A book review is a descriptive, evaluative analysis of a book that appears usually in a periodical a short period of time after it is published. Reviews are usually written by someone qualified to write them, with some expertise of the subject.
Book reviews can help you find out what's being published in your area of interest. They can help you decide whether or not to read a certain book. They allow you to compare your opinion of a book against others. Many book reviews mention other books by the same author, allowing you to see the range of their writings and to draw parallels.
Of the hundreds of thousands of books published every year, only a small percentage are ever reviewed. Book reviews can be found both in periodicals and online, in databases.
Book reviews can appear in journals, magazines and newspapers as part of their regular features. Those that appear in journals share the same subject as their publication. They sometimes use the special language of their field, and include interpretations and in depth analyses. Popular book reviews appear in magazines and newspapers. They are written for the general reader.
Book reviews can also appear in trade or industry publications that reflect the interest of that group.
Book reviews are useful because they can help you to find books that may not be held in our collection. They can also help you to evaluate whether a particular book is scholarly or not, since they often include not only an evaluation of the book's quality but also a statement about its intended audience.
Book Review Digest Plus (1906 to present) is a logical first choice for book reviews. The Library has this index in print from 1906–1999 and electronically from 1983 onward. It provides excerpts of reviews from thousands of journals, allowing you, in essence, to search them all at once.
Other sources for finding book reviews include:
- Book Review Index (1965–present). Table 25
- Combined Retrospective Index to Book Reviews in Scholarly Journals 1886–1974. Table 25
Databases and electronic sources include:
- Choice Reviews Online, specializing in reviews of academic books, electronic media and Internet sources.
- New York Times Book Review (1985 to present)
Many online bookstores, including Amazon and Barnes and Noble provide book reviews. However, keep in mind that many of these reviews are written by anonymous consumers rather than professional reviewers.