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.
Book Review Sample
Hear the Wind Sing is one of the most amazing books in literature. In essence, it is a literary piece of work by Haruki Murukami that was first published in June 1979 in one of the influential magazines in Japan. The story takes place in the country during the 1970 summer period when the unnamed protagonist gets to encounter one of his friends named Rat in a J’s bar when they had often met before. The author began his writing while in his late 20s as he was managing his Jazz bar one late night in his kitchen table. He wrote the book in the Japanese language although it has English translations in between to suggest it was meant to help the Japanese students who could be studying the English language. Although Murukami seemed to have experienced a self-imposed exile in the region of Mediterranean and even suffered alienation from his roots in Tokyo, he is still an expert in modern Japan prompting him to write the story in his own language. That is, he might have had an American influence during this time, but he still chooses to write the story from his own native setting. Subsequently, the early 20th-century fiction writers in Japan often chose the Japanese traditional ways, but the author acknowledged that was not necessary during that time. For this reason, none of his characters seem to be involved in this ideology because they are all enmeshed in the western culture and more so the American one. Nonetheless, as Murukami embraces the American culture, he never fails to corporate the Japanese style. For instance, he uses the American pop culture in certain sections of his works and at the same time uses the Japanese culture when it comes to referring to places or food. The main character in the story is Murukami who happens to be the author of the novel as well. First, Murukami seems to be restrained from the beginning almost to the end. That is, he has not acquired the ambivalent voice, which captures the silent conservatism and the frenetic energy of modern Japan. The relationship between the author and his friends runs more through silence. The quietness between them seems to be more of strength rather a weakness in their friendship. Subsequently, Murukami can be described as optimistic from the way he viewed life in the novel. That is, he was only a college student who was at home during summer holidays. He moves through his days minus a clear sense of purpose and at the same time wondering if he would ever make it in the future. From that, it is evident that he sees the world from a detached perspective that makes him press on despite the challenges. The interpretation of the book caption emanates as the life of the author who had just gone home during the university summer holidays but fails to acknowledge what exactly he is expected to do then. For this reason, all he does is lazy his days away while hanging around J’s bar where he meets his friend, Rat and helps her home after a drunken night out. Subsequently, it could be interpreted that the university life was a symbol of confusion and rebellion where the main character was quite sure of where he was going and could be stuck for some time before getting a definite direction. Murukami seemed as if the college life was stressful for him but he eventually managed his way through. Hear the wind sing is, therefore, a must read for all and sundry.