Writing Book Reviews
In a conversation that I had at the Annual Meeting of the Society of Biblical Literature a couple of years ago, a fellow Asbury graduate and current PhD student told me that book reviews were a good thing to do because they do add to your CV and can bring a level of familiarity between you and the publisher, possibly opening doors for later articles. He also said, however, not to worry about doing too many because a book review on a CV pales in comparison to a full article.
I disagree with the last point, not because I think that a book review is as good as an article (it surely is not!), but because I think that writing book reviews has value in and of itself. It has been almost two years since I graduated with my MA in Biblical Studies and I have not yet started applying for PhD programs (and it will probably be a couple more years). I also do not have access to a theological library, which makes “staying current” in the field quite difficult, and without a steady stream of income, I am unable to purchase many books.
Writing book reviews allows me to stay current in the field of biblical studies through acquiring free books, as well as honing my writing skills as I review them. The Journal for the Evangelical Study of the Old Testament recently sent me a book that would have cost me $150 on amazon.com. I didn’t have to pay a penny, and I now own the book, as well as being able to review it.
For anyone out there in the same situation as me, or even those still in school, I encourage you to read and review as many books as you get the opportunity to review. It will keep you current in your field, and possibly open up new doors and bring new ideas forth that you may not have received in the classroom.