Book review

Book review

:"For book reviews in academia, see also Academic Journal - Book reviews":"For the Looney Tunes cartoon, see Book Revue."

A book review (or book report) is a form of literary criticism in which a book is analyzed based on content, style, and merit. It is often carried out in periodicals, as school work, or online. Its length may vary from a single paragraph to a substantial essay. Such a review often contains evaluations of the book on the basis of personal taste. Reviewers, in literary periodicals, often use the occasion of a book review for a display of learning or to promulgate their own ideas on the topic of a fiction or non-fiction work. At the other end of the spectrum, some book reviews resemble simple plot summaries.


The book review is assigned to develop analytical skills. First, the reviewer has to depict the content, regardless of the type of novel, a historical or critical book. In the subsequent narration the goal of the book reviewer is to discuss the content of the book and provide analysis of what he/she had read, and deduce if the author managed to reveal the core, whether he/she kept to the thesis or properly achieved the purpose of the book. The last thing the reviewer has to do is to speculate on the topic him/herself. The book reviewer should also undertake through their own research to discuss the theme, assess the authors ability to express and explore this theme, and provide an opinion of the novel.

The determination of the book review is to communicate to the readers mind the ideas and sensations book reviewer experienced while researching the content, in this way explaining the reader what exact meaning the author presumed to transmit, or what did the reviewer experienced while during the reading. The book reviewer, then, stands as reporter, who informs the third party of the events, as an analyst, who makes judgments basing them on own experience, and as the observer from the side, who pretends to act as the reader him/herself should do by expressing own opinion, desires and expectations.

Making book review implies some special skills, as well as obliges with some precise responsibilities. Professional reviewer has not just to read and scrutinize the text, but to realize concealed, implied meaning the author obviously had dropped hints about. Skilled book reviewers' explanations make the reader feel this “that is just what I thought” sensation. The reviewer must also state the main points of the reviewed book. While some aspects are less meaningful, others are have to be marked out as prerogative issues. The task is even more complicated as the writer could unintentionally imply the idea the reviewer of the book can notice.

Then, the book reviewer has to decide upon authors points validity. Reviewer has to be the judge and say “did the writer persuade the audience, or were his/her evidences not sufficient and weak.” The reviewer here makes judgment on the adequacy of the book topic to the content.

The book review is also the expertise of the contents authenticity. By comparing the reviewed book to other materials in the given category the reviewer work implies potential danger for those writers, who admit plagiarism. If the reviewer finds the book authentic and, perhaps, unique, the points and attitudes of the reviewer are discussed.

In reviewing a textbook, the reviewer has a different set of considerations. Unlike the language in a monograph, that in a textbook must be no technical and jargon must be avoided. The reader will be a student, not a peer of the scientist who wrote the book. Technical terms will be used, of course, but each should be carefully defined at first use. The function of the book reviewer is to determine whether the subject of the text is treated clearly, in a way that is likely to enable students to grasp and to appreciate the knowledge presented. The textbook reviewer has one additional responsibility. If other texts on the same subject exist, which is usually the case; the reviewer should provide appropriate comparisons.

Imprint Information
At the top of a book review, the reviewer should list complete imprint information. The usual order is as follows: title of the book, edition (if other than the first), name of author(s) or editor(s), publisher, place (city in which the publisher is located), year of publication, number of pages, and list price of the book. Conventionally, well-known cities are not followed by state or country names. A publisher located in New York is listed "New York" not "New York, NY" and London is listed as "London" not "London, U.K."

Professional book review

Books, as well as professional book reviews are important in all professions, but they are especially important in the sciences, which defines the specialization of the book reviewer. That is because the basic unit of scientific communication, the primary research paper, is short (typically five to eight printed pages in most fields) and narrowly specific. Therefore, to provide a general overview of a significant slice of science, professional writers of scientific books organize and synthesize the reported knowledge in a field into a much larger, more meaningful package. In other words, new scientific knowledge is made meaningful by sorting and sifting the bits and pieces into book reviews to provide a larger picture. Thus, the individual plants and flowers, and even the weeds, become a landscape.

Scientific, technical, and medical books are of many types, let alone reviews and overviews. In broad categories, they can be considered as monographs, reference books, textbooks, and trade books. Because there are significant differences among these four types, a professional book reviewer should understand the distinctions.

How to find reviews of a given book

Some book reviews are available on the Internet, but not most and perhaps not the most important. There are many special journals devoted to book reviews and they are indexed in special databases such as "Book review Index", but many more book reviews can be found in newspaper databases and in scholarly databases such as "Arts and Humanities Citation Index", "Social Sciences Citation Index" and discipline specific databases. Ask the librarian about how to identify reviews of the books which reception you would like to study. Among the reviews of a given book there may be one that changes your view of that book.

