Book reviews are descriptive evaluations that usually appear in magazines, journals, or newspapers soon after or up to a few years after a book's publication. A book review is an evaluation of a book, but it should not be confused with literary criticism. A book review discusses the contents of a book; literary criticism examines aspects of a literary work such as themes, symbolism, or characterization. Book reviews may be found in a number of places depending upon the subject matter of the book. Reviews of books for the general reader, or popular books, may be found in sources which index general interest periodicals, while reviews of books written on specific subjects may be found in sources which indicate more scholarly, or research, publications.
> It is useful when looking for book reviews to know:
• The author's (or editor's) full name.
• The book's complete title.
• The publication year of the book. Determine the publication date (or copyright date) of the book's first edition and any subsequent editions. The date usually is on the back of the title page or may be found by searching the UCF Library Catalog or the WorldCat database.
> If searching a print index, select the volume that corresponds to the publication date of the book. Also check two to three years subsequent to the publication date as reviews may be published several years after the book is published.
> If searching a database, search on the book title. Many databases now offer "publication type" limiters, so that you can limit the search to book reviews. In other cases, it may be helpful to use the word "review" or the phrase "book review" in the search. Be sure that the database includes the year the book was published. Some databases provide the full text of the review. Other databases require you to locate the periodical in the UCF Libraries; click on the "Get Full Text" icon and then click the "Go" button by the UCF Library Catalog to determine if the Libraries subscribe to the periodical and also to obtain the location and call number of the periodical.
> It is important that you choose appropriately the index(es) or database(s) for finding the reviews. For instance, it probably would not be very useful to seek a review of a book about American history in an index or database devoted to medical journals.
Richard H. Harrison II
Associate University Librarian
Research and Information Services Department
John C. Hitt Library, Academic Engagement Suite 330