Book Review Guidelines
by, 5-16-12 at 2:33 PM (221 Views)
Book Reviews: How to Write Book Reviews
A book review is both a description and an evaluation of a book. It should focus on the book's purpose, contents, and authority.
Scan the Book's Preliminaries
Before beginning to read, consider the following:
1. Title - What does it suggest?
2. Preface - Provides important information on the author's purpose in writing the book and will help you to determine the success of the work.
3. Table of Contents - Tells you how the book is organized and will aid in determining the author's main ideas and how they are developed - chronologically, topically, etc.
Read the Text
Record impressions as you read and note effective passages for quoting. Keep these questions in mind:
1. What is the general field or genre, and how does the book fit into it? (Use outside sources to familiarize yourself with the field, if necessary.)
2. From what point of view is the work written?
3. What is the author's style? Is it formal or informal? Does it suit the intended audience? If a work of fiction, what literary devices does the author use?
4. Are concepts clearly defined? How well are the author's ideas developed? What areas are covered/not covered? Why? This helps to establish the book's authority.
5. If a work of fiction, make notes on such elements as character, plot, and setting, and how they relate to the theme of the book. How does the author delineate his characters? How do they develop? What is the plot structure?
6. How accurate is the information in the book? Check outside sources if necessary.
7. If relevant, make note of the book's format - layout, binding, typography, etc. Are there maps, illustrations? Do they aid understanding?
8. Check the back matter. Is the index accurate? What sources did the author use - primary or secondary? How does he make use of them? Make note of important omissions.
9. Finally, what has the book accomplished? Is further work needed? Compare the book to others by this author or by others. (Use the listing in the bibliography.)
Consult Additional Sources
Try to find further information about the author - his/her reputation, qualifications, influences, etc. - any information that is relevant to the book being reviewed and that would help to establish the author's authority. Knowledge of the literary period and of critical theories can also be helpful to your review. Your professor and/or reference librarian will be able to suggest sources to use.
Prepare an Outline
Carefully review your notes and attempt to unify your impressions into a statement that will describe the purpose or thesis of your review. Then, outline the arguments that support your thesis. Your arguments should develop the thesis in a logical manner.
Write the Draft
Skim your notes again; then, using the outline as a guide and referring to notes when necessary, begin writing. Your book review should include the following:
1. Preliminary Information - the complete bibliographic citation for the work ie. title in full, author, place, publisher, date of publication, edition statement, pages, special features (maps, colour plates, etc.), price and ISBN.
Under the Dragon
Travels in a betrayed land
London: Harper Collins, 1998
0 00 257013 0
2. Introduction - Try to capture the reader's attention with your opening sentence. The introduction should state your central thesis, and set the tone of the review.
3. Development - Develop your thesis using supporting arguments as set out in your outline. Use description, evaluation, and if possible explanation of why the author wrote as he/she did. Use quotations to illustrate important points or peculiarities.
4. Conclusion - If your thesis has been well argued, the conclusion should follow naturally. It can include a final assessment or simply restate your thesis. Do not introduce new material at this point.
Revise the Draft
1. Allow some time to elapse before going over your review, to gain perspective.
2. Carefully read through the text, looking for clarity and coherence.
3. Correct grammar and spelling.
4. Verify quotes for proper foot-noting.
How to Write a Book Review
A book review is a description, critical analysis, and an evaluation on the quality, meaning, and significance of a book, not a retelling. It should focus on the book's purpose, content, and authority. A critical book review is not a book report or a summary. It is a reaction paper in which strengths and weaknesses of the material are analyzed. It should include a statement of what the author has tried to do, evaluates how well (in the opinion of the reviewer) the author has succeeded, and presents evidence to support this evaluation.
There is no right way to write a book review. Book reviews are highly personal and reflect the opinions of the reviewer. A review can be as short as 50-100 words, or as long as 1500 words, depending on the purpose of the review.
The following are standard procedures for writing book reviews; they are suggestions, not formulae that must be used.
1. Write a statement giving essential information about the book: title, author, first copyright date, type of book, general subject matter, special features (maps, color plates, etc.), price and ISBN.
