A Book Review Is Easier than It Seems

“The book to read is not the one that thinks for you but the one that makes you think.”

Harper Lee

How many times did you ask yourself where to start when analyzing a literature work? Many assignments don’t give particular instructions concerning what aspects of the work should be discussed.  In such cases, you need to find it out by yourself. Further, you will find a list of some things you need to consider when writing a book review:

  • Select and organize your sources. Besides the book itself that you are reviewing look for critical articles about your chosen work or research analysis made by other people.
  • Define the type of literature. In other words state whether it is fiction or non-fiction.
  • Answer who wrote the book/novel/poem/play/short story,?
  • Introduce some biographical facts concerning writer’s life that are tied to a particular work that is analyzed.
  • Discuss cultural, social, moral, ethical, philosophical, artistic, and any other presented aspects of the work.
  • Discuss what literary techniques writer uses in his writing
  • Present arguments of other critics about the work and public’s reaction to it
  • Compare and contrast the particular work with some other literature pieces from the same movement, time period, language or genre.
  • Define the level of quality and effect on literature in whole done by the reviewed book.
  • Indicate briefly your own opinion on the matter of work.

What if it is not enough?

All the mentioning above should be presented when you’re writing a serious book review. However, there are cases when you need to analyze and discuss some exact question, problem or aspect of the work. In such a case, everything mentioned above is only a background of the core essence of your review. If you yourself decide what to write about consider these tips when writing your review:

  • Define what you particularly liked about the work.
  • Define what you particularly disliked about the work.
  • Try to prove your opinion by presenting facts, findings, critical acclaims or public dislike concerning the book.
  • Try to define the purpose that your chosen book serves. Why was it written?
  • Evaluate a theme of work
  • Tell how plot or structure is organized

Create a larger perspective on your work

By rereading and quoting put the reviewed work in a wider context. If it is a piece of English romantic poetry, say about English literature in whole at that time. If it is a detective genre, tell about its basic principles. If you are writing about science-fiction story, connect with the technological progress. Depending on the situation, you should either extend or narrow your topic.

Don’t forget about the rules

Understand that goal of the review is either grading the work or trying to understand author’s message that was put in work. Often it is both. It could also be an evaluating of some exact messages regarding some particular aspects of the analyzed work.

The structure of your work is crucially important. Don’t write using the flow of consciousness. You should divide your text into paragraphs with the first paragraph being the introduction and the last one being the conclusion.

You should follow all the necessary requirements of the academic paper. There should be a thesis statement, and a works cited page. Anything quoted or paraphrased must be cited.

It is not just a review. It is your review.

Though when reviewing a book you are guided by your opinion you should not use only your own judgment. It is unprofessional and will make your review look too subjective. Always gather sources when analyzing the work and be prepared that your own point of view cannot be entirely right and may even be wrong. But the direction of your review depends on it and that is why having your own opinion matters.


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