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How to Write a Book Review Essay

What are book reviews? What types of book reviews exist? How does one write them?

❶Once you have established your heading and your introduction, you can then move into a summary of the book's themes and main points.

How Many Types of Reviews Exist?

The art of writing a book review


A simple way to determine one of the major themes of a book is to sum up the book in one word. Once you have your one word summary, stretch the single word into a message or lesson, such as "sin can lead to knowledge but it can also lead to suffering. Consider the author's writing style. Ask yourself if the style suits the book's intended audience.

Remember that genre is a category of writing and style is the manner in which a subject is expressed or performed [2]. So, depending on the style used, the author can present different viewpoints to the intended audience. For example, in The Scarlet Letter, Hawthorne attempts to combine the writing style of the Romantic Period with the common, every day language of the American Puritans of the s.

Hawthorne does this with long, descriptive sentences that are strung together with commas and semi-colons, and he also uses antiquated word choices and descriptors that are rooted in the Romantic period and in Puritan terms inspired by the Bible.

Think about how well the author develops the major areas or points in the book. Locating gaps in the timeframe or character development of the book can help you think critically.

As well, noticing any well developed elements of the book will help you create good points for your review. Make note of the book's format, if relevant. Elements like the book's layout, binding, typography, etc.

If the author provides secondary material like maps, charts, and drawings, always consider how they support or contribute to the book's themes. In the Scarlet Letter, for example, Hawthorne begins the book with an introduction to the text, narrated by an individual who has many autobiographical details in common with the author.

In the introduction, the nameless narrator tells the story of finding the manuscript bundled in a scarlet letter "A". Hawthorne uses this narrative framing to create a story within a story, an important detail when discussing the book as a whole.

Consider any literary devices in the book. If the book is a work of fiction, think about how plot structure is developed in the story. Take notes on the book's character, plot, setting, symbols, mood or tone and how they relate to the overall theme of the book.

If we were to use the Scarlett Letter again, it would be important to note that Hawthorne chose the adulterer and sinner Hester Prynne as his protagonist, and placed the religious, anti sin Reverend Wilson in the role of antagonist. In writing a review of The Scarlet Letter, it would be useful to consider why Hawthorne did this, and how it relates back to the book's overall theme of sin.

Think about how unique the book is. Does it add new information to a genre? The author may be trying to challenge or expand the existing rules and norms of a genre. Consider how the book does this, and how this may affect the intended audience's reception of the book.

Assess how successful the book is. Was the author successful in carrying out the overall purposes of the book and did you feel satisfied with the book's ending? Would you recommend this book to others? Begin with a heading. Most reviews start off with a heading that includes all the bibliographic information about the book. If you haven't been directed on heading format from an editor or professor, use the standard heading of: A good introduction will grab the reader's attention so they are interested in reading the rest of the review, and will inform the reader what the review is going to be about.

Several possible openings include: If you're unsure on how to begin the review, try writing your introduction last. It may be easier to organize all of your supporting points and your critical position, and then write the introduction last—that way you can be sure that the introduction will match the body of the review.

Write a summary of the book. Once you have established your heading and your introduction, you can then move into a summary of the book's themes and main points. Keep the summary short, to the point, and informative. Use quotes or paraphrasing from the book to support your summary.

Avoid simply regurgitating the book's premise. Don't give away important details or reveal the ending of the book in your summary, and don't go into detail about what happens from the middle of the book onwards. Evaluate and critique the book. Once you have summarized the book and discussed the main themes and aspects, shift into your critical analysis.

This the heart of your review, so be as direct and clear as you can. Use the answers you brainstormed during your preparation for the review to formulate your critique. Address how well the book has achieved its goal, how the book compares to other books on the subject, specific points that were not convincing or lacked development, and what personal experiences, if any, you've had related to the subject of the book. This not only reinforces your viewpoint with a trustworthy source, it also gives the reader a sense of the writing style and narrative voice of the book.

Wrap up the review. Write a concluding paragraph or several sentences that sum up your critical analysis of the book. If your critical position has been well argued, the conclusion should follow naturally. Examine the strengths and weaknesses of the book, and discuss whether or not you would recommend the book to others. If so, who do you think is the ideal audience for the book? Re read and revise your review. Your first stab at a book review may not be as perfect as you'd like, so feel free to revise and adjust your draft.

To gain perspective, put the review aside for a few days and then come back to it with fresh eyes. Always use spell check and adjust any grammar or spelling. Nothing undermines a quality review more than bad spelling and grammar. Double check that all quotes and references are properly cited in your review. If possible, get someone else to read the review before you submit it to an editor or turn it in to a professor.

