Johnathan Franklin (Transworld)
The big good news story of the last 12 months gets its first outing in book form, and Franklin hovers delicately between the wish to maintain the myth and the more complicated, and therefore more interesting, reality of flawed, but ultimately heroic, figures defying the odds to emerge triumphant, tales of drugs and blow-up dolls notwithstanding.
Reclaiming The F Word
Catherine Redfern, Kristine Aune (Zed)
In the week of the 100th anniversary of the first International Women's Day, comes a timely polemic whose intention to put feminism back on the map might now be welcomed by a male population whose intellect and livers have been severely tested by the tyranny of new laddism. So let's raise a glass and cry "Right on Sisters!"
Frank Sinatra Has A Cold
Gay Talese (Penguin)
This collection by the father figure of the 'new' journalism that produced Tom Wolfe, Hunter S Thompson et al gives us a glimpse into an era when celebrities were giants, rather than transient pygmies, thus detailed in exquisite prose, the likes of Sinatra, Fidel Castro, and Muhammad Ali.
Hare With Amber Eyes
Edmund De Waal (Vintage)
This prizewinning biography, crafted with a delicacy one could only expect from a potter, is a fine example of the current vogue for discussing history via objects, in this case, wood and ivory carvings known as netsuke. Destined for a long life on the shelves due to burgeoning interest on the bookclub front.
Stephen D King (Yale University Press)
Like his near namesake, Mr King can paint a frightening picture. Our assumptions about Western dominance are under increasing pressure and demand a more sophisticated and less parochial response than hoping it will all go away, or lamenting the demise of Empire a la Niall Ferguson.
A Widow's Story
Joyce Carol Oates (harpercollins)
Other writers as varied as Joan Didion and Sheila Hancock have dealt with the process of grief, but Joyce Carol Oates brings the clump of the true American literary heavyweight to the equation as she deals with the "derangement of widowhood" so suddenly foisted upon her.
Behind The Black Door
John Prescott grumped recently about the "unelected wifeocracy" that seems to have taken over current political discourse. Well, he should know, and anyway, in her quiet way, Sarah Brown's diaries have garnered plaudits for their modesty and restraint, compared perhaps, to other recent Labour party tomes which have been, shall we say, somewhat of an ego trip.