'Tis the season for new and recycled ski books

Each year just before Christmas a new batch of ski books is hatched, apparently on the presumption that most skiers can also read and want to know everything there is to know about their sport. Whether it's previously been said seems to matter less than saying it again this year. Here's a look at a few recent tomes.

Because I've reviewed it for an upcoming book page, I'll merely mention here that The Ski Book (Arbor House) may be the finest collection of literature about skiing ever assembled. To my knowledge, there's nothing else like it.

Not to be confused with The Ski Book is The Great North American Ski Book, by I. William Berry (Charles Scribner's Sons, 399 pages plus appendices, $24.95), which shows that even the titles are beginning to sound alike. In fact, this is a revised third edition of America's Ski Book, written in 1976 and 1963 by former editors of Ski Magazine. The early editions tried to come to grips with just about every major question that involves skiing. In addition to these, Berry adds answers to questions you never even thought of and probably don't care to know anyway. In short, it is a rather long-winded tract which seems intended primarily for the hard-core skier who wants to know Berry's opinion about various personalities in skiing as well as ski resorts, equipment, instruction and competition.

One of the most knowledgeable and prolific writers on skiing ever, Berry is not stingy with advice, including this gem: ''Do NOT buy anything 10 minutes after you've come down off the mountain on a beautiful blue-sky day in March. Your judgment will be, as they say, impaired.''

Bill Berry also has revised his Kids on Skis (Scribners, 207 pages plus appendix, $10.95). Again, Berry's style and humor are entertaining, but his approach seems geared primarily for those who would prepare their children for skiing with the same thoroughness employed to investigate the purchase of a condominium.

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