2. State the author’s purpose in writing the book. Sometimes authors state their purpose in the preface or the first chapter. When they do not, you may arrive at an understanding of the book’s purpose by asking yourself these questions:
a. Why did the author write on this subject rather than on some other subject?
b. From what point of view is the work written?
c. Was the author trying to give information, to explain something technical, to convince the reader of a belief’s validity by dramatizing it in action?
d. What is the general field or genre, and how does the book fit into it? (Use outside sources to familiarize yourself with the field, if necessary.) Knowledge of the genre means understanding the art form. and how it functions.
e. Who is the intended audience?
f. What is the author's style? Is it formal or informal? Evaluate the quality of the writing style by using some of the following standards: coherence, clarity, originality, forcefulness, correct use of technical words, conciseness, fullness of development, fluidity. Does it suit the intended audience?
g. Scan the Table of Contents, it can help understand how the book is organized and will aid in determining the author's main ideas and how they are developed - chronologically, topically, etc.
g. How did the book affect you? Were any previous ideas you had on the subject changed, abandoned, or reinforced due to this book? How is the book related to your own course or personal agenda? What personal experiences you've had relate to the subject?
h. How well has the book achieved its goal?
i. Would you recommend this book or article to others? Why?
3. State the theme and the thesis of the book.
a. Theme: The theme is the subject or topic. It is not necessarily the title, and it is usually not expressed in a complete sentence. It expresses a specific phase of the general subject matter.
b. Thesis: The thesis is an author’s generalization about the theme, the author’s beliefs about something important, the book’s philosophical conclusion, or the proposition the author means to prove. Express it without metaphor or other figurative language, in one declarative sentence.
Title: We Had it Made
General Subject Matter: Religious Intolerance
Theme: The effects of religious intolerance on a small town
Thesis: Religious intolerance, a sickness of individuals, contaminates an entire social group
4. Explain the method of development-the way the author supports the thesis. Illustrate your remarks with specific references and quotations. In general, authors tend to use the following methods, exclusively or in combination.
a. Description: The author presents word-pictures of scenes and events by giving specific details that appeal to the five senses, or to the reader’s imagination. Description presents background and setting. Its primary purpose is to help the reader realize, through as many sensuous details as possible, the way things (and people) are, in the episodes being described.
b. Narration: The author tells the story of a series of events, usually presented in chronological order. In a novel however, chronological order may be violated for the sake of the plot. The emphasis in narration, in both fiction and non-fiction, is on the events. Narration tells what has happened. Its primary purpose is to tell a story.
c. Exposition: The author uses explanation and analysis to present a subject or to clarify an idea. Exposition presents the facts about a subject or an issue as clearly and impartially as possible. Its primary purpose is to explain.
d. Argument: The author uses the techniques of persuasion to establish the truth of a statement or to convince the reader of its falsity. The purpose is to persuade the reader to believe something and perhaps to act on that belief. Argument takes sides on an issue. Its primary purpose is to convince.
5. Evaluate the book for interest, accuracy, objectivity, importance, thoroughness, and usefulness to its intended audience. Show whether the author's main arguments are true. Respond to the author's opinions. What do you agree or disagree with? And why? Illustrate whether or not any conclusions drawn are derived logically from the evidence. Explore issues the book raises. What possibilities does the book suggest? What has the author omitted or what problems were left unsolved? What specific points are not convincing? Compare it with other books on similar subjects or other books by the same as well as different authors. Is it only a reworking of earlier books; a refutation of previous positions? Have newly uncovered sources justified a new approach by the author? Comment on parts of particular interest, and point out anything that seems to give the book literary merit. Relate the book to larger issues.
6. Try to find further information about the author - reputation, qualifications, influences, biographical, etc. - any information that is relevant to the book being reviewed and that would help to establish the author's authority. Can you discern any connections between the author's philosophy, life experience and the reviewed book?
7. If relevant, make note of the book's format - layout, binding, typography, etc. Are there maps, illustrations? Do they aid understanding?
