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Book Reviews: Home

What is included in this guide?

In this library guide, you will find listings for many different types of book review indexes in the Baylor libraries.  However, there are a few things you should know about what is and is not included here:

First, most of the sources in this guide are indexes.  This means that they list the publication information for book reviews from many different sources.  However, indexes usually do not include the full text of the article.  Some online indexes may allow you to access the full text, but many of them--and all of the paper indexes--simply tell you where the book review was published.  To read the review itself, you'll have to track down the publication in which it was published, either here in the libraries or through interlibrary loan.

Second, this guide lists only some of the book review indexes that the library has.  We have many more, but for this guide we tried to include mainly general indexes or specialized indexes that would be of interest to large groups of people.  The specialized index page will give you an idea of the variety of indexes out there, but you should search OneSearch yourself to find out what indexes we have that deal with your specific area(s) of interest.

Why do I need book reviews?

Book reviews are useful in a few different ways:

For students of literary history, looking at book reviews published just after a book's first publication can tell you what critics thought about the book when it first came out.  This can be very interesting, especially when today's scholarly opinion differs from what people thought about the book originally.

In a general sense, book reviews are much like movie reviews.  They can give you an idea about what's in a book and help you to decide if the book is worth your time.  All kinds of popular books are reviewed in non-scholarly sources, and such reviews can help you choose recreational reading in an informed way.

However, book reviews can also be useful academically.  If you find an article while doing research for a paper or project, deciding that it is worth your time is as simple as checking out the academic credentials of the publication where you found it.  If the article was in a scholarly journal, it's probably OK for your research.  But books are different--they tend to stand alone, and unless the book you are looking at was published by a university press (and sometimes even if it was!) it can be really hard to tell if the information in the book is academically credible.

This is where book reviews come in.  If you can find a book review or two of the book you want to use, and those reviews are positive, the book is probably OK for your research.  If you find a few reviews, and they all say that the book is terrible, you might want to think twice.  Book reviews can also help narrow down for you whether or not the book really applies to your topic.

So, give book reviews a look.  They can be a very useful tool, whether you're writing a dissertation or a freshman paper, or simply trying to pick out your next beach read.

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