How to Review a Book

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Book reviews are not supposed to retell or summarize the whole content of the book. Instead, they should provide a description, critical analysis and evaluation of the book being reviewed. It should point out the strengths and weaknesses of the book. Evaluation should also be supported with hard evidence like excerpts from the book perhaps. It is also recommended avoid reading other critics’ reviews of the same work as it may influence in one way or another your book review.

Reading the book

When reading the book, one should make sure that he or she is familiar with the genre. If the genre is new to you, you will have a hard time analyzing the book as you don’t have any other works to compare it to.

State the facts

Before starting on the review itself, give out the essential information of the book first like the title, author, copyright date, genre, theme, price, ISBN and special features like maps and discs.

State the author’s purpose

Most authors write the book’s purpose in the preface or first chapter. If there’s no purpose stated, ask yourself some questions. Who are the target audience? What is his style? From what point of view is the book written? Was the author trying to explain something or tell a story perhaps? Did the book moved you or affect you in any way? Would you recommend the author’s work to others?

Describe how the author explained his thesis

The thesis is the author’s generalization of the subject matter or theme. This includes the book’s philosophical beliefs and the proposition that he wants to prove. Make it short as much as possible.

Explain how the author developed his thesis

Authors usually use description, narration, exposition and argument to support their theme and thesis. Description provides the details and is supposed to appeal the five senses. On the other hand, narration tells the story or a series of events in a chronological order. When an author uses analysis and explanation to present the theme, he is using the process of exposition. If he uses persuasion to establish the credibility of his statements, he is using the argument technique.


You can evaluate the book through measuring its usefulness and importance to its intended audience. Check for accuracy, objectivity and thoroughness. Point out parts of the book that are highly interesting and comment on them. You can either merit them or brutally criticize a certain part of the book or the whole book itself.

State the author’s background

One can also state the author’s reputation, influences, past works and awards. This will help you and the audience better understand the author’s work. Can you determine any connection between the author and some characters of the book?

Check for the miscellaneous

Some books come with maps, discs and illustrations. Give out this information as well as these materials can help the reader decide if the book is a good buy. One can also check the index and footnotes. You can also check the bibliography and determine how the author used them in his book.


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