Osgoode Hall Law Journal Book Review Guidelines

Before sitting down to write a book review for the Osgoode Hall Law Journal, reviewers may find it useful to consider general instructions on How to Write a Book Review, culled from our editorial experience as well as from reference sources. Like a cooking recipe, these guidelines specify the essential and recommended ingredients, as well as suggest a sequence of steps that have safely produced good reviews in the past. Alongside our distillation what makes a good, basic book review, we have also provided links to several other approaches to writing a standard book review. We have also thought about what does not work for a book review; what we see recurrently that can render a review weak or inadequate. We have included several “Important Points” to help reviewers stay on track. All of these materials can be accessed here: How to Write a Book Review.

Excellent Book Reviews

As with a cooking recipe, an overly mechanical following of the guidelines can lead to prosaic book reviews. Just as Bourdieu provides a transcultural definition of excellence that envisages someone who plays the game according to the rules, right up to the point of transgression, all the while remaining within the rules, we have struggled to articulate that somewhat ineffable quality that distinguishes a good from an excellent book review. Each excellent review generates its own unique transgression from conventional expectations (all the while remaining within the confines of the book review genre). As a result, the provision of general guidelines for excellence would seem to defeat the essentially engaged and creative activity at the heart of the exercise.

As an alternative to a set of guidelines for excellence, we have decided to analyze a particularly outstanding book review published in the OHLJ, struggling to articulate what the reviewer does that bumps the review into the domain of the excellent.

To access the exemplary review, see here: Example of Excellent Book Review.
To access our analysis of an excellent review, see here: Excellent Book Review Dissected.