8. Check the back matter. Is the index accurate? Check any end notes or footnotes as you read from chapter to chapter. Do they provide important additional information? Do they clarify or extend points made in the body of the text? Check any bibliography the author may provide. What kinds of sources, primary or secondary, appear in the bibliography? How does the author make use of them? Make note of important omissions.
9. Summarize (briefly), analyze, and comment on the book’s content. State your general conclusions. Pay particular attention to the author's concluding chapter. Is the summary convincing? List the principal topics, and briefly summarize the author’s ideas about these topics, main points, and conclusions. Use specific references and quotations to support your statements. If your thesis has been well argued, the conclusion should follow naturally. It can include a final assessment or simply restate your thesis. Do not introduce new material at this point.
Some Considerations When Reviewing specific genres:
Fiction (above all, do not give away the story)
1.From what sources are the characters drawn?
2.What is the author's attitude toward his characters?
3.Are the characters flat or three-dimensional?
4.Does character development occur?
5.Is character delineation direct or indirect?
1.What is/are the major theme(s)?
2.How are they revealed and developed?
3.Is the theme traditional and familiar, or new and original?
4.Is the theme didactic, psychological, social, entertaining, escapist, etc. in purpose or intent?
1.How are the various elements of plot (eg, introduction, suspense, climax, conclusion) handled?
2.What is the relationship of plot to character delineation?
3.To what extent, and how, is accident employed as a complicating and/or resolving force?
4.What are the elements of mystery and suspense?
5.What other devices of plot complication and resolution are employed?
6.Is there a sub-plot and how is it related to the main plot?
7.Is the plot primary or secondary to some of the other essential elements of the story (character, setting, style, etc.)?
1.What are the "intellectual qualities" of the writing (e.g., simplicity, clarity)?
2.What are the "emotional qualities" of the writing (e.g., humour, wit, satire)?
3..What are the "aesthetic qualities" of the writing (e.g., harmony, rhythm)?
4.What stylistic devices are employed (e.g., symbolism, motifs, parody, allegory)?
5.How effective is dialogue?
1.What is the setting and does it play a significant role in the work?
2.Is a sense of atmosphere evoked, and how?
3.What scenic effects are used and how important and effective are they?
4.Does the setting influence or impinge on the characters and/or plot?
How to Write a Good Book Review
A good book review is much like a book report, but in case of our today’s paper students need to give an answer for the main question: “Would I recommend this book to read or not?”. Writing a good book review students forget about such an important nuance and even if the paper is written great, this can strongly influence your grade. After reading this article you will understand the main purpose and the meaning of a book review. Our good book review writing tips will assists you in creating a paper for an A+. Follow the guidelines how to write a good book review essay now:
Step One: Reading a book
Very often students want to save a lot of time and instead of reading the whole book they prefer to read some critical reviews written on the same book by other authors. Actually, it is very useful but this step should be just a supporting one. Remember one thing – if you want to do a good book review you will have to write the whole book. Moreover just like in case of a book report we would recommend you to take careful notes while reading. In case of writing a book review consider on your own feelings and impressions and write them down to your notes.
Note: You can buy book reviews online! All custom book reviews are written by professional writers.
Step Two: Description
Do not wait for too long before starting to write as far as it is very important to have a fresh feelings and memories. Writing a book review do not give away too much information – you can just discourage reading a book if a reader will know every nuance of the book. You need to present just a brief description and give an answer to “what this book is about?”, “why people may want to read it and why it would be useful for them?”. Do not afraid to write negative things about a book you read – you are free to write your personal view as far as you are an author. Write a book review the way so reader would make a decision for himself, tell if you would recommend or not this book and why.
Step Three: Examples and comparison
Ask yourself what kind of reviews do you prefer to read. When reading about a new film – do you like when author write in a boring and too formal style? So make your paper not just a common book review but add something new. Make your fantasy to work. Compare the book you read with another author’s writings or with other writers in this field. Add some examples to support your points – this will give your reader an understanding of the style the book is written with.