Problems with book reviews

Principally book reviews are good sources for evaluating the quality of books. Sometimes, however, book reviews have been considered problematic. Katz (1985-1986) found that there are too few critical book reviews. This is also documentated by Novick (1988) in the field of history. Typically are book reviews in scholarly journals of a much higher quality than book reviews in newspapers. Among the reviews of a given book there is often one that has very high quality and puts the book in a critical perspective which the average reader has not competency to make for himself. This implies, that one book review of a given book cannot substitute another.

ee also

*Spiked Review of Books


Chen, C. C. (1976), "Biomedical, Scientific and Technical Book Reviewing", Scarecrow Press, Metuchen, NJ.

Ingram, H. & Mills, P. B. (1989), “Reviewing the book reviews”, "PS: Political science and Politics, Vol. 22" No. 3, pp. 627-634.

Katz, Bill (1985-1986). The sunny book review. Technical Services Quarterly, 3(1/2), 17-25

Lindholm-Romantschuk, Y. (1998). "Scholarly book reviewing in the social sciences and humanities." The flow of ideas within and among disciplines. Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press.

Miranda, E. O. (1996), “On book reviewing”, "Journal of Educational Thought, Vol. 30" No. 2, pp. 191-202.

Motta-Roth, D. (1998), “Discourse analysis and academic book reviews: a study of text and disciplinary cultures”, in Fortanet, I. (Ed), "Genre Studies in English for Academic Purposes", Universitat Jaume, Castelló de la Plana, pp. 29-58.

Nicolaisen, J. (2002a), “Structure-based interpretation of scholarly book reviews: a new research technique”, "Proceedings of the Fourth International Conference on Conceptions of Library and Information Science", pp. 123-135. Available:

Nicolaisen, J. (2002b). The scholarliness of published peer reviews: A bibliometric study of book reviews in selected social science fields. "Research Evaluation, Vol. 11" No. 3, pp. 129-140. Available:

Novick, Peter (1988). "That noble dream. The "objectivity question" and the American Historical Profession". Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Riley, L. E. & Spreitzer, E. A. (1970), “Book reviewing in the social sciences“, "The American Sociologist, Vol. 5" (November), pp. 358-363.

Sabosik, P. E. (1988), ”Scholarly reviewing and the role of Choice in the postpublication review process”, "Book Research Quarterly", Summer, pp.10-18.

Sarton, G. (1960), “Notes on the reviewing of learned books”, "Science, Vol. 131" (April 22.), pp. 1182-1187.

Schubert, A. et al. (1984), ”Quantitative analysis of a visible tip of the peer review iceberg: book reviews in chemistry”, "Scientometrics, Vol. 6" No. 6, pp.433-443.

Snizek, W. E. & Fuhrman, E. R. (1979), ”Some factors affecting the evaluative content of book reviews in sociology“, "The American Sociologist, Vol. 14" (May), pp. 108-114.

Spink, A., Robins, D. & Schamber, L. (1998), “Use of scholarly book reviews: implications for electronic publishing and scholarly communication”, "Journal of the American Society for Information Science, Vol. 49" No. 4, pp. 364-374.

External links

* [ Nicolaisen on Book reviews] .
*Nicolaisen, Jeppe (2005). Book review IN: [ Core Concepts in Library and Information Science]
* [ Review] in the New York Times
* [ Review] in The Guardian
* [ Review] in The Times
* [ Summaries of published book reviews] in Bookmarks (magazine)

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • book review — book′ review n. 1) jou a critical analysis of a book 2) jou a section of a newspaper or magazine devoted to such analysis, esp. of new books • Etymology: 1860–65 book′ review er, n. book′ review ing, n …   From formal English to slang

  • book review — n. an article or talk in which a book, esp. a new book, is discussed and critically analyzed …   English World dictionary

  • book review — noun a critical review of a book (usually a recently published book) • Hypernyms: ↑review, ↑critique, ↑critical review, ↑review article * * * noun 1. : a descriptive and critical or evaluative account of a book 2. : a newspaper supplement …   Useful english dictionary

  • book review — book reviewer. book reviewing. 1. a critical description, evaluation, or analysis of a book, esp. one published in a newspaper or magazine. 2. a section or page of a newspaper or magazine devoted to such material. [1860 65] * * * …   Universalium

  • book review — (Roget s IV) n. Syn. critical review, notice, blurb*; see review 2 …   English dictionary for students

  • book review — survey of a book, literary criticism …   English contemporary dictionary

  • Book Review Index — is an index of book reviews and literary criticism, found in leading academic, popular, and professional periodicals. It has been published since 1965. For most of its history it has been owned by Thomson Gale and part of the Thomson family of… …   Wikipedia

  • Midwest Book Review — Organization logo Formation 1976 Legal status Active Purpose/focus Book reviews …   Wikipedia

  • The New York Times Book Review — Not to be confused with The New York Review of Books. The New York Times Book Review Cover from June 13, 2004 Editor Sam Tanenhaus Frequency Weekly …   Wikipedia

  • The New York Times Book Review — ist die Literaturbeilage der Tageszeitung The New York Times; zu unterscheiden ist sie von der zweiwöchigen Zeitschrift The New York Review of Books. Der Book Review liegt wöchentlich der Sonntagsausgabe der New York Times bei, wird jedoch auch… …   Deutsch Wikipedia