How To Write a Book Review
Literary peer review plays an important role in student learning. This type of activity allows you to get acquainted with the work of the author, analyze it, try to form an objective assessment, and also express a subjective opinion.
What is a book review?
This is a brief analysis of the book, and its evaluation, which can be written on any book in different styles – scientific, journalistic, fiction. Peer review is used to form an opinion about a work for the potential target audience to whom it is intended. In pedagogical practice, a student’s writing of a review is, first of all, a confirmation of the reading of a book. Writing a review allows to test a student’s analytical ability and criticism skills. These abilities are considered essential for any scientist, regardless of the field of science. In the process of criticism, contradictions and mistakes of the author of the book are revealed, which allows them to be corrected and the quality of scientific knowledge to be improved. Thanks to this analysis and improvement of knowledge, humanity is moving forward non-stop. The practice of reviewing is not limited to establishing the objective truth, be more courageous in expressing your opinion and arguing for it!
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The main types of book reviews examples can be distinguished:
- Annotation – a review which summarizes the main content.
- Peer review, which involves the analysis and assessment of the work or creativity of the author of the book.
- An essay that focuses not so much on the work itself as on the problem raised by the author.
- Author’s review – a description of the work, made by the author himself.
- Poly review. This is a comparison of several works by the same author, or several books on similar topics.
Depending on the requirements for analysis and the academic subject in which the work is being researched, the book can be viewed from different positions.
- The main bias can be made on the style of writing, artistic techniques, characteristics of characters’ images and methods of their formation, which is typical for studying within the framework of philology and literature.
- The analysis can be focused on the stated facts and the peculiarities of their interpretation by the author of the book. This is more typical for the exact sciences, history, philosophy, etc.
- This can be a description, a short summary or a retelling of the main presented material, with the appropriate conclusions. This approach is used across disciplines.
- You can review the book even from a marketing standpoint, how useful and attractive it is for the buyer. In this case, even the image of the cover, format, quality of paper and print, font are analyzed.
Structure. What should be included in a book review?
Regardless of the purpose of the review, the specifics of the book itself, and the discipline within which it is reviewed, the length of the essay and other factors, the structure and format are approximately the same. It contains:
- Introduction. This part introduces the book, its title and author. It is possible to mention individual biographical facts of the author, the history of the writing of the work, and his other significant books of the corresponding series. The urgency of the problem and the motivation for writing a review of this particular book are formulated.
- Main part. Here the main idea of the book is characterized, an analysis is carried out, the main provisions are retold. The quotations are given and commented on in this part of essay. Here you need to describe and analyze the characters or give other information. This is usually the largest part of the essay.
- Output. This is a shutdown. Your main idea and impressions of the book you read are briefly summarized here.
The specific Book review format, book review template, technical rules, regulation of the volume and structure depends on the educational institution or the specific requirements of the customer or publication. Depending on the specifics of the work, its focus and style, the book review essay itself also differs.
How to write book review.
Features of reviews of fiction books. These principles can be effectively used not only to evaluate literary works, but also films, theatrical performances, etc. As you form your review, try to answer a number of objective and subjective questions. The answers to these questions constitute an approximate book review plan.
- What is the work about? Is the story fictional or real? If it is real, how much are the facts laced with “special effects”?
- What is the main idea of the book from your point of view? What do you think the author wanted to say, what is the main message that he wanted to convey to the reader?
- Who are the main heroes and what are their main character traits? How do they interact with each other?
- Are the characters credible or fictional?
- What kind of adventures did the heroes have, problems and difficulties, how did they solve them?
- Which hero is closest to you in spirit and why?
- Describe your personal experience, have you experienced similar difficulties or found yourself in similar situations?
- Did you like the book as a whole, would you advise another person to read it, why?
- What part of the story did you like most and least? Why?
- What would you change in the book if you were the author?
- What features of the author’s presentation and style would you like to emphasize?
