Types of Book Reviews
Not all book reviews are created equal. Some are appropriate for scholarly work, other are not.
Many of the "official" Amazon reviews are taken from the magazines used by librarians to make decisions about book purchases: Booklist, Library Journal, Choice, Kirkus Reviews. In these sources, books are reviewed before they are published and reviews are limited to brief summaries with slight evaluative comments. "Crowdsourced" Amazon reviews, contributed by customers, are typically nothing more than statements of personal preference.
A scholarly book review, on the other hand, describes, analyzes and evaluates the quality, meaning and significance of a book. The reviewer will often put the book in the context of literary styles or traditions or will compare it with other works. Scholarly book reviews often appear in the journals of a discipline and may take 2-3 years to appear after the publication of the book.
Book Review Sources
In general, there is a substantial time lag between the publication date of a book and the appearance of a serious review, and another lag between the appearance of the review and the indexing of that review in a database. Knowing the date of the publication is a critical factor in determining what database/source will yield the best results.
Book Review Digest: 1905-1974. Bronx, NY, H.W. Wilson, 1976
Doe Reference Z 1219 .C95 Suppl. Periodical Indexes
Combined Retrospective Index to Book Reviews in Humanities Journals, 1802-1974. Woodbridge, CT, Research Publications, 1982-84
Doe Reference Z 1035 .A1 .C62 1982 Periodical Indexes
Combined Retrospective Index to Book Reviews in Scholarly Journals, 1886-1974. Arlington, VA, Carrollton Press, 1979-1982
Doe Reference Z 1035 .A1 .C63 Periodical Indexes
Moffitt Library Z 1035 .A1 .C63
History Book Review Sources
- History Cooperative
- Full text of many current U.S. History journals-- approximately the past five years.
SEARCH TIP: Use Advanced Search. Select Article Type: Review
- History of Science, Technology and Medicine, 1975--
- SEARCH TIP: Do a Keyword, Author, or Title search. Then, from the list displayed click on Limit and select Form/Genre-- Book Review and Apply Limit.
- Around sixty core history and history of science journals are included in this full text multi-subject index. Full back files are available for all titles. However, coverage for recent dates- approximately the past five years, is not available on this database. To check coverage dates see Browse Journals.
SEARCH TIP: On the Advanced Search screen limit your search to Reviews by checking the box at the Narrow Your Search to--These types: Review. Author search results: book and review authors.
- Project Muse
- Another multi-subject full text index; history is one of many humanities subjects covered by this database. Project Muse is useful for reviews published since 1993. To check coverage dates see Browse Journals.
SEARCH TIP: From the Search screen use the pull down menu to select Author Reviewed or Title Reviewed.
- Reviews in History
- This is the online review journal of the Institute of Historical Research at the University of London. Since 1996 the journal has published nearly 500 reviews of a broad range of scholarly interest in history
General Book Review Sources
- American Periodicals Series, 1740-1900
- Searchable full text of many 18th and 19th century periodicals.
SEARCH TIP: There is not a separate book review index: use the word Review as part of your Title or Author search.
- Periodicals Archive Online, 1770-1995
- Good coverage of American, British, and some continuential European periodicals from the 19th and 20th centuries.
SEARCH TIP: Search for the title in Article Title Keyword and under Scope select Book Reviews Only.
- Nineteenth Century Masterfile (Also known as Poole's Index to Periodical Literature, 1802-1906)
- Includes American and British periodicals. This index contains reviews, but the word "review" is not always in the citation.
SEARCH TIP: Use Author or Title searches to locate reviews.
- Reader's Guide Retrospective (1890-1982)
- SEARCH TIP: In the Document Slot at the lower end of the Search screen select Book Review.