Philip Pullman, Canongate, £14.99
The story of Jesus of Nazareth has been retold so many times that most of us forget that the four gospels of the New Testament tell completely different stories about a religious teacher and his followers. The stories differ because Jesus meant different things to the group that spawned the story. So he is the great miracle worker, or the fulfilment of scripture, or part of god's original plan for creation and so on.
Sara Paretsky, Hodder and Stoughton, £12.99
In Milan Kundera's The Unbearable Lightness of Being, the heroine castigates her husband, Tomáš, for wearing his life and his many affairs so lightly when her own life is heavy. For Sara Paretsky's detective, VI Warshawski, life is also heavy but she wouldn't put up with any of Tomáš's crap.
Her relationship is over, her friends few, her new client hates her and of course at least one person is trying to kill her. The case is that of a missing person - missing for 40 years.
Barbara Ehrenreich, Granta, £10.99
Americans account for two thirds of the global market for anti-depressants. In studies of self-reported happiness they rank 23rd in the world. If we include factors such as health and environmental sustainability, they come 150th. The US is also the heartland of the "happiness" industry.
Barbara Ehrenreich's previous book Nickel and Dimed investigated minimum wage jobs and the economics of corporate recruitment. Now, out of her own experience of treatment for cancer, she has investigated the vast "positive thinking" industry which protects that status quo.
Tony Benn, Hutchinson; £18.99
When Tony Benn, president of the Stop the War Coalition, first became an MP in 1950, it was in another world - before the internet and microchips, before most people had TV. For the next 51 years Benn used his diaries to record the progress of the Labour Party in parliament and showed us how little power MPs actually have.
As the collapse of Iceland's economy threatens workers' living standards there, Sarah Ensor reveals how the Icelandic working class met the depression of the 1930s with militant resistance.
The Financial Times described Iceland as a "reasonably large banking system with a small country attached". Yet until the 1990s this was a small economy based on fish and cheap geothermal energy. Between 1940 and the 1970s the former Danish colony halfway between Moscow and Washington built valuable relationships with both states. Standards of living were high and inequality relatively low. Then a new breed of entrepreneurs emerged.
Carolyn Steel, Chatto and Windus, £12.99
Our most basic need has been turned into just another commodity that most of the world is struggling to afford. So it's not surprising that there have been dozens of new books on all aspects of the politics of food in the last couple of years. This one begins with a potted history of the development of cities, from their beginnings as trading settlements into seething cauldrons of humanity as methods of transporting food over long distances developed.
Fighting racism and injustice shaped Sara Paretsky as a crime writer. She talks to Sarah Ensor about her work, the Iraq war and the US elections.
You are most famous for your detective novels set in Chicago, but your new novel, Bleeding Kansas, is completely different. Why the change?
Deborah Cameron, Oxford University Press, £10.99
This short and enjoyable read examines popular science claims that men and women speak and think in different ways due to their biological makeup. The title comes from the most famous, and possibly crudest, modern exponent of these ideas, John Gray, who 15 years ago wrote Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus.
Director: Julie Gavras; Release date: 26 October
In 1970s middle class Paris Anna, the nine year old daughter of a journalist and a lawyer, is serenely confident in her small world. From her parents' large apartment to holidaying at her grandparents' Bordeaux estate through her catholic school she is absolutely sure of how to behave in every situation.
She is neat, conscientious and is perfectly happy to force other children around her to follow suit.