How to Write a Book Review: A Step-By-Step Guide

If you are a fan of reading then you may have stumbled upon a book review that may have influenced your choice on whether or not you should pick up a particular title next. This type of writing is hugely popular and can entice audiences of all ages to read something they may otherwise have never considered. You might be interested in getting into this kind of writing (either locally for a bookstore or nationally for a known publication) but don’t know where to begin. This article will unravel the mystery of how to write a book review by way of a simple step-by-step process.

What Is a Book Review?

This is the question we hear the most from writers who want to venture into this niche market. Simply put, a book review is a short piece that gives you the chance to express your opinion on a given book usually in any genre or style of your choice. Many people are intimidated of these kinds of assignments because they think they will be asked to review something they know very little about. This is simply not true. You get to choose a specialty and are given the chance to describe the details and provide your thoughts on a book’s successes and faults. Book review writing experience may help you a lot, if you once need to write a dissertation literature review.

How to Start a Book Review

Like most other styles of writing you have encountered, you should begin your book review essay with a hook. This can reveal something about the work you are critiquing or give insight to your opinion of it. Have fun! Capture the reader’s attention right from the start and you will likely compel him or her to read through your work to the end. Most reviews are only a few hundred words long, so your opening sentence can set the tone and make for a great return on the time invested coming up with the right words.

  1. Consider What the Title Means
  2. The book title in an academic essay should be addressed from a critical point of view just as you would any other aspect or component of the book. Titles reveal a lot and can help you quickly identify what an author intended to say about a given topic. Take time analyzing the book’s title and come up with a few sentences summarizing your opinion as it relates to the rest of the book’s contents. Let this guide the voice and tone of your review.

  3. Provide all the Relevant Details
  4. The second step on how to write a book review is giving the reader all of the important information identifying the book as well as the specific version (e.g., edition, translation, etc.) being discussed. This is similar to what many journalists would call the Who, What, Where, When, Why statements. Don’t jump right into a synopsis, summary, or critique without first letting your reader know about the exact book to which you refer.

  5. Discuss Main Points without Spoilers
  6. If you take a look at published book reviews in magazines, newspapers, or on the web, you will see that the best ones never reveal too much information by spoiling key events or topics in narratives. This doesn’t mean that you are not allowed to discuss the main points – just don’t give away anything that would ruin a reader’s experience when he or she arrives at these moments on his or her own. Books are meant to be enjoyed – don’t be the one who kills this joy.

  7. Develop a Clear and Simple Rating System
  8. One to Five Stars. A to F Grades. If you want to know how to write a review that entices readers to come back to you for more, then you need to come up with a simple way to give your opinion. Think back to the times you need to quickly make the decision to purchase or pass on an item based on a simple rating system; this technique works and many of the people who will be reading your book reviews will expect to find something simple to refer to without having to interpret the meaning behind your writing.

  9. Review, Edit and Proofread Your Work
  10. If you have any experience writing academic works on any topic, then you should know how important it is to make sure you completely review, edit and proofread your work before submittal. The same is true for this kind of essay, where you not only have to ensure your writing is flawless but also stylistically correct. Pay attention to any citations you make of the book you are reviewing. If you need to learn how to reference a book, check out numerous examples until you are confident you have the right format down.

Where to Find Examples of Good Reviews

In learning how to write a book review for college course assignments, there is no better strategy than looking at several examples. You can find these everywhere from library journals filled with excellent samples of an academic review to more popular writing that would find in something like the New York Times Book Review. The important thing is that you reference and utilize as many other works as possible until you get a complete hang of the writing style and voice you need to engage a broader reading audience.

Conclusion: Successfully Putting it All Together

When any type of writing, you should always aim to have as much fun with it as possible, while still considering your audience and its expectations. You can find numerous articles on how to write a book review for different levels, but the best way to hone your skills is to put them into practice. Find a piece you enjoy and write a book review for it; practice different styles and voices until you find one that you think is appropriate for your readers while still being reflective of your personality. In no time, you should find that writing these types of assignments aren’t much different than others you have encountered before.