How to Review Book Manuscripts

An assistant professor writes in with the following query:

I’ve been asked recently to review some books for major presses, which is great and I love doing it (free books!) But I have no idea how to do it and they really give no guidelines. They just say something like, “tell me what you think.” Obviously I have all sorts of thoughts, and I’d really like to know which are appropriate. So, are there rules here or what? I want to do a good job but I need norms or standards and I’m just guessing. I wonder if other people feel this way, or if people know what the rules are and I’m just a schmuck who doesn’t know them. Usually a journal sends guidelines. I just find it odd that presses don’t. (It would also help those of us who are working on book manuscripts!)

Readers, I am sure this professor would not be the only one grateful for some guidance here. Your thoughts, please.

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