2016 9:00 am

Volcanic fallings out within bands are an ever-recurring motif in the history of rock music. There’s an obvious reason for…

The Siege of San Sebastian (Photo: Getty)

Why has the Peninsular War been so readily forgotten?

12 November 2016 9:00 am

You learn startling things about the long entanglement of the British with Spain on every page of Simon Courtauld’s absorbing…

Tama Janowitz with rocker Nick Rhodes (Photo: Getty)

Tama Janowitz doesn’t write to be liked, just as well

17 September 2016 9:00 am

Tama Janowitz’s memoir is a relentlessly cheerless and bitter collection of vignettes. Between tales of her purportedly miserly, creepy and…

Too much clutter: Gina Lollobrigida reorganises her wardrobe

When does a collector turn into a hoarder?

17 September 2016 9:00 am

The enormous desk on which I am writing this is swamped by four precarious piles of books, one topped by…

17th- and 18th-century buttons from John Taylor’s Birmingham workshop

In grandmother’s treasure-chest

13 February 2016 9:00 am

Juliet Nicolson examines women’s lives and changing fashions through a rich hoard of buttons for all occasions

Author Diana Athill (Photo: Getty)

Diana Athill finally accepts ‘Old Woman’ status, aged 98

23 January 2016 9:00 am

There’s something reassuring about 98-year-old Diana Athill. She’s stately and well-ordered, like the gardens at Ditchingham Hall in Norfolk, her…

French mathematician Cedric Villani Photo: Getty

How could anyone enjoy Cédric Villani’s ‘Birth of a Theorem’? I think I’ve worked it out

28 February 2015 9:00 am

I’ve got a mathematical problem. Birth of a Theorem is by one of the great geniuses of today, a cosmopolitan,…

An unholy cross between Big Ben and Las Vegas, the Makkah Royal Clock Tower stands on an estimated 400 sites of cultural and historical importance

Mecca: from shrine to shopping mall

6 December 2014 9:00 am

The Saudis, official custodians of Islam’s holiest place, have bulldozed its historical sites, perverted its religion and turned Mecca into one vast shopping mall, says Justin Marozzi

Even Cilla’s biographer admits that critics were justified in knocking the ‘prurience ‘of Blind Date

Five of the best celebrity biographies of 2014

6 December 2014 9:00 am

Cilla Black has become a strange creature during her 50 years in showbiz. When her husband Bobby was in hospital…

Frank Keating with cricketer Ian Botham Photo: Getty

When Geoff Boycott was a DJ in a Sydney nightclub

21 June 2014 8:00 am

Sport isn’t about putting a ball into a net or over a bar or into a hole. It’s about the…

Meadow pipit

Read this book and you’ll see why our meadows are so precious

7 June 2014 9:00 am

This book is a portrait of one man’s meadow. Our now almost vanished meadowland, with its tapestry of wildflowers, abundant…

Scarlett O’Hara runs through the streets of burning Atlanta

'Where are the happy fictional spinsters?'

18 January 2014 9:00 am

This book arose from an argument. Lifelong bookworm Samantha Ellis and her best friend had gone to Brontë country and…

W H Auden (Photo: H V Drees/Getty Images)

What would Auden have deemed evil in our time? European jingoism

9 November 2013 9:00 am

‘Goodbye to the Mezzogiorno’ was the first Auden poem that Alexander McCall Smith read in his youth. He discovered it…

Morrissey_autobiography

'If I can barely speak, then I shall surely sing'

26 October 2013 9:00 am

A few weeks ago, I was wandering with a friend around West London when our conversation turned to the reliable…

anno

How to get old without getting boring

19 October 2013 9:00 am

When one notices the first symptoms of senile dementia (forgetting names, trying to remember the purpose of moving from one…

Lucian Freud in his bedroom in Notting Hill, May 2011

Breakfast with Lucian, by Geordie Greig - review

12 October 2013 9:00 am

According to the medical historian Professor Sonu Shamdasani, Sigmund Freud was not the best, nor actually the most interesting, psychoanalyst…

Mayonnaise: a key component of Soviet cooking

Mastering the Art of Soviet Cooking, by Anya von Bremzen - review

12 October 2013 9:00 am

The early 1990s in Russia were hungry years. At the time, I was a student, too idle to barter and…

Move Along, Please, by Mark Mason - review

28 September 2013 9:00 am

Mrs Thatcher was widely believed to have said that ‘any man over the age of 26 who finds himself on…

‘I don’t mind being a monster, but there are limits’

The World According to Karl, edited by Jean-Christophe Napias - review

14 September 2013 9:00 am

Every fashion era has its monster and in ours it’s Karl Lagerfeld, a man who has so emptied himself on…

Romanian peasant uses an old plough pull

The Broken Road, by Patrick Leigh Fermor - review

7 September 2013 9:00 am

Sound the trumpets. Let rip the Byzantine chorus of clattering bells and gongs, the thunder of cannons, drums and flashing…

A Rogues’ Gallery, by Peter Lewis - review

24 August 2013 9:00 am

Like Mel Brooks’s character the Two Thousand-Year-Old Man, Peter Lewis has met everyone of consequence. Though he doesn’t mention being…

Bitter Experience Has Taught Me, by Nicholas Lezard - review

17 August 2013 9:00 am

What, really, is a literary education for? What’s the point of it? How, precisely, does it help when you’re another…

A Corner of Paradise, by Brian Thompson - review

10 August 2013 9:00 am

Author has late-blossoming romance with authoress, both divorcees, and they live together in a cramped house in Harrogate full of…

Violet Powell’s sketches on a tour of the Nile, ‘Dendra,  a Ptolemaic site [which] has a supposed portrait of Cleopatra and her son Caesarion.’

A Stone in the Shade, by Violet Powell - review

10 August 2013 9:00 am

Evelyn Waugh once recalled the anguish with which he greeted Edith Sitwell’s announcement that ‘Mr Waugh, you may call me…

Death by Dior, by Terry Cooper - review

10 August 2013 9:00 am

This book may sound like it’s going to be about high fashion, but it’s actually about Nazism, satanism, incest and…