Book Review Format

Book Review   
The Book Review:

Although a book review, like a book report, spends some time discussing the content of the book, its main purpose is not informational, but analytical and persuasive. The writer, in analysing the content, format, argument, and context within which the book was written, argues that the book is worth reading or not.
  • Preparing to Write the Book Review: Before you write the book review, but after you have read the book, you should make notes on the following areas:
The Author:
o Background and qualifications
o Writing style
o Use of sources (see Bibliography & Table of Charts & Figures)
o His/her purpose in writing the book
The Book Format:
o Table of Contents
o Section & Chapter Titles
o Index
o Introduction (often tells the format, purpose, and intended audience)
The Content:
o Introduction/Conclusion
o Preface
o Chapter summaries
o Tables, Graphs, Figures, etc.
Structure of the Book Review: The following format can be used for the Book Review. (Note: you do not have to answer every question; these are only suggestions to guide your writing).
  • A general description of the book: title, author, subject, and format. Here you can include details about who the author is and where he/she stands in this field of inquiry. You can also link the title to the subject to show how the title explains the subject matter. A brief summary of the purpose of the book and its general argument or theme. Include a statement about for whom the book is intended.
  • Your thesis about the book: What is your opinion on the ideas of the book? Is it a suitable/appropriate piece of writing about the problem for the audience it has identified?
Main Body
Summary of the Content:
  • Write at least 3 – 4 sentences about the plot: (What was the story about? Who were the main characters? What did the main characters do in the story? Did the main characters run into problems or have any adventures? Who was your favourite character? Why?) What is the writer’s style: simple/technical; persuasive/logical?
  • Evaluation of the Text:
This is the heart of your book review. You should discuss a variety of issues here: How clearly is the book written?
  • Did the author achieve his/her goal? How did he/she do this or fall short?
  • What are the author's most important points? List at least two examples of how the author proved or did not prove points he was trying to make.
  • What possibilities does the book suggest for the reader?
  • What did the book leave out?
  • How the book compares to others on the subject?
  • What personal experiences do you have relating to the subject?
  • Could you relate to any of the characters in the story?
  • Have you ever done some of the things or felt some of the same things that the character did?
  • What did you like best about the book? What did you like least about the book?
  • If you could change something in the book, what would it be?

Conclusion (Your recommendation)

o Tie together any issues raised in the review
o Would you recommend this book to another person?
o What type of person would like this book?
 There is, of course, no set formula, but a general rule of thumb is that the first one-half to two-thirds of the review should summarize the author's main ideas while the remainder of the report should evaluate the book.
EDITING: Questions to ask yourself
Does my introduction clearly set out who the author is, what the book is about, and what I think about the value of the book? Yes or No
Have I clearly presented all the facts about the book: title, author, publication details, and content summary? Yes or No
Is my review well organized with an easily identifiable structure? Yes or No
Have I represented the book’s organizational structure and argument fairly and accurately? Yes or No
Have I presented evidence from the book to back up statements I have made about the author, his/her purpose, and the structure, research and argument of the book? Yes or No
Have I presented a balanced argument about the value of the book for its audience? (Harsh judgements are difficult to prove and show academic intolerance) Yes or No

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