Origin by Dan Brown – digested read

‘Why,’ enquired Professor Robert Langdon enquiringly, ‘have we got to page 100 and nothing has happened?’

Edmond Kirsch, the world’s richest man and its greatest futurist, took the train up to the monastery in Catalonia, Spain, Europe, wearing Barker ostrich shoes. There he was going to meet Bishop Valdespino, Rabbi Koves and Islamic scholar al-Fadl.

What I am about to tell you is going to end religion as we know it, he thought to himself in italics.

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Britain’s 100 Best Railway Stations by Simon Jenkins – digested read

‘Of particular note is the M&S Simply Food from which the late Duke of Argyll used to buy his daily tuna and cucumber sandwich’

In Britain, the railway station is theatre. A place where tramps may mix freely with millionaires, a place like no other – apart from streets, ports and all sorts of other places. It is no exaggeration to say that the railway may be Britain’s greatest gift to the world, the apotheosis of the industrial revolution. It has become part of our national psyche, a symbol of longing for a time when to be British meant standing in the corridors because there weren’t enough seats on the train. And there is no greater glory to our railway network than our stations. Here are 100 that I’ve happened to visit in the last year or so.

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What Happened by Hillary Rodham Clinton – digested read

‘I take full responsibility for everything that went wrong apart from those things that were other people’s fault. And don’t forget the Russians’

What happened? I wish I knew for certain. What I can say is that I absolutely gave it my best shot and that I couldn’t have had a wiser team around me. When I shed a tear as I waited in line at President Trump’s inauguration, it wasn’t for me. It was also for all the people in America who would have to live with that man as their leader.

I won’t deny that the six months since I lost the election have been some of the toughest of my life. But I’ve gotten by a day at a time thanks to the love of my husband, Bill, the support of close friends, such as Sheryl Sandberg, and the knowledge that I won the ...

A Legacy of Spies by John le Carré – digested read

‘I didn’t sleep with Doris, codename Tulip. I made love to her as she passed me Soviet secrets’

What follows is a truthful account – in as much as any old spook is capable of being truthful – of my role in Operation Windfall mounted against the Stasi in the late 1950s and early 1960s that resulted in the deaths of Alec Leamas, the best secret agent I ever worked with, and the innocent Elizabeth Gold, for whom he gave his life. So it would probably help if you were to reread The Spy Who Came in from the Cold before starting on this.

You’re still with me, I see. No matter. If I have the nerve to completely rewrite one of the best cold war novels of all time, then chapeau! for joining in the fun. Chapeau. I can’t lose my French roots. My name is Pierre. Though you ...

The Little Book of Lykke: The Danish Search for the World’s Happiest People by Meik Wiking – digested read

‘I tend to be Lykke all the time. Especially now that I am beginning to make a lot of money out of being Lykke’

Hi everyone! It’s Happy Meik here. Remember me? I’m the bloke who wrote last year’s surprise bestseller about how everyone should try and be a bit more Hygge. Well now I’m back with a book about Lykke. Lykke means Happiness but my important work as chief executive of the International Happiness Research Centre in Copenhagen (total number of employees: one) has shown that people feel much happier if they call happiness Lykke rather than Happiness.

People often ask me when I was at my most Lykke. That is a difficult question as I tend to be Lykke all the time. Especially now that I am beginning to make a lot of money out of being Lykke. But I really think I could have been most Lykke ...