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How to Write a Book Review

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By: darius
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Once you’ve read the book, taken notes, grand-essays.com comments , and developed some preliminary ideas for your review, it’s time to sit down (or stand if you prefer), and learn how to write a book review.

So let’s get to work, shall we?

As with any writing project, after you develop your preliminary ideas, it’s a good idea to create an outline. (Not a fan of outlines? Try a graphic organizer instead.)

What should you put in your outline (and thus put in your book review)?

While all course assignments may have different requirements, here are some general guidelines for what you should include.

Author and title of book
Include the author and title of the book within the first few lines of your book review. (Don’t rely on the title of your review to tell readers the name of the book.)

The theme or thesis of the book
You should be able to summarize the theme or thesis of the book in a few lines. Remember, this information should be a broad overview. Don’t go into too many details in the introduction.

The focus or framework for your review
Your goal here is to explain the angle or context of your review within a few sentences.

For instance, if you’re writing a book review about To Kill a Mockingbird, your focus might be racism, how the theme is illustrated in the novel, and whether the author effectively illustrates the theme.

You could also focus on the effects of first-person narration in the novel and whether the narration is effective and/or the best option for the novel.

Your focus will change what type evidence and argument you create.

Your thesis
The thesis statement for your review will be the point you want to make about the book.

For instance, you might write something about how Harper Lee tackles racism in To Kill a Mockingbird by creating flawed and potentially racist characters, such as Atticus Finch. You might comment on whether such characters are appropriate and/or effective in the story.

The summary of the book should be pretty short (no more than a paragraph or so). If you’re writing a book review for a course, assume that your audience has already read the book.

This means that you don’t need to write about every minor detail.

In most cases, the audience for your review will be your professor, so it also means that you don’t have to worry about including spoilers. Your prof will already know what happens in the book and will want to know what you have to say about the novel.

If, by chance, you’re writing for another audience, like classmates who haven’t read the book, you likely don’t want to include spoilers. No one wants to read a book already knowing the surprise twist at the end.

Evaluation and commentary

This section is the bulk of your essay and needs to include at least three or four paragraphs to explain your evaluation and commentary about the book.

Organize your key points of evaluation in an order that works best for you. For instance, you might group your ideas by examples of themes, narration, symbols, or other points in the book.

This section doesn’t have to follow the book in order of each chapter (though you can organize your ideas that way if it seems like the best fit for your paper).

Remember, if you’re quoting directly from the book, you’ll need to cite through in-text citation, likely in MLA or APA format. (Check with your prof to determine which citation style is required for your assignment.)

REMEMBER: Your evaluation doesn’t have to be all positive or all negative. A good book can have a few points that rub you the wrong way or just don’t seem to make sense, just as a (mostly) awful book can have a few shining moments.

The conclusion for a book review should wrap up your key ideas and highlight your final evaluation of the book.

The conclusion is your final chance to stress your evaluation, so make sure you don’t let this section fall flat. Leave your audience with something memorable.

Need a few more tips on how to write an effective conclusion? Read Loose Ends: How to End an Essay With Authority.

And that’s how to write a book review like a pro.


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