If Schadenfreude is what you usually get drunk on, prepare for a massive piss-up. Sam Jordison delivers, with Annus Horribilis (John Murray, £9.99) one of those indispensable coffee table books (you can also read it in other, more secluded places) that trigger some needed chuckles in these dreary autumn days. The principle is disarmingly simple. Jordison compiled stories of remarkably stupid deaths, resounding failures, entertainingly catastrophic mistakes and sundry embarrassing moments, the whole giving more credence to the saying that what appears as a tragedy on an individual scale becomes slapstick when seen from a distance. Jordison made the bold assumption that a man's misfortune is another man's guilty delight and I'm not one to prove him wrong.
Finally, am I the only one to promise myself that I'll read books like this in small, savoury shots and end up hogging them in one big gulp? I suppose it's the chocolate box syndrom, only the box this time may once have belonged to Pandora (am I clever today or what?).