How to write a book review?

Why do we, students, write book reviews? For what purpose? Book reviews may be looked down upon or seem boring to write, they are however very useful, for they gather the main and essential information about a book, an article or a study that you have read.

How to write a book review?

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How to actually write a book review?

Knowing that a book review is an interesting and useful task is not enough, you have to know how to write it. It is really quite simple, you just have to write down the ideas you deem important while reading. More simply, you can write down the page numbers and then look at them once you start writing your review.

You should in fact first write a draft and then write the final version of the document. That way, you will be able to update the draft and only keep the information that you think is the most relevant.


The book review in detail

Firstly, you would start by writing down information about the bibliography, who wrote the book? When was it written?

In practice, you write down the title or titles, the author's name, the publication/issue date, the publisher's name (generally speaking, it is written at the bottom of the cover page), the collection if the book belongs to one and the number of pages. If the book has been translated, you should make a note of that too.

There are other elements that should be mentioned. For instance, you can write a few lines about the author (between 8 to 15 lines) keeping only to the important information: full name, gender, nationality, date of birth, date of death and then introduce his activities. Is he or she still writing? Does the author also teach for instance? Did he write other books or studies? If so, do not hesitate to list them.

Feel free to specify the historical or cultural context in which the book was written, it can help you to understand some aspects of it. Analyse the type of document you are dealing with. Is it a press release? A novel? An autobiography? An essay? A play? (this list is non-exhaustive).

Then comes the most interesting part of all, the topics: for instance, where does the story take place? Give as much information as you can. What are the names of the characters? What can you say about them? Feel free to be as detailed as you can about them (profession, family relations etc.).

What tone did the author use and why? Analyse it thoroughly and specify what kind of figures of speech have been employed? How are the ideas organised in the document? Do you recognise the signature of the author? Complete your analysis with quotes directly from the book. Around 10 to 15 lines should be enough for this section.

Last, but not least, summarise the book without disclosing the end of the story or giving too much detail. This should not exceed 30 lines, only add important and relevant information.

You have reached the end of your book review, do not forget to give your opinion, not only about the book, but also about the author and his work. Do not simply express your opinion without justifying it. Why did you like the book or why didn't you like it? What are your feelings about it? In this part, there are no right or wrong answers, just keep in mind that you have to support your views. Would you recommend this book, yes or no, and offer explanation as to why.

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