Do you know how to write a Book Review?
Writing a Book Review involves coming up with a detailed description, analysis, and evaluation of the quality, meaning, and significance of a book. Book reviews usually range from 500 to 1000 words, but it can be longer or shorter depending on the complexity or the length of the book you are reviewing, the overall purpose of the review, and whether the review is comparative between two or more books that emphasize on the same topic. Professors assign book reviews for students to carefully analyze complex scholarly texts and to assess their ability to synthesize research and reach an informed perspective about a research problem or issue.
Writing the Review
- Include title, author, , publisher, place, publication date, pages, edition, special features e.g. maps, price, ISBN
- Captivate your reader with your opening statement and set the tone of the review. Familiarize yourself with the guidelines because some editors may want plot summaries while others don’t require them. Some want you to say outright whether you recommend a book, but not others.
- Make sure you review the book that you have read and not what you think the author should have written.
- If the books happens to be the best you have ever read, say so and give details why. If it is merely another nice book, say so pleasantly.
- Remember to include information about the book’s author, reputation and qualifications. Include everything relevant to the book and the author’s authority.
- Think about the person who will be reading your review, for instance, it could be a librarian buying books for a collection or could be a parent looking for a good read aloud for their kids. The review could also be for readers searching for information about a specific topic, or just readers searching for a good read. You must include enough description to give the various readers a clear picture of what the book entails.
- Your conclusion must include a final assessment. You should not introduce new material at this point.
Two Approaches of Reviewing a Book
- Descriptive Review: Presents the content and structure of a book as equitably as possible while describing essential information about a book’s purpose and authority. You do this by stating the anticipated aims and purposes of the study while combining passages quoted from its texts that emphasize the key elements of the work. In addition, there may be some indication of the anticipated audience and of the reading level.
- Critical Review: Describes and evaluates the booksin regard to accepted legendary and historical standards and support the evaluation with texts, mostly in comparison with and in contrast to the research of others. Show what the author has tried to do and in your opinion evaluate how they have succeeded in meeting the objectives of the study while providing evidence to support this judgement. This is the type of a review that your professors will want you to write for your course assignments.
Common features of a Critical Book Review
- It should give your reader a brief summary of the content which includes relevant description of the research topic, choice of analysis and an overview of the book’s overall purpose, argument, and perspective.
- A critical review should offer a critical assessment of the content in relation to other studies on the same topic. Document your reactions to the work and what strikes you as noteworthy, whether the author’s arguments are persuasive or effective and how the work has enhanced your understanding of the research problem you are investigating.
- While analyzing a book’s strengths and weaknesses, a scholarly review should recommend whether or not readers would value the work for its overall quality and authenticity. The measure of quality includes both the practical issues and the author’s ideas such as language and readability, layout and organization, indexing, and use of non-textual elements.
To maintain focus remember that most assignments ask you to discuss the book’s dealing or handling of its topic and not the topic itself. Your key sentences should say, “The study demonstrates…. “This book shows… or “The author argues…
What to do if you find it difficult to discern the overall objectives of the Book
If you determine that there is such a deficiency, be sure to point this out in your review however, you may get to an understanding of the overall purpose of the book by assessing the following:
- Scan the book’s table of contents and see how the book is organized and this will help you in determining the author’s main ideas and how they were developed. You can identify the subject of main interest by following the order in which the ideas are arranged.
- Find out why the author wrote on this subject rather than another subject and identify the main themes in their writing.
- See if the author was trying to explain something technical, to give information or to convince the reader of a belief’s validity by sensationalizing it in action.
- Identify the general genre or field, and how the book fits into it. If needed, review comparable literature from other books and journal articles to familiarize yourself with the field.
- Know who is the intended audience
- Determine whether the author’s style is formal or informal which can be evaluated by noting the clarity, coherence, originality, accuracy in using technical words, fullness of development, conciseness and fluidity.
- Write how the book affected you, whether there were any prior assumptions that you had on the subject that were changed, abandoned or reinforced after reading the book. Is the book related to your own assumptions or beliefs and have you had any personal experiences that relate to the subject?
- How effectively has the book achieved the goals set forth in the preface, introduction or foreword
- Is it a book that you can recommend to others? Why or why not?
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