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Book Reviews: A Finding Guide: Introduction

Access to critical reviews of thousands of books.

Research in the time of COVID-19

Check our COVID-19 update page to see which of our services are available. You will need to change your research approach during this time of limited access to print materials to focus on using our extensive online resources.

Introduction to Book Review Searching

Reviews are important tools for evaluating books. Online databases have made finding book reviews quicker and easier. This brief guide lists the major resources available to Cornell users for finding book reviews. The print resources listed are available in the reference collections of Olin Library. This is not an exhaustive list of ways to find book reviews. Many disciplines have indexes that may be used to locate book reviews for that subject area (literature, history, religion, and so on). A few examples are listed here. Reference staff can guide you.

Book review indexes provide a citation to the review appearing in a newspaper, magazine, or journal. Search the newspaper, magazine, or journal title in the Cornell Library Catalog to find all the formats we own for that journal. Academic Search Premier, Amazon.com, ARBA online, Bowker's Books in Print, JSTOR, ProQuest Research Library, and ProQuest Historical Newspapers have the full text of at least some reviews (or online links to them).

For further information or to locate titles not listed here, consult a reference librarian.

The Difference between Book Reviews and Literary Criticism

The simplest criterion for distinguishing book reviews from literary criticism is the time of publication of the review/critical article compared to the original publication date of the book. Book reviews are written around the time the book was originally published; literary criticism appears in later years, usually about titles considered classics or in the literary canon.

For example, reviews of F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby that appeared in 1925 or 1926 (right after the novel was published) are book reviews. Gatsby is considered an important work in the history of American literature, and literary criticism about the novel continues to be written today. MLA Bibliography is an important database to search for literary criticism.

In general, the sources cited in this guide find reviews that reflect the response near the time of a book's publication.

Reference Help

Michael Engle's picture
Michael Engle
106 Olin Library
moe1@cornell.edu
Cornell University Library

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Anglo-American News

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