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The Pulitzer–Prize winning and Guggenheim-honored Hilton Als curates the best essays from hundreds of magazines, journals, and websites, bringing “the fierce style of street reading and the formal tradition of critical inquiry, reads culture, race, and gender” (New York Times) to the task.
Go undercover in North Korea, delve into the question of race in the novels of William Faulkner, hang out in the 1970s New York music scene, and take a family road trip cum art pilgrimage.
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Some journals will publish or otherwise advertise the books they have available for review, and then it is just a matter of putting yourself forward for one of them.
Or, if all else fails, you might even try emailing an editor directly and suggesting a newly published book that you think would be of relevance to the subject area of that editor’s journal.
Even edited collections and textbooks will have particular features intended to make them distinctive in the proverbial marketplace of ideas. If there is an identifiable thesis statement, you may consider quoting it directly. Some basic biographical information about the author(s) or editor(s) of the book you are reviewing is necessary. How might the work you are reviewing fit into a wider research or career trajectory? A reasonably thorough indication of the research methods used (if applicable) and of the range of substantive material covered in the book should be included. Identify one particular area in which you think the book does well.
This should, ideally, be its single greatest strength as an academic work. Identify one particular area in which you think the book could be improved.
Graduate students who are told that they should not waste their time reviewing books are being taught, implicitly, to reckon their time solely in terms of individual profit and loss.
Were this sort of attitude replicated across the whole of the academy, intellectual life would, in my view, become more impoverished as a consequence.