How to Write a Book Review: Putting your Thoughts into Words

how to write a book reviewBook reviews can mean an increase in sales for a new book, or they can be the death of a book before it hits the mainstream market.  Prospective readers looking for their next paperback adventure may base their decisions on the reviews that they have read online or in their local paper.  So what does a book review entail?

A book review should focus on the books purpose and content.  That being said, there really isn’t a right way, or a wrong way to write a book review.  In much the same way that you can’t tell someone that the way that they’re feeling is wrong, you can’t tell the reviewer that how they feel about the book is wrong.  As a book reviewer, you want to make sure to give your honest opinion as well as inform the audience on key points of the book.  Although there really isn’t a wrong way to write a review, there are key pieces of information that should be included in the review to make it useful to readers.  Narration, setting, theme, genre, author, and plot should all be covered in a book review.  As the saying goes, it takes one to know one, so you should also be a writer so be able to evaluate and give an honest evaluation of the book…whether you liked it or not, your recommendation and if you are interested in reading more of the authors work.  If you’re an author who has written a novel and are looking to get others interested in reading it, our Introduction to Great Books course will teach you what makes a great story.

Authors have such an intense job.  They have to take an idea, turn it into a story, and then be able to successfully translate that story into words on a page.  Not such an easy task if you ask me.  As a book reviewer, you have an equally challenging task. It is your job to take the story that has been written and put your thoughts and feelings about the story and how it was translated into words, then pass your recommendation on to potential readers.  Writing a great review can mean the difference between an increase in book sales, or, the death of a books potential before it even hits book store shelves.  Sounds like a daunting task, but it doesn’t have to be.  Luckily we have a great course that will teach you how to write a killer literature review, to enroll click here.  Here are some more tips and suggestions that will help you write a successful book review.

Picking the Right Book

Pick the right book, make sure that it’s a book that has recently been published, or is by a notable author that may have a following.

Get to Know One Another

Get to know your book.  Read the book jacket, which usually gives potential readers a book summary without divulging the ending.  You’ll also be able to learn a little something about the author.  Identify the books genre so that you can pass the information on to the reader.  Pass essential information on to potential readers, book title, author, first copyright date, type of book, and retail price should all be included in a book review.  You want readers to be able to learn as much as they can about the book from your review.

The More You Know

Research the author.  Have they written other books, won any literary awards?  Does the author have a signature trait when they write?  Getting to know the author’s background and style will help give you some context when you read the book.  Identify what the author’s purpose was in writing the book, sometimes the author’s purpose may not be easy to identify.  Asking yourself these questions may help you grasp a better understanding of the book and be able to pass on a better review to your audience.

  1. Who is the intended audience?
  2. What point of view is the book written in?
  3. Check out the Table of Contents.  It will help you understand how the book is laid out chronologically and how the author has laid out the story.

Don’t go in to too much detail.  You will probably have a limited amount of words in which to give your review so be sure to give only the most important details about the books plot and characters.

Who’s Who

Identify the characters in the book and the roles that they play.  If there are a lot of supporting characters, you could simply make a list of the main characters.  How do the characters affect the story?  Can you relate to any of the characters?  If so, why?  Note changes in the character that occurred throughout the book.  Was there a pivotal moment in the book that altered a characters personality or role?

Find the Meaning

What is the main point of the book?  Find the authors main theme and the thesis of the book.  Finding the theme isn’t always as easy as just reading the books cover, or the first few chapters.  The theme may be hidden and spread out throughout the book.  Take notes throughout the reading of the book to remind yourself of how you felt during pivotal moments.  Write chapter summaries to keep note of the progression throughout the book.  Which chapters have you enjoyed the most throughout the book?  Where do you feel that characters experienced the most growth, and your favorite character quotes or story moments.  Do you agree with what the author is trying to tell the audience?  Is the story new, or is it being retold in the authors voice?  As an author, it’s important to lay out your story in a way that allows the reader to identify the meaning of the story by the time they have finished reading it.  The last thing that you want to happen is to have the reader feeling as though they have wasted their time reading a story.  Have you ever watched a movie and been so disappointed at the ending that you wish you could get up and ask for your ticket money back.  Yeah, the last thing that you want is to have your readers feel like they want a refund when they’re done with your book.  Learn how to make your writing sparkle and get on the path to becoming an exceptional writer, by enrolling in our Writing With Flair course.

Wrap It Up

Review your work.  You don’t have to necessarily summarize your thoughts in chronological order.  You could organize them according to the themes, flow, methods, or elements of the book.  If necessary, you could compare the book, or parts of the book to other works of literature.  Try not to do this too much though, since you should try and simply focus on the book at hand.  State your conclusion clearly, and summarize how you feel about the book.  Try your best to present a good and honest argument for the books potential audience.  You’re entitled to write your honest opinion about the book.  Whether you enjoyed it, or what you feel it may have lacked.  Regardless of how you feel about the book though, remember that it takes just as long to write a bad book as it does a good one and every author deserves a fair shot.  Base your review on the book that you read, and not the book that you wish it could’ve been instead.

Thinking about writing a book and want to reach as many readers as possible?  Join others who want to learn the insider’s secrets to getting their books into retail and online stores by enrolling in this publication course now.