Illuminations: A Novel of Hildegard von Bingen
Mary Sharratt (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)

Hildegard von Bingen, the 12th-century abbess and mystic whose writings and musical compositions are a living witness to a vibrant faith, has been named a doctor of the Church, sponsored by Pope Benedict XVI himself. This novel opens an imaginative window on Hildegard's life and times—and may (we hope) lead many readers to explore further. (For listening, try the Anonymous 4 recording The Origin of Fire and Sequentia's Canticles of Ecstasy.)

Standing in Another Man's Grave
Ian Rankin (Reagan Arthur Books)

After a hiatus of roughly five years—the last book in the series, Exit Music, concluded with his retirement—John Rebus is back. He's been working cold cases as a civilian, we learn, but he's thinking about re-applying to the police force in Edinburgh (the age of superannuation has been raised). In a strange twist, his antagonist here is Malcolm Fox, the protagonist of Rankin's two previous books, a cop who investigates other cops. Fans won't be able to get this new installment soon enough; newcomers will soon be going back to the start of the saga. Pure gold—but I still miss the early Rebus, who reread Dostoevsky and hadn't altogether forgotten God.

My Bookstore Writers Celebrate Their Favorite Places to Browse, Read, and Shop
Edited by Ronald Rice and Booksellers Across America (Black Dog & Leventhal)

If you are booklover, and if you didn't find this handsome volume under the Christmas tree or in your stocking, you should hasten to pick up a copy—preferably at your local bookstore. One bonus: Next time you are on the road, you can check to see if you'll be in the vicinity of one of the 84 shops highlighted therein. (I already have a list of book-haunts I particularly want to visit.) Each entry comes with an inviting drawing by Leif Parsons.

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