Book reviews: how to find them
Book reviews are published in sources such as academic journals, popular magazines and newspapers. In order to find these reviews, you need to use a periodical index or database. Book reviews may be brief descriptive summaries or scholarly evaluative articles.
Steps to follow when searching for a book review:
- First identify the author, title and publication date of the book in question.
- Secondly, when possible, determine whether the book is Canadian, American or other. This information helps with your choice of database or index. For instance, if you are searching for a review of a book on Canadian history, start with a Canadian database such as CBCA Complete or the print index, Canadian Periodical Index. If the book is American, you might start with a database such as Academic Search Complete that is strong in American content.
- Thirdly, select an index or database that covers the date your book was published. Book reviews tend to be published in either the same year as the book, or a year or two later. Note that many of our online databases only go back to 1982 and you may need to use the library's print indexes for reviews of older publications.
- If using a print index, select the volume of the index that corresponds to the publication date of your book. If necessary, also check volumes in two subsequent years as academic reviews often appear two years after the publication date.
Sources for Book Reviews
The Douglas College library subscribes to a number of online databases that index journals, magazines and newspapers. Select a database from the following list and do a keyword search using the author's last name, keywords from the title of the book and the word "review". Use the word "and" to connect your keywords. For instance, if searching for a review of Guy Vanderhaeghe's book, The Last Crossing, you may type the following search:
Note that most databases include both scholarly and non-scholarly reviews so you would need to be selective and limit your search to peer-reviewed journals if you require a scholarly book review.
- Academic Search Complete, 1887 - present This database is international in scope with an emphasis on American titles. It contains both scholarly and non-scholarly reviews and includes some Canadian content.
- Canadian Newsstream, 1985 - present Provides full text Canadian newspaper articles.
- CBCA Complete, 1971 - present This database places an emphasis on Canadian journals, magazines and newspapers.
- CPI.Q, 1988 - present This database places an emphasis on Canadian journals, magazines and newspapers.
- JSTOR This database is a full-text, multidisciplinary scholarly journal archive consisting of back issues of hundreds of journals. When doing an advanced search for book reviews, check "review" under "These Types". JSTOR is a very useful resource for book reviews in History.
- Project Muse This database contains full text, peer-reviewed journals in the Humanities and Social Sciences. Use the drop-down menu on the search screen to limit your search to "author reviewed" or "title reviewed".
- Thirty Years of BC Studies: a Cumulative Index to Numbers 1- 20, 1969-1999 REF FC 3811 T557 1969/99 This title is very useful for locating scholarly book reviews related to the history of British Columbia.
- The Beaver: Index, 1920-1996 REF FC 3201 B22 Scholarly book reviews with an emphasis on Canadian history.
- Book Review Digest, 1905-2003 REF Z 1219 C95 The index identifies reviews of popular rather than academic books published in Canada and the US.
- Book Review Index, 1965 - present REF Z 1035 A1 B6 An index to reviews of academic and popular books published world-wide, including Canada and the US. Each volume has a title index you may use to locate your book. Once the review has been found, check your abbreviated journal title in the Publications Index list at the front of the volume to identify the full title of the journal or magazine.
- Canadian Historical Review: Index, 1920-1971 REF FC 1 C27 Scholarly book reviews in the area of Canadian history.
- Canadian Periodical Index, 1920 - present REF AI 3 C242 The Canadian Periodical Index includes reviews from both scholarly and popular sources with an emphasis on Canadian publications. This index is often used to locate reviews of older publications in History and Canadian Literature. Book reviews are listed alphabetically under the heading Book Reviews. Check the list of Periodicals Indexed at the front of the volume to identify the full title of the journal or magazine abbreviation in the record.
- Humanities Index, 1974-1998 REF AI 3 H85
- Social Sciences Index, 1974-2000 REF AI 3 S63 Both of these titles are international in scope and contain citations of academic book reviews. Search by author or title under the Book Reviews section at the back of the index. Check the list of Abbreviations of Periodicals Indexed at the front of the volume to identify the full title of the journal or magazine abbreviation in the record.
- Readers' Guide to Periodical Literature, 1900-2000 REF AI 3 R48 There is a section with book reviews at the back of each volume.