Masters Of The Word:

How Media Shaped History by William Bernstein (Atlantic, £14.99)

This historical study isn't so much about the media but about the progress of telecommunications, and asks how far that progress has benefited the individual and the state. An example of how fast things are changing is the omission of Edward Snowden and NRSA observation of individuals, making it already out of date.

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The Works by Joseph Connolly (Quercus, £8.99)

You have to be very fond indeed of parentheses, commas, and meanderings of all sorts, to manage an entire Joseph Connolly novel, and this re-issue from 2003 is no exception. We do learn eventually that inept and rather lazy Lucas Cage inherits a printing works from his dead father which he turns into a home for misfits.

A Cat, A Hat And A Piece Of String by Joanne Harris (Black Swan, £7.99)

This collection of short stories combines Gothic fantasy and domestic comfort, magic and food mixed all together. It's been a hugely successful recipe for Harris, and fans of her novels will like these tales of those who defy death, whether it's girls swimming the rapids or lonely divorcees buying ancient and possibly haunted houses.

Bedsit Disco Queen by Tracey Thorn (Virago, £8.99)

Students who loved Everything But The Girl have since grown up and they've flocked in their tens of thousands to buy Thorn's memoir of her time in the band, making this a huge bestseller. Chapters are short, more like diary entries, which keeps it fresh and punchy, and Thorn is, appropriately enough, sharp in her observations.

Lesley McDowell