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ENGLISH: Research Guide | Book Reviews vs. Literary Criticism

Resource suggestions and search tips for research in English literature and creative writing.

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Amanda Walch
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In This Section

stack of booksIn this section, you'll find:

  • Information on book reviews and where to find them
  • Information on literary criticism and where to find it

Book Reviews

Book Reviews

Book reviews describe and analyze the contents of a book, and often make a recommendation about whether or not to read or purchase the book. Reviews vary in length from single paragraphs to full-length essays (remember writing book reports in middle school?).

Reviews of nonfiction books analyze the topics and/or arguments of the book. Reviewers judge the effectiveness of the authors' support for their arguments and assertions. An author should have some form of authority - they should have a credible reason for writing on the subject. Thus, a book review should cover the authors' credentials. Typically, book reviews compare the book to similar books on the subject. Pay attention to what reviewers consider to be important omissions and any potential biases.


Book Reviews - Fiction & Popular Works

Book Reviews - Nonfiction & Scholarly Works

Literary Criticism

Literary Criticism

Literary criticism is the term given to studies that define, classify, analyze, interpret, and evaluate works of literature. There are many types of literary criticism:

  • Moral Criticism, Dramatic Construction (~360 BC-present)
  • Formalism, New Criticism, Neo-Aristotelian Criticism (1930s-present)
  • Psychoanalytic Criticism, Jungian Criticism(1930s-present)
  • Marxist Criticism (1930s-present)
  • Reader-Response Criticism (1960s-present)
  • Structuralism/Semiotics (1920s-present)
  • Post-Structuralism/Deconstruction (1966-present)
  • New Historicism/Cultural Studies (1980s-present)
  • Post-Colonial Criticism (1990s-present)
  • Feminist Criticism (1960s-present)
  • Gender/Queer Studies (1970s-present)
  • Critical Race Theory (1970s-present)

Literary criticism may examine a particular literary work or it may look at an author's writings as a whole. 


Literary Criticism in Academic Journals