How to Write a Book Review

Before you start

You may want to read about book reviewing. For books about writing book reviews, look up BOOK REVIEWING in the Library Catalogue. Two books which might be useful are:

Webster's New World Student Writing Handbook
QEII Reference PE 1408 S6577 1988

How To Write Book Reports
QEII Reference PN 98 B7 T45 (ON RESERVE)

You may also want to read book reviews that other people have written. For help in finding reviews, ask at the Research Help Desk.

Steps to follow

  1. Choose the book.
  2. Read the book.
  3. Make notes about the book.
  4. Think about the content of the book in an effort to arrive at an appropriate theme for the review.
  5. Organize your notes into an outline which incorporates your theme.
  6. Write the review.
  7. Edit and revise the review before recopying it.

What to put in a book review

You should identify the book by giving:

  • the author
  • the full title
  • the publisher
  • the place and date of publication
  • the edition

You might use some or all of the following approaches in your review:

  • outline the contents of the book
  • evaluate and make critical comments on the book
  • use quotations or references to the new ideas in the book to illustrate your theme
  • identify the author's qualifications, and any other personal information that is relevant to your discussion of the book
  • place the book with reference to the author's other writings
  • compare the book with a similar work by a contemporary
  • point out the author's intentions, including the audience for which the book is intended
  • relate the work to a social or literary trend

What to leave out of a book review

Usually a book review does not include:

  • footnotes
  • a bibliography
  • long quotations from the book or other reviews
  • information about the author's life that is not related to the theme of the review

Reminders

  • There is no right way to write a book review. Book reviews are highly personal and reflect the opinions of the reviewer.
  • A review can be as short as 50-100 words, or as long as 1500 words, depending on the purpose of the review.
  • Before writing the review, be sure that you understand what type of review is required for your assignment.
  • Keep your audience in mind! This will help define the emphasis you put on various parts of the review.