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Columnists

Holiday reading

James Cary

Before you slope off to the beach, villa or gite, make sure you have plenty to read. Allow me to recommend some treats currently on offer.

Fiction
The Saharan Sparrow. The briefly-awaited 14th novel in 'The Gambian Detective Bureau for Older Women' series. Jonathon McGill-Jones tells a charming tale of a sparrow that gets into Phillis Njie's church and it doesn't want to leave. The local vicar seems happy with the situation, but there is more to the case than meets the eye. But not much. Voted by Good Living Magazine as 'Book most likely to be given to a women in her thirties.'

A Hundred Moons a Year. A boy in a war-torn country finds a telescope and dreams of going to the moon. He doesn't make it, but he learns a lot of other stuff besides that's almost as good. Critically acclaimed, but mainly because only critics have time to read it (it's 800 pages - there's a whole generational subplot story that goes on a bit). Voted by the London Review of Books as 'Book you're most likely to lie about reading.'

iMam. A romantic comedy by Saf Khan about Adil, a 20-something Muslim trainee imam who strikes up a friendship with an American girl who introduces him to the music of Jimmy Hendrix. Unfortunately, he is found listening to it on an iPod in the mosque during prayers and his life, and career, starts to unravel. After a series of contrivances, a cricket match, the wedding of a relative and lots of family pressure, he is forced to choose between Allah and 'Purple Haze'. Somehow, he gets both. Pastel-coloured pulp meets Islam. About time. 'Avoid' - Islam Times.

Non-Fiction
Split-Second
. In the blinking of an eye, we make split second decisions that impact not only our own lives but those of others. Sounds obvious. It is. But read about it over several hundred pages with a few graphs thrown in to make it look academic. And find out how the divorce rate is linked to the disappearance of the Amazonian Golden Tree Frog. Voted by Cosmo as 'Book most likely to be read exclusively by men'.

War on Error. Being a terrorist doesn't mean you have to drop your punctuation. Sally Trust casts a watchful eye over the grammatical errors of al-Qa'eda and other paramilitary groups and wonders how these young men ever made it through school without knowing the difference between a comma and a full stop. This book follows her previous hit Catastrophe Apostrophe: How flash floods and hurricanes need not mean the end of proper syntax.

Religion
I'm sure there might be a God. Hardened by years of reportage and politics, Jim Hounslow comes out as an agnostic. He pretends to have an open mind for most of the book, before returning to his original thesis that religions disagree with each and cause wars so there's probably nothing in it. 'Read the first two chapters and you get the general gist.' The Book Review

Injustice: I'm still quite hacked off about some God stuff. Phillip Yancey explains that, despite numerous books on the subject, he's still quite hacked off with God and how that's okay as long as you read some Psalms, pray and try not to get too worked up generally.

The New Perspective on Pauline Theology in the latter part of the Acts of the Apostles: A response by NT Wright. This book is probably very good and insightful. But we will never know. The blurb says Wright questions the role of law, temple theology and sacrificial worship within pre-Christian mainstream Jewish practice. We'll have to take his word for it. 'I couldn't even work out which way up it was mean to go' Theology Today. 'Even by my standards, this is a little complex.' Archbishop Rowan Williams.

History
Nazis: The truth
. A detailed look at Nazi propaganda , the Gestapo and the SS. In case you needed reminding, the Nazis were vile and reading about them gives you a warm feeling of superiority.

A Short History of Coriander. A book about the history of human progress which, apparently, hinged on the trade of coriander. Without it Henry VIII would have died as an infant, Faraday wouldn't have discovered electricity and Armstrong wouldn't have walked on the moon (it would have been Buzz Aldrin). A surprise addition to Giles Fenton's last book, which argued that everything hinged on the discovery of Star Anise.