There’s no reason you can’t review a book with class and professionalism. A book review is a description, judicious analysis, and an evaluation of the quality, gist, and impact of a book. It’s so important to realize a book review is not a retelling. It’s not a book report or a summary.
A book review should focus on the book's purpose and content. How did the book affect you – the reader? You should evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of the how well the author told his/her story. Your review should include a statement of what the author has tried to do, evaluate how well he/she has succeeded, and present evidence to support your appraisal.
There’s no right or wrong way to write a book review. Face it, book reviews are highly personal and reflect the opinion(s) of the reviewer. Your review can be as short as 50-100 words, or as long as 1500 words, depending on the purpose of the review.
I might add a personal note here – “If you can’t say something nice, maybe it’s best left unsaid.” If you truly dislike a book, that’s okay, not every book we read will be #1. But chastising a book in a review could make or break an author. Is that your intent? I would hope not. If I don’t care for a book I’ve read, I let it go. It’s not necessary to berate or trash the book or the author.
The following is a simple guide for writing a book review that works.
- 1. Write a statement including basic information about the book: title, author, type of book.
- 2. Write a sentence indicating point of view and genre.
- 3. Evaluate the quality of the writing style by using some of the following standards: consistency, clarity, creativity, strength, pithiness, development, and even fluidity.
- 4. Ask yourself does the story reach the intended audience?
- 5. To me the most important question to ask yourself – then review from your heart – “how did this book affect me?” Did you have preconceived notions about the subject matter and now they’ve changed or perhaps they’re reinforced due to this book?
- 6. Did the book realize its goal(s)?
- 7. End your review with the oh-so-important, ‘would you recommend this book to others’? Why?
Remember, your review should include a brief summary, analysis, and comment on the book’s content. Include your general conclusions. If you feel strongly to make a statement, use specific references and quotations to support them. And always end with a comment of support and referral