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A book review is an article that is published in a newspaper, magazine, or scholarly work that describes and evaluates a book. Keep in mind while searching for reviews of a book that many books are published each year, only a small fraction of them are reviewed. Reviews are written for different purposes and they will vary in terms of content and depth of evaluation. Since reviews are printed in many different kinds of publications, you may need to search several sources.
Reviews are produced after the publication of a book, so knowing the initial publication date will help refine your search (knowing the exact title and author's name is also necessary). Discovery Search will usually list the publication date of books in our collection. Use WorldCat from OCLC to find publication dates for books not found in Discovery Search. Finding reviews for older books may require using print indexes in addition to recommended databases.
Many sources (online or in print) will only give a citation for the review. Use that citation to track down the complete text of the review.
Reviews differ from literary critiques of books. Critiques explore the style and themes used by an author or genre.
Types of reviews
- Summary reviews
- Summary reviews are short reviews published in magazines that briefly summarize the content of the book. These are often found in library trade journals that librarians use to make purchasing decisions. These sources can also be searched using the general interest resources listed below. Summary reviews can be found close to the date of publication of the book in question (or possibly shortly before).
- Opinion reviews
- Opinion reviews give the article's author's opinion about the book. The review will typically include a brief summary of the book, and could include discussion on writing style, audience level and the book author's area of expertise. Opinion reviews are published in newspapers, popular magazines and specialty publications like the New York Times Book Review. These sources can be searched using the Popular Newspapers and Magazines resources listed below. Opinion reviews are typically written soon after the publication date of the book.
- Scholarly reviews
- Scholarly reviews are written by experts in the field being reviewed. They are typically found in scholarly journals or as book chapters. These reviews will go beyond summarizing the book by evaluating the issues and methods discussed in the book. Use the same resources you would use to find scholarly articles on a topic, such as the databases listed on the Subject guides . Scholarly reviews can appear months or years after the publication of a book.
Book review databases
- Book Review Digest Retrospective from EBSCOhostCollecting nearly eight decades of H.W. Wilson's Book Review Digest, this archive database provides over a million book review citations from 1903 to 1982. It covers adult and juvenile fiction and nonfiction and provides at least one review excerpt per book.
- Book Review Index Plus from GaleBook Review Index Plus indexes citations and full text of reviews from general newspapers and magazines and specialty review publications. 1980-present.
- PsycCRITIQUESPsycCRITIQUES provides full-text reviews of current books and some popular films, videos, and software as well as comparative reviews of books in the field of psychology. The focus is on current books—most new reviews are of books in current year. Reviews are indexed using the Thesaurus of Psychological Index Terms. Full text available in HTML. You can limit to peer-reviewed sources. 1956-2017.
- Web of Science from Clarivate AnalyticsChange one of the popup menus to Document Type and then select Book Review from the resulting menu.
General interest databases for book reviews
- Academic OneFile from GaleYou can limit Document Type to Book Review. Most sources are indexed from 1980-present, but some journals are covered to the early 1900s.
- Academic Search Complete from EBSCOhostAllows limiting by document type to book reviews. Most sources are indexed from 1980-present, but some journals are covered to the 1800s.
- APS - American Periodicals Series Online, 1740-1900 from ProQuestCan limit by document type to reviews.
- MasterFILE Premier from EBSCOhostIncludes book reviews from Magill Book Reviews. You can limit Document Type to book review.MasterFILE Premier contains full text for nearly 1,700 periodicals covering general reference, business, health, education, general science, multicultural issues and much more. This database also contains full text for nearly 500 reference books and over 164,400 primary source documents, as well as an Image Collection of over 502,000 photos, maps & flags. MasterFILE Premier offers PDF backfiles (as far back as 1975) for key publications including American Libraries, Foreign Affairs, History Today, Judaism, Library Journal, National Review, Saturday Evening Post, etc.
- Newspaper Source Plus from EBSCOhostCan limit by Document Type to book reviews.
- Readers' Guide Retrospective: 1890-1982 from EBSCOhostCan limit by Document Type to book reviews.
See also the list of newspaper and magazine databases.
Subject specific databases
Many subject-specific databases will include book reviews. Use the Subject guides or Ask a Librarian for recommendations of relevant resources. Many will include the ability to limit search results to book reviews (check the help links if it is not immediately obvious if this is possible).
- Last Updated: May 18, 2023 9:52 AM
- URL: https://guides.lib.vt.edu/find/byformat
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