Pies and Prejudice: In Search of the North. I've always thought Stuart Maconie to be a great DJ and this marks him out as a terrific writer.
He goes back home to explore the North from his native Lancashire to Yorkshire and the revival of the cities devastated in the grim 1980s from Manchester to Leeds and Newcastle to Liverpool. He flies the flag for a part of Britain much maligned by the metropolitan media moguls of London while avoiding being mawkish or sentimental.
As he points out the media often treats the North as being 'out there' - another country. The newspapers have nearly all closed their regional offices, sending London based reporters up when a sink estate goes up in flames. Why, he asks, does the BBC have a north of England correspondent but no south of England correspondent?
On Chesil Beach by Ian McEwan. A tiny novel but every page is made to sweat. The story of a doomed couple in the confused early 1960s, played out in slow motion like an inevitable car crash. Saturday was Britain 2003 in one day. This book is Britain in 1962 in one ghastly honeymoon night.