According to Tom Narins, a book review serves two academic purposes. The first is that, as scholars, we should each aim to be current/fluent in the major new developments in our field. Writing a book review enables you as a scholar to become fluent in the new developments and trends in your field – because the author of the book you are reviewing had to do background reading (usually in the form of a literature review) upon which he/she could build a new argument.
The second academic purpose of a book review is to show others in your field (colleagues, collaborators and students) that you are actively engaged in reading and thinking about major ideas, themes and debates in your field. In short, a book review is your way to keep abreast of the latest knowledge but also signals to others what you deem to be important and worthwhile.
This post is originally written by Tom Narins, Assistant Professor at the University at Albany, The State University of New York.