Book clubs

The Xi files: how China spies

38 min listen

This week: The Xi files: China’s global spy network. A Tory parliamentary aide and an academic were arrested this week for allegedly passing ‘prejudicial information’ to China. In his cover piece Nigel Inkster, MI6’s former director of operations and intelligence, explains the nature of this global spy network: hacking, bribery, manhunts for targets and more. To discuss, Ian Williams, author of Fire of the Dragon – China’s New Cold War, and historian and Guardian columnist Simon Jenkins joined the podcast.. (02:05) Next: Lara and Gus take us through some of their favourite pieces in the magazine, including Douglas Murray’s column and Gus’s interview with the philosopher Daniel Dennett.  Then: Tim Shipman writes for The Spectator about

Fight club: when book groups turn nasty

‘Small friendly village book club is looking for three or four new members.’ I was infuriated to read this in our village newsletter, an alternative to the parish magazine. I had just been ‘cancelled’ by this ‘friendly’ club from featuring at one of their evenings. A text, sent by a hitherto pleasant woman who’d liked my last book, explained: ‘There are many hurt feelings in the village. We in the book group believe that your email, put on the parish council notice board, was hurtful and upsetting. So the feeling is that at the moment it would be better to postpone your visit.’ ‘Hurt’ seems to be a current buzzword

The best theatre podcasts

All the world’s on stage again so where to go to for insight into what to see and why? Podcasts, of course. Lowe’s ‘luck’ is that he happens to be friends, neighbours, or have starred, with everyone he interviews Let’s start with Literally! With Rob Lowe. An hour-long conversation between the most swoonable actor in the world who we’ve all forgotten, and everyone he knows and likes, from Alec Baldwin and Oprah Winfrey to St Elmo’s Fire co-star Demi Moore. It’s a wonderful and eye-opening listen. Lowe combines the enthusiasm and curiosity of the best interviewers with a knowledge and experience that makes conversation flow until the cup spilleth over.