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About Book Reviews
Book reviews are published in periodicals, usually shortly after the book being reviewed has been published. Reviews generally provide enough information about a book to enable a reader to decide whether or not to read it. Reviews may be descriptive or critical. They may include a summary of the book, discuss its style, compare it with other books on the same subject, or provide background information about the author. Reviews show the reactions to a book at the time it was published, and can be an important source of evaluation, allowing you to compare your opinion with those of various critics.

Remember that a book review records one individual's impression of a particular book, and that impression may be biased in some way. Consequently, one should:
  1. Consult several reviews (if available) of the same book in order to obtain a more balanced assessment of the book.
  2. Note the author of the review and, if desired, look for information about the reviewer.
  3. Look to see if the periodical in which the review appears might have a built-in bias. What are the titles of the articles? Who publishes the periodical?
Book reviews are commonly written when a book is first published. There may be a significant period of time between when the book is published, and when a review appears in a journal (especially scholarly journals), and when the review appears in an index or database.

Further helpful reading about book reviewing, including a list of the major scholarly journals containing book reviews, can be found in:

Reviews and Reviewing: a guide / A. J. Walford, ed.
Phoenix, AZ: Oryx Press, 1986
Case Main PN98.B7 R5 1986
Identifying Reviews
In order to locate a book review you should know the:
  • year in which the book was first published. This is important; the year of publication often determines which databases to use.
  • title of the book.
  • author's name.
If you lack any of this information, consult the title page and verso of the book, the libraries' catalog, ConnectNY, WorldCat, or ask a Reference Librarian for assistance.

Book review indexes/databases can be used to identify which periodicals published reviews of a particular book. Paper versions of book review indexes typically are arranged alphabetically by author's name, and some also have a title index. Most are published monthly and cumulate annually, which is why the year of publication of your book is so important. Begin your search in the volume for the first date of publication, and check the following two years. Reviews usually appear in book review indexes within three years of publication.

Other periodical indexes/databases may cover book reviews, either in a special section or as part of the regular arrangement. They are particularly useful for finding reviews in scholarly journals. Reviews in scholarly journals may appear as many as 5 years after the publication of the book, so check several years of these indexes.
Mulitidisciplinary Databases
Book Review Index Restricted Access
Coverage: 1965-present. Indexes reviews in magazines and scholarly journals.

Book Review Digest Case Ref Z1219.C95 Restricted Access
Coverage: 1905-2004/05.  Indexes and excerpts reviews of books written in English and published in the U.S. and Canada. More selective than Book Review Index. Arranged alphabetically by author; subject and title indexes. Search year of publication and the year following publication.

Academic Search Premier Restricted Access Some full text available
Coverage: varies with title; primarily mid-1990's-- ; 100 titles from 1975--
Indexes more than 4,500 periodicals, contains full text of almost 3,600 periodicals. Enter keywords from title or author and select Document type: Book Review.

Periodical Index Online Unrestricted Access
Coverage: varies with title indexed (1770-1993 )
Valuable for locating reviews from the 18th and 19th century. Select BOOK REVIEWS ONLY at bottom of the search screen. Search for either author or title of book.

JSTOR Restricted Access Some full text available
Contains the full text of articles in selected scholarly periodicals. Not useful for reviews published in the last 3 to 5 years. Enter keywords from the book title in the Article Title field. Check Limit to Type Review. Select any other desired limits (language, discipline, specific journals, etc.).

H-Net Reviews Unrestricted Access
Online scholarly review website reviewing materials (not just books) in the humanities and social sciences. Browse by date, type of material being reviewed or "list" (i.e. subject). Advanced search by author, title, full text, and more.

LexisNexis Academic Restricted Access Some full text available
Coverage: varies with periodical title
Full text of articles in newspapers and magazines. Search keywords from title of book. To narrow results, click on Power Search, enter keywords from title of book, next to :Add Index Terms", click on Subject, Find, enter Book Reviews, select, and click on OK -- Add to search

Project Muse Restricted Access Some full text available
Coverage: 1995--
Search title of book

Readers` Guide Retrospective Restricted Access 1890-1982
Case Reference AI3 .R48 1982-2007
Indexes primarily popular magazines published in the U.S. and Canada.
  • In online version (for period 1983-- only). Select Document type Book review and search keywords from title of book.
  • In paper version, use separate book review section at back of each volume.
Ethnic NewsWatch Restricted Access Some full text available
Coverage: 1985-present
Contains the full text of articles in "newspapers, magazines and journals of the ethnic, minority and native press." Choose years (based upon date of publication of the book), enter keywords from the title of the book and Book Review as Document Type.

