The Write Practice

How to Write a Book Review: The Complete Guide

by Sue Weems | 23 comments

If you've ever loved (or hated) a book, you may have been tempted to review it. Here's a complete guide to how to write a book review, so you can share your literary adventures with other readers more often! 

How to Write a Book Review: The Complete Guide

You finally reach the last page of a book that kept you up all night and close it with the afterglow of satisfaction and a tinge of regret that it’s over. If you enjoyed the book enough to stay up reading it way past your bedtime, consider writing a review. It is one of the best gifts you can give an author.

Regardless of how much you know about how to write a book review, the author will appreciate hearing how their words touched you.

But as you face the five shaded stars and empty box, a blank mind strikes. What do I say? I mean, is this a book really deserving of five stars? How did it compare to Dostoevsky or Angelou or Dickens?

Maybe there’s an easier way to write a book review.

Want to learn how to write a book from start to finish? Check out How to Write a Book: The Complete Guide .

The Fallacy of Book Reviews

Once you’ve decided to give a review, you are faced with the task of deciding how many stars to give a book.

When I first started writing book reviews, I made the mistake of trying to compare a book to ALL BOOKS OF ALL TIME. (Sorry for the all caps, but that’s how it felt, like a James Earl Jones voice was asking me where to put this book in the queue of all books.)

Other readers find themselves comparing new titles to their favorite books. It's a natural comparison. But is it fair?

This is honestly why I didn’t give reviews of books for a long time. How can I compare a modern romance or historical fiction war novel with Dostoevsky? I can’t, and I shouldn’t.

I realized my mistake one day as I was watching (of all things) a dog show. In the final round, they trotted out dogs of all shapes, colors, and sizes. I thought, “How can a Yorkshire Terrier compete with a Basset Hound?” As if he'd read my mind, the announcer explained that each is judged by the standards for its breed.

This was my “Aha!” moment. I have to take a book on its own terms. The question is not, “How does this book compare to all books I’ve read?” but “How well did this book deliver what it promised for the intended audience?”

A review is going to reflect my personal experience with the book, but I can help potential readers by taking a minute to consider what the author intended. Let me explain what I mean. 

How to Write a Book Review: Consider a Book’s Promise

A book makes a promise with its cover, blurb, and first pages. It begins to set expectations the minute a reader views the thumbnail or cover. Those things indicate the genre, tone, and likely the major themes.

If a book cover includes a lip-locked couple in flowing linen on a beach, and I open to the first page to read about a pimpled vampire in a trench coat speaking like Mr. Knightly about his plan for revenge on the entire human race, there’s been a breach of contract before I even get to page two. These are the books we put down immediately (unless a mixed-message beachy cover combined with an Austen vampire story is your thing).

But what if the cover, blurb, and first pages are cohesive and perk our interest enough to keep reading? Then we have to think about what the book has promised us, which revolves around one key idea: What is the core story question and how well is it resolved?

Sometimes genre expectations help us answer this question: a romance will end with a couple who finds their way, a murder mystery ends with a solved case, a thriller’s protagonist beats the clock and saves the country or planet.

The stories we love most do those expected things in a fresh or surprising way with characters we root for from the first page. Even (and especially!) when a book doesn’t fit neatly in a genre category, we need to consider what the book promises on those first pages and decide how well it succeeds on the terms it sets for itself.

When I Don’t Know What to Write

About a month ago, I realized I was overthinking how to write a book review. Here at the Write Practice we have a longstanding tradition of giving critiques using the Oreo method : point out something that was a strength, then something we wondered about or that confused us, followed by another positive.

We can use this same structure to write a simple review when we finish books. Consider this book review format: 

[Book Title] by [book author] is about ___[plot summary in a sentence—no spoilers!]___. I chose this book based on ________. I really enjoyed ________. I wondered how ___________. Anyone who likes ____ will love this book.

Following this basic template can help you write an honest review about most any book, and it will give the author or publisher good information about what worked (and possibly what didn’t). You might write about the characters, the conflict, the setting, or anything else that captured you and kept you reading.

As an added bonus, you will be a stronger reader when you are able to express why you enjoyed parts of a book (just like when you critique!). After you complete a few, you’ll find it gets easier, and you won’t need the template anymore.

What if I Didn’t Like It?

Like professional book reviewers, you will have to make the call about when to leave a negative review. If I can’t give a book at least three stars, I usually don’t review it. Why? If I don’t like a book after a couple chapters, I put it down. I don’t review anything that I haven’t read the entire book.

Also, it may be that I’m not the target audience. The book might be well-written and well-reviewed with a great cover, and it just doesn’t capture me. Or maybe it's a book that just isn't hitting me right now for reasons that have nothing to do with the book and everything to do with my own reading life and needs. Every book is not meant for every reader.

If a book kept me reading all the way to the end and I didn’t like the ending? I would probably still review it, since there had to be enough good things going on to keep me reading to the end. I might mention in my review that the ending was less satisfying than I hoped, but I would still end with a positive.

How to Write a Book Review: Your Turn

As writers, we know how difficult it is to put down the words day after day. We are typically voracious readers. Let’s send some love back out to our fellow writers this week and review the most recent title we enjoyed.

