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Tips on How to Write Your College Book Review

Posted: March 26, 2021
Last update date: November 20, 2023
7 min read

A book review is, without exaggeration, one of the most interesting writing assignments in a university curriculum. This type of literary criticism allows the reviewer to express his own opinion regarding the material read. Yet, like other types of scientific writing, book reviews involve a certain list of requirements for design and structure. In the following sections, we will look at the following book review guidelines and tips:

  • You will know important tips that a reviewer should consider when preparing to write a book review.
  • Practical tips and guidelines to help you craft a high-quality book review that effectively conveys your insights and analysis, making your review informative and engaging.
  • The factors and techniques that can take your book review from ordinary to memorable, leaving a lasting impact on your readers and fellow book enthusiasts.

Preparing to Write the Review

Before we dive into the process of crafting an effective book review, let's first explore the crucial steps involved in preparing to write a review that truly captures the essence of the book.

Read the Book

No matter how trivial it may sound, the key factor to writing a good book review is to read the original in full. Authors of brief description works often try to convey only key events important to the plot. In turn, the reviewer can look at the work from a fresh angle, highlighting his favorite moments and coming to unusual conclusions to write book reviews.

To improve the efficiency of book reviews, use active reading techniques. This strategy involves highlighting the key points of the book, taking notes, and creating a visualization. These techniques are used to increase awareness and facilitate further analysis of what you read to create outstanding book reviews.

Understand the Genre and Audience

After reading the book, you are ready to start a book review. First of all, indicate who the author of the book is and what its title is. It is also necessary to determine the book's genre, main theme, and message. Finally, figure out who the target audience for this book is, whether it is written for children or adults, and whether it is aimed at specific people or people of a certain profession.

Figure Out Book Review Structure

The last part of the preparatory stage to write a book review essay is to become familiar with the structure. Before writing book reviews, make sure to compose a book review outline. PapersOwl’s pro writers of academic essay papers have identified a list of five key components to structure a book review:

  • Book title
  • Introduction
  • Body or Summary
  • Analysis and evaluation
  • Conclusion

As with other types of essays, book reviews usually follow the basic 5-paragraph structure: introduction, three body paragraphs and the conclusion. Each body paragraph of your book review for school should be logically connected to the previous one and begin with a topic sentence. It provides the general idea disclosed in the paragraph.

How to Write the Review of a Book

Now when you know the basic structural elements of a book review, we can move forward and answer the main question. How to write a book review? Let's start with general criteria for a book report and then go on to more detailed ones. Each fragment will contain basic questions to give you a hint on what to write about in a review of a book.

  • First, describe your overall impression of the book. What emotions did the reading evoke in you, and what thoughts did you have?
  • Then, smoothly go on writing a book review by describing the main plot of the book. This step doesn't require much creativity on your part and is more about stating the facts.
  • It is also important to clarify whether events occur linearly or chaotically. Don’t forget to mention the number of storylines and their direction. See whether the author uses unusual narrative techniques such as flashbacks or multiple perspectives to attract the reader's attention.

Provide a Brief Summary

It's time to write a brief summary for your book review. To do this, list the main characters, the setting, and the main point of the plot:

  • What is the basic plot or main argument of the book?
  • How is the book structured? Are there chapters, sections, or parts?

Pay special attention to the characters in the book. Authors often put special meaning into the set of character traits of individual characters. Also, note whether there were any changes in the behaviour of the characters during events.

  • Who are the main characters, and what are their primary traits?
  • Are the characters well-developed and multi-dimensional?
  • Do the characters undergo any significant changes or growth throughout the story?

Discuss the Author's Writing Style

One of the key factors when writing about books is determining the writer's style. Each author tries to bring something new to stand out from other writers. Each article review writer at PapersOwl is ready to advise you on how to distinguish the writer’s outstanding features, as they are experts in writing a book review for students. With the help of certain syntax and vocabulary, the author can influence how the audience perceives what is written.

  • How would you describe the author's writing style? (e.g., descriptive, succinct, humorous, serious)
  • Are there any distinctive elements of the author's prose that stood out?
  • Did the writing style enhance or detract from the book's themes or messages?

Evaluate the Book's Strengths and Weaknesses

When writing a book review, a comparative analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of the work is very important. Highlight the most impressive aspects of the book for yourself, and pay attention to explaining why exactly they hooked you. If certain fragments of the story seemed unnecessary to the reviewer and did not carry much significance, it’s necessary to mention this in the book review.

  • What are the strongest aspects of the book?
  • Were there any parts of the book that felt unnecessary or redundant?
  • Did you feel engaged and connected throughout, or were there parts where your interest waned?

It is not obligatory to compare an author with other writers in your review of the book. You can also make a comparative description of the works of one author in different periods of his creation. If you are familiar with other works by the author of the book you have chosen, do not be afraid to show off your erudition. Try to notice the similarities and divergences of books from different periods, concluding the hidden messages.

  • How does this book compare to other works by the same author (if you've read any)?
  • Are there other books in the same genre that you'd compare it to?
  • What sets this book apart from others in its genre?

Share Personal Reflections

A good book review strikes the perfect balance between analyzing objective and subjective factors. Therefore, the reviewer‘s personal opinions must be included in the structure of the essay. Share your emotions in your own words. Tell about the changes that occurred in your worldview as a result of reading the book. If the book did not cause you a strong response, analyze what exactly caused the lack of reaction.

  • What was your initial reaction upon finishing the book?
  • Which parts of the book resonated most with you?
  • Were there moments that provoked strong emotions, such as joy, sadness, anger, or excitement?

If there were quotes that particularly resonated with you, be sure to share them with other readers. Briefly tell why this or that author’s thought is special for you.

  • Were there any notable quotes or passages that you'd like to highlight?

When writing a book review, highlight the main educational message of the book and share your experience, whether the book motivated you to learn more about this book’s argument.

  • Did the book inspire you to read more about a particular subject or theme?
  • Would you be interested in reading a sequel or another book by the same author?

Tips for an Effective Review

You already know what is a book review, how to write a book review, and the importance of following the structure.. We’ve also reminded about reading the book in its entirety, and you have an idea of what exactly you need to include in a book review. Now, we will share with you actual tips on writing an exceptional book review and get an A+.

  • Stay objective

Remember, the reviewer needs to strike a balance between expressing own opinions and being objective. For example, you are not a fan of romance novels, and you are reviewing fiction. Even if you don’t like the kind, try to abstract yourself and professionally evaluate this literary work.

  • Provide an example

Any argument must be supported by evidence. Think about what real-life or an example from other literary works you can support your point.

  • Criticize the work, not the author

Always keep in mind that your constructive criticism concerns the author’s book, not the author himself. A professional reviewer knows how to separate a writer’s personal characteristics from his writing talent when they review a book.

  • Proofread

The golden rule of any descriptive essay, including a book review, is to check the spelling several times before submitting the work. Even the most profound essay with a non-trivial meaning can be spoiled by grammatical errors and wrong structure. Make sure all body paragraphs contain a thesis statement.

Book Reviews Have Never Been So Easy with Papersowl

Writing book reviews is an interesting assignment that tests students' creativity and analytical skills. When you have an idea of what is a book review, what it includes, and what factors you should pay attention to when you do a book review, you can easily cope with writing such an essay. Remember to be creative while following our book review tips, and the process will be easy and enjoyable. We also advise you to study an example of a book review. Our experienced team is always ready to help you out writing a review for a book of any complexity.

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