Recommending Secondary Reading


Our aim in this section of The Literary Encyclopedia is to provide a wonderful resource for students, but also for specialist amateurs and for established scholars. Evidently many attempts have been made to provide good bibliographies, but what has always held them back is the tendency of the bibliography to become out-of-date, and the narrow human resources they can draw upon. With The Literary Encyclopedia we are able to resolve both difficulties, having an extensive network of contributor-scholars and having devised means of regularly updating our recommendations. We therefore believe that this aspect of the publication will rapidly become a very powerful reason for institutional and individual subscription.

The purpose of recommended reading is to guide students to the most interesting books, essays and articles about the subject of the article to which they are attached. They are not full scholarly review articles because we only list work of evident quality; recommendations are descriptive, and for a particular purpose, but they will of course include elements of evaluation. We would suggest a general length of 100 to 300 words, but sometimes it will be appropriate or necessary to write less or more. We would discourage more than 500 words.

In some cases it will be necessary to list works which cannot be annotated -- for example when listing useful historical accounts of a period -- but we would generally discourage listing many unannotated items. Our readers, and our subscribers, wish for quality direction, not mere book lists.


It may be helpful for contributors to understand how information is handled by our systems:

A “Recommendation” comprises

  • a recommender (you)
  • an item of scholarly literature listed in our bibliography
  • an annotation: a description of the item and comment on the item’s value for this purpose
  • links between the description and one or more encyclopedia articles

A "Scholarly Item" comprises

  • A description of the physical object (title, ISBN, page extent …)
  • A relationship between the object and one or more “authorities” (authors, editors, translators)
  • A relationship between the object and a publisher

Steps in Creating a Listing

  1. Login and go to the article to which you wish to add a recommended item. Click "Recommended Reading", top right, and then "Add a Recommendation".
  2. Find the book or journal article: Search for the item you want to recommend. If it is found, you can add your recommendation.
  3. Add: If the item you want to recommend is not found, you can add it. You may also need to add the author ("Authority") if she/he is not already listed in our system.
  4. Edit: If there appears to be a bibliographical error in a listed item, you can edit it. Please be careful here – if a book is listed as published in the USA, and you particularly want to recommend a UK-published edition, you need to make a new bibliographic listing because the ISBN will also be different. Only edit an item if you are sure you are right. Otherwise, raise a query with us.
  5. Annotate: once you have found or added the item, you can add your annotation. The annotation is your own, identified by your name in the publication. If another contributor wants to recommend the same item for another purpose, they will write a separate annotation. Your annotation should ideally give a clear sense of the major features of the item described, and with a particular sense of its application to the articles to which you are linking it.
  6. Checking of recommendations by staff editors and area editors: Your recommendations will go live immediately but they will be checked by staff editors for style and for typos. If any editorial issues arise, they will notify you.
  7. Revisions: Annotations and recommendations can be edited by you at any time either by clicking on Recommended Reading in the Encyclopedia article, or from the Editor and Contributor CMS.

General Questions

Do we list items under Authors, Works, or both? Our suggestion is to list all general items under Authors, unless the item is particularly concerned with one specific Work (as in the case of many journal articles).

Do we list our own work? Yes, of course. But you may wish to have the annotation provided by someone else. This would normally be another contributor to the Encyclopedia or your editor.

In case of matters arising, please address