A book review is an essay or paper that summarizes an existing text or book. It can be written for a blog, or publication or for submission as part of a course. Reviewing a book is a delicate affair that involves summarizing a several hundred-page tome into a few hundred words. But it doesn’t have to be difficult.
An effective book review summarizes the thoughts, themes and ideas presented by the author in an ordered manner. It should also express any arguments and reactions that the book elicits on the readers. Unlike a report or summary, a review expresses the strengths and weaknesses of a work. You have to maintain a delicate balance between creating a view on the book while avoiding dropping spoilers for prospective readers.
How do you write an effective review?
- Prepare for the review
There is one surefire way to prepare for a review – of course read the entire book. It would be unfair to both the author and the readers if you only skim through the first few chapters and write a half-baked review. Take a sitting, or two and get the message that the author wishes to express.
One great tip when reading is to make quick notes along the way. This will help in remembering the main ideas that the author posits. Make notes on the style, the person, the protagonist and any other crucial details that you might encounter along the way.
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- Take a stand
After reading the text you intend to review, you should take a stand before you start your review. If the text intrigued you, you should be prepared to take on a positive note in your review. If your opinion on the book is negative, then be prepared to add some scathing remarks on the book.
Your review should begin with preliminaries such as the book author and the genre of the book. This should include a brief biography of the author, any other works that they have written the book title, the publisher and the estimated retail price. You should also include the number of pages that the book has.
After that, you can then tell the reader what the genre of the book is about, the main idea behind the book and who the intended audience of the book. This information can be found on the author’s page, on the internet or at the back of the book cover.
- The real deal
After all the steps are done, what remains is putting down the review. Start with a summary of the book. This can be done by highlighting only the major events in the book. You can choose to be thorough especially if your audience has not read the book.
Once you’re done with the summary, you can then begin an evaluation of the book. State the arguments that you want to make and support them with evidence from the book.
Your paragraphs can be organized thematically or based on ideas posited by the book
On completion, sum up whatever idea you were trying to make regarding the book in a few sentences. You can then end the review by posing a few questions to the reader or with a final remark about the book.