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Best Books From Hay 2011

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Stylist spend last weekend bathing in a wealth of literary of inspiration, courtesy of Sky Arts, at the 2011 Hay Festival in Wales.

One of Britain's most beloved celebrations of literature drew a swarm of authors - old and new - and thousands of self-confessed bookworms, all eagerly routing out the greatest and best books around right now.

We've picked our six favourites from the festival to tickle your literary tastebuds this summer...

The celeb autobiography

Stories I Only Tell My Friends by Rob Lowe

Best known as Sam Seaborn in The West Wing, Rob Lowe details his rocky childhood and rise to fame in this witty and frank autobiography, for which he reportedly earned a million dollar advance. Women, alcohol and drugs all feature, amid a generous sprinkling of pathos and entertaining Hollywood anecdotes.

£9.50, amazon.co.uk

The beach read

Lucky Break by Esther Freud

Esther Freud's seventh novel charts the dizzying highs and desperate lows of acting - "the best job in the world." A former actress herself, Esther is well-placed to create her protagonists - a group of actors who meet at drama school - and follow them as each attempts to carve a path in the egotistical world of wannabe thespians. Peppered with humour and coloured by Esther's own experiences, it makes for a great sunshine read.

£8.39, amazon.co.uk

The crime thriller

The Troubled Man by Henning Mankell

Henning Mankell's morose Nordic detective Kurt Wallander returns for the 10th - and most likely final - installment in the hugely popular mysery series that once featured on the BBC. A hero with a twist, Wallander, now aged 60, is plagued by low blood sugar levels and various neuroses as he becomes engulged in Cold War politics while investigating the sudden disappearance of his daughter's boyfriend's parents. An involving and sparse whodunnit, perfect for those late summer evenings.

£8.99, amazon.co.uk

The memoir

I Shall Not Hate: A Gaza Doctor's Journey on the Road to Peace and Human Dignity by Izzeldin Abuelaish

The incredible and moving story of Dr Izzeldin Abuelaish, a Palestinian doctor who lost three of his daughters and his niece during the Israeli bombardment of Gaza in January 2009. Born in the Jabalia refugee camp in the Gaza Strip, Abuelaish overcame extreme poverty and hardship to train as a doctor - and then used his training to cross the lines between Israel and Gaza, treating patients on both sides of the divide. This symbolic gesture became all the more poignant after the deaths of his family (his voice was heard on live TV in Israel moments after finding his children dead, in a highly-charged broadcast that some credited with helping bring about a ceasefire). He now campaigns tirelessly, in the hope that his daughters' deaths are "the last sacrifice on the road to peace between Palestinians and Israelis."

£10.11, amazon.co.uk

The debut novel

The Spoiler by Annalena McAfee

This pacy novel from former journalist Annalena McAfee puts a spotlight on the cruel and comic world of Fleet Street hacks in the late 1990s; just as the cult of celebrity went haywire and the internet was on the cusp of changing everything. Set against this nervy backdrop, a ditzy but ambitious tabloid journalist is sent to interview a veteran war correspondent - with both pulling out all the journo tricks in the book to secure the story they want. A must-read for all those wanting an insight into the murky and chaotic world of modern journalism.

£8.47, amazon.co.uk

The comic break

The Death of Eli Gold by David Baddiel

From a comedian best known for his blockish banter, you would be forgiven for thinking this latest offering from David Baddiel would be typical lad-lit; but in actual fact, "The Death of Eli Gold" has been widely lauded for its interweaving of compassion with comedy. As a famous American novelist (Eli Gold) is tended to on his deathbed in New York, four very different characters - all connected to him - are brought into focus, their worlds changing in response to his impending death. Featuring a murderous transvestite Mormon and a failing middle aged ghost writer, the story certainly delivers on entertainment - with love, death, aging, sex and fame meshing together for an explosive plot.

£11.79, amazon.co.uk

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