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How to find book reviews


A book review is an evaluative and/or descriptive analysis published shortly after a book's publication. Book reviews vary in length from a paragraph to a few pages and provide an overall evaluation of a book's strengths and weaknesses. Books may be reviewed in popular magazines, newspapers and/or scholarly journals.

To find book reviews, you need the author's name, the title of the book as well as the original date of publication (the date when the book was first published). Keep in mind that reviews in scholarly journals may not appear until two or three years after the book was published.

Please note that book reviews are different from critical analyses of a classic book or of a work's impact on a field.

Wondering if the piece you've found is a review or an article? This short video will teach you how to identify a book review from a scholarly article.

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Recent book reviews

Online databases provide the best access for most recent (post-1980s) book reviews. In many cases, the full text will be available in electronic format. Choosing a database depends on the subject of the book and its date of publication. Select a database using the Database Finder.

The following is a selective list of databases containing book reviews:

Search tips

In the search box, type the most distinctive keywords in the author and title, combined with "AND", for example: atwood AND survival

Depending on which database you use, you may be able to limit your search to book reviews. If the database has limit options, see if you can limit your search by "document type" and choose "reviews" or "book reviews." If the database does not have search limits settings, trying adding "AND review" to your search terms, for example: atwood AND survival AND review.

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Older book reviews

For older (pre-1980s) book reviews, print indexes such as book review indexes and periodical indexes are particularly useful.

Book review indexes are specialized tools that help locate book reviews published in journals or magazines. Look alphabetically under the author or title. Choosing an index depends on the type of book and the date of publication. Cumulative retrospective book review indexes cover a certain time period in one publication. Look under the author or title.

Other more general indexes help you locate articles of all types in journals, magazines or newspapers. Book reviews are usually located in a separate section at the end of the index under a heading called "Book Reviews". If not, they can be found alphabetically under the letter "B" amongst the rest of the text.

Reviews in popular and scholarly sources
Book review indexes General indexes
Book Review Digest
Z 1219 B6
VAN Reference: 1905-1961; 1972

Book Review Index
Z 1035 A1B62
VAN Reference: 1966-2007
Canadian Periodical Index
AI 3 C2
WEB Index: 1920-2002
VAN Reference: 1920-1980

Reader's Guide to Periodical Literature
AI 3 R4
WEB Index: 1900-1959, 1970-1999
VAN Reference: 1922-1924, 1947-2004
Reviews in scholarly sources
Book review indexes General indexes
An Index to Book Reviews in the Humanities
Z 1035 A1I63
WEB Index: 1961-1990
VAN Reference: 1961-1963, 1965-1990

Combined Retrospective Index to Book Reviews in Humanities Journals 1802-1974
Z 1035 A1C63X
WEB Index only

Combined Retrospective Index to Book Reviews in Scholarly Journals 1886-1974
Z 1035 A1C64
WEB Index
VAN Reference

Current Book Review Citations
Z 1035 A1C86
WEB Index: 1976-1982
Humanities and Social Sciences Index Retrospective

Searches can be limited to reviews

For more information, ask a librarian

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Updated: Monday 25 May 2020
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