Guidelines for Book Reviews

Reading Religion Book Review Guidelines

Last Updated: March 16, 2023

Reading Religion is the American Academy of Religion’s online book review website. Since its launch in July 2016 Reading Religion has emerged as one of the leading forums for scholarly reviews in religious studies and related sub-disciplines. Reading Religion is a globally available, openly accessible publication and scholarly resource for all members of the academic community and the public.

Reviewers have the opportunity to request to review a particular book for Reading Religion. This can be either a title already included in our online Available for Review inventory or you can request a scholarly title (published since January 1, 2021) by sending an email to [email protected], including the author/title/publisher/ISBN and your contact information. There are a variety of reasons why Reading Religion may not grant your request, so please do not let that discourage you from submitting future requests to review.

Book reviewers, authors, and editorial correspondence are subject to the American Academy of Religion’s Professional Conduct Policy and the Professional Conduct Procedures.

Mission Statement

The mission of Reading Religion (RR) is to provide critical book reviews on all scholarly titles published in English in the field of religious studies and various related sub-disciplines in a timely manner.  Books reviewed range from narrowing monographs to introductory texts directed primarily at students and for the general pubic. RR solicits reviews from qualified graduate-level students, postdoctoral, independent, and mid-level scholars, as well as senior and emeritus faculty based in the US and around the world. In doing so, RR enhances the access and visibility for scholarly works in religious studies, enlarges the public conversations for books on religion, and provides a forum for scholars in all phases of the academy to interact not only within their specific subfields but also across all related disciplines.


  • Academic Background/Training: Graduate and doctoral 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 of Interest: 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.
  • 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 ignored completely. With RR, the due dates mean something. We are trying to close the gap between publication dates and reviews


  • Length: 600-1,000 words. Reviews longer than 1,000 words may be edited down to the specified link, in consultation with the reviewer. If reviews are truly excessive in length, they will be returned to the reviewer for revision without editing.
  • Submission Procedure: Reviews should be emailed to [email protected] on or before the review due date.
  • File Format: Please use the following naming convention: Reviewer Last Name, Reviewer First Name – Book Title, and submit it in the file formats of .docx, or .doc, or .rtf. Please use the same naming convention when submitting your signed Permission to Publish form. 
  • Content: No critical orientation is privileged or excluded. However, 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 identify the author/editor’s objectives and/or thesis, how well (or insufficiently) the work achieves those goals, and examples or citations supporting your viewpoint. 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—this is not a venue for your engagement with the subject matter—and such reviews will not be published.
    • Do not include rote listings of sections/chapters; there are links on the book page itself directing readers to the publisher’s website. Your review should draw attention to those sections/chapters through specific points of reference.
    • Do not list the author/editor’s titles or affiliations; a brief biography of each author/editor appears on the book page.
  • Reviewing Anthologies: Reviewing edited volumes can be tricky. The variety and quantity of material can make it difficult to summarize. Please do not feel obliged to attend to every contribution to the volume. Choose to highlight specific topical themes, trends in scholarship, and the effectiveness of the selection of essays.
  • Audience: 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 inside and outside of the academy) have a reliable resource to help them evaluate the most current books on religion. The style of your review should be as accessible as the material permits.
  • Footnotes: Please do not include footnotes. 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) in parentheses.
  • Name: At the bottom of your review, please provide your name, title, and your institutional affiliation (if you have one) or you may use “independent scholar.” You may also include a single URL that can be hyperlinked to your name. Use a brief, single-sentence format: Jane Doe is an associate professor in theology at Study University.  
  • Book Information: There is no need to provide any information about the book or the author in the header or footer of your review.
  • Proofread: Reviews should be edited and proofread carefully. While the editorial team copyedits all reviews, excessive errors in grammar, style, or diction—especially those that impede comprehension—will be returned to the reviewer for revision. Please retain a copy of your work until it has been published.
  • Extensions: At the discretion of the editor, a single extension of the review deadline may be granted. Please request extensions by email to [email protected] and include your name, book title/author, original review due date, and proposed revised due date. If an extension is not granted and the review is going to be more than 30 days late, the reviewer must return the book (if it is in print format) to the RR offices (address below) at their own expense.
  • Acceptance of Review: Once reviews are received, they are copyedited and returned to the reviewer for approval before they are published on the website. Though we fully expect to publish your review, ultimately that decision remains at the sole discretion of the editors of Reading Religion.
  • Citation of Published Reviews: RR publishes a subscriber newsletter on the 10th of each month that includes stable hyperlinks to all reviews published during the previous 30-day period.  These newsletters are index-able with volume and edition numbers which can be used in standard citation formats (CMOS, MLA, APA, etc.). Be sure to subscribe to our monthly newsletter prior to submitting your review.