New York Times Restricted Access Some full text available
Coverage: 1851--
Media Listening/Viewing Indexes AI21 .N44
  • In database, check Document Type Reviews
  • In paper indexes, look up subject heading Book Reviews.
Times Index (London) Unrestricted Access
Coverage: 1785-2006
Valuable for 18th century reviews, and for newspaper coverage preceding Lexis-Nexis Academic. Select Advanced Search, enter keywords from title of book in Text field and check Reviews section.

Times Literary Supplement Index Case Reference AP4 .T45 Unrestricted Access
Coverage: 1902-1980
Look up by author of book.

Washington Post. Newspaper Index
Coverage: 1972-1977
Media Listening/Viewing Indexes AI21 .W33 W36
Use subject heading Books--Authors or Books--Titles

Access: the supplementary index to periodicals Case Reference AI3 .A23 Unrestricted Access
Coverage: 1975-1999Designed to index "national publications of general interest" that aren't covered by the Readers' Guide.
In the subject index, look up author of book

Left Index Case Reference HX1 .L45 Unrestricted Access
Coverage: 1982-1999. Multisidisciplinary; articles with a leftist slant.
Separate book review index in each issue; no cumulation

Iter: the bibliography of Medieval and Renaissance Europe from 400-1700 Unrestricted Access
Coverage: 1784--
Click on Search a Database, then on Connect to ITER Bibliography, then on Advanced Search. Enter keywords from the title of book, then select Review in Type field (below the Search button).

American Bibliography of Slavic and East European Studies (ABSEES) Restricted Access 1990-present
Case Reference  DJK9 .A63 1968/69, 1973, 1982--89
Reviews can appear as many as 3 years after the publication of the book. Enter keywords from title of book and select Document Type Book Review. In paper index:
  • In 1968/69 issue, citations to reviews follow entry for book. Use author index to locate entries.
  • A separate book review section, arranged by subject, begins in 1973. Use title index to locate reviews.
Social Sciences Databases
Social Sciences Citation Index Restricted Access Some full text available
Coverage: 1989-present ; 1969-1988 (paper)
Case Reference AI3 .S585
  • In online version (via Web of Science), search author's last name and keywords from book title in TOPIC, select Book Review in DOCUMENT TYPE, below Search button, select database (default is science, social sciences, humanities). IMPORTANT: logut (upper right) when finished so that others may search the database from a different computer.
  • In paper version, look-up author of book in the Citation Index. Book review entries are marked with a "B". Entry refers you to the Source Index. Reviews can appear as many as 10 years after publication of the book.
International Bibliography of the Social Sciences Restricted Access
Coverage: 1951--
Select Record type: Review before searching words from title of book

Social Sciences Index Case Reference AI3 .S62 Restricted Access
Coverage: vol. 1 (1974/75)--vol. 29(2001/02)
A separate book review index is in the back of each volume, arranged by author.
Humanities Databses
Index to Book Reviews in the Humanities Case Reference AI3 .I45 Unrestricted Access
Coverage: vol. 1-31 (1960-1990)Indexes reviews of books about language and literature, history, philosophy, the arts, classics, travel, folklore, sports and recreation. Arranged alphabetically by author. Reviews may appear as many as 5 years after publication of the book.

Index to Book Reviews in England, 1749-1774 Case Reference Z1035.A1 F67 1990 Unrestricted Access
Contains an introductory essay on book reviewing in the 18th century. Lists reviews of poems, fiction, and drama (as literature, not reviews of performances) from 16 periodicals. No newspaper coverage. Look up author of book.

Humanities Index Case Reference AI3 .H85 Unrestricted Access
Coverage: vol. 1 (1974/75)--vol. 29 (2001/02) Separate book review index is in the back of each volume, arranged alphabetically by author

Arts & Humanities Citation Index Restricted Access Some full text available
Coverage 1989-present; 1976-88 (paper)
Case Reference AI .A63
  • In online version (via Web of Science), search author's last name and keywords from book title in TOPIC, select Book Review in DOCUMENT TYPE, below Search button, select database (default is science, social sciences, & humanities).
  • In paper version (1976-96), look-up author of book in the Citation Index. Book review entries are marked with a "B". Entry refers you to the Source Index.


Last updated: July 28, 2010
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