The answers to these questions have a number of other features.
- The analysis of a fictional literary work does not have the strictly formal framework that is inherent in science. Be free, but correct in your judgments.
- Fiction is not possible without appropriate emotions. Do not hide them, acquaint readers with your feelings that have arisen in the process of reading.
- The review assumes some discussion with the author, and you do not have to put an end to it. A question can be posed, the search for an answer to which is up to the reader, who will study the book under review.
Scientific literature has other features, content, goals and objectives, respectively, and the review assumes answers to other basic questions. In other words, writing the academic book review differs significantly from fiction book essay.
- Who is the author of the book, what are his scientific achievements? Are there any essential biographical facts, without the mention of which the review will not be as objective as possible? (For example, was the historian a witness or direct participant of the events he describes, or he reflects the story that took place long before his birth.)
- How relevant and studied is the problem, what is the object and subject of research, hypothesis?
- How deep does the author penetrate, reveal and analyze the problem?
- Do the declared principles and methods of research correspond to the specifics of the exact scientific knowledge?
- How correct and methodologically appropriate were the experiments carried out? How reliably are the results described? (If they were carried out)
- How objective is the author? Are the quotes he quoted out of context?
- If there is a reason to suspect the author of not objectivity or bias, then what ideas, approaches, counter-arguments does he ignore?
- How authoritative and reliable are the sources given by the author?
- How original are the author’s ideas? What is the main difference from similar works?
- How strong is the argumentation of the stated theses?
- How clear and structured is the author presenting his thoughts?
- How logical is the sequence of presentation of the studied material and conclusions?
- What is the theoretical and practical value of the author’s work, his contribution to the development of science?
- How completely does the author solve the assigned tasks in the work?
- What is the effectiveness of the proposed solutions to the identified problems?
- What are the prospects for further research?
Some other features of writing the academic book review can be highlighted.
- Scientific presentation style and related terminology.
- Maximum unambiguity of judgments and assessments.
- Correctness in relation to the author and the problem under study, analyze the scientific work, not the personality of the author.
- The maximum reasoning and consistency of assessments is required, here, in contrast to work with fiction, one cannot simply say “like it or not like it, interesting or boring”.
- The review should be concise and help the reader understand the topic, and not add additional chaos.
The issues discussed and the characteristic features of writing reviews, both on fiction and scientific books, do not represent a complete list and are not a dogma. And the analysis of not every work involves the search for answers to each of these questions. These theses should not become a strict framework, show all your creative talents and creativity, argue and experiment!
Common mistakes in book reviews writing.
- Incompetence of the reviewer, insufficient knowledge of the work.
- Not originality as a consequence of a previous mistake. It will not work to write a good book review by compiling several such reviews.
- Retelling the book without analysis and sufficient arguments.
- Grammatical and stylistic errors.
- Excessive self-confidence and its opposite – self-doubt.
- Violation of ethical standards and general culture of peer review.
- Excessive use of unfounded subjective value judgments.
- Too many quotes or very long quotes.
- Paying too much attention to minor details or focusing on irrelevant mistakes.
Writing book reviews examples
Our authors are experienced in writing a wide variety of book review essays. We know how to do it right! Let’s be honest, the main target audience for which students write their book review essays is teachers. Most of our authors are current and former university and college professors, PHd in various fields. They know exactly how to write a review so that their colleagues will like it. Click the link below to view the University book review example and the College book review example. We will help you to write a high quality book review from scratch, or edit an existing one.
Thus, when writing a book review, it is important not only to express your opinion, but also to professionally evaluate the work. Don’t let your emotions go too far. An overly enthusiastic review is perceived as a commissioned one. Too negative review – as a manifestation of black PR or hostility towards the author. Be fair and objective. The following the book review format or step-by step book review instructions is very useful for beginners. And don’t forget about the book review plan, it will help to build the foundation and fill it with the necessary material.