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Subject guide

Searching for book reviews

Book reviews give you a quick overview of the main arguments, quality and structure of a book.

A book review is a critical evaluation of an academic or literary work usually published in a (scholarly) journal, magazine, newspaper or online platform. It is often written by scholars who have expertise in the genre or subject matter of the work being reviewed.

Of the thousands of books published each year, most receive only one or two reviews, or are not reviewed at all. A controversial book, or one written by a well-known author, may receive a disproportionate number of reviews. Books with political content are often reviewed in publications which represent differing points of view on the political spectrum (left, right, centre).

Book reviews usually appear within a few months of publication for popular books, and some may even appear before a book is released. Reviews for academic books usually take a little longer, but will normally appear within a year or two of publication.

  • gain a general understanding of a book’s structure and main argument;
  • assess a book’s place in an academic debate;
  • see which peers assess the quality of a book;
  • compare your own opinion of a book to that of others.

Freely available online

Most bibliographical databases, such as the Catalogue allow you to filter on book reviews. Select Advanced Search and then select Book Reviews. Please take in mind a book review is something else then a systematic review (which is an overview of latest research on a subject)!

Or simply type in the following search string: "Book reviews" AND ...book title...



Specific sources for finding book reviews are

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