Step Four: Conclusion
In the final part of your paper you should highlight some important things. Tell your opinion for whom this book is written for and who may want to read it. How good this book in comparison with other author’s books and why? Would you like to read it once more? If you will give a respond for all these questions in a stylish form – you can be sure that your book review will be rated for an A+!
Follow our writing tips and have fun writing a book review, because this is one of those writing where you are free to write your personal point of view and present it to your classmates, friends and other people. Our book review guidelines will provide each student with professional book review help to get the best grade in your class!
How to Write a Book Review
by Bill Asenjo
A book review describes, analyzes and evaluates. The review conveys an opinion, supporting it with evidence from the book
Do you know how to write a book review? I didn't. And even though I knew I didn't, that didn't stop me from firmly inserting my foot in my mouth by agreeing to conduct a book review writing workshop for my local Barnes & Noble. I blithely assured myself it would simply be a matter of picking up Book Reviews for Dummies, or something to that effect. Au contraire. It's easier to find information on bomb-making than book review writing.
So I did what any other resourceful writer on deadline would do; I panicked. Well, for a moment. Quickly composing myself I scrounged the library and internet for every conceivable source that even hinted at the term "book review." What follows is the result of my gleaning
Before reading, consider:
Title - What does it suggest?
Preface or Introduction - Provides important information about the author's intentions or the scope of the book. Can you identify any limitations? Has the author ignored important aspects of the subject?
Table of Contents - Shows how the book's organized -- main ideas, how they're developed (chronologically, topically, etc.)
Points to ponder as you read the entire book:
What's the general field or genre? Does the book fit?
From what point of view is the book written?
Do you agree or disagree with the author's point of view?
Make notes as you read, passages to quote in your review.
Can you follow the author's thesis, "common thread"?
What is the author's style? Formal? Informal? Suitable for the intended audience?
Are concepts well defined? Is the language clear and convincing? Are the ideas developed? What areas are covered, not covered?How accurate is the information?
Is the author's concluding chapter, the summary, convincing?
If there are footnotes, do they provide important information? Do they clarify or extend points made in the text?
If relevant, make note of the book's format - layout, binding, etc. Are there maps, illustrations? Are they helpful?
Is the index accurate? What sources did the author use -- primary, secondary? Make note of important omissions.
What did the book accomplish? Is more work needed? Compare the book to others by this author, or books in this field by other authors. (Use the books listed in the bibliography.)
Writing the Review:
Include title, author, place, publisher, publication date, edition, pages, special features (maps, etc.), price, ISBN.
Hook the reader with your opening sentence. Set the tone of the review. Be familiar with the guidelines -- some editors want plot summaries; others don't. Some want you to say outright if you recommend a book, but not others.
Review the book you read -- not the book you wish the author had written.
If this is the best book you have ever read, say so -- and why. If it's merely another nice book, say so.
Include information about the author-- reputation, qualifications, etc. -- anything relevant to the book and the author's authority.
Think about the person reading your review. Is this a librarian buying books for a collection? A parent who wants a good read-aloud? Is the review for readers looking for information about a particular topic, or for readers searching for a good read?
Your conclusion should summarize, perhaps include a final assessment. Do not introduce new material at this point.
To gain perspective, allow time before revising.
Writing a Fiction Book Review
Note: You don't have to answer every question -- they're suggestions!
Points to Ponder:
What was the story about?
Who were the main characters?
Were the characters credible?
What did the main characters do in the story?
Did the main characters run into any problems? Adventures?
Who was your favorite character? Why?
Your personal experiences
Could you relate to any of the characters in the story?
Have you ever done or felt some of the things, the characters did?
Did you like the book?
What was your favorite part of the book?
Do you have a least favorite part of the book?
If you could change something, what would it be? (If you wish you could change the ending, don't reveal it!)
Would you recommend this book to another person?
What type of person would like this book?
Things to Bear in Mind:
Don't be intimidated by famous authors -- many have written mediocre books.
Don't review books by people you know, love, or hate.
Do you want to be a book reviewer? Start by doing. Write book reviews for local newspapers. If they don't have a book review section, start one.
If you have a specialty -- romance, mystery, dark fantasy -- cultivate it, become an expert.