I am a librarian, so I know about many sources for books. It is always best to see the books before you purchase them, but that isn't always possible. I have found that amazon.com is the best review source. I can find professional reviews, i.e. School Library Journal, as well as reader reviews. Surprisingly, the reader reviews are often the most helpful.
If it is a book for teachers/librarians, the book often isn't as useful as the glowing professional review indicates. But to read a review by someone in the field who turned to the book for on-the-job assistance and either did or didn't get it - well, that works.
Also, if I am looking for appropriate material to read aloud, reader reviews are most likely to warn me about parts of the book which may not be positive for some students. (I am not into censorship, but I won't read Blubber to a class with a shy overweight girl in it).
To be honest, for work and recreational reading, I pay more attention to the reader submitted negative reviews than anything else. Many times the positive reviews are by people who stand to gain from the sale of the book. If I think a book is a waste of money, I write a review and ditto if I think a book is a gem. (I only write reviews for the books I have strong feelings about). Not everyone will agree with me, but mine is another voice heard.
You can find out by clicking on "other reviews by this reviewer" what kind of literature the reviewer likes to see if you are likely to share the same taste in literature.
Listmania - lists submitted by readers of favorite books on various topics is great too. This is all free information and can lead to interesting new reading material.
Also, you don't have to purchase the books. You can take a list to the library and they will get whatever they don't have through inter-library loan. By the way, you can use this same process to evaluate movies and CD's.
By SusannL from St. Cloud, FL
As a lifelong bookworm, I really appreciate your tip. Even though I get Talking Books now rather than print, it still helps to choose from the huge variety out there Thanks, thumbs up!.
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