There are a few questions regarding books (actual books, not answers that could stand on its own as a book) which are either closed as "not constructive" or still up for debate (and might possibly be closed).

The close description for "not constructive" is as follows:

This question is not a good fit to our Q&A format. We expect answers to generally involve facts, references, or specific expertise; this question will likely solicit opinion, debate, arguments, polling, or extended discussion.

I'm proposing that the criteria listed here serve as a starting point to determine whether book questions should be closed or not.

  • Recommendations for resources
  • Reviews of books
  • Questioning scientific validity

In the last case, those type of questions may be better suited for Skeptics.SE, but depending on how the question is worded and what it is actually asking, this may be debatable and probably handled on a case-by-case basis.

Example questions:

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Recommendations for sources have never really done so well on our site and they even got mass-deleted on Stack Overflow recently. Instead they were moved to the tag-wiki, though this doesn't solve the problem of them being popularity contests and the risk of getting outdated (sooner than later).

The other two topics are more serious problems. We are not Fitness Skeptics So we're not here to judge the scientific validity of an entire book. Instead, if you have trouble believing specific claims, ask a question about how a certain process works and based on the answers you should be able to judge whether or not to believe the book or not.

Notice that I'm not saying: let's change the question from reviewing the book to reviewing a certain claim. Again: we are not Fitness Skeptics. Just because someone makes a claim, doesn't mean we're obliged in any way to try and validate it for you.

Take for example the "Wheat Belly" book, which apparently claims that US's obseity is caused by eating wheat. Instead you could have asked,

  • How can I determine a healthy daily dosage of wheat-based products?
  • How does the body process excessive amounts of wheat?

Now, both of these questions are off-topic, but the answer would hopefully give you sufficient information to judge for yourself whether it makes any sense or not.

As a side-note, if you don't have sufficient knowledge of a topic, then perhaps it would be wise to first educate yourself more on the topic, before asking someone else to validate it for you.

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As an operational note, the FAQ should be amended to reflect book policies before any significant change in moderation policy. –  Greg Feb 25 '12 at 5:26
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I agree, I think the problem is that reviewing a book isn't a single concise question; books just have too much information in them. These questions need to address a specific claim, follow-up, or omission in a book (and can reference the book, but not without extracting a specific question). There is never an obligation to answer questions, however, I think it is good policy for this community to address major claims in popular fitness books as they come up. These books are going to form the basis of peoples' knowledge, and we can build from there. –  Greg Feb 25 '12 at 6:17

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