Careers & Education

How to write a book review

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Whether you're a student or a member of a book club, there will come a time when you have to write a book review.
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Some helpful tips on how to write a book review

Some helpful tips on how to write a book review

Once you've read the book, organize your notes in the following format and you'll find that it's quite easy to learn how to write a book review:

Introduce the subject, scope, and type of book

• Identify the book by author, title, and sometimes publishing information. • Specify the type of book (for example, fiction, nonfiction, biography, autobiography). Help your readers to review with perspective. • If possible, use one paragraph for each point you want to make about the book. It's a good way to emphasize the importance of the point. You might want to list the main points in your notes before you begin. • Mention the book's theme. Try to get the main theme of the book across in the beginning of your review. Your reader should know right away what he or she is getting into should they choose to read the book! • Sometimes you will need to include background to enable reader(s) to place the book into a specific context. For example, you might want to describe the general problem the book addresses or earlier work the author or others have done.

Describe the book's main characters.

• Does the writer make you believe in them as people? Why or why not? When learning how to write a book review, being able to describe the characters is extremely important. • Think about whether you like the characters and about how liking them or disliking them makes you feel about the book. This is a critical part of learning how to write a book review. As you write about the characters, use examples of things they've said or done to give a sense of their personalities.

Briefly summarize the content

• For a nonfiction book, provide an overview, including paraphrases and quotations, of the book's thesis and primary supporting points. • For a work of fiction, briefly review the story line for readers, being careful not to give away anything that would lessen the suspense for readers. Provide your reactions to the book • Describe the book: Is it interesting, memorable, entertaining, instructive? Why? Try using a few short quotes from the book to illustrate your points. This is not absolutely necessary, but it's a good way to give your reader a sense of the author's writing style. • Respond to the author's opinions: What do you agree with? And why? What do you disagree with? And why? • Explore issues the book raises: What possibilities does the book suggest? Explain. What matters does the book leave out? Explain. • Do research about the author and incorporate what you learn into the review. Biographical information can help you formulate your opinion about the book, and gives your review a "depth." Remember, a book doesn't come directly from a printing press, it's a product of an author's mind, and therefore it may be helpful to know something about the author. • Relate your argument to other books or authors: Support your argument for or against the author's opinions by bringing in other authors you agree with.

Conclude by summarizing your ideas

• Close with a direct comment on the book, and tie together issues raised in the review. • Briefly restate your main points and your thesis statement (if your teacher requires it). • If you like, you can offer advice for potential readers. • Relate the book to larger issues: How did the book affect you? How have your opinions about the topic changed? How is the book related to your own course or personal agenda? This step is another important lesson to learn on how to write a book review.

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