In the past several weeks it has been a pleasure for us at Sheep Among Wolves to introduce you to several sources of good books including the library, Christian publishers, homeschool curriculum companies and digital archives.
This week I would like to direct you to some book review sites where you can find books that have been read by others and reviewed for their content.
There are a plethora of Christian book review blogs out there. I googled “book review blogs” + “Christian” and was overwhelmed by the number of blogs I found on the first three results. I realized at once that I needed to narrow my search significantly. These blogs reviewed everything from children’s books, to non-fiction, to romance. I don’t read romance, or fantasy, or sci-fi, or thrillers. I don’t have the time to wade through all of the available books to find the genres I am interested in.
Three Valuable Sites
A little further searching brought me to three valuable sites that review and rate books from a Christian perspective and give a thorough analysis of the content of each book. Focus on the Family’s Book Reviews for Parents, Squeaky Clean Reviews, and Compass Book Ratings all follow a similar format with a brief synopsis of each book followed by a rating system similar to that used for movies.
Focus on the Family
At Focus on the Family, you will find a comprehensive list of Christian and non-Christian books organized alphabetically. Click on any title and a new page will display a plot summary followed by a paragraph about each of the topics covered: Christian beliefs, authority roles, other belief systems, profanity/violence, kissing/sex/homosexuality and whether or not the book has any awards. This analysis is followed by a thorough list of discussion topics which the book might spark. There is no information on the literary quality of the books reviewed.
I found this site to be very helpful in determining the suitability of a specific book for my family’s use. The descriptions were accurate and detailed enough for evaluation without requiring a lot of time to go through. Because this site is meant to be used to determine the suitability of each book, it does sometimes give away the plot in discussing the relevant elements.
Squeaky Clean Reviews
Squeaky Clean Reviews is no longer active, and in fact, has been acquired by Compass Book Ratings. All of their reviews can be found on the Compass site. However, I really liked the layout and feel of their site and will continue to use it for the books that are already up there.
The Squeaky Clean site can be searched by genre, or by title. This is a great feature if you are looking for new books in a specific genre. You can browse the titles in a genre and see at a glance a brief rating (coloured smiley faces) for “fun”, “values” and “age range”. Clicking on the book title will take you to a more detailed summary that includes plot, morality, spiritual content, violence, drug and alcohol content, sexual content, crude or profane language. This analysis is followed by a brief conclusion on the book and a duplication of their smiley face rating.
This site is similar in accurateness and detail to the Focus on the Family site. I really liked the ability to choose by category as well as the search window which enables search by title or author.
Compass Book Ratings
Compass Book Ratings is the Cadillac of book rating sites. With over 2400 book reviews (up from 1500 in 2015) and the ability to search by author, title, review date or content this site is a pleasure to use. Content searching can be further refined by selecting overall star rating, genre, and content analysis. Each individual book page contains a substantial overall review as well as brief comments on profanity/language, violence/gore, sex/nudity, mature subject matter, alcohol/drug use.
The website itself and the search functions are much more sophisticated than our first two recommendations; however, I would rate this site as third in my preferences. While religious matter is commented on in the general review section for each book, there is no analysis of the religious content, and no way to see at a glance what the religious implications of the book might be. The number of books written by or for Christians appears to be quite small. Having said that, it is still a very useful site to get information on current popular items.
I have been searching for a rating site for books for many years. I hope that you will find the above mentioned websites helpful in your search for good books. If you know of any other book rating sites that you have found helpful, we would be happy to post about them here at SAW Publishing.