How to Write a Book Review: A Complete, Step-by-Step Guide

October 5, 2023

how to write a college level book review

There’s nothing more tedious and intimidating to a student than sorting through hundreds of physical and digital books to find information for a college assignment.

In the ideal world, there are thousands of books written by incredibly intelligent people across different categories. But how do readers identify what to read and what never to waste their time on?

Well, they look at book reviews. 

In this guide, you’ll learn how to write a book review, step-by-step. Whether you’re a seasoned reader or an avid explorer, you’ll find this lesson incredibly helpful.

What This Guide Covers

This guide covers the following:

  • What is a book review?
  • Understanding the purpose of a book review
  • The states of writing a book review
  • What format to use for a book review

In the end, you should be able to write a comprehensive book review that captures anyone’s attention at first glance.

If you already know the process involved in this kind of an assignment but you don’t have the time to dedicate to it, you can buy book review online from Help for Assessment. Our review team will help you complete the review within the shortest time possible.

Otherwise, keep reading to learn more about how to write a book review.

Key Takeaways

Before you write a book review, you must:

  • Learn about characters and show how they fit in a story.
  • Discover outstanding themes and explain how they contribute to the work.
  • Look into arguments and evaluate whether they fit in the story.
  • Determine the book’s primary idea and identify what makes it different from other ideas presented in the book.

What is a Book Review? 

what is book review

What is a Book Review?

A book review is an assignment that requires a student to assess a written work and outline its key points.

It serves to commend an author for making a compelling argument in their work, while also critiquing the quality of their writing by highlighting any significant weaknesses left unaddressed.

The purpose of a book review is to provide potential readers with a preview of what they can expect before diving into the book themselves.

By sharing your personal interest in (or lack thereof) of a book, your review can offer your audience a clear understanding of what they can anticipate from the author's work.

If we compare book review to a book report, we find that a book review is typically longer, ranging between 500 to 750 words or longer (and occasionally shorter) depending on an instructor's guidelines.

The key components to include in a book review are the author's name, genre (or category), title, a preface, and a book jacket that provides details contributing to the writer's work's overall appeal.

What’s the Purpose of a Book Review? 

what's the purpose of a book review

The objective of the review is to assess the book's theme, the writer's expertise, and the extent to which the author addresses the topic under investigation.

Additionally, the review examines the author's perspective to determine if the book's scope is appropriate for its intended audience.

More often than not, book review help potential readers to determine how well the book addresses the topic and if the author presents any groundbreaking ideas in their work prior to reading it.

Writing a strong book review necessitates complete engagement with the book. This means dedicating enough time to read the book and fully comprehend the message the author intends to convey.

Some questions to consider as you read the book for review purposes are:

  • Did the author carefully examine the existing evidence with attention to detail?
  • Does the author's approach contribute to the existing literature, or does it simply repeat what someone else wrote?
  • Does the author's work introduce new evidence or provide a fresh perspective on existing evidence?
  • Does the author ground their perspective within the discipline?

By scrutinizing these questions more closely, it becomes feasible to analyze and expound upon the book's themes, and subsequently employ sound judgment to assess the book's suitability for its intended audience.

What are the Elements of a Book Review?

There are three elements of a book review, and they’re as follows:

  • Analysis: This is the point in the review where readers can ascertain whether you consider the book good or exceptional. Your analysis evaluates the author's writing style and plot construction. This evaluation of the book's crucial components aids potential readers in determining if they should read the book or look elsewhere.
  • Basic Bibliographic Information: This section should contain essential details about the book, such as the title, the author's name, the publisher, and the publication date.
  • Summary of subject and themes: Summarizing the book's topic and primary themes, or the author's argument for nonfiction books, is a vital aspect of a book review. It's important to include information about the main points, characters, and the book's genre.

How to Write a Good Book Review 

how to write a good book review

The following are the steps to follow to write a comprehensive book review.

Follow them in the order in which they appear.

1. Read and Brainstorm

It is crucial to have a clear understanding of the book's content before you write a book review. Therefore, reading and brainstorming are the first step to getting started.

Begin by actively reading and contemplating the author's work. As you progress through the book, take note of the most significant aspects.

Bear in mind that a book review is not a mere retelling of a story.

As such, you should avoid focusing on character names and relationships.

Instead, concentrate on the message and analyze the use of language, primary and secondary themes, implicit meanings, and literary techniques employed by the author.

2. Take a Break, Then Internalize

Take a break between reading the book and writing the review. Use this time to unwind and engage in activities unrelated to writing, such as playing video games or pursuing other hobbies.

By taking this break, the book review you produce will likely be of higher quality than if you were to attempt to complete the assignment in one sitting.

3. Write the Book Review 

Taking a break after reading the book gave you enough time to internalize the material. Now you have to take your thoughts and put them out in words.

Write your book review in the form of an essay. Have an introduction, a thesis statement, a body, and a conclusion.

Your introduction should include the title, subtitles, cover, and author’s name. The thesis should be a brief description of the book. In other words, tell the reader main points from the book you’re reviewing.

In the body, there should be about 3 quotes from the novel. Besides summarizing the quotations in your own words, you should also give your point of view on them. One of the most important rules is to make sure that every point is in its own para graph.

Your conclusion should summarize your quotations and explanation. Your final sentence should be your opinion about the book.

Don’t worry if you run into writer’s block in the process. Take a break and add more thoughts into your review as they come. 

About the author 

Antony W is a professional writer and coach at Help for Assessment. He spends countless hours every day researching and writing great content filled with expert advice on how to write engaging essays, research papers, and assignments.

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