Learn How to Write a Book Review Like a Professional Critique

29 April 2020

Knowing how to write a book review has become a must-have skill nowadays, especially for college students. What’s more, it’s a concept that challenges most students despite their academic level. As such it was only fitting for the essay writing gurus at custom writing bee to provide a guide packed with helpful intel.

Did you know that writing a book review isn’t always about summarizing? Besides, you can use it as an opportunity to present a crucial discussion. That way, people can understand what to expect after reading a particular book.

Do you need assignment help with your book review? By the time you leave this group, you’ll be saturated with knowledge on all matters writing a book review. Here’s everything all students should know about writing a book review like a pro literary critique. Here we go.

So, What Exactly Is a Book Review?

A book review is an evaluation of a phenomenon, event, or even object. A book review is not just a summary, but also a commentary. So, it allows you to discuss with the book’s creator and audience. 

In a book review, you can either agree or disagree with its content. If there are some parts that you feel the writer didn’t offer the best judgments or knowledge, then you can highlight that. Do not also forget to congratulate where there is exemplary work.

So typically, reviews are short. However, you should always be ready, especially when dealing with college assignments, as those might be lengthier.

Preparing to Write the Book Review

i. Read the Entire Book and Take Some Notes

Writing a book review is not always easy since you must read the whole book. Doing that helps to understand what it’s all about hence allowing you to write an excellent review. If possible, read that book severally. Doing this helps you to see different aspects, from the setting to characters. 

When reading the book, ensure you take down some notes. Some people might prefer using a voice recorder as it allows you to easily document your impressions or thoughts of the book as you read. That way, you can have something to remind you of what the book entails hence allowing you to write without much hassle.

The notes don’t have to be orderly at this point. The main idea here is to help you brainstorm some ideas. Therefore, you should try summarizing the primary sections of the book. Doing this will help to understand the most vital information to include in the review and even have an idea of how to plan your book review format.

ii. Consider the Book’s Field of Study or Genre

You must go through the book and see if you can group it in a specific genre or field of study. You can even use external sources to help you be more familiar with different styles. That way, you can understand what every type entails, thus enabling you to determine if the book fits in that field.

For instance, your lecturer assigns you a non-fiction book to review the development process of the polio vaccine. You should consider using other books that also discuss the same topic. That way, you see how the different books review the vaccine hence giving you a clear view of the best way to do it and if your book has done the same.

iii. Determine the Vital Themes and Arguments of the Book

The book’s theme is usually the overall message or lesson. The issue can also be the fundamental universal ideas you get from reading the book. 

Authors might present different themes in their writing, especially those that specialize in fiction. These themes mostly help to support the book’s primary argument. So, you must pay close attention to the references and preface, especially in the introduction. This content mostly focuses on shedding more light on the book’s viewpoint and significant themes. 

The simplest way to determine one major theme of the book is summing up everything using one sentence or even word. For example, you can sum up The Scarlet Letter with the name Sin. Once you have one word for the book, you can now stretch it to an entire message or lesson. The best example of this word is “Sin leads to knowledge, but can also cause suffering”.

iv. Consider the Author’s Style

The book’s style is one major factor you should consider when writing a book review. So, ask yourself if the author’s writing style fits the audience perfectly. 

Remember that style refers to how the author performs or expresses a specific subject. Therefore, style mostly determines how the author will present a particular viewpoint to the audience.

Let’s use The Scarlet Letter as our example. In this book, Hawthorne (the author) tries combining the modern daily language with the olden writing style of the early 1800s. 

Hawthorne does this by using long and descriptive sentences and tying them together with semicolons and commas.

If you search online, you’ll find many book review examples that you can go through and see how they identify different styles.

v. Consider How the Author Develops the Primary Ideas 

Do you want to learn how to review a book like a pro? Then you must always look if the book author covers some vital areas. You should also consider looking at crucial areas that the author might have left out; identifying gaps in character development, timeframe and analysis will help you to think critically. Why? Identifying these gaps enables you to research and see if leaving those things out was the right thing to do.

Realizing the author provides useful information by developing major ideas, excellently also helps you create good points for the review.

vi. Note Down the Book’s Unique Format

Some vital elements, such as typography, layout, and binding, help you to determine the entire book’s context and framing excellently. So, check whether the author includes some secondary materials such as charts, drawings, and maps. If you see these things, then consider how they help to contribute or support the book’s arguments and themes.

In the Scarlet Letter, the author begins with an introduction that’s a narration from someone who has various typical autobiographical details with him. The narrator tells the story of finding a manuscript in the Scarlet letter “A.” So, Hawthorne uses the narrative style to help create a story within a story. This writing style is vital, especially when discussing the entire book.

vii. Check for Literary Devices Inside the Book

If you’re reviewing a fiction book, then check how the author develops the plot. Therefore, ensure you take some notes of the setting, plot, symbols, tone, mood and character. Also, remember to identify how all these aspects relate to the book’s overall theme.

Let’s take the Scarlet Letter as an example again. It would be vital to note that he chose to use Sinner Prynne and the adulterer as his protagonist. When writing a book review of The Scarlet Letter, you must consider why the author did this. Also, consider how it relates to the overall theme of his book.

viii. Think About the Uniqueness of the Book

When reviewing books, one thing you should always check for is what makes one unique from the others. Therefore, you must consider if the book adds new information to readers. Adding extra information helps the author challenge or try and expand some norms of a genre, or expand existing rules. So, consider how the author of your book does this, and it can affect how the audience will view the book.

ix. Asses the Book’s Success

The level of success that a book has is one of the significant factors that make it stand out. Success is also what most people will look at when searching for a good book in a particular genre that has lots of options in the market. 

You should ask yourself, did the author succeed in carrying out his book’s purpose? Did the book’s ending satisfy you? And would you recommend this book to your friends and relatives?

Writing your Book Review Step-by-Step

1. Start with The Heading

You must learn how to start a book review. Having this skill is vital since the start tells a lot about the entire paper and is what determines if someone will read it to the end. Most book reviews usually start with a heading. This heading can include the bibliographic information about that book.

If your professor did not specify the exact book review format to use, then apply the standard heading. So, write the title, author, and publication, which includes the publisher, publication date, and the exact number of pages.

2. Write the Introduction

The introduction is among the most vital parts that you should focus on when learning how to write a book review. An excellent introduction helps to grab the audience’s attention. That way, they read the entire book review and understand everything it entails.

Make sure the opening has some crucial details, such as the author’s background. If applicable, you can also include the author’s previous work in that genre. To help show your take on the review, indicate the primary themes that you will be discussing.

Some of the things that you can include in an introduction include intriguing or declarative statements, an anecdote, and a historical moment. Doing this helps your book review to appear unique and also enables you to sound confident.

Regardless of your choice of opening sentences, they must relate directly to your response to the book. Also, make sure they are short and precise. 

If you are not sure of the best way to craft the introduction, you can first do the review, then come back to it later. It can be easier to organize the supporting points first and be sure of your stand in the book review then write the intro last. Doing this can even be an excellent method since you’ll never write an introduction that does not match the body of your book review.

You can look for an example of a book review online to help you see how to write an introduction that works. Make sure the book review examples you look at are from high-quality websites. That way, you can be sure they have the right information that can help you.

3. Write a Summary

After writing the heading and introduction, now move to a summary of the book’s main points and themes. 

When writing a review, make sure it’s short, informative and to the point. You can use some quotes from the book to help support the summary. However, you must cite any quotations or paraphrasing that you use in your summary. Doing this will help your book review to be unique and free from any plagiarism.

You should be wary of book summaries that start with phrases like “This essay is about, or this is the story of.” Instead, focus on writing a description that shows the reader the book’s setting, plot and narrative voice. 

Another major thing to avoid is giving away vital details of the book in your summary. If the audience looks at the overview and sees how the review will end, then they won’t even bother reading the whole review since they already know what will happen.

Also, if the book is part of a series, then you must mention that to the readers. However, you must ensure you situate that book within the series. An online sample book review would help you understand how to do this correctly.

4. Evaluate the Book

After summarizing the book and discussing its main aspects and themes, it is now time for your critical analysis. This evaluation is what shows the professor that you know how to write a book review for college. So, you must be as clear and direct as you can.

During this stage is when you need the ideas you brainstormed most. Using them will help you critique the book excellently. Here, address how the book achieves its goal perfectly and what makes it better than other publications covering the same subject.

You should also address how several points in the book might not have been as convincing as they should. If there are any personal experiences you want to talk about, you can also highlight them briefly.

Generally, half or even two-thirds of your review should summarize the main ideas from the book and at least the other part to cover evaluation.

5. Wrap Up the Book Review

This stage is where you need to prove you know how to end a book review. So, you should write a concluding paragraph with several sentences summing up your analysis of the book. If your position in the book review is clear, then the conclusion will flow naturally.

You need to examine all the good and bad of the book and discuss whether or not you’d recommend that book to other people. If you think the book is excellent, then explain who you think is the ideal audience.

You must avoid introducing new ideas and content in your conclusion. Anything that’s not in the introduction or body paragraphs shouldn’t be part of the end. You can also rate the book from 1-10 or give it a thumbs up or down.

In case you feel like your conclusion is not satisfactory, look for a sample book review and see how to end a book review.

6. Polish the Review

i. Go Through the Book Review

You now know how to write a book review for college and have your first copy. The copy that you have right now is just a draft that needs proper revision. So, make sure you take your time to go through the document, making the necessary adjustments.

You can even put the book review aside and take a one or even two days’ break. When you come back, you will be feeling fresh. That way, you can spot grammatical mistakes easily and identify paragraphs that do not flow naturally.

To help you adjust grammar more effectively, use a professional tool. Poor spelling and grammatical errors can make you lose lots of marks. Also, you must double-check that you have provided references for all quotes in the book review.

ii. Get Feedback

If possible, ask someone else who knows how to write a book review to help you go through it. That way, your friend can tell you if you understand how to review a book and tell you where you might have gone wrong. Doing this will help you correct any errors hence submitting an excellent book review.

7. Submit your A+ Grade Book Review Essay

After going through the article and letting someone else do it for you, it is now time to submit it. Before submitting, check if you have followed minor instructions regarding the title and references. You can also look for an example of a book review and compare it to see if there is anything else that you can borrow from it, then submit.

Need Assignment Help Writing a Book Review

If you’ve read up to this far, you’re well-equipped with necessary information on writing a book review. This includes how to start a book review to referencing it. As such, the ball is now in your court.

If you need more homework help, you can check out the book review examples in our resource center to guide you. Need a bespoke book review essay for your research? Request your custom essay form the essay writing experts.


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