This article is from the archives of the UB Reporter.

Electronic Highways

Published: November 18, 2004

Use the Web to pick a great read

Too many books? Too little time? Today's best-seller lists are not just occupied by popular fiction, like Dan Brown's popular "DaVinci Code." Readers can choose from an endless plethora of celebrity biographies, political satires and the latest self-help books. Unfortunately, between work and family responsibilities, finding time to read can be difficult, so you want to make sure you pick a winner. Book reviews can help you make a wise selection. Use the Web and UB's online databases to find reviews to help you choose that perfect beach book for your winter vacation or keep you up to date with what's being published in your field of interest.

For a list of hardcover and paperback best sellers for fiction, nonfiction, advice and children's books, visit the New York Times Book Review at http :// The service is free, but you must register in order to read their complete reviews. You can access the full text of reviews as far back as 1997. Readers also can join online book discussions on topics ranging from American history to myth and ancient literature. A nice feature is the option to receive a selective overview of new book reviews and features every Friday. Or just bookmark their Web site and browse the weekly reviews at your leisure.

For a variety of reviews on both fiction and nonfiction, visit It provides excerpts of reviews on an eclectic range of books, including children's novels, biographies, travel/adventure literature and Oprah's Book Club. Author bios, interviews and reading guides for the real enthusiast also are available.

Need recommendations for age-appropriate books for children and young adults? Visit the digital counterpart of the American Library Association's Booklist magazine: http://www. It lists their best-of-the year selections in fiction, nonfiction and picture books for older and middle readers and young children.

Have a specific book or author in mind? Try a simple search on Enter a title or author in the search box and publishing details will come up. Or click on "best books" and "editors' picks" for some recommendations. Amazon even lets you read sections of books, which will help you make a wise selection. You can voice your fondness for a favorite book, or share your disappointment by submitting your very own review!

However, if you're looking for a scholarly review or comments from a specific magazine, be sure to use the online databases available through the UB Libraries at http://ublib.buffalo. edu/libraries/. Databases like InfoTrac OneFile ( provide up-to-date reviews from major newspapers and periodicals. Perform a key-word search on your author, title or subject. In InfoTrac OneFile, you can specify the type of magazine you want to search. For instance, for a scholarly take on the Harry Potter series, limit your search to "refereed journals." This option will remove all of the literature from popular magazine and newspaper articles, which can be overwhelming.

Maybe you fell in love with one book and want to know what else the author has written. The Dictionary of Literary Biography ( is an invaluable resource for in-depth coverage on renowned British and American authors from all eras and genres. Searched in conjunction with Contemporary Authors and Contemporary Literary Criticism, users can learn about major themes in authors' works and influences in their lives. It includes citations to reviews and many full-text articles.

Lastly, don't forget to check the Libraries catalog (http:// to find out if UB owns a specific title. The Libraries offer an impressive collection. There's always time for that one special book!

—Laura Taddeo and Cynthia Tysick, University Libraries