Are Book Reviews an Endangered Species

John Byron wonders, prompted by an article in the Chronicle of Higher Education. Both articles refer specifically to scholarly book reviews, but book reviews by bloggers can have the same problems.

I like to see some analysis in a review, along with some direction. Where might this study have done better? Where might it have gone further? A good example of an online review is the one published today at, reviewing The Questioning God by Ant Greenham. In particular, I like the suggestions for how others might continue the study, especially those from a different theological tradition than the author.

It’s much more important to stimulate people to learn (and act) than it is to merely provide them with information.

I rarely find that I either love everything about a book or absolutely hate everything. Usually there are good points and not-so-good points. What I like to see in a review, even a review of one of my own books, is something of both the reviewers joys and disappointments. It’s possible for a reviewer to be totally disappointed. It’s possible that a book is exactly what the reviewer wanted. But in either of those cases, it’s good to explain why.

Too many blogger book reviews tell you just a little about what’s in the book and then tell you whether th

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