It is difficult to edit and critique your own work, so ask a friend to read your review and then tell you if they felt the introduction grabbed their attention and if your critical discussion was consistent and developed throughout your review.

Always submit your best work. Make sure you incorporate your revisions and any feedback you have received to create the best final draft. A good review will flow well from introduction to summary to critical analysis, have an interesting perspective on the book, and be free of any grammatical or spelling errors to ensure it is easy to read. You should not specifically include the ending of a book in a book review. You can give general impressions about the ending, but actually writing the ending itself is considered a huge spoiler, and will likely turn a lot of people away from your reviews.

Not Helpful 29 Helpful Why do you say the introduction is the most important part? I have been told my my teacher that the body is the most important part. All parts are important. Which is the 'most' important depends on the perspective you look at it from. The introduction is important in that it draws in the reader's attention and interest, and makes clear what you're going to be discussing in your paper.

The body is important in that it's where most of the real discussion takes place. Not Helpful 21 Helpful The introduction, as if you have a catchy one, readers will be more interested in reading the review. Not Helpful 32 Helpful You do not use quotation marks for your own comments. If you include any sentences from the book, you should put quotation marks around those with a proper citation. Not Helpful 31 Helpful Find similarities between yourself and the character: Try to discover ways in which you and the character react in the same way in situations.

Look for shared traits. I have a book that is quite good except that it has a bit sexual content in it. Should I suggest it to children or more mature ages? Books with sexual content are generally not meant for children, even if they are enjoyable. Not Helpful 34 Helpful Watch the movie first of all and write your thoughts on it.

It is quite similar to writing a book review and you'll find more help in How to Write a Movie Review.

Not Helpful 39 Helpful Not Helpful 33 Helpful When I use Grammarly, it removes all of my contractions i. So, is it appropriate to use contractions in book reviews? It is alright to use contractions but it is better to avoid using them too much in formal writing. Not Helpful 42 Helpful What do I write as a heading for a book review besides the title of the book? You don't really need anything else, but you might want to include the author's name as well.

You can also title your piece something else entirely, as long as it refers in some way to the book so your audience knows what they will be reading about. Not Helpful 27 Helpful There you can find a template of a review and a list of criteria that should be applied to its format.

This can make your writing nice and easy. The first section contains the bibliographic information such as the name of the author, the type and the title of the work, the date of publication and the publisher, etc. You will need to add here an overview of the theme, the purpose of your writing, and your evaluation. In the second section you should provide a brief outline of the key moment of each chapter or several chapters.

If necessary, you can use short quotes. In the final part of the writing you need to express your opinion about the reading. Was it a good and interesting book or it was confusing and did not make sense at all?

Be creative and use all your writing skills to make this section as effective and successful as possible. A review should be persuasive. When you are reading the book, you can use a worksheet where you will write down your ideas and questions. Prepare a checklist that will help you focus on the important issues and follow the plan:. These are rather simple basic strategies, but you might need them to better organize your writing. The more insightful you are, the better grade you can get for your essay.

You should cover as much relevant information as possible. Is it a beautiful graphic book for kids? Do you think they will love it? Is it worth the money people pay for it? Is it available in paper - or hardback or only as an eBook? All these details can be extremely valuable when you are writing your assignment.


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Writing the Summary for your Book Review Essay While your book review essay is not a summary of what the book is about, you will need to provide a short analytical paragraph or two to explain it.

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If you are keen to write your first book review, a reactive commission is probably the way to go. Some journals will publish or otherwise advertise the books they have available for review, and then it is just a matter of putting yourself forward for one of them.

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Book reviews are writings which give a description of a book of any genre, its analysis, and critical evaluation. You could analyze an autobiography, biography, fiction or nonfiction book, a business, scientific, or academic article or a writing which is dedicated to some medical, financial, technical, psychological, etc. issues. Thus, writing a review is a two-step process: developing an argument about the work under consideration, and making that argument as you write an organized and well-supported draft. See our handout on argument.

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The art of writing a book review. When writing a book review a student has to keep in mind that, in a contrary to the report, the review is not a content summary and there is no point in retelling the story. Sep 22,  · To write a book review, take thorough notes as you read the book you're reviewing, which will make it easier to write about. When you're done with the book, ask yourself what the major themes and ideas of the book are, and then judge whether the author did a good job presenting them%().