"Bloated industries put the economy in a bind," said the headline in The Chicago Tribune. For instance? "The world's auto industry can now produce 20 million more cars than consumers can buy." The article didn't cite the publishing industry as another example, but it certainly could have. (A photo of my office might serve as Exhibit A.) No one—no committee, for that matter—can keep track of the flood of books that appear each week, each day, let alone presume to pick the best of them from the past year.

What follows, then, is a highly subjective selection of books that stand out among the ones I've actually been able to read. Early in the new year, we'll feature some coming attractions of 2003.

Before we get to the list, it should be noted that this was a very good year for books by regular contributors to Books & Culture. Here I'll mention just four (with apologies to many others not named): Mark Noll's America's God: From Jonathan Edwards to Abraham Lincoln (Oxford Univ. Press); Philip Jenkins' The Next Christendom: The Coming of Global Christianity (Oxford Univ. Press); Lauren Winner's Girl Meets God: On the Path to a Spiritual Life (Algonquin); and Karl Giberson and Donald Yerxa's Species of Origins: America's Search for a Creation Story (Rowman & Littlefield).

The book I was happiest to see this year is Books Children Love: A Guide to the Best Children's Literature (Crossway), by Elizabeth Wilson, a substantially revised edition of a book which was first published in 1987 and which has remained in print ever since. The author, who celebrated her 80th birthday on December 20, is my mother. And it's a terrific book.

Now to the list of the top ten—which actually includes 12 titles—in alphabetical order:

1.After the Quake, by ...

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