The value of a book review can never be underestimated. Whenever we want something more than a book abstract, the review format is what we should be looking for. It saves readers heaps of time by providing the gist of the book in just one or two pages. Readers don't have to go through two or three hundred pages of a book to see if it is what they are looking for. Having to read a piece of fiction is one thing, but when you need to go through hundreds of, say, scholarly books and you need to keep up the pace, you understand the value of book review writing. But let's get to the core.
Book reviews are different from book summaries, where you have to enumerate characters, sum up the events and so on. Book review writing requires you to state your opinion regarding the book and provide critical commentary. In this sense, a book review is related to critical appraisal or critical essay.
Preparation before Reading
Preparation is the key to success. You will always be at an advantage if you know the context of the book and author, i.e. when it was written, what inspired the writer to work on it, how he prepared for it and so on. You will be able to understand the product better and understand the historical circumstances it was created in. Plus, it will show you have taken extra steps to prepare, taken some time to investigate and learned the details. That will give you an extra credit in your class.
Reading & Note-Taking
Once you have gathered the background information, you are ready to dig in. Sit down with a sheet of paper and a pencil and write out the important stuff. Here is what you should state in your book review:
- Full Title
- Author Name & Last Name
- Publishing House
- Year of Publication
- Edition and Number
Include your overall impression into the introduction to state your opinion about the book you are commenting on. Speak about the purpose of the book, its intended audience, and the general message. You should also introduce your main thought (or thesis statement) and maintain it throughout the paper. Once you are done with the introductory part, proceed to the body, where you should dwell in greater detail on the ideas expressed in the introduction, support them with evidence, point strengths and weaknesses of the book and so on. Conclusion reiterates and sums up the thoughts from the introduction and body paragraphs.
Post writing refers to proofreading and editing phase of writing. Once you are done with the draft, go ahead and put your book review aside. It works best to put it aside for a few hours or days and then return to read through it once again. The second pass will help you spot grammar and spelling mistakes will show if your book review needs to be structured differently, whether or not it's convincing to the reader and so on. As soon as proofreading is done, you are ready to publish and/or submit your paper.
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