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In The Medieval Kitchen, Hannele Klemettilä presents a richly illustrated history of medieval food and cookery in Western Europe and Scandinavia. The book is also a practicable cookbook, with a collection of more than 60 originally sourced recipes that can easily be prepared in today’s modern home. Available August 2012 www.reaktionbooks.co.uk/book.html?id=527#

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‘Portrayal and the Search for Identity is a compelling study by one of the foremost scholars writing on portraiture. Marcia Pointon draws upon a remarkable range of historical examples and methodological approaches to produce a book of great originality and sophistication’ – Peter Funnell, Curator, Nineteenth-century Portraits and Head of Research Programmes, National Portrait Gallery, London

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This book shows how, despite their liminal role, griffins, dog-men, mermaids, dragons, unicorns, yetis and many other imaginary creatures are socially constructed through the same complex play of sensuality and imagination as ‘real’ ones.

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Imaginary Animals by Boria Sax from Reaktion Books

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Exploring the work of a broad range of artists, including Joseph Beuys, Christian Boltanski, Louise Bourgeois, Nan Goldin, Douglas Gordon, Antony Gormley, Mike Kelley, Annette Messager, Tracey Moffatt, Tony Oursler, Cornelia Parker, Gerhard Richter, Gregor Schneider and Rachel Whiteread, Fear and Art in the Contemporary World investigates the manifestations of fear in our culture and the development of an aesthetics of fear. http://www.reaktionbooks.co.uk/book.html?id=542#

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Pasta, pizza, parmesan cheese – we have Italy to thank for some of our favourite foods. Home to a dazzling array of wines, cheeses, breads, vegetables and salamis, Italy has become a mecca for foodies. Taking readers across the country’s regions and beyond, Al Dente explores how Italy’s cuisines became what they are today.

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Al Dente by Fabio Parasecoli from Reaktion Books

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A fascinating read, the text covers all types of volcanoes across the world, and relates them to the paintings, wood engravings and a fresco from Pompeii. The linking of history, mythology and geological fact is flawless, providing fascinating insights into different cultures, the progress of Christianity and also the technique of painting.' – School Librarian journal http://www.reaktionbooks.co.uk/book.html?id=539#

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Reaktion’s new ‘Botanical’ series is the first of its kind, integrating horticultural and botanical writing with a broader account of the cultural and social impact of plants. In that sense, the South African geranium (the enduring, if confusing, common name for the genus Pelargonium) is perhaps the perfect plant to inaugurate the series. Available September 2012 www.reaktionbooks.co.uk/book.html?id=564#

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We all know the signs: chills, fever, sore throat, muscle aches, coughing. But while the flu may seem harmlessly similar to the common cold, influenza results in between 250,000 and 500,000 deaths every year in epidemics that can spread rapidly around the world. In pandemic years, the disease can kill millions. Click to see larger version.

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Resilient and tenacious, pine trees deserve our admiration. Despite their dark and gloomy reputation they have been the subjects of artists for centuries, particularly in China and Japan where they symbolize wisdom and longevity, and are admired for their shapes.

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The lily is a flower of contradictions: it represents both life and death, appearing both at weddings and funerals. In their pure white form lilies are a symbol of innocence, chastity and purity of heart, but by contrast the highly fragrant and intensely coloured orange lilies symbolize passion.

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