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DAVID CROZIER reviews Don't Tell Mum, My Year Without Shopping and Face of Britain

PUBLISHED: 11:23 12 January 2007 | UPDATED: 10:30 07 September 2010

DON T TELL MUM by Simon Hoggart and Emily Monk Atlantic, £9.99 Subtitled hair-raising messages home from gap-year travellers , this is one of those books that may have been conceived as a stocking filler but which is actually much more entertaining than

DON'T TELL MUM

by Simon Hoggart and Emily Monk

Atlantic, £9.99

Subtitled "hair-raising messages home from gap-year travellers", this is one of those books that may have been conceived as a stocking filler but which is actually much more entertaining than that.

In these days of email, it's far easier to send a message home at regular intervals to let your family know you're OK when travelling around the world (and to beg for more cash, of course).

The trouble is that sometimes those messages prove to be rather scarier (and much funnier) than was intended.

Take this typical example in which a young man visits Quito prison in which he talked to an inmate who told him that in Ecuador you get 12 years for drug trafficking but only two for murder. "So," the email concludes, "if I feel the urge to be naughty here I'm going to kill someone. Stay well, Ollie." Fantastic stuff.

NOT BUYING IT:

MY YEAR WITHOUT SHOPPING

by Judith Levine Pocket, £7.99

It sounds like a good idea - try to find if you can survive for a year without shopping.

Apart from basic foodstuffs and toiletries, Levine has to forego everything our consumer culture offers.

Could you do it? I know I couldn't. The trouble is that Levine is so wrapped up in herself that the reader quickly stops worrying that she'll suffer and instead hopes she does.

Prior to the experiment, she spends 175 dollars on a pair of city snow boots to wear when she's not wearing her country snow boots. Anyone that ridiculous deserves all she gets.

FACE OF BRITAIN

by Robin McKie

Simon and Schuster, £20

NEXT month, on February 3, Channel 4 launches a new series called Face Of Britain which aims to discover the genetic make-up of the British public.

By taking DNA samples from hundreds of volunteers, the idea is that scientists will be able to discover the biological traces of waves of colonisers - Celts, Saxons, Vikings and so on - in various parts of the country.

This is the book of the series. And if the series is as fascinating as the book, it'll be required viewing.

David Crozier

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