As it is the case with almost all reviews, a book review does not have tightly prescribed, established rules, given that its style and formatting largely depend on the type of book in question and the context in which the review is presented. Understanding and experiencing the book is a rather personal thing, which in turn means every book review is a mostly subjective analysis of the work in question. Here we tried to organise some tips and talk about general guidelines for approaching and writing this type of article.
Things to know before you start writing
You need to get a grasp of the genre of the book, as well as the ideas promoted in it. It is highly recommended not to start penning your article before you do thorough background research on the matter covered in the book. You need to consult relevant sources and possible previous literature in order to get a broader, more objective picture of the book and the themes covered in it.
It is necessary to be aware of who the book was written for. If, for example, you need to review a children’s book, you must attempt to imagine what children would want from it. If you are writing an article on a horror book, and you happen not to be the biggest fan of horrors, you should attempt to suppress your subjectivity and try to assess the book objectively.
Some journals and other publications might require you to follow certain guidelines while writing your review, which is why it is important to inform yourself in advance and get acquainted with the rules in time.
The recommended structure of a book review
- Introduction – which usually contains general information, including the full name of the book, ISBN, publisher information, publishing date, information on additional features such as illustrations and maps, and the price.
- Summary – which should be a brief account of the topics covered in the book.
- Paragraphs arguing points of interest – in which it is important to comprehensively cover all that you deem significant about the book. In case you are writing a general review, be sure to make a list of important topics as exhaustive as possible – do not miss relevant details.
- Stating your opinion – be sure to give your ideas and opinions on the book’s important points.
- Conclusion – this is a place to give your recommendation for the book, in case you think it was worth recommending. You should refrain from introducing any new points in the conclusion.
After you finish with the first draft of your review, it is recommended that you leave it alone for some time before you start with making changes in the subsequent drafts. If you have someone you trust on the matter, you can even give them your review for proofreading and their opinion.
- Learn to read while simultaneously taking notes on what you read. This way you will be sure not to miss important moments that can sometimes be forgotten by the time you finish the book.
- Watch out for spoilers if you are writing a fiction book review. Nobody wants to be revealed parts of the plot while only trying to inform themselves on the book.
For more information on book reviews and copy editing click here.