Subject Guides

Book Reviews

What is a Book Review? | Finding Book Reviews | Reference Books | Online Resources | Super Search

What is a Book Review?

A book review is a critical evaluation of a book, published in a periodical or newspaper shortly after the work is published. Reviews are generally written by scholars with expertise in the genre or subject matter of the book under review. They may be brief (a few paragraphs) or relatively lengthy (several pages).

It should be noted that thousands of books are published annually. Most receive only one or two reviews or are not reviewed at all. A book from a well-known author or one that is controversial may receive a disproportionate number of reviews.

Finding Book Reviews

To find a book review in either print or online form, you will need the author, title, and the date of publication. Look for the year it was first published, not later reprints or new editions.

Reference Books:

The Reference materials listed below are especially necessary for books published prior to 1980, before many book reviews were placed online.

• Book Review Digest (1905-current) (R Z 1035 .A1 B59)
• Book Review Index (1965-current) (R Z 1035 .A1 B6)
• Essay and General Literature Index (1900-current) (R AI3 .E752)
• Combined Retrospective Index to Book Reviews in Humanities Journals, 1802-1974 (R Z 1035 .A1 C63)
• Combined Retrospective Index to Book Reviews in Scholarly Journals, 1886-1974 (R Z 1035 .A1 C64)
• Index to Book Reviews in Historical Periodicals (1972-1974) (R D1 .I45)
• America, History and Life (Part B) (R E18 .A531)
• Applied Science and Technology Index (1958-2000) (R T10.7 .A656)
• Art Index (1929-current) (R N1 .A78)
• Business Periodicals Index (1958-2000) (R HF 5001 .B7)
• General Science Index (1971-2003) (R Q1 .A05 G4)
• Humanities Index (1974-current) (R AI3 .H85)
• Readers’ Guide to Periodical Literature (1900-1996) (R AI3 .R4)
• Social Sciences Index (1974-current) (R H1 .S64)

Online Resources:

The online resources include websites, online journals and online indexes and databases (which may contain full-text book reviews). Websites from bookstores (,, etc.), from publishers, or from the public at large (Google, Yahoo, etc.) are available on the web, but are not considered scholarly or reliable sources.

Education Review: A Journal of Book Reviews
Expanded Academic Index
Academic Search Premier
Books in Print with Reviews
New York Times Book Review

Many of the subject specific online indexes and databases (Business Source Premier, PsychInfo, etc.) also will publish reviews on books dealing with that particular subject. If the more general databases do not have what you need, try a subject specific database.

Super Search

With Super Search the user can search multiple databases with one search. An example of a multiple search is Google, but unlike Google, searching with Super Search results in only academic results.

Is there a guide or pathfinder you would like to see on this list? Tell us!