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Hard to believe it's already time again for our annual roundup of noteworthy books. As always, there's far more to cover than we have time or space for (not to mention all the good books I simply don't know about). But over the next weeks you'll hear about some of the titles that stand out among the enormous numbers that have arrived in the office in 2003. Two weeks from now we'll feature the Top Ten for the year, and the week after that we'll conclude the bookish year by looking ahead to some titles forthcoming in 2004.

The subject this week is old wine in new bottles. Some of the most interesting titles each year are old books reissued, freshly translated, newly packaged, or otherwise made new.

Our first title is a paperback of a book that was published for the first time just a year ago, Winter: A Spiritual Biography of the Season (Skylight Paths), edited by Gary Schmidt and Susan M. Felch, with illustrations by Barry Moser. Seasonal anthologies like this rarely attract my interest—they tend toward the saccharine and the predictable—and when a review copy came in last year, the only reason it didn't immediately go into the giveaway bin was that I have considerable respect for the editors, both of whom teach at Calvin College. Nevertheless the book was quickly buried in my office, and only several months later—when winter was almost over—did I really take a look at it. It turns out to be a superb collection, mostly prose but with some poetry as well, including not only familiar figures but also some wonderful surprises. I took the book home, and my wife, Wendy, and I read it in bed each night until spring had decisively come to Wheaton. Get a copy for your bedside table and another two or three for the Christmas stockings ...

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December 2003

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