Book Review Format
The following format will be used for the Book Review you will be doing.
A. Introduce your review appropriately. Identify the author, the title, the main topic or issue presented in the book, and the author’s purpose in writing the book.
B. Explain Relationships. Establish your position as the reviewer (your thesis about the author’s thesis). As you write, consider the following questions:
- What type of book is this? (Is the book a memoir, a treatise, a collection of facts, an extended argument, etc.? Is the article a documentary, a write-up of primary research, a position paper, etc.)?
- Who is the author? What does the preface or foreword tell you about the author’s purpose, background, and credentials? What is the author’s approach to the topic (as a journalist? a historian? a researcher?)?
- What is the main topic or problem addressed? How does the work relate to a discipline, to a profession, to a particular audience, or to other works on the topic? Who’s the audience for this book?
- What is your critical evaluation of the work (your thesis or stance)? Why have you taken that position? What criteria are you basing your position on?
C. Provide an Overview. What are the author’s basic premises for writing this book? What issues are raised, or what themes emerge? What situation(s) provide a basis for the author’s assertions? List any background information that is relevant to the entire book and should be placed here rather than in a body paragraph.
II. Evaluate the book. This is the heart of your book review. You should discuss a variety of issues here:
- How clearly is the book written?
- Did the author achieve his goal? How did he do this or fall short?
- What are the author’s most important points? List at least two examples of how the author proved or did not prove points he was trying to make.
- What possibilities does the book suggest for the reader?
- What did the book leave out?
- How the book compares to others on the subject?
- What personal experiences do you have relating to the subject?
- What did you like best about the book? What did you like least about the book?
Make sure that you distinguish your personal views from that of the author.
III. Conclusion. Tie together any issues raised in the review and provide a concise comment on the book and whether or not you would recommend this book to someone else.
There is, of course, no set formula, but a general rule of thumb is that the first one-half to two-thirds of the review should summarize the author’s main ideas while the remainder of the report should evaluate the book.