Guidelines for Book Reviews

Thank you for your interest in writing a review for Reading Religion, the online book review forum of the American Academy of Religion. Reading Religion is designed to ensure that the substantial body of religious scholarship that is published from year to year is reviewed in a timely fashion by other experts in the field. Please take the time to read the entire document.

Unlike the Journal of the American Academy of Religion (JAAR), which does not accept unsolicited book reviews, you may request the opportunity to review a particular book for Reading Religion (RR). Please note, there are a variety of reasons why we might not grant your request, so please do not let that discourage you from submitting future requests to review.

Requirements

  • Academic Training – Graduate students may review books for RR. However, we do expect that reviewers will have done advanced academic work on religion, either in a religious studies department or in a related field.
  • Conflicts – We ask that you disclose any possible conflicts that might be seen as influencing your review (reviewing your advisor’s latest work, reviewing books you have blurbed, etc.). This may not disqualify you from writing a review, but we need to know about potential conflicts in advance; failing to disclose this information will disqualify your review.
  • Due Dates – If you agree to review a book for RR, please be attentive to the due date. We all know that in academia, sometimes a due date is a due date; sometimes it is a mild suggestion; and other times it is a joke. With RR, it is not a joke or a mild suggestion. We are trying to close the gap between publication dates and reviews, so these are real due dates. Only brief reviews are required, but they need to be completed on time.

Guidelines

  • Length: 400–1000 words. Reviews longer than 1000 words may be edited down to size, in consultation with the reviewer. Reviews shorter than 400 words will not be accepted.
  • Submission Procedure: Reviews should be emailed to readingreligion@aarweb.org.
  • File Format: Submissions may be either .docx, .doc, or .rtf.
  • Content: No critical orientation is privileged or excluded. However, the reviews must be more than a summary of the book, and should engage with the material in a way that is both meaningful and relevant to the book’s purpose. Your review should try to show readers what the author has tried to do and what he or she has actually done. A good review recognizes its obligations to the author, the book, and to RR’s readership. Please remember that RR reviews are not the place for personal polemics, and such reviews will not be published.
  • Style: Although RR is written by scholars of religion it is not written exclusively for scholars of religion. One of the objectives of RR is to ensure that non-specialists (both within the academy and without) have a reliable resource to help them evaluate the most current scholarship on religion. The style of your review should be as accessible as the material permits.
  • Footnotes: No footnotes, please. If you cite from the book you are reviewing, insert the page number(s) in parentheses at the end of the quotation or sentence in which the quoted material appears; if you are citing from another book, put its publication information (author, title, publisher, year, page number) in parentheses.
  • Name: Please provide your name, along with title, and institutional affiliation if you have one (you may use “independent scholar” if you prefer). You may also send along a URL that you would like hyperlinked to your name.
  • Proofread: Reviews should be proofread carefully. While all reviews will be looked over by the editor, excessive errors in grammar, style, or diction, especially those that impede comprehension, will be returned to the author for revision. Please retain a copy of your work until it has been published.
  • Extensions: At the discretion of the editor, an extension of the review deadline may be granted. If an extension is not granted and the review is going to be more than 21 days late, the reviewer must return the book to the RR offices (address below) at his or her own expense.

REMEMBER: We’re talking about a couple of paragraphs. Don’t let it overwhelm you. Reading is fun! And telling people what you think about what you’ve read is fun too!

Please know that all of us here at RR are grateful for your participation, cooperation, and conscientiousness. Your service to the field does not go unnoticed.