How to approach such assignment? Many students get frustrated or confused by it. However, if…
Most students will have come across a situation where they had to write a book review. It can be quite daunting, but with the right approach, there is nothing to fear. This article should set on you on the right track – you can also get some inspiration at the New Yorker website.
What Is A Book Review?
A book review is a critical assessment of a given text: a good review should include a detailed description, analysis, and evaluation of the literature. It should convey your own opinion with supporting evidence from the book itself. That means there should be an argument that you develop as you comment on various aspects of the literature. It is not a simple description of the plot or content: think of it as entering a dialogue and a discussion with the author and the intended reader. You should be criticizing the writer and pointing out where you agree or disagree with them. At the same time, you should identify where the work is exemplary or weak in its scope, argument or structure. Your opinion on the book should be stated clearly, but you should invite the reader to makes their own judgments and conclusion, which might not necessarily be consistent with yours. Your task is to outline the tools that would enable them to form their own objective opinion, despite having read yours. The structure of a book review is similar to other academic writing. It should include a thesis statement formed by you, supporting body paragraphs citing the book and a conclusion to round off. Knowing how to write a literature review is an essential skill.
Book review format typically presupposes that reviews are kept concise and focused on the task. If you look through examples in academic journals or newspapers. They seldom exceed 1000 words. However, this may not be the case for you, as it depends on your instructions: for instance, extended commentaries are not uncommon in academic writing. Generally speaking, book reviews tend to be succinct. They may vary in subject, tone, and style, but for most purposes share a common set of features:
- You are required to give a brief summary of the literature. This should include a relevant description of the subject, which is followed by a key argument, author’s perspective and purpose.
- More importantly, you need to include a critical evaluation of the content. Introduce your general reaction to the text, identify what is noteworthy, whether you feel the writer achieved their goals and how the work improved your understanding of the issue at hand.
- You can also include a recommendation. It is a personal opinion on whether you would advise it to others.
Book Review Template
Writing a book review can be a tough task, as it is hard to form an opinion on something you do not feel qualified to assess. The book might not have caught your attention either. This especially becomes a problem when we are talking about an award-winning world-famous literature – who are you to express your thoughts on such a universally recognized piece of art? On top of that, there is so much critical literature on it already that it may appear impossible to add anything to it. The idea is to pretend to be an expert to your reader despite being one. You will not be expected to surpass the writer’s genius, but if you make a bit of effort and closely observe the text, you will gather a solid base to enable you to make your own judgments. It is quite a skill to learn to express disagreement tactfully. You have to be providing evidence that will later help with all sorts of other assignments. Some professional book reviews can be found on the New York Times website just to give you an idea.
A good book review should follow a template like this:
- Subject of the book;
- Summary of its contents;
- Author’s argument;
- Your critical appraisal of the book and its argument;
- Your personal recommendation.
A perfect book review is a correct balance of opinions and concrete examples. It also includes your critical evaluation based on a clearly defined rationale and a recommendation to the intended audience. This way your reader will get a general idea. They would know whether enjoy reading it or it would be of no use to them. It is also a good idea to place the book in the wider historical context to demonstrate its relevance and importance. Ultimately, this leaves to the reader to make a weighed-up decision based on multiple factors.
Having learned how to review a book, you will understand that it ought to focus on opinions instead of facts or details. The first two parts should be kept to a minimum, allowing more room for arguments illustrated by specific details from the book. Seems too complicated? To get professional help with this task you can always use a book report writing service.
Recommendations While Reading
There is no better way of writing a book review but thorough planning, which is an essential step whenever you are working on any type of academic writing task. It always takes some planning. When you first read a specific literature, you might not have approached it as a critic, but in order to be successful with a book review, you must apply some critical thinking. Thus, it is a two-step process. While reading you already have to be developing your argument and taking notes that would support it and, having finished reading, it is important to document your findings and opinions in a structured draft. Include the supporting evidence too!
Some of the points to consider include:
- Thesis or main argument of the book – what has the author accomplished;
- Subject or topic of the book – author’s approach, covered aspects;
- How is author’s argument supported – is it convincing;
- Structure of the argument – its parts, how persuasive it is;
- Book’s contribution to your understanding of the subject.
It may also be useful to go beyond the work and contemplate the place of an author in society and history, as well as the book’s genre and context. Take a closer look at how some of the most popular reviews were written here.
Advice On Writing
Once you have brought together your observations and assessments, inspect your notes and unify them into a statement that would make up your thesis. Don’t forget to include your main arguments for it as well.
It is common to approach the task starting with an emphasis on the writer’s argument and gradually developing your own. How you balance it depends on whether you feel confident enough that your audience would be more interested in your personal argument based on the primary evidence or it would be more beneficial to place emphasis on the author’s ideas. It is up to you to find the correct balance without compromising quality.
The structure of the review is standard. You should start off with an introduction that would provide a brief book review outline and provide general information about the book and its author. This should include placing them in a context and describing the writer’s and your personal theses.
Introduction is followed by a short summary of the content. Its length can vary depending on the assignment and whether the intended audience has read the book already. But don’t forget: analysis is more important!
The main part is analysis and evaluation: each paragraph of this block should deal with a single aspect of your argument. Such structure helps you stay organized. It requires to provide supporting evidence for each idea. In most cases, you should avoid organizing your argument chronologically – it makes more sense to do it by themes, author’s methods or other elements of the book.
In your conclusion, you should make your final judgment without introducing new evidence. It is a sound idea to go beyond the book by relating your argument to a wider context. Balance the book’s strengths and weaknesses and make one final assessment. Additional help with article review is always within your reach.
Review the book written by the author, not your image of it: be objective and constructive with your criticism; use precise language to set the correct tone for a book review. Do not hesitate to express your own opinions supporting them with evidence. Your instructor is looking for you to challenge the writer and read some fresh comments. At the same time, you have to be impartial – make sure your review is not biased because the author has put in a lot of time into their work.