How to Write a Book Review

You will be called on to write many reports and papers in college or at a university. One of these is a book review, which you shouldn’t confuse with a book report. In a book report, you describe the book, its characters, and plot; however, in a book review you must also provide a critique of the book as well. A book review will be used, not to show an instructor that you have read and understand a book, but instead it will be used to determine whether a book is a good choice for inclusion in a report, as a source for some research you are conducting, or in a library or collection.

Just like a book report, before writing a book review, you should first read the book! Make notes along the way about positive and negative aspects of the book. If you are reviewing the book for inclusion as a source for a study or report, your notes should focus on aspects that have to do with your research. You may also want to read some outside commentaries or reviews to see if there are points that others bring out that you might have missed. Be sure to cite these sources if you use them in your review.

After you finish reading, you are ready to write. Organizing your notes in an outline will help you to write a concise review. The paper should include three to five points that you want to make about how you intend to use the book in your research or collection. Be sure to accurately represent the author’s meaning; don’t only include quotes and excerpts that support your needs. If you are using the work as support for a theory or thesis you have purposed, don’t only choose quotes that seem to agree with your position. It is important to be honest, even if this means including some opposing points.

There should be three main parts to your outline: an introduction, a body, and a conclusion. The introduction will introduce your reading audience to the points you are going to discuss in the paper. Then, in the body of the paper you will elaborate on the points that you introduced in the beginning of the paper. These should be the three to five points, and each one should be discussed in at least one or two paragraphs. The conclusion should sum up these same points and add a final thought or point for consideration. After the paper is written, it is very important to proofread it and correct any mistakes in either grammar or mechanics. The best papers are not only informative, they are also well written.

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