Knowing how to write a book review is helpful for students and people wanting to write book reviews for a consumer market. A book review is similar to a book report in that the important information in a book is summarized for someone who hasn’t read it. The difference is that a book review also has qualitative judgements about a book that would not be found in a book report. Those who read book reviews want to know the opinions of the writers that read and evaluated the information contained in the book.
If the book is part of an assignment, then the writer will have few options but to read the assigned text. However, if the book reviewer gets to choose the book, then there are generally many different ways to pick a book.
One way is to choose a title of interest, fiction or nonfiction. If the title is older, other writers have most likely already written reviews. This can be a benefit or a burden. In this case, reviewers should familiarize themselves with other critiques. This information can come in handy when writing the review.
Another way is to choose a newly published book in a subject of interest. This can also be a benefit or a burden. The benefit to choosing a new book would be that few other reviews have been done on the book and the review will stand out. The burden may be not having anything to compare the work to except the broader subject category in which it belongs or previous writings, if any, of the author.
A book review should have some parts of a book report. People reading a review will need to know what the book is about. This means that a basic outline of the information or plot should be included in the review. However, reviewers need to be careful not to put too much summary in since the purpose of a review is to critique the work.
While reading, the book reviewer should note important or interesting concepts and parts of the book. These can later be used as specific references when textual support is needed. Other items of interest in a critique would be:
A book reviewers most important job is writing the critical analysis and evaluation of the book. The reaction of the author concerning the information contained in the book will help readers decide if the book is worth their time. A book reviewer should balance the praise given with the weaknesses of the book. Too much praise and the reviewer risks credibility by sounding like an advertisement for the writer. Too many harsh criticisms of the book may make the reviewer sound like he or she has a personal grudge against the book’s author. A reviewer should not criticize the author of the book, only the book itself.
The writing process consists of outlining, drafting, rewriting and editing. However, these steps do not have to be linear. An outline written before writing can help guide the writing process. An outline written after completing a paper can ensure that all parts of the paper flow together well. Experienced writers often draft and rewrite at the same time using a recursive process. Novice writers may do better separating these two writing activities. After the paper looks complete, a final edit to catch any last grammar and mechanical errors should be completed.
Besides classroom assignments, book reviews are found in newspapers, magazines, on the Internet, so learning how to write a book review can actually net a writer some money. Book reviews come in a variety of lengths, from 50 - 100 word blurbs to lengthy essays. They are similar to movie reviews in that the reviewer needs to establish credibility and then explain the book’s merits before people will trust the reviewer’s opinion and decide to read or purchase the book.