Some of the finest books pull us deeper into familiar subjects—biographies of great statesmen, say, or fresh takes on the essentials of Christian doctrine and discipleship. Others introduce us to people, places, and ideas about which we know very little, if anything. Last year, I finally discovered Laura Hillenbrand's epic World War II survival story, Unbroken. Going in, I'd never heard of her protagonist, the indomitable prisoner of war Louis Zamperini. Now, I won't soon forget him.
It's like that with our current crop of book awards, which pursue paths both old and new. One of the victory nods goes to a new study of Dietrich Bonhoeffer. You've perhaps heard a thing or two about him. And like always, we honor plenty of volumes touching on the Bible, the church, and perennial matters of faith. But hopefully, we'll also inspire at least some readers to acquaint themselves with abolitionists Hannah More and Sarah Grimke, or the philosopher Charles Taylor (and his penetrating look at our "secular age").