How to write a Book Review

Writing a book does not give reviewers an opportunity to generate a summary of written work instead it is an opportunity to critically discuss the contents of the book. A reviewer is expected to combine accurate reading with analytical skills to present an intense and personal touch to the review.  A formal book review describes the contents of a book, analyzes the strategies applied in the book to achieve its purpose, and shows the reviewers reactions and claims from different perspectives.  A book review offers the author an opportunity to share their thoughts with fellow readers as well as assess their analytical skills. However, writing a book review might not be as easy as it may sound. The reviewers need to have some special skills to write a critical analysis that will win the trust of the readers. In this article, we show you how to write a book review that will not only attract the attention of your audience but also make your writing more critical and informative.

Preparing to write

  • In this critical step, read the book, multiple times if possible while taking notes. Make clear but simple notes. However, the notes don’t have to be organized in any formal way since the primary goal is to brainstorm any ideas you might have about the book.
  • Identify the genre of the book and consider how it fits in its genre or study field. Reading outside sources on the topic can help you familiarize yourself with the field of study. For instance, if you are reviewing a scientific book on the development of new treatments for HIV/AIDS in the 21st century, you can consider reading other books that address a similar issue within the same time period.
  • Identify the major themes of the book which includes the fundamental ideas communicated in the piece of writing.
  • Consider the authors writing style, any literary devices used and the general presentation of the major themes

Describe the plot

The first thing the readers would want to know is about the book you are reviewing. Therefore, you should describe the plot of the book, but you must make sure that you make it balanced. Your intention here is to give enough to hook the audience without getting into much details or getting more in-depth in the book. Give a comprehensive background of the book on the plot and let you focus be on the elements you find more critical or those that you think your audience will want to knowJust as you would in any type of essay,carefully select passages from the book you are reviewing to support your argument.

Think about your audience

It is essential to consider the target audience before writing any piece of work. Knowing the audience enables you to tailor your writing to meet the demands of your audience. Like any other type of paper, book reviews are targeted to individual readers and thus understanding the target audience will enable you to make your message more appealing to your audience. Even if you are reviewing a book that did not fit your personal reading preferences, there is a probability that it will do so to your readers, and your excellent review might help them.

Identify the hook

You have understood your audience, and now it is time to prepare on how to get them to read your review. When writing a book review, you must consider what will make your audience read your review and not just scroll up and forget to offer any comments or give their insights. You must plan wisely how you will make your review convincing enough in order to garner positive reviews and to ensure your audience prefers your work. Therefore, try to get your audience hooked from the very beginning of your review; otherwise waiting to do so at the middle or the end might make you lose it all. Consider your initial inspiration to writing the review and let that guide you into writing it on your own way.

Personal reaction/analysis

This is the most crucial part of a book review. This section shows your analytical skills as well as creativity and reading and interpreting information. In this section, explore your prior experiences with the subject matter and personal connections. You can also explain the pre-existing misconceptions that you or others may have about the subject and that you have brought to the review. This section gives you the chance to explain how the contents of the book affected you and to what extent you agree or disagree with what the author is trying to communicate. To get a perfect picture of the author’s message you can analyze the author’s motivations, outcomes and initial intention along with strengths and weaknesses of their message. Explain both the praises and critiques of the author’s message.


End your review by recommending for or against the book. Declare your individual stand about the book and give reasons for your choice.  This section gives you an opportunity to make general statements about the book with regard to the quality and overall value of the text.

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