Christopher Hirst

Christopher Hirst is an award-winning food writer and freelance journalist.

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Paperback review: The Secret Lives of Men and Women

Described as “hilarious and heart-warming”, this is a deeply weird book based on a US website that features anonymous postcard messages.

Paperback review: British Gothic Cinema, By Barry Forshaw

Fans of Hammer will relish its defence in this erudite survey, particularly against the insistence of Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee that they had merely made “colourful fantasies”. In Forshaw’s view, Curse of Frankenstein is “deeply visceral”, while Dracula is “subversive… perfectly constructed”.

Paperback review: An Essay on Typography, By Eric Gill

Even if the sexual activity of Gill was not widely known in 1931 when this classic work was first published, his repeated references to “love-making” might have suggested that his interests were not purely typographical. On the latter subject, he is authoritative: “Lettering is for us the Roman alphabet.”

Paperback review: Nothing, Edited by Jeremy Webb

This book starts with a bang, a very big one 13.82 billion years ago, when an object “roughly the size of a pea” transformed nothing into something.

Paperback review: Inconvenient People, By Sarah Wise

The epic, entertaining drama of madness and its misdiagnosis

Queen cucina: Anna Del Conte - Britain's indisputable authority on Italian cooking - shares a few of her top tips

Spaghetti should never go with bolognese, and salad should be tossed 33 times in its dressing...

Book review: The Book of Legendary lands, By Umberto Eco

A polymath's keen rumination on utopias – with a generous helping of piffle

Book review: Iron Curtain, By Anna Applebaum

This impressive work shows how Stalinism crushed the life, pleasure and efficiency from Eastern Europe after the war.

Book review: Age of Assassins, By Michael Newton

Pursuing the trajectory of assassination from tyrannicide, a title claimed by John Wilkes Booth after shooting Lincoln, to the "absurd quest for fame" of Warhol's attacker Valerie Solanas, Newton has produced a work as gripping as it is substantial.

Book review: Leonardo and the Last Supper, By Ross King

King has conjured up an absorbing Renaissance case study: Leonardo's Milanese masterpiece comes to life when we learn that the Afghan ultramarine used for Christ's mantle cost the same per ounce as the annual rent of a house, while the actual supper has recently been revealed as "eel garnished with slices of orange".

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