View of Early Printed Books on shelves in stacks in strong room number seven; Wellcome Institute Library. CC-A-4.0I. Source: Wikimedia Commons
Book Reviews vs. Literary Criticism
Book reviews are generally evaluative whereas criticism is an exploration of the ideas in a work. In other words, a book review is meant to tell you if a book is good or bad, and whether you should read it (or buy it) or not. Criticism is more of a serious analysis of some aspect of a work, whether the work be good or bad. Reviews of literary works are usually not written by scholars, while criticism is almost always written by scholars.
One of the simplest ways of 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 tend to be written around the time the book was published, while literary criticism will be published in later years.
"English Literary Periodicals"
This set of microfilms gives access to every literary periodical published in Great Britain from 1681 through 1914. These are some of the best sources for literary criticism and book reviews on early British literary works. This set is not available electronically and can only be accessed on microfilm.
Call number: MF 943 (1st Floor, Microfilm cases)
The microfilm reader is on the 4th Floor of Gumberg Library. Page images can be saved to a flash drive as PDFs.
Online Sources for Reviews of Newer Books
To find reviews of newer books, both popular and scholarly, search for the book title and author's name in the databases directly below. Limit your search, if you can, to the document type "book review" (as in Academic Search Elite) or "review" (as is in ProQuest Central).
Once you get to the databases search screen, you may need to scroll down to find the Document Type menu.
To find reviews of scholarly books in a particular discipline, search for the book title and author's name in databases devoted to that discipline. For suggestions, click the link below, then scroll down to the box headed "Most Comprehensive Journal Databases by Subject."
Another source of reviews of scholarly books is H-Net Commons
Online Sources for Reviews of Older Books
This current guide is a re-design by Ted Bergfelt, Humanities Librarian, of a prior version that was created by Emily Cantin, MLIS. Much of the content on this new version was created by Emily.