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Senior Research and Composition: The Scholarly Book Review

The Value and Purpose of Book Reviews

The following from Williams College Libraries is especially helpful in clarifying the value and purpose of book reviews: Book reviews can help with your research, placing a book within a scholarly discourse, showing contemporary reaction to a work, and providing a convenient synopsis. The number of reviews published, their authors, and where they appear will tell you a lot about the life of a book, its importance to a subject, and the reactions to its publication.

Find Reviews of Your Book in:

  • Book Review Digest. Index/Ref Z1219 .C96 1905-2012  Arranged a-z by author's last name, the annual BRD is one good place  to find excerpts from critical reviews of thousands of books published each year in American, British, and Canadian periodicals. The Library has 1905 to 2012. (Index/Ref shelves are located behind the Reference Collection)

and also in:

Taft Online Subscription Databases

NOTE: Book reviews appear in newspapers, scholarly journals and popular magazines. When searching, remember that critical discussions of books are not always classified by databases as "book reviews," so try searching just for the author and title of the book as well.

  • Academic OneFile Peer-reviewed, full-text articles from leading journals and reference sources (Document type: book review)
  • Academic Search Complete (Ebsco) Full text access to thousands of journals in all disciplines (Document type:  book review)
  • JSTOR Extensive backfiles of scholarly journals in the arts, humanities, and sciences, many dating back to the 19th century (Item type: Reviews)
  • New York Times 1851-2014 (ProQuest Historical Newspapers) Full-text coverage back to the first issue in 1851 (Choose "review" as article type and under Document type, limit to Review)
  • New York Times 1980-current (ProQuest) Full-text coverage (FT coverage of NYT Magazine and Book Review begins 1997) (Choose Advanced Search. Under Document type, limit to Review)


Critically analyzing information sources (presents fundamental questions to consider when evaluating books or journal articles; from Research & Learning Services, Olin Library, Cornell University Library Ithaca, NY)
How to Write an Academic Book Review (pdf from University of South Wales, UK)
Writing a Book Review (from the Purdue Online Writing Lab)
Writing Academic Book Reviews (by Casey Brienza, a lecturer in publishing and digital media at City University London)