Christopher Hirst

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

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Paperback review: Walk the Lines, By Mark Mason

“The running total is 171.1 miles, not quite halfway,” groans Mason after the District Line, though this reader had the thought that no one forced him to do an overground trek of the Underground.

Paperback review: Time to Start Thinking, By Edward Luce

From the FT's chief Washington correspondent, this gloomy but absorbing view of US prospects combines interviews with sobering statistics ranging from education (twice as many are studying MBAs than engineering) to railways (Obama is investing $8 billion compared to China's $200 billion).

Paperback review: Higgs, By Jim Baggott

Baggott explains the significance of the Higgs boson: “it implies the existence of the Higgs field… without [it] nothing could be”, although “God Particle is a name heartily despised by practising scientists”.

Paperback review: Strands, By Jean Sprackland

The poetry of marine flotsam makes a perfect beach read

Paperback review: Walk the Lines, By Mark Mason

“The running total is 171.1 miles, not quite halfway,” groans Mason after the District Line, though this reader had the thought that no one forced him to do an overground trek of the Underground.

Paperback review: The Road Not Taken, By Frank McLynn

Frank McLynn's exploration of why British revolutions go pfft! is packed with interest. The collapse of Wat Tyler's rebellion is a mystery, though Richard II reacted “with a viciousness that always characterises elites [after] a narrow squeak”.

The Talbot Hotel, Yorkersgate, Malton, North Yorkshire

Following a deafening dinner at Jamie Oliver's Fifteen a few years ago, when twenty-somethings maintained a roundelay of "Happy Birthday" for much of the evening, I've steered clear of restaurants run by TV chefs. So it was with trepidation that I entered the refurbished mansion (Pevsner: "probably c.1840") that houses the Talbot Hotel in Malton, North Yorkshire, since the owners Sir Philip Naylor-Leyland and his son Tom have installed local boy James Martin, an ornament of Saturday Kitchen and other televisual bonbons, as executive chef.

The Great Gatsby, By F.Scott Fitzgerald

Brevity and greatness, minus Beyoncé's vocal distractions

How to Sound Clever, By Hubert van den Bergh

It can safely be said that no Independent reviewer will need a collection of "600 English words you pretend to understand… when you don't".

The Juice, By Jay McInerney

"On my 55th birthday," the novelist muses, "I was astonished by the beauty and depth of wines fermented the year I was born."

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