Great book review guide: How to write a book review

Guide: How to write a great book review – words Alan Woods

Books, like other works of art, are highly subjective. How to write book reviews is quite an art in itself. What may be a great read for one person may be a complete bore for another reader. But every book has its merit – so can result in a great book review.

These can be embedded within a single paragraph of the book or all throughout the entire book. So when writing a book report it is essential to be able to capture these nuggets of wisdom or magic, and somehow convey that to the reader of the book review.

great book review

A great book review allows people to, at the very least, get the gist or essence of the contents of the book. At the most, it can educate and enlighten them without ever having to crack the book open.

A great book review not only informs potential readers but inspires them to pick up the book and experience it for themselves.

As with any good piece of writing the work begins with research and plenty of it. In this case, reading the book thoroughly is imperative. However, the reviewer should not be hasty in doing this. Reading with writing a review in mind means that this particular task should be done with some tone of seriousness. With that being said, it should also be done with an open mind. The reviewer should read the book devoid of prejudices about the book, the author, or the subject matter. The review should allow the book to take them on the journey that the author intended for it is the nuances of this journey that they must convey to their readers.

While reading the book, a reviewer must take copious amounts of notes. Do not rely on memory to remember details and emotions. Do not focus just on the progression of the plot or the various characters introduced, but the more subtle points such as themes, messages that the author wants to convey, or any issues being reflected from the real world. Including these points in the review will let the reader know what to expect from the book, its tone and content. Capturing this information is essential to writing a successful book report, so take notes and write them often.

Next comes the actual writing of the book review. It may be a good idea to give the reader some context. Include some background regarding the author, his previous works and any overlying themes or issues among them. Also note down if there is any historical or cultural significance behind the book. This background section need not be intensive or expansive, but give enough information to give some context behind the work.

While most people would want to start writing about the plot or body of the book right away, it would be a good idea to first introduce it much like the author of the book. Describe settings and characters first to set up the plot you are about to describe. When writing about the plot, it is wise to remember that you are not retelling the entire story. This is a review after all and the description of the story should be succinct like all other parts of the review. Instead of giving a chapter to chapter synopsis, do your best to summarize the entire story in two paragraphs. The restriction will force you to focus on the main points, themes, twists and messages of the plot. You can, of course, elaborate on a couple interesting details here and there, but for the main part the plot summary should be shorter than longer in length.

Following the plot summary comes what is perhaps the most important part of the book report, the analysis. This part of the report allows the reviewer to explore and reflect upon the various aspects of the book. Identifying themes and sub themes is a good place to start as it allows the reviewer to further develop the scope of the book in the eyes of the reader, but it also allows them to draw connections to their own lives and the wider world, in general. This section also allows the reviewer to explore the emotions and feelings that is invoked by book. And finally, it gives them the opportunity to state what they believe the author is trying to convey. This can take the form of subtle messages ranging from the political landscape, the environment or aspects of the human psyche.

The challenge for any writer is of course conveying all this information, emotion, thoughts, and ideas to their reader. The review writer must endeavor to write in a manner that is not only conducive to the imparting of knowledge, but also to attract and retain attention. Writing in a clear and professional manner is table stakes and should go without saying, but what is important is the need to strike a balance between writing for your audience and staying true to the book.

Guide: How to write a great book review – words Alan Woods

 

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