How do I know if a book is any good?
1. Read the Title
It should have something to do with your essay topic!
2. Read the Contents
That’s the list of what’s in the book and you’ll find it in the first few pages. Check to see if any key words from your essay question / topic are listed in the contents and therefore a major aspect of the book.
3. Use the Index to Look for Your Key Terms
Flip to the back of the book and you’ll often find an alphabetical listing of the topics addressed in that book. Again, look for the key words from your essay question / topic.
4. Check the Place of Publication and Date
You want to make sure you’re drawing on sources that are relevant to what you’re writing about. If, for example, your essay is on youth drug use in Australia, and you find some statistics that are really interesting, but they were published in the 1950’s in America, they are no good to you and you can’t use them to try and prove your point.
5. Look at the References Used in That Source
If you find a book that has tonnes of useful information, look at what evidence that source draws on (i.e. look at their reference list) and you’ll more than likely find some more useful articles for your own essay.