A book review is not merely a summary of a book. Rather, a book review offers a literary assessment, or critical evaluation, of a book. A book review tells others what the writer of the review thinks of a particular literary work. While a book review is subjective, it must also demonstrate critical thinking and analytical skills. Listed below are some helpful guidelines for writing a book review:
Preparing to Write a Book Review
- Before you read the book, look over the table of contents, the preface, and even skim a few chapters. Consider the genre of the book and it's intended audience, and get some biographical information about the author as well as titles of other books the author wrote.
- Read the book in a way that engages your interest. Be an active reader, critically assessing and evaluating the elements of the story as you go along.
- As you read, pay attention to the major themes in the book and how they are developed, the writing style and the setting. If the book has characters or a plot, note their development and their relationship to each other.
Proper Format for a Book Review
- Introduction: Include the title of the book, the author's name, the publisher, copyright date etc., as well as a statement about why you wrote your book review on this particular book (e.g. class assignment, someone recommended the book, the title sounded interesting).
- Body: The body should include a brief summary of the book and a paragraph each on the main character(s), the secondary characters,and the plot or subject of the book. Another paragraph should be devoted to the book's theme (the topic), the book's thesis ( what the author deems important about the topic or the point the author is attempting to make). Finally, the body should include a paragraph about your personal evaluation of the book. Consider such issues as writing style and clarity, character and plot development, setting, and interest to audience.
- Conclusion: The conclusion should discuss your personal impression about the book, what you think are its strengths and weaknesses, and should tell why you think the way you do about the book.
General Writing Tips for a Book Review
- Try to learn a little bit about the author of the book before you read it to see if there is a connection between the book's theme and the life experiences or philosophy of the author.
- View sample book reviews of other books for ideas about what you should be discussing in a book review.
- Take notes at the end of each chapter as you read the book. Your notes should focus on the characters, the plot, themes and motifs in the book.
- Find an online site where you can buy a book review on the same book or other books. Viewing other book reviews you can give you great ideas about not only what to look for in a story and what to discuss, but also about how to properly write and format an essay.
Book reviews are frequently assigned in both high school and college, but by the time you are in college you should be writing at a higher level and be able to demonstrate more in-depth critical analysis skills as well as writing techniques. Following the steps listed above, can help you do just that.
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