Return to the OSU Library Home Page
Oklahoma State University Library
Return to the OSU Library Home Page Information Literacy

Find Book Reviews

General Considerations:

Book reviews are an important means of evaluating book sources. They are brief articles in periodicals (newspapers, magazines, or journals), often written by experts, that give the writers' opinions about the overall strengths and weaknesses of a book. There are reviews for popular books (fiction, bestsellers, etc.) and for scholarly books, though you have to pick the right database or print index to find reviews of a specific book. To locate reviews, you use library databases or print indexes, and search instructions for some major sources are listed below.

Book reviews versus literary criticism

The simplest way to distinguish book reviews from literary criticism is the time of publication of the review or the critical article compared to the original publication date of the book. Book reviews are usually short, evaluative articles that come out around the time the book was originally published; articles of literary criticism are written years after the publication and often are longer and more complex. For example, reviews of John Steinbeck's novel The Grapes of Wrath that appeared in 1939 or 1940 (just before or just after the first publication of the novel) are book reviews, while literary criticism about the novel continues to be written today. The MLA International Bibliography is an important database for locating articles of literary criticism. In general, the sources cited in this guide find reviews that reflect the response near the time of a book's publication.

General databases with book reviews in all topics (popular and scholarly books):

Academic Search Premier Internet resource licensed by OSU has book reviews from journals and magazines in most major fields of study.  Select “book review” in the “Document Type” menu in Advanced Saerch. It is updated daily and includes full-text coverage from 1990 - present and indexing and abstracting from 1984 - present.

Proquest Internet resource licensed by OSU also updates daily with coverage from 1970 forward and covers magazines and journals in all subjects. In Advanced Search, type in “book review” and select “Document Type” from the pulldown menu, then in the other search boxes enter the title or the author’s name.

Newspaper databases with book reviews (popular and some scholarly books):

New York Times Internet resource licensed by OSU (1995-present) or New York Times Historical Internet resource licensed by OSU (1851-2005) both contain book reviews from the newpaper's book review section. You can search for book reviews the same way you do in Proquest.

Time Literary Supplement (London) Digital Archive Internet resource licensed by OSU has full-text book reviews and review articles from 1902-1990. Use the "Author" or the "Book Title" search boxes, and select "book review" from the "Item description" pulldown menu.

Subject databases with book reviews (mostly scholarly books):

America History and Life Internet resource licensed by OSU has book reviews in U.S. and Candian history only from journals 1954-present. To limit your search to reviews, use Advanced Search and enter r* in the Document Type search box.

JSTOR Internet resource licensed by OSU is a full-text database of back issues of journals in the humanities, social sciences, mathematics, music, ecology and botany, business, and other fields. To search for book reviews, enter keywords from the title of the book or the author's name, and check the box for "review" under "Limit to."

,Project Muse Internet resource licensed by OSU has the full text of over 200 journals in literature and criticism, history, the visual and performing arts, cultural studies, education, political science, gender studies, economics, and others. For book reviews, go to Advanced Search and use the pulldown menu under Limit Search and By Type to select Review.

Web of Science Internet resource licensed by OSU contains three databases of scholarly journals:  the Science Citation Index, Social Science Citation Index, and Arts and Humanities Index.  Go to Advanced Search and under “Restrict search by languages and document types” select “book review.”

When you find an article that you want to read, make sure that you print out or write down all the information that you'll need to locate it. Include: article author, article title, journal title, journal volume, journal issue number, article pages, journal date, and index name. You can use Article Linkergetarticle to see if OSU has a full text subscription to a journal or a paper subscription, or to request a copy of the article from Interlibrary Services document delivery.

Print indexes to locate book reviews:

These print sources can be used to locate book reviews in periodicals (magazines and journals). Find out the year in which the book was published, and start with the volume of the index for that year. Contact a reference librarian for help using these sources.

Book Review Index 016.028 B724 General Reference, first floor
Book Review Digest 015.73 B724 General Reference, first floor
Combined retrospective index to book reviews in scholarly journals, 1886-1974 028.1 C731 General Reference, first floor


Accessibility Legend
Available to all free of charge
Resource available via the Internet to everyone free of charge.
Internet resource licensed by OSU
Resource available via the Internet to the Oklahoma State University community (faculty, staff, and students), Stillwater campus. These resources may be available to other users depending upon permissions from their home institution.
CD-ROM available in OSU libraries
Resource available via CD-ROM at public workstations in the Oklahoma State University Library. These resources may be available to other users depending upon resources at their home institution.
Print resources available at OSU
Resource available in print at the Oklahoma State University Library. All call numbers refer to this library. These resources may be available to users at other locations.

Hours space Anywhere Library Access space EZProxy space Renew Online space Search This Site space OSU Home space Comments

Last Updated: 09 November 2009