Books

Julie Harris in the 1963 film The Haunting, based on Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House

Shirley Jackson, high priestess of horror, finally gets the recognition she deserves

3 December 2016 9:00 am

A film critic friend, astonished that I had never heard of Shirley Jackson, told me to go and read her…

Background of famous social media icons

Is Jarett Kobek the Michel Houellebecq of San Francisco?

3 December 2016 9:00 am

I Hate the Internet is not so much a novel as a wildly entertaining rant. Jarett Kobek is a self-published…

‘The Griffin’ by Martin Schongauer (15th-century engraving)

The map-maker’s task may never be done

26 November 2016 9:00 am

The map-maker’s task may never be done, says Alex Burghart. Seven new islands have appeared in the past decade alone

True Detective's Alexandra Daddario (Photo: Getty)

Our love-hate relationship with television

26 November 2016 9:00 am

While I’ve read plenty of books worse than Television: A Biography, I can’t immediately think of any that were more…

Lost soul: a rare portrait of Diane Arbus, taken in New York in 1968

Diane Arbus: a life of incest, orgies and pursuing the extremes

26 November 2016 9:00 am

Armed with their tiny Leicas and Nikons, most of the great postwar ‘street’ photographers liked to be unobtrusive; they wanted…

Raymond Blanc at his restaurant 'Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat'Saisons' in Great Milton (Photo: Getty)

Round the world in ten gorgeous cookbooks

26 November 2016 9:00 am

New books by Raymond Blanc and Pierre Koffmann retell the truth that British food came back from the brink. If…

Frédéric Bouchot’s ‘L’envie’. From Paris comique, livre album (1842). Illustration from The Silhouette from the 18th Century to the present Day

The best art books of 2016

26 November 2016 9:00 am

Suitably for a year so full of cataclysms and disturbing portents, 2016 is the quincentenary of the death of Hieronymus…

Author Alan Moore (Photo: Getty)

Alan Moore’s epic novel is a moveable feast

26 November 2016 9:00 am

A century ago, Sir Hubert Parry set Blake’s ‘Jerusalem’ to music. The lyric had been written 100 years earlier and…

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…

Close-up of microphone on stage

Gallows humour is at its darkest in David Grossman’s latest novel

26 November 2016 9:00 am

A horse walks into a bar.… David Grossman takes the opening line of an old joke for his title, which…

PET-CT sagittal scan of the brain

Shame and scandal of the ‘falling sickness’

26 November 2016 9:00 am

In the cult Steve Martin film The Man With Two Brains, a doctor falls in love with a surgically removed…

A Tommy rescues two canaries from a ruined house on the Western Front in 1915. Canaries were treasured not only as gas detectors but also in ambulance trains, where their song comforted wounded soldiers

Foreign fields forever England

26 November 2016 9:00 am

In July 1915 the poet Edward Thomas enlisted as a soldier with the Artists’ Rifles, even though, at the age…

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A further selection of the best and most overrated books of 2016, chosen by some of our regular reviewers

19 November 2016 9:00 am

A further selection of the best and most overrated books of 2016,  chosen by some of our regular contributors

Mark Sykes in Vanity Fair, June 1912

The squiggle on the map that shaped the modern world

19 November 2016 9:00 am

When turbaned warriors from Daesh (or Isis) advanced on Raqqa in Syria two years ago, they whooped wildly about having…

Show cats at the National Cat Club Show, 1983, photographed by Jane Bown

A choice of Christmas stocking fillers

19 November 2016 9:00 am

The gift books come in all shapes and sizes this year: big, little, tiny, huge, long, short, fat and thin,…

Man sitting under The Milky Way Galaxy

The latest first novels make for gruesome reading

19 November 2016 9:00 am

Constellation by Adrien Bosc (Serpent’s Tail, £12.99) picks nimbly along the divide between fiction and non-fiction. It’s really a speculative…

One of the famous victory tapestries shows John Churchill, 1st Duke of Marlborough, at the battle of Blenheim

Peter Ackroyd keeps his revolutions under control

19 November 2016 9:00 am

To write, and indeed to read, a history of considerable range, both in terms of chronology and of subject matter,…

Author Ali Smith (Photo: Getty)

Ali Smith’s post-Brexit Britain is already falling apart

19 November 2016 9:00 am

Ali Smith is that rare thing in Britain: a much-beloved experimental writer. Part of her attraction for readers is that…

Einstein's inspiration: Berne's Zytglogge zodiacal clock

The secret of the universe in 250 pages

19 November 2016 9:00 am

A few years ago, in Berne, I visited the apartment where Einstein wrote his theory of special relativity, which changed…

Beautiful landscape in Norther part of India

Robert Twigger’s survey of the Himalayas is decidedly quirky

19 November 2016 9:00 am

Robert Twigger’s father was born in a Himalayan hill resort and carried to school in a sedan chair. His son,…

Thomas Hardy (Photo: Getty)

The only way wasn’t Wessex

19 November 2016 9:00 am

The ten pallbearers at Thomas Hardy’s funeral in Westminster Abbey on 16 January 1928 included Kipling, Barrie, Housman, Gosse, Galsworthy,…

Eric Christiansen at New College in 1972

Geoffrey Wheatcroft remembers his close friend, the historian Eric Christiansen

19 November 2016 9:00 am

Geoffrey Wheatcroft remembers the idiosyncratic historian whose funny, sharp reviews were only bettered by his exquisitely entertaining letters

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The best and worst books of 2016, chosen by some of our regular contributors

12 November 2016 9:00 am

A selection of the best and most overrated books of 2016, chosen by some of our regular contributors

Mrs Benson and her three sons, 1884

There were none so queer as the Bensons

12 November 2016 9:00 am

The Benson family was one of the most extraordinary of Victorian England, and they certainly made sure that we have…

Terraced houses in Fournier Street in 1909, with Christ Church and Spitalfields market in 
the distance

Hawksmoor meets Jack the Ripper — the double face of Spitalfields

12 November 2016 9:00 am

Genial, erudite and companionable over most of its 760 pages, this stout Georgian brick of a neighbourhood history at length…