Nasrin Alavi’s We Are Iran (Portobello £9.99, pp384) comprises blogs, which would normally be my idea of hell. But to people living under Iran’s totalitarian regime, blogging has a point, and that is probably why 64,000 Farsi-language bloggers are at work. This beautifully organised book has you learning the long history of Iran almost by sleight of hand. Evocative and weirdly gripping, it makes you feel more like an eavesdropper than a reader.
I am not sure that the audience of 211 Things a Bright Boy Can Do by Tom Cutler (Harper Collins £10.99, pp288) is, as its author claims, boys of 16 to 106. I urge all thinking – or, for safety’s sake, unthinking – women to buy a copy. Part of the satisfaction of grazing through this compendium is not needing to undertake any of the activities within. Imagine, instead, the menfolk at play. The book is written with an intelligent brio that is in contrast to its material. It made me laugh aloud and often.