Book reviews can serve a variety of purposes: they can help you decide whether you'd like to read a book, or they can help you understand a book's place in the context of a larger scholarly conversation. There are two main categories of book reviews: general interest reviews of popular books, and scholarly book reviews. These two types of reviews have several distinct characteristics and can be found using different tools. See below for more information and for links to useful tools for finding book reviews.
About general interest book reviews:
- General interest reviews usually focus on popular books (memoirs, nonfiction, cookbooks, etc.) and works of literature.
- They often appear in newspapers and magazines such as the New York Review of Books, the Times Literary Supplement, the New Yorker, etc.
- They may be written by other authors or by journalists.
- General interest book reviews usually appear soon after a book's publication.
The following indexes will help you locate general interest book reviews:Book Review Index Plus (Gale)
Book Review Digest Plus (EBSCO)
Book Review Digest Retrospective, 1903-1982 (EBSCO)
About scholarly book reviews:
- Scholarly book reviews focus on scholarly books.
- They are written by scholars or librarians.
- They are published in academic journals.
- In some cases, these reviews cover two or three books on a single topic.
- Scholarly book reviews often appear more than a year after the initial publication of the reviewed book.
Subject Specialized Tools
Since so many scholarly book reviews are published in peer-reviewed journals within the relevant discipline, it's best to search for reviews in an article database that focuses on that academic discipline (e.g., Sociological Abstracts for sociology, or CINAHL for nursing).
In most cases, you can select the Advanced Search option and limit your search results to "Reviews" or "Book Reviews."
- Falvey Subject Guides - these guides will point you to the top recommended databases for your subject area, and will connect you to a subject specialist librarian who can help you find what you need.
Try these tools to find book reviews published in scholarly journals in a variety of disciplines. Please note specific instructions in each database description for limiting your search result to book reviews only.JSTOR
Web of Science (Clarivate) Tutorial
The Library provides online access to the following book review journals; click the FindIt button within each item's record to search or browse.
- London Review of Books (recent print issues are available in Current Periodicals on 1st floor of Falvey; website provides 4 free articles per month from current and back issues)
- New York Review of Books (available online from 1963 - present)
- New York Times Book Review (all back content available to the VU community via our NYTimes.com subscription; 1997- present available online via ProQuest)
- TLS, the Times Literary Supplement (available online from 2012 - present)