Book reviews aim to give a brief description of recently published books. The review has to contain the book’s key points. It is also a good idea to provide a short appraisal of its strengths and weaknesses and a general opinion whether it is a quality reading.

Many people do not make difference between book reviews and book reports, but they do differ. The aim of reports is to describe what happens in this work; to focus on the main plot, the characters in it, as well as the main idea of the book.Book reports are usually a K-12 assignment and range from 250 to 500 words. On the other side, book reviews are most often a college assignment. You might also find them in many professional works such as newspapers, magazines, and academic journals. Their typical range is 500-750 words,. The review gives the readers a personal view on the book – what it is like, whether or not and why the reviewer has enjoyed it, as well as useful details on purchasing the book.

Before Reading the Book Which You will Review

First, think about the elements you have to include in your review. Consider writing about:

Author

Who is the author of the book? What are the other books of this author? Has this author got any writing awards? What is the usual genre in which this author writes?

Genre

What is the genre of the book? Is it fiction, poetry, nonfiction, romance or other? Which is the target audience for this work? What purpose does the work have – to inform, to entertain, to review and others?

Title

What is your opinion on the title? Is it suitable for this text and the genre? Is it intriguing and attractive? Do you have a different, more suitable idea for a title?

Introduction

Although many people do not spend time on reading the introduction, you should comment on it.
Does the preface/introduction contain any revealing information and spoilers? Is the introduction made by a “guest author”? How is the book and its contents arranged: in chapters, sections, etc.?

Cover

Does the book look in an attractive way? Does its appearance make you stop and have a look? Does the jacket provide interesting details which grab your attention? Are there images, pictures, maps or graphs on it? Does the appearance of the book contribute in some way or it makes the reading look unattractive and uninteresting?

What to Look for While Reading?

When you start to read the book, you should decide how to structure the summary of your review. You should pay specific attention to the characters, the themes, the impressive quotes and other elements of the book.

Main Characters

Are there characters in this book? Who are they – what makes them special? How do they affect the plot of the book? How do their personalities make you feel – are they positive or negative characters?

Main Themes

What main themes appear in the text? What is their meaning and role for the book? Are they effective and impressive or not?

Style

What is your opinion on the author’s style? Is it interesting and fascinating? Is this style accessible to all readers or is it suitable only for people with specific interests?

Main Ideas

What are the main ideas in this book? Do they make the reading different, quality and interesting? Or are they banal and boring?

Quotes

What are the most interesting, impressive and memorable quotes? Will you remember them immediately in a specific situation?

Argument

How does the author argument himself/herself? Are the arguments convincing and supported with real facts?

How to Start Writing?

First, you need to make a short summary of the reading. In many cases, the reviews are limited to only the first couple of chapters. The reviews of nonfiction books usually provide the basic idea of the text without too many details.
At the end of your review, you should givel your opinion on the book.

When beginning your review, pay attention to the following:

  • Have in mind your audience – Remember that you write your review for people who have not read the work. That is why you should introduce the characters and their personalities. Make your review interesting and objective.
  • Pay attention to the characters – Review only the development of the main characters in the book. It is not necessary to cover every character or idea and this would even make the review boring.

Evaluate Objectively

When writing a book review, you should try to critically evaluate the text, not just to inform the readers about its existence. Make your summary is brief in order to ensure more room for evaluation. Decide what balance between your summary information and your evaluation you will aim. This will depend on your audience.

Choose the points which you are going to discuss about the book. What did you like about it and what you did not? How could this work be compared with others by this author or with books by different authors but in the same genre? What themes, motifs, and terms are introduced in the book and it what manner? Did you like the book in an emotional or logical way, or both?

Information about the Publisher and the Price

Book reviews often contain information about the publisher and the price of the book at the end of the article. This is useful for the readers and it might help them decide whether to buy the book. You should also give your opinion on whether this price is fair, having in mind the quality of the book.
In the book review, there might also be information on the the year published and the ISBN.

Revise your Review

When you are almost over with writing the book review, you need to take care about the following:
Double-check the spelling of the author’s name, the names of the main character names, the special terms, and the publisher. Making a mistake of this type would make it look like you have not paid enough attention to the task. Passionate readers might find such mistakes quite annoying and ridiculous.

Try to look from the point of your audience. Is the summary too short or too long? Does the argument about the text sound convincing? Is the review able to make you think that you should or should not buy and read this book? Does it contain everything you want to know about the text? Does it make you curious and eager to read the book or does it convince you that it would be a waste of time and money?

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