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Don't Vote, It Just Encourages the Bastards

J O' Rourke (Grove)

During the Reagan era, P J O'Rourke's line in rightwing anarchism had a certain refreshing appeal for liberals dismayed by the puritanism of the new Left. But now, when he says don't vote, you know he means don't vote for anyone left of Sarah Palin and, when you're keeping that kind of company, you might as well leave the field to genuine lunatics, like Melanie Phillips.

The Wonders of the Universe

Brian Cox (Harpercollins)

For the former mainstay of D:Ream, things can only get bigger, as heart-throb Brian leaves the mere Solar System behind and heads out for the Universe itself. So set your controls for the heart of the sun and set phasers on stunning graphics, Mr Spock.

Tenth Parallel

Eliza Griswold (Farrar)

However the end-game of the Arab Springplays out, this book should now be essential reading, dealing as it does with the division between Muslim and Christian Africa. Griswold details how these tensions were created initially by the arbitrary nature of colonial borders and are now exacerbated by everything from religious fanaticism to climate change.

'O': A Presidential Novel

Anonymous (Simon and Schuster)

Our old friend Anonymous' faintly peevish attempt to do a Primary Colors with the Obama Administration runs into the difficulty that, although the current president may have his problems, being a scandal-mongering sex monster isn't one of them. Or perhaps he's keeping all that for a hoped-for second term, in which case a rewrite might be advisable.

Masterchef At Home

Edited by Emma Callery, Diana Vowles (Dorling Kindersley)

The new series may have drawn brickbats for its revised format, based on the old TV standby, 'if it ain't broke we must be doing something wrong', but true believers can relax with this selection of recipes from the 2010 series.

My Last Duchess

Daisy Goodwin (Headline)

'Henry James with Belles' is how the estimable Allison Pearson has described this debut novel by Daisy Goodwin, though with its theme of American heiresses in England to secure matches we could just as easily be in Edith Wharton territory. Daisy Goodwin knows her literary references of course, the title is from Robert Browning, and how could you not love a heroine called Cora Cash?

Howl

Allen Ginsberg (Penguin)

"I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness.'' Ginsberg's apocalyptic splurge is 50-years-old, and its creation has recently been turned into a film. Along with fellow beats Jack Kerouac and Neal Cassady, he more or less invented the counter-culture and almost, uniquely, kept faith with it until his death.

MICHAEL CONAGAHAN

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