October 4, 2016

Style Guide #1

How to write a basic book review

This is one of your most basic book review formats. If you are just starting out, this will be perfect for you to follow and get helpful tips to improve your writing.

*Remember, the book review is your own- you don’t have to follow everything we say, make it your own

One of the major things that confuses most writings is the difference between book reviews and book reports- let’s first clarify the difference.

Book Review VS Book Report

The book report is a simple explanation of the author’s background and a summary of the plot of the story while a book review is an analysis that covers the themes or ideas in the text in a much more in depth and critical manner. While a book report just provides information about the text, the book review is a diagnostic that explores the text’s significance and relevance to the time and place in which the story takes place. To avoid confusing the two, just remember that any custom book report rehashes the story while the book review is an examination of its contents.

For more information go to:

Your opinion is important—don’t be afraid to voice it in a book review

  • a book review is not the same as a book report
  • a book review is a critical analysis that assesses the strengths and weaknesses
  • resist the temptation to summarise the character, plot, theme, and setting
  • be able to tell readers whether the book is interesting, thorough, original, and worth spending money on

Preparing to write a review

  • you must first read the book
  • make quick notes about your impressions as you read
  • as yourself questions as you read
  • if non-fiction, as yourself, “Does the author have a clear argument that he or she is trying to prove? Is it original? Does he or she prove the argument successfully? Are the arguments sound? Is it well-researched and well-written? Does the author omit any information that would have been relevant?”
  • if fiction, ask yourself, “Is this work original? Are the characters well-rounded and believable? Does the plot twist, turn, and thicken, or does it plod along? Does the book address universal themes? Is the dialogue realistic?”
  • make notes of the author’s writing style: Is it irreverent or dry? Faced or excruciatingly detailed?

Get to the point

  • when you start to write, think about what your thesis will be
    • will your review be favourable, or do you plan on advising your readers to spend their money elsewhere?
    • make your thesis known in the first few lines of your review
    • it will help your reader focus and provide you with an argument for your review

Don’t forget the details

  • briefly include some biographical information about the author at the beginning of your review
    • is this his or her first book?
    • if not, what types of books has he or she written before?
    • how has his or her background qualified his or her to write about this particular subject?
  • be sure to include the book’s complete title, the number of pages it has and its publisher
  • before you launch your analysis, briefly tell the reader what the book is about, its genre, and who its intended audience is
    • is the book designed for mass commercial appeal or for a select group of academic specialists?
    • this will let readers know if they are interested in reading the entire review

Support your argument with direct quotes

  • carefully select passages from the book you are reviewing to support your argument
  • these passages will help readers understand what you mean when you write that the book is a tender love story, a murder mystery, or an adventure story
  • as a book review is generally quite short (less than 1,000 words), we suggest selecting brief passages

General Tips

  • try to use a natural, informal tone
  • a book review is not rocket science; you are simply communicating your impressions and opinions of an author’s work
  • always remember to edit and proofread your review multiple times before publishing it

For more information check out:

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