Book Review Writing

The main task of a book review is to give evaluation on a written book. Book review offers a short content description and discusses strong and weak points of the selected work.

Oftentimes, readers may confuse book reports and book reviews. It is necessary to remember that these types of work differ. Book report is aimed at discussing the plot, characters, and the major idea of the book under consideration. In most cases, book report requires 250 – 500 words. In case you are tasked to complete a book report assignment and you have no idea how to start it, you may find more detailed information using the OWL resource.

As for the book reviews, these writing assignments are often given to college students. However, one can find them in a number of professional publications such as academic newspapers, journals, and magazines. The common word count requirement for a book review is 500 – 700 words. In some cases, it can be shorter or even longer. Usually a book review is written to help the reader understand the nature of a book, get to know whether the author of a book review liked it and find out more details about buying this book.

Prior to Reading a Book

Prior to reading a book, it is recommended to take into consideration all the elements that should be included in the review. The following points may be helpful:

  • Book Author: find some information about the author. Has he/she written anything else? Does he/she have any book rewards? Has the author a particular writing style?
  • Genre of the book: what kind of book is it: nonfiction, fiction, poetry, history, etc.? Who can be the target audience? What is the major objective of the selected book?
  • Title of the book: Does the title fit in the book? Does it fit to the overall message of the book? Is it eye catching? Why?
  • Introduction/Preface, table of Contents: Can you find any revealing information in the introduction/preface? Is there any introduction? Does the author provide any judgments or assumptions? How is the selected book structured: chapters or sections?
  • Printing/Cover/Book Jacket: Book jackets resemble small reviews. Can you find any curious details in the book jacket? Can you see any graphs, pictures or maps? Do the page cut, binding, or maybe typescript take away from the selected book?

When You Start Reading

When you start reading, choose the way you will organize the background or the summary of your book review. Start taking notes on the major points of the book, its main characters and themes.

  • Main Characters: Can you find any characters in the book? Who is the main character? How do the characters develop the plot? Do you like the characters?
  • Style/Motifs/Themes: What kind of motifs and themes can be observed in the book? Do they make a serious contribution? Do they make any sense? How can you describe the author’s writing style? Is it understandable to all potential readers? Why?
  • Main Argument: How is the argument presented in the book? How does the author support her/his argument? Does the book provide support to the main argument?
  • Main Ideas: what are the main book ideas? Can it be considered good or simply different?
  • Any Quotes: Have you noticed any outstanding quotes? Can you quote the author to demonstrate his/her writing talent or describe the general feeling of the book?

When You Feel Ready to Start Writing

It is recommended to start with the background or short book summary, but please do not use too many details. A number of book reviews are limited to few paragraphs or simply describe the main action in the book. If you provide a book review of a nonfictional work, you need to give general idea of the main argument presented in a book avoiding any details.

The last part of your book review has to provide your own point of view on the book. So, when you feel ready to start writing your book review, you have to take into account the following:

    • Create a Background, Take into Account the Target Readers: You have to take in to account the fact that your target readers have not read the book. That is why your task is to present the characters and main idea deliberately and with care. Think how you can make a summary of the main idea and characters in order to help the potential readers to become interested in the book. Is the content of the selected book clear enough for the potential readers? Is there a possibility that some readers may find the book too difficult for comprehension?
    • Characters and Minor Principals: You need to discuss the main issues tackled in the book. It is impossible to describe every idea and/or character present in the book. Mention the characters and ideas that you find correct or incorrect. Has the book author researched some other issues? What are they?
    • Structure: The main aim of any book review is to provide critical evaluation of the content. There is no need to simply inform potential readers about the text. You have to make sure that your make a short summary in order to leave some room for evaluation. In addition, it s recommended to find balance between evaluation and short summary. In case you were given a book review task in college, it will be better to ask your tutor for clarifications regarding the required ratio. Usually it is 50/50.
    • Evaluation: Select a couple of points while providing a discussion. What did you like? How this book can be compared with other works of the same author or with other books written on the same topic? Are the main themes, motifs and ideas presented in the book effective? Do you find this book appealing to you on logical and emotional levels?
    • Price/Publisher: it is recommended to include such information in a book review. Book price is usually mentioned in the very end of the review. You may also include ISBN and the year of publication.


When you are almost ready with your book review, take into account the following aspects:

  • Check the spelling of the name of the author, names of the characters, publisher names and any possible terms used in the book.
  • Try to check whether summary is informative enough. Will it be understandable for potential readers? Is there any sense in your argument regarding the content?
  • If you include direct quotes in your review, do they support your main argument? Please check all the quotes used for accuracy.

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