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Find Book Reviews

A book review is a descriptive, evaluative discussion of a book that appears in a book, journal, magazine or newspaper usually a short time after the book's publication date. A review differs from a critical study which may appear in any printed form at any time. A critical study is generally not focused on a specific book but rather on some aspect of the writer's style, themes, or critical reputation.

Keep in mind that many books are published each year, and only a very small percentage of these books are ever reviewed. It is very likely that some of the books you are interested in were never reviewed in a book, journal, magazine or newspaper.

Step 1: Identify bibliographic information

To locate a book review, you must know the basic bibliographic information about the book: author's name, title of the book, and year of publication. The title page will give you publication information. The library catalogs will also give you this information.

Step 2: Consult an electronic index

Make sure you use an index that covers the year the book was published. Depending on the book's publication date and subject matter, you may need to look for book reviews in several different indexes. Finding a book review is usually as simple as searching an index for the title of the book. However, it might be necessary to search for the author's name as a keyword instead.

The Electronic Resources Finder - Book and Film Review Databases is a page listing general-interest indexes as well as some subject based indexes that are good for finding citations to book reviews. Some indexes provide the full text of the reviews; other indexes provide links that lead to Melvyl to look up the name of the newspaper, magazine or journal in which the review appears.

If you are unsuccessful with one of the general indexes found via the Electronic Resources Finder, repeat your search in an appropriate subject-specific article index. A list of subject-specific indexes is available from Electronic Resources Subjects A-Z. The following subject specialty libraries have web pages on finding book reviews relating to their subjects:

Once you have located the book reviews and written down complete citations, you will need to look up the name of the journal in which the review appears in the library catalogs.

Step 3: Consult a print index

For older publications, it may be necessary to consult a print index. There are many indexes available for many different subject areas. Two of the major indexes devoted entirely to book reviews are:

  • Book Review Digest (1905-present)
    Lists and selectively excerpts reviews from 90 popular journals. (Hum/Area Z1219.B8)
  • Book Review Index (1965-present)
    Provides citations to reviews from over 400 popular and scholarly journals and newspapers. (Hum/Area Z1035.A1.B6)

Once you have located the book reviews and written down complete citations, you will need to look up the name of the journal in which the review appears in the library catalogs.

Step 4: Search the library catalogs for books or un-indexed journals with book reviews

Many more printed sources which include book reviews can be found by searching the library catalogs for subject keywords "books -- reviews": (e.g. war books reviews, or theology books reviews, or Mexico books reviews) to find a publication that includes book reviews. Some of our periodicals are not indexed, so you would need to go through them, starting around the time the book was first published.

For further assistance with any aspect of finding book reviews, ask at a reference desk in any of the campus libraries listed on the libraries and collections page.

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