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Studies in 20/21C American Literature - U.S. Ethnic Minority Literature: ENG 8024

Research help for the course, ENG 8024: U.S. Ethnic Minority Literature

Why Use Book Reviews?

'Book Review' by Trending Topics 2019 CC BY 2.0 ( reviews for creative works (fiction, poetry, short stories) are often written by journalists or fellow authors and are a good measure of contemporary reaction to a work. They often appear in newspapers, magazines, or online (blogs and review websites) and can be as brief as one paragraph or several thousand words. Book reviews generally do not contain the kind of in-depth analysis found in literary criticism written by scholars. 

When and Why You Should Use Book Reviews:

  • You need to know how/whether readers reacted to a work when it was initially published 
  • You need examples of other contemporaneous works that were compared or mentioned in conjunction with the work in question

Remember: Creative works are generally reviewed near the date of publication or within the first few years after publication, so target your searches. Also, for older works, look for book reviews that may have appeared for subsequent special editions or reprints in later years.

Find Book Reviews

Looking for original reviews of your author's work? Try using the sources below to determine how your author's work was initially received!

What to Look For in a Book Review

  • Adjectives used to describe the work
  • Mentions of significant passages, scenes, or characters
    • Would we agree with the critic today?
  • Suggested audiences for the work
  • Mentions and comparisons of other works by the author
    • Are we familiar with the works mentioned?
  • Mentions and comparisons of works by different authors
    • Is the critic identifying a known or unknown work/author?
    • Is the critic canon-making or canon-busting?
  • Whether the critic believes the work to be significant in a big-picture kind of way