What Are the Top Elements of A Good Book Review?

This blog outlines the steps of how to write a good book review.

Book Review

Students are often assigned the homework of writing a book review, which demystifies the author’s intent. Sometimes, students must critique the book based on the authors’ ideas outlined in the text.

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What is a Good Book Review?

A well-written book review should leave a reader understanding why the book is good or bad. In precision, it allows students to have a clear insight into the book and uncertain whether or not they read the book. When writing a book review, students should write their opinion about the ideas expressed by the author of the book in their own words.

Tips for writing a good book review

  1. The student should make a summary of the book

  2. Establish the Background
  3. Critically evaluate the textbook
  4. Choose a few points to discuss in the book
  5. State the publisher or price of the book (optional)

Make a Short Summary of the Book

First, the reader needs to understand the contents to be reviewed. Providing the context of the book would be appropriate through the summary. Most importantly, the writer should keep the summary short, and contain a good hook. Writing an overview of the book shows that the reader has read and comprehended the book in totality.

Writing a summary has three benefits.

a) It helps students remember what they had read. Students paraphrase the text using their own words and thoughts; thus, they internalize the book’s insights.

b) A summary helps one connect with the book’s key concepts. They get an opportunity to interpret the text by linking the contents to their worldviews.

c) Summarizing helps in improving writing skills.

A student writing on a paper

Students should follow the guidelines outlined below.

1: Take notes while they read and highlight essential quotes.

 2: Use their own words while jotting down the main takeaways.

 3: Do progressive summarizations, summarizing the summary.

 4: Revise the outline by ensuring the summary contains the essential themes and events in the book.

Establish the Background of the book

The book’s Background entails two concepts: the historical or current meaning of the title and the information about the author. The book’s title might have a historical connection, for instance, a discussion about slavery or colonization. The reviewer must understand the meaning of the title and its possible connotation. Whether a book of fiction or non-fiction, the reviewer should relate the concepts with historical or contemporary happenings.

Most importantly, the reviewer should conduct intensive research and relate the findings to the book’s title. The information about the author is vital in improving the book’s credibility. Linking the previous author’s works with the book will be more comprehensive. Besides, understanding the author’s Background helps the reader know the concepts influencing the author’s experience. Concepts such as childhood life, family, education, and experience influence writers’ opinions.

The beliefs also affect the author’s worldview and the book’s contents. However, students should be cautious when handling the author’s Background, lest they fall into the trap of biographical fallacy. A biographical fantasy believes that the author’s Background influences what the author writes more merit does.

Critically Evaluate the Text

Critical evaluation is the most crucial part of the book review. Some students think a critical evaluation is only about giving their opinions on the book. However, critical evaluation is the assessment of the book’s weaknesses and strengths and the analysis of how the book has met its objectives. The pieces of evidence from the book should accompany the reviewer’s opinion. For instance, stating that the book encourages racial stereotypes, the reviewer must provide the book’s contents that perpetuate racial stereotypes.

However, statements such as “I do not love it” are personal and should be avoided during evaluation. Some of the questions that students should ask themselves during the review should be:

  • What is the book’s contribution to its field of pedagogy?
  • Has the book met its purpose?
  • Is the book treating its subject objectively or impartially?
  • Has the author omitted some concepts? What is the clarity of the writing style?
  • Are the data used in the book supporting its thesis statement?

The reviewer should respond to the question using the evidence from the book.

Choose a Few Points to Discuss the Book

This section is vital when reviewing voluminous books with much information with less review space. The book’s plot, themes, or characters might vary depending on the reviewer’s genre or taste and the scope of the review depends on the instructions. For instance, if the study is about how the book has effectively addressed sweatshops, the reviewer should only discuss themes related to sweatshops, not child labor. Dedicate paragraphs to different points addressing the vital and necessary facts about the book. The quotes should also come from the selected areas. You can review previous blogs if you want to learn more about organizing your paragraphs and writing good essays.

State the Publisher and Price of the Book (optional)

This section is optional, depending on the needs of the targeted audience. Audiences who might be potential buyers require this information, while it might be irrelevant for classwork. Publishers influence the credibility of the book. The acceptance rate of books by big publishers is higher than those of small publishers; therefore, reviews will provide publication information as marketing strategies. They show that the book is worth reading because it is from a renowned publisher.

A Good Book Review Template Guide

The general format of a book review template includes an introduction, thesis statement, body, and conclusion

1. Introduction

  • Describe the cover page and title,

  • Include subtitles if any,

  • Mention the author(s) name

2. Thesis Statement

  • Write a brief description of the book,
  • Introduce the main point in the body,
  • Don’t mention opinions at this stage

3. Body

  • Include a few quotations say 2-3 from the book,
  • Summarize by paraphrasing the quotations in your words,
  • Talk about your opinions,
  • Each point should have its own paragraph

4. Conclusion

  • Briefly summarize the quotations and offer explanations
  • Finish with a concluding paragraph/sentence
  • Your final opinion of the book
  • Don’t mention new ideas at this stage
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