How to Write a Book Review

A book review is a written report which provides information about the content of either a fiction or non-fiction book, and an opinion about this content. The reader of a book review wants to know whether the book is worth reading for him/herself.

Before writing a book review, make sure you have read the book. You can not give an accurate review from simply skimming the book or reading the beginning and end.

Your review should begin by naming the book and its author. In a very brief review, the title is simply written in bold italics, and underlined, followed by the author’s name. In longer reviews this information is included in the opening paragraph.

The opening paragraph of a book review should also give a brief idea of what the book is about: John Smith’s latest novel, Time of Peril, is a gripping, suspense-filled tale of adventure.
If the person reading your review is only interested in, for example, non-fiction books, this opening will be a guide as to the appeal of the book under review.

The following paragraphs of your book review should provide a brief outline of the book. If it is a fiction book (novel0, this should include details of the plot, setting and main characters. Provide enough detail to arouse your reader’s interest, but do not retell the whole story. There will be no point in your reader buying the book if they already know how it ends, or which character commits the crime, and so on.

If your review is of a non-fiction book, your review should detail the kind of information available in the book and some idea of its suitability for different readers. If, for example, you are reviewing a medical book, your review should make clear whether this is a scientific volume suitable for a medical professional, or whether it is a home reference.

In a longer book review, you should highlight at least one memorable scene or character, or for a non-fiction book, a particularly useful chapter. If you are giving the book a poor rating you may instead point out a disappointing part of the book.

The final paragraph of the book review should let your reader know whether or not you recommend the book for their own reading. It is not necessary to say I recommend/don’t recommend this book. Let the language you choose make the recommendation: This book is yet another example of Smith’s powerful ability as a novelist…

Or

This is not the most compelling of Smith’s novels, and will lead many of his fans disappointed.

If your review is being posted on the internet or published, it is common to have a note at the bottom of the review indicating the name of the publisher and the recommended price. On the internet, you may also post a link to an online site that sells the book: Time of Peril, by John Smith. Published in paperback by Rabbit Press, rrp $14.95. Available online at House of Books.

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