Is an upcoming book review stressing you out? Book reviews call on us to demonstrate that we can read and eloquently express our opinions in written form. The key elements in preparing for a book review include identifying, evaluating and summarizing the ideas presented in the book. As such, book reviews do not only state the opinion of the book’s author, they assess them from your point of view. When unprepared, a book review can seem overwhelmingly daunting, causing you to procrastinate until the last day. If you are wondering where to start on your book review, this article will offer guidance on how to write a book review.
Things to Note
When writing a book review, there is a great temptation to rely only on your gut reaction to the book. Instead of letting your gut feeling be the only compass that guides you when writing the book review, include elements from other aspects of your study. The book review process can be made more enlightening when you can successfully include other elements in your studies that give the book more meaning.
Clearly outline your stand on the book before your book review. After outlining your stand, note how the book and its major themes and stylistic devices support your stand. The success of the book review will hinge on how well you connect the dots and convince the audience to accept your point of view about the book.
Another important thing of note is that it can be easy to get lost in a book review by trying to explain every aspect of the book. Instead, focus only on the important points about the book. For instance, if a book has a major plot and two minor plots, you can ignore the minor plots and only focus on the major plot to make your work more coherent. Only focusing on the important stuff makes for an easier time writing book reviews.
Key to How to Write a Book Review is Understanding the Assignment
When writing a book review, you will have to engage your brain in breaking apart the author’s work into its components. After outlining the components, you then have to explain how they fit together in service of one broad theme. Breaking apart the book into its components then explaining how they fit into the whole is the core of a book review process.
To analyze the work properly, you will likely have to read the book two or more times. Many students make the mistake of reading only once. If you only read once, you may fail to capture important elements of the story and fall into a trap where you are reduced to summarizing the story instead of a proper analysis. A proper analysis will help you identify why the author has made certain points. A proper analysis will also help you properly conclude if the author successfully fulfills the objective of the book.
Before you begin reading the book and breaking it down into its components, you should first carefully go over the instructions. Your teacher might have outlined specific instructions on how to approach the exercise. Knowing the requirements and keeping them in mind when reading the book really helps focus your attention in a productive manner.
When breaking down the book into its structural components, keep note of how the elements of the book connect with the rest of your studies. A book review can be more than just an assignment when it prompts you to think deeply about what you studied. To help you keep track of the book elements,it is advisable to make notes actively when reading the book. Note down the page numbers with important information and the ideas that correlate with the content on the page. Actively taking notes will prove tremendously helpful when it is time to write the review.
Guidelines on How to Write a Book Review
When going over the instructions of the book review, note the length of the review mandated within the instructions. The length of the review often denotes how complex it should be. For instance, a five hundred-word review does not need you to get into too much detail. On the other hand, a two thousand-word review will necessitate getting into the finer details of the book. The following guidelines elaborate further on your writing process.
1. Make an Appropriate Introduction
The introduction is the first part of your book review; as such, it carries plenty of weight in establishing your viewpoint. The first part of the introduction usually consists of a statement that notes the name of the book and the author. After noting the name and author of the book, you should then state your purpose in writing the review and the key issues that you will focus on.
The book review assignment could require you to connect the themes in the book to lessons discussed in class. The assignment could also be a review of more than one book. In both cases, the introduction should clearly explain how you will meet the expectations outlined by your teacher.
Another important component of an introduction is an explanation of the relationships in the book. Before delving into the meat of the book in a book review, you should first explain to the readers who the main characters are.
The purpose of the book review is to convince the reader that the book aligns with your point of view. As such, you should also state what your point of view is in the introduction.
2. Furnish an Overview
Right after the introduction, you should provide an overview. An overview of the book is important because it provides the reader with additional context. The information that you include in the overview is information that you felt was not appropriate for the introduction but is nonetheless important.
The overview generally describes important points of discussion. For instance, you could explain the importance of the topic and your stand on the book. If done correctly, the overview acts as the launch board to the rest of your review by helping set the pace and tone.
3. Compose the Body
The body of your review is where you flesh out your arguments drawing from evidence in the book as well as lessons learnt in class to drive the point home.
When composing the body you have two viable plans that you can follow. The first plan involves summarizing the important points in the book in a few paragraphs. Within each summary, you incorporate a main point as the topic sentence in the paragraph. After the summary, you then delve further into the main points through additional paragraphs that provide further explanation and reasoning. A pitfall to watch out for is allocating too much space for the summary and little space for the evaluation.
A second approach to organizing the body is using a point-by-point method where within each paragraph; you assess the major points as well as provide a brief summary of the relevant section that supports your point. Following a point-by-point strategy enables you to follow a logical procession of ideas.
4. Cite Sources and Ensure Your Opinions Stand Out
When writing a book review, it is important to establish which opinions are yours and which opinions are from the author. It can be hard for the reader to discern where the analysis begins and stop if you do not provide subtle pointers all through your review.
When presenting the author’s arguments, always make sure to cite them. It is also important to keep the summary of the author’s arguments short. The goal of the review is to present your analysis and not re state the author.
It is also important to document and cite sources that you use from other sources. Documenting sources helps you avoid accusations of plagiarism that can dent your final grade.
5. Conclude the Review
When you reach the conclusion, you have already done the hard work of reading the book, breaking it down into its structural components, and writing most of the review. At the end, there is a temptation to half-ass the conclusion to get it over with quickly. The conclusion is just as important as the introduction and body in determining the quality of your review.
In the conclusion, you evaluate the work in its entirety noting whether the author succeeds in their objective. You can also comment on the impact of the work to a specific body of knowledge. A well-written conclusion is the cherry on top of the cake by helping to reestablish your most important argument.
Book Review Assistance
The advice provided above should help you write a good book review that accurately breaks down a book and articulates your opinion. The most important things to keep in mind is that you should understand the assignment and the book before delving into the review.
If you need additional help on how to write a book review, be sure to contact us for a customized writing solution.