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Book Reviews

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Tips for finding Book Reviews in Print Indexes

Since book reviews usually appear within the first couple of years after a book is published, make sure you know what year the book was published!

Copy out or take a photo of the complete citation before leaving the index.

Check the abbreviations section at the front of the index to determine the reviewing periodical's full title

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Finding book reviews

Book reviews are brief overviews and critiques of a book. They evaluate a book's merits or significance in the field by commenting on the author's writing style as well as the book's themes, accuracy, and other outstanding features. The reviewer might also compare it to similar books. Book reviews may help you to understand a book by doing one or more of the following:

  • summarize the plot and analyze themes and symbols (fiction books)
  • summarize the debate which the book is contributing to (non-fiction books)
  • critique the book's methods, evidence, and conclusions (non-fiction books)
  • compare the book with similar books
  • discuss the author's writing style
  • give important biographical details about the author and his/her reasons for writing the book

A book is usually reviewed in the year that it is published, or the following year or two. Book reviews are published in journals, magazines, and newspapers. Depending upon where they are published, reviews can be written by academics, librarians, journalists, writers, or practitioners in the field and may appear in a variety of lengths and styles.  

To locate book reviews, you need to know the following information:

  • author's full name
  • title of the book
  • year of copyright or publication

This bibliographic information is found on the book's title page and on the verso (the back page of the title page). If you need assistance in locating book reviews, interpreting citations, or finding reviews in the library, please come to your campus library's Information Desk for help.    

How to Find Book Reviews

Finding Book Reviews

The simplest way of finding book reviews for any given title is to search for "[title of book] AND review." As with all sources, you need to take in to account the author of the review, as well as the prospective audience.

Many academic journals contain book review sections for new books in their discipline, but keep in mind that these sections are not usually peer reviewed and book reviews are not generally considered scholarly sources.

Search for book reviews in the following resources: 

Writing a Book Review

Writing a book, article or video review

The purpose of a review is to provide an informed and succinct analysis of an item such as a book, article or video. The review should describe the item’s content and argument(s) and discuss its strengths and weaknesses. A person who has not read (or seen) the item should be able to decide from what you have written whether or not he/she wants to read (or see) the item.
 
Reviews should include the following information:

a heading which provides all the necessary bibliographic information about the item (i.e., author, title, publisher, publication date, etc.)

a summary which briefly summarizes what the item is about

a discussion of the author’s main point which reports on the author’s main purpose and overall argument

a critique which uses your knowledge of the field to evaluate the quality of the item (i.e., its strengths and weaknesses)


The summary and critique follow one another without the use of subheadings.