Step 1: Find the book’s date of publication

The most important thing to know when you are looking for a book review is the date that the book was published since reviews usually appear within a year or two of publication. If you do not know the date of publication and do not have a copy of the book, check the library catalog. If the book is not in the library catalog, consult a reference librarian.

Step 2: Search an appropriate index or full-text database

When you know the year of publication, you can choose an appropriate index or database from the list below. If you choose an electronic index, be sure that the index includes materials from the year your book was published. If you choose the paper version of an index, begin by looking in the index that covers the year the book was published, and then try the next one or two volumes of the index.

The following indexes and full-text databases are usually a good bet.

  • Book Review Digest
    Location: Skillman Ref Z1035.A1 B59x. Coverage: 1906-1982
    Indexes and excerpts book reviews from about 75 magazines and newspapers.
  • Book Review Index
    Location: Skillman Ref Z1035.A1 B6. Coverage: 1965-present
    Indexes book reviews from about 450 publications.
  • OneSearch
    Allows you to search across many library databases simultaneously (including the Library Catalog). To locate book reviews, perform a keyword search for the title of the book and the phrase book reviews, e.g. “cold mountain” and book reviews.

For more indexes and full-text databases for finding books reviews, see Book review research tools

Step 3: Find the complete review

If you used an index to locate references to reviews, you then need to see if the library has the magazine, journal, or newspaper in which the review was published. Perform a journal title search in the library catalog for the title of the magazine, journal, or newspaper (not the title of the article). If you need assistance, ask at the research help desk.

Still can’t find a review?
If you’re looking for reviews of a scholarly book and can’t find anything in the sources listed above, you can sometimes use subject-specific indexes to locate reviews in scholarly journals. Consult a reference librarian for assistance.

A few last tips

  • Keep in mind that only a small portion of books are ever reviewed, and it’s possible that the book you’re researching is one that was not reviewed.
  • Some indexes include references to reviews published in the trade magazines Publishers Weekly, Choice, Library Journal, and Booklist. These reviews tend to be very short (only a paragraph), so you might want to ignore references to them.