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How to write a book review

Filed on: May 31, 2013 | Written by Kakoli Majumder | Add new comment

A book review is a critical evaluation of a book. While it would definitely include a description of the different aspects of the book, what you need to keep in mind is that it is not a summary. Your review should focus on your analysis and opinion of the book, and should guide the reader’s decision of whether to read or not to read the book.

Writing a book review involves the following steps:

1.   List down preliminary information about the book.  Before you begin to read, consider the title of the book and what you think it conveys. Do some research on the biographical details of the author, the setting of the book, the genre it belongs to, the author’s purpose in writing the book, etc. Going through the preface carefully is also a good way to understand these aspects.

2.  Read the book carefully. As you read, make notes about your impressions on the setting, theme, genre, style, plot, characterisation, structure, etc.

3.    Once you finish reading, give yourself some time to assimilate, so that you can think about the story in perspective.

4.   Try to form a single overall impression about the book. This will form your central thesis. The central thesis generally revolves around the author’s purpose and how far he has achieved it. In this sense, a reviewer appraises the success of the author in achieving his purpose.

5.   Go back to your notes and see what matches with this overall impression. Strike out whatever  you feel has no relation with the central thesis.

6.  Once this is clear, you are ready to write your first draft of the book review. However, it is always a good idea to write an outline first and then start writing the first draft. Use the outline as your base and keep referring to your notes as you write.

What goes in the first draft:

1.   The opening paragraph(s) give the author’s name and title of the book, the genre that it belongs to, some information about the author, the main theme of the book, and the author’s purpose behind writing the book.

2.   The body paragraphs logically develop your thesis. Here, you should explain what you like or dislike about the book and why. This is where you give your analysis of the setting, plot, characterisation, style, structure, etc. It would be a good idea to use one paragraph for each idea that you want to develop in support of your thesis.  However,  make sure you do not disclose too much of the plot. You can give a brief overview of the storyline, but do not reveal the secrets!

3.    The concluding paragraph gives the reviewer’s overall impression of the book. Here, you can sum up your thesis or give a final judgement about the book. Do not introduce new ideas in the conclusion.

Finally, revise the draft. As you revise, look for the following:

1. Ensure that the main points are clear. All the main ideas should support your thesis.

2. Avoid repetition and redundancy. Do not repeat an idea for emphasis. Rather, state the idea and explain why it is important.

3. Check for awkward and unclear sentences and rewrite them. If required, split them into shorter sentences.

4. Check for coherence. Each sentence and paragraph should naturally lead to the next.

5. Finally, proofread for spelling and grammatical errors.

 

Your review is now ready to be published!