Five books have given me particular pleasure this year. Rodric Braithwaite's Afgantsy: the Russians in Afghanistan, 1979-89 (Profile Books, £25) is an incisive analysis of Russia's intervention which is implicitly a damning critique of the Anglo-American follow-up. Peter Riddell's In Defence of Politicians (In Spite of Themselves) (Biteback, £9.99) is an urbane look at a class which, despite its faults and backslidings, deserves better than it gets. Anthony Seldon and Guy Lodge's Brown at 10 (Biteback, £14.99) is an engrossing account of the dysfunctional court of Labour's last prime minister.
If you want to find out about "happiness politics", you must read Richard Layard's Happiness: Lessons from a New Science (Penguin, revised edition £9.99).
And for those who want to wallow in a typical Russian scam, A D Miller's debut novel, Snowdrops (Atlantic Books, £12.99), is just the thing for that three-and-a-half-hour flight to Moscow.