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Book Review Writing

Students are asked to write book reviews to analyze some written works. They include a short description of the major points discussed in the text and evaluation of weaknesses and strengths.

Please differentiate between a book review and a book report. These writing assignments have a lot in similar, but they are definitely not identical. When it comes to book report writing, it incorporates the discussion of what happened in the book. The writer should present the basic details about the work, its major themes, plot, characters, etc. The length of book report depends on the teacher’s instructions, but it usually takes around two pages of the written text. If you would like to know more about how to write a book report, please consult OWL resource.

From the other hand, apart from academic writing, composing book reviews is commonly seen in a great deal of professional works: journals, newspapers, magazines, etc. A common length of book reviews varies greatly, but the most typical word count is around 500-750 words. A book review is written from a personal perspective because the writer’s task is to state if he/she enjoyed reading a book, what were the downsides, what the author should have added or excluded, etc.

Before Exploring the Text

Before reading the text, you will have to take into account the basic elements about the book itself. Here is the list of questions that will guide you in the right direction:

  • Author: Write a full author’s name. Do you know any other works of this author? Did he/she win any awards? What can you tell about his/her typical writing style?
  • Genre: Indicate a genre of the book (romance, fantasy, fiction, non-fiction, etc.). Can you identify the author’s purpose of writing? What about a possible audience and its age groups?
  •  Title: Can you find any connections between the title and the text itself? Does it effectively get the message across? Is it compelling or vague for one’s understanding?
  • Preface/Introduction/Table of Contents: Does preface sound interesting to you? Did author present a clear introduction to understand the future sequence of events? What about a book organization? Does it have chapters or sections?
  • Printing and book cover: People say that book covers are small mini-reviews. After a careful analysis of the book jacket, you will be able to find some interesting details for comprehension. Does the book cover include maps, graphs, pictures, or any other visuals? Does the author use any unusual fonts that distract your attention?

As You Read

While reading the text, it is vital to make some notes with the key points about characters and plot. Since you will have to include a short summary of the book, taking notes should not be underestimated because you will save time while writing.

  • Characters: How many characters are in the text? Did you manage to identify primary and secondary characters? How do they interrelate and influence the storyline?
  • Style/Motifs/Themes: What themes and motifs did you manage to identify in the book? Are there any hidden motifs? Do you think that all readers will be able to recognize themes and motifs just like you did?
  • Argument: How did the author construct his/her argument? Did you manage to find enough evidential support of argumentation? Does the text reflect a clear argumentation line?
  • Central Ideas: State the key idea of the book. Do you find it interesting and innovative?
  • Quotes: Did you write down any interesting quotes? What made you remember these specific quotes?
  • Key Ideas: What is the main idea of the work? What makes it good, different, or groundbreaking?

Begin Writing

You should include a small summary of the read text. However, do not present too many details. You should provide the basic discussion of the plot, which will constitute the first part of your review writing.

The most important part in your book review is presenting your opinion. You should focus on the following details:

  • Always Remember the Audience: Assume that your target readers did not read the book. Therefore, you will present the key details about characters and themes. At the same time, do not think that your task is to enumerate the key details; you should make readers interested to explore your evaluation further. Did you find reading smooth and interesting?
  • Interesting Points: Now you will have to write about the most compelling places in the book. Did you agree or disagree with characters? Did the author engage you in the action? Do you think that author should have included some other writing elements to make reading productive?
  • Organization: Always have a clear writing pattern. Do not forget that review writing should include a small part of summarizing. You should find a perfect balance between a summary and evaluation. If you do not know how much text should be dedicated to each part, check your instructions.
  • Personal evaluation: Focus on one or two points from the text that appears the most memorable for you. What appeals did writer use (logical reasoning, appeal to emotions, etc.).
  • Reference: In the end of your book review, include information about the book and its publisher. You can also mention an ISBN number.


Before submission, always follow such steps:

  • Check if your spelling of the title and author’s name is correct.
  • Take a break and read your book review one more time. Assume that you did not read the book. Are your paragraphs logically organized?
  • Did you evaluate the book or included a summary at most?
  • Check if all your quotes are properly cited. Organize your paper around a specific citation style mentioned in the task file.

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