This handout will help you write a book review, a report or essay that offers a critical perspective on a text. It offers a process and suggests some strategies for writing book reviews.
A review is a critical evaluation of a text, event, object, or phenomenon. Reviews can consider books, articles, entire genres or fields of literature, here, art, fashion, restaurants, policies, exhibitions, performances, and many other forms.
This handout will focus on book reviews.
For a similar assignment, see our handout on literature reviews. Above all, a review makes an argument. The most important element of a review is that it is a commentary, not merely a summary. You can offer agreement or disagreement and identify where you find the work exemplary or deficient in its knowledge, judgments, or organization.
You should clearly state your opinion of the work in question, and that statement will probably resemble other types of academic writing, with a thesis statement, supporting body paragraphs, and a conclusion.
See our handout on argument. Typically, reviews are brief. In newspapers and academic journals, they rarely exceed words, although you may encounter lengthier assignments and extended commentaries.
In either case, reviews need to be succinct. While they vary in tone, subject, and style, they share some common features: Reviewing can be a daunting task.
Someone has asked for your opinion about something that you may feel unqualified to evaluate. The point is that someone—a professor, a journal editor, peers in a study group—wants to know what you think about a particular work.
You may not be or feel like an expert, but you need to pretend to be one for your particular audience. Tactfully voicing agreement and disagreement, praise and criticism, is a valuable, challenging skill, and like many forms of writing, reviews require you to provide concrete evidence for your assertions.
Consider the following brief book review written for a history course on medieval Europe by a student who is fascinated with beer:. The student describes the subject of the book and provides an accurate summary of its contents.
But the reader does not learn some key information expected from a review: As a critical assessment, a book review should focus on opinions, not facts and details.
Summary should be kept to a minimum, and specific details should serve to illustrate arguments. The reader has a sense of what the student expected of the book, but no sense of what the author herself set out to prove. Although the student gives several reasons for the negative review, those examples do not clearly relate to each other as part of an overall evaluation—in other words, in support of a specific thesis.
This review is indeed an assessment, but not a critical one. It combines balanced opinion and concrete example, a critical assessment based on an explicitly stated rationale, and a recommendation click a potential audience.
Moreover, the student link to an argument about feminist How To Write A Book Ehow in general that places the book in a specific genre and that reaches out to a general audience.
The example of analyzing wages illustrates an argument, the analysis engages significant intellectual debates, and the reasons for the How To Write A Book Ehow positive review are plainly visible. The review offers criteria, opinions, and support with which the reader can agree or disagree. There is no definitive method to writing a review, although some critical thinking about the work at hand is necessary before you actually begin writing.
Thus, writing a review is a two-step process: What follows is a series of questions to focus your thinking as you dig into the How To Write A Book Ehow at hand. While the questions specifically consider book reviews, you can easily transpose them to an analysis of performances, exhibitions, and other review subjects. Once you have made your observations and assessments of the work under review, carefully survey your notes and attempt to unify your impressions into a statement that will describe the purpose or thesis of your review.
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Check out our handout on thesis statements. Then, outline the arguments that support your thesis. Your arguments should develop the thesis in a logical manner.
Writing Tips : How to Write, Print & Publish Your Own Book
The relative emphasis depends on the nature of the review: What follows is just one of many ways to organize a review. Since most reviews are brief, many writers begin with How To Write A Book Ehow catchy quip or anecdote that succinctly delivers their argument. But you can introduce your review differently depending on the argument and audience. In general, you should include: This should be brief, as analysis takes priority. The necessary amount of summary also depends on your audience. If, on the other hand, your audience link already read the book—such as a class assignment on the same work—you may have more liberty to explore more subtle points and to emphasize your own argument.
Here our handout on summary for more tips. Your analysis and evaluation should be organized into paragraphs that deal with single aspects of your argument. This arrangement can be challenging when your purpose is to consider the book as a whole, but it can help you differentiate elements of your criticism and pair assertions with evidence more clearly.
You do not necessarily need to work chronologically through the book as you discuss it. Given the argument you want to make, you can organize your paragraphs more usefully by themes, methods, or other elements of the book. If you find it useful to include comparisons to other books, keep them brief so that the book under review remains in the spotlight.
Avoid excessive quotation and give a specific page reference in parentheses when you do quote. Sum up or restate your thesis or make the final judgment regarding the book. You should not introduce new evidence for your argument in the conclusion. You can, however, introduce new ideas that go beyond the book if they extend the logic of your own thesis.
Did the body of your review have three negative paragraphs and one favorable one? What do they all add up to? A great place to learn about book reviews is to look at examples. You may reproduce it for non-commercial use if you use the entire handout just click print and attribute the source: