Book Review Writing Guide

Jul 20, 2017 by

Readers are always going to have an interest in what others think of a particular book. Regardless if the one is saying something about the book, whether loved or hated it, if the review is honest and detailed, it will be a big help for people. If someone does not know how he or she is going to start writing, one of the best tools is to imagine talking to a person about the book.

Like any other resourceful person, this article is going to be a big help for those who have no idea how to write a book review. It is also a part of a school requirement to write a book review so read on to grasp an idea of how to begin.

Tips written below were prepared by team of writers from

  1. Keep in mind that a book review is not like a book report. It is necessary for a person to do more compared to only laying out what is inside the book or the plot. There is an option to summarize the contents or narrative, but the review must be concentrated on the historical argument that is being formed. It is also essential that how the author was able to support the argument using historical evidence. If possible, that argument can also fit into a wider perspective on the subject.
  2. Consider the title of the book and think about what it is suggesting. The title can sometimes become the deciding factor whether a person should buy the book or not. There are people who will not even bother reading the back of the book if the title does not draw them in. After that, analyze the preface or introduction because this one gives the important information about the intentions of the author or the coverage of the book. The one writing the review should be able to identify any limitations in the preface and did the author include all important aspects of what the book is about. The table of contents is also very significant because this is going to show how the book is organized like the main ideas and how the way they are chronologically developed.
  3. Begin with a few sentences to describe what the book contains, but do not give any spoilers or reveal any twists in the plot. As a main rule, steer clear of writing in detail pertaining to anything that is happening in the middle part of the book. If the book has become part of one series, it is worth mentioning, and regardless if others can enjoy the book or not. The next thing to do is to talk about the good points of the book. Put focus on the thoughts and feelings regarding the story and how it was told. There is an option to answer questions like the best character according to the reviewer’s opinion and the reason behind it. Is the presence of the character appropriate in the book? Did the story create questions in the reader’s mind? What is the best part of the book, why? Were there scenes that are written well, like the sad, tense, or mysterious ones? Is the book humorous or sad? Is the book gripping or boring? These are the most important questions that a reviewer should be able to cover so that those who are interested in buying the book will know what to expect. Apart from that, mention anything that is unpleasant about the book and give reasons why.
  4. In terms of the ending of the book, is it a cliffhanger that will only frustrate the reader? Is the main character hard to identify with, and is there a reason why? If the book is a horror one, is it too scary for readers or is the theme not interesting enough? Another factor that can be considered is telling the reader about the prior work of the author and the academic discipline that the author has. What are the other books that the author has written, articles, journals, or conference papers? Is this book related to the author’s previous work? Did it garner any awards? By providing this information, readers will be able to understand the argument of the author and do an analysis of the book. The author’s approach of the genre also needs to be noticed because it will say something about the genre, it is focused on, the class, race, culture, politics, law, labor, other topics, or a mixture? If it is possible to identify the kind of history that the historian wrote, it will be simpler to determine what the author is trying to argue about.
  5. The summary of the subject and the argument has to be included and using a few sentences, talk about the time period and important events. Included in the story is the geographical scope and groups of citizens who are being analyzed in the book. Why did the author choose the beginning and ending dates of the narrative of the book? Next is to find the book’s major thesis or theses, the arguments made by the author and tries to support it using evidence. These are normally, but not all the time parts of the introduction of the book.
  6. The kinds of evidence that are closely related are the types of sources being used by the author. What are the main sources used in the book? What is the type of source that is essential to the argument? Are the sources enough to fully-explore the subject? Are there significant issues that the author is not able to address using these sources? There are secondary sources like books that the author can lean heavily on to support the argument. Are there works that the author does not agree with in the text?
  7. Since the author has an argument, is it convincing? Does it break down in a certain part? What is the best element that works on the book? Does the book deserve a recommendation? If yes, who are the appropriate readers of the book? Main readers? Undergraduates? Specialists and graduates in the certain subject? Are there any qualifications pertaining to that recommendation?
  8. The conclusion for a book review will include the summary of the thoughts about the book by giving the type of reader that is recommended. For example: readers who are younger, older, those who like relationship drama, comedy or mystery stories. Can it be compared to any other book series? Are there similar?
  9. It is possible to give a rating to the book like marking it seven out of 10. This rating is what the readers will base from, aside from the other considerations they need to make before buying the book. Think about who is reading the review. Is it someone who loves to collect books? A parent who is looking for a read-aloud book? Are the readers looking for information that will teach them more about a certain topic?
  10. There should be a final statement in the book review and always leave the readers something to ponder on so their curiosity will be triggered. The way the book has been reviewed, the choice of words, and the organization of the topics will all matter. Make sure that when writing one, everything they need to know is there.
  11. Also, it is possible to use pre-written review samples, that students may find on the sites like,

Outline sample of a fiction book

Title: Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami


  1. Main idea of the story
  2. Main characters
  3. Something interesting about the book that readers need to know


  1. Main idea of the book
  2. Where the story happened
  3. When it happened
  4. Something about the place that is interesting and its impact on the characters

Following these steps and tips to write a book review will lead to a great outcome and the student no longer has to look elsewhere because everything is already here. The sample outline can be used as a guide to start writing an excellent review.

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