Have you ever watched a movie because someone recommended it? In the same way, a person can decide to read a book because they saw a book review. A great book review usually observes a book and analyses its intent; it checks for coherence in the purpose of the book and recommends to the audience what they may benefit from reading it.
You should note that a book review is different from a book summary and book description. While a book summary and book description, as the names imply, may summarise and describe a book, a book review on the other hand is a much more critical endeavour that requires a systematic and analytical approach. A book review might include a summary or description of the book, but needs more than that to be a book review.
But how do you write a book review? It may seem like a daunting task, especially if it is your first time, but these 10 simple steps we are about to share with you will help you sail more smoothly the next time you have a book review task at hand.
Here are 10 steps you can follow to write your first book review:
Step 1: Research, research, research.
Broadly speaking, doing anything for the first time can become less daunting the more you learn about it. This is definitely true for a book review. Do your research: read articles about how to write a book review (just like this one), read samples of book reviews – especially ones that model a review style that appeals to you, find out everything you can about what a book review requires. Staying updated with information like this will help you write a book review like a pro! It is a very good thing that you are reading this article right now, you are on the right track.
Step 2: Create an outline.
Preparing an outline before you craft your first draft will save you a lot of time. By now, you know what a good book review looks like, so create an outline that reflects what you want to accomplish with your own review. Think about what you want to look out for in the book you are about to review; you can also think about what you want to include in the introduction, body and conclusion of your review.
Step 3: Prepare helpful questions.
Now, make a list of questions that will guide you as you move on. For example, what stood out the most to you in the book? What’s the one thing you think could have been done better with the book? It could be anything. What do you think about the book title? What about the plot: did you find plot holes? How did the characters impress you? Perhaps, you really connected to a particular character, what about them drew you in? Do you think the author did justice as far as executing the book in the best possible way? There is really no end to the questions you can ask.
Step 4: Read the book.
Having highlighted key questions to look out for, it is time to get down to reading the book. Do not hesitate to write down your thoughts in response to the questions you have listed in the previous step as you read. But make sure to keep an open mind too, reading the book may open your eyes to even more questions you didn’t think about at first. You can mark or write down relevant quotes, statements or even parts of the book that you want to appear in your review. There is no limit to the number of times you can read a book before writing a review. The more you interact with a book, the better-positioned you become to evaluate it.
Step 5: Who is your audience?
At this point, it is important to identify the audience you are writing for. This is because you want to write in the right language and tone for that audience; you want your review to resonate with the people you have in mind while writing it. Knowing your audience is also important when considering what you want to include in your review.
Step 6: Write the introduction. Tell us a little about the book.
Recall the outline you created in Step 2, and how you thought about what to include in the introduction? It’s time to execute that. In the introduction, you may want to talk about the book cover, its title, the author’s name and such. It’s a good time to give a brief book description and/or book summary.
Step 7: Write the body. Go crazy with it, maybe.
This is the point where you flesh out all the relevant thoughts you came up with in Step 3 and Step 4. Present your thoughts in a clear, rational way. It is okay to go crazy with it, you are going to edit anyway (more on this later), but remember it’s only a review, and it is ideal to be as concise as possible. This is also the point where you highlight quotes and parts of the book that you noted earlier.
Step 8: Write a conclusion: it’s a summary of your thoughts and impressions of the book.
Like the other parts of your review, it is good to keep your conclusion straightforward: you only want to raise the central matters of your review, alongside your general assessment. Keep in mind that this may be the highlight of the review for your reader since you may give your final assessment of the book at this point. Wrap it up with a strong final sentence.
Step 9: Give the book a star rating.
This is totally optional, but giving a star rating will provide a quick snapshot of your opinion on the book. Of course you may choose to rate the book on a scale of 5 or 10, or you could go all out and separate your rating by various classifications such as plot, character, writing style, and so on.
Step 10: Edit and Proofread
This is where you fine-tune your work and prune it of all irrelevant and unnecessary parts. Go over the draft diligently and make necessary changes and corrections. Improve the readability of your review by looking out for grammatical errors and typos – you don’t want those to throw your readers off and make them question your ability to provide a great assessment.
If you have completed this last step, then congratulations! You have successfully written your first book review.
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