What was the last book you read or reviewed? Do you ever find it hard to review a book? Share in the comments .

Now it's your turn. Think of the last book you read. Then, take fifteen minutes to write a review of it based on the template above. When you're done, share your review in the Pro Practice Workshop . For bonus points, post it on the book's page on Amazon and Goodreads, too!

Don't forget to leave feedback for your fellow writers! What new reads will you discover in the comments?

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Sue Weems is a writer, teacher, and traveler with an advanced degree in (mostly fictional) revenge. When she’s not rationalizing her love for parentheses (and dramatic asides), she follows a sailor around the globe with their four children, two dogs, and an impossibly tall stack of books to read. You can read more of her writing tips on her website .

25 YA Writing Prompts


Azure Darkness Yugi

The Ice Dragon by George R.R. Martin is about a girl that shows no emotion befriending a ice dragon.

I chose this book based on the cover that had a little girl riding a ice dragon, and wondered what is about.

I really enjoyed the interaction the little girl had with the dragon.

I wondered how how the girl’s bond with the dragon.

Anyone who likes a coming of age story set in a fantasy will love this book.


Thanks for sharing your practice, Azure!

You’re welcome.


A interesting, at times perplexing, subject! And one on my mind lately,as I’ve agreed to do a few. I do enjoy giving reviews and am delighted when I can say, “This was a great book!” Or even, “I enjoyed this book.” It gets perplexing when I agree to review a book — and simply don’t like it. Then what to say? I hate to disappoint the writer but I’ve promised to give my honest opinion.

I’ve found some books mediocre and yet I see a dozen other reviewers saying “A great story!” Tastes do vary. But when there are obvious flaws I tend to skip all the best-friend-and-cousin reviewers and find the first person who says, “This writer has a problem with…” Usually there’ll be a number of reviewers who spot the same problems I do.

I like upbeat main characters, but not aggressive, belligerent, and/or self-centered ones. I like to meet in a story the kind of people I’d like to meet in real life— not people I’d avoid if possible. I recently read a book where the main character came across as insipid and the story only mildly interesting. Other reviewers said it was great and I know for this specific audience — readers who want a certain slant to a story — it was quite suitable. So I tried to cut the book some slack. Everyone has their limit as to how much blood and gore, smooching and snuggling, they are willing to read about.

Once I agreed to review a book and would have tossed it after the first chapter — for several reasons. A lot of “writer inserting facts for reader’s benefit”; teach/preach paragraphs; excess of description; attitudes of MCs. Once it’s live on seller’s sites like Amazon, what can you say? The one thing good it had going for it was the story line or theme. With a pro editor’s help it could have been a great story.

As for a review, one book I read lately was “A Clue for the Puzzle Lady” by Parnell Hall. It’s one of those “Stayed up half the night to finish it” books; I think anyone who likes a compelling cozy mystery would probably like it. Downside: I didn’t care for the “Puzzle Lady.” She’s a lush, hangs out at the bar getting sloshed. The upside: her sensible niece has a starring role —trying to keep her aunt on the straight-and-narrow and the mystery keeps you guessing until the end.

Christine, Thanks for sharing your insight! It sounds like you are approached often to review new books. It does make it tricky if it’s a request, especially outside your own preferences. Thanks for chiming in about your process, as I’m sure others will appreciate the perspective too. I’ll have to take a look at the Puzzle Lady– I do enjoy cozy mysteries. Sue

Here’s another cozy mystery book review in case you’re interested. I’m not approached by writers that often, but there are the Story Cartel, Book Bub and Goodreads, all sites where authors ask for review volunteers.

Reel Estate Ripoff by Renee Pawlish

The detective Reed Ferguson is a fan of Humphry Bogart, movie memorabilia of that era, and fancies himself a bit of a Sam Slade. Though not your super-sleuth, rather inept at times, he’s a likeable character. Told in first person, the story has a Philip Marlowe tone to it, but much tamer. Dialogue and story line are well done, the story well plotted and believable. I’d gladly read more stories about this particular gumshoe.

Beth Schmelzer

If you like cozy mystery books, I’ll send you a list later, Sue. Love them too and I’ve met many authors who write in this genre. Back on topic– you inspire me again to add some reviews to my Blog. I have been reading and writing many middle grade mysteries for a project! My latest favorite: “The World’s Greatest Detective” by Caroline Carson (who I hope to meet tomorrow in Arlington, VA!) My 12 year old grandson borrowed it and finished it before I could. “It’s the best mystery I ever read, Grandma! You’ ll never guess the ending with unpredictable twists!” What better review could we read. The target audience and I both highly recommend this 2017 mystery.

Adding it to my stack, Beth. Thanks!

Kelly Hansen

Not wanting to sound life an idiot, but willing to risk it here among friends: What exactly is a cozy mystery?

Glad you asked! It’s a subgenre of mystery. The best examples of cozy mysteries are those by Agatha Christie. They usually avoid profanity, excessive gore/ violence, and sex. They focus more on the puzzle, sleuth, and their smaller world. Hope that helps!

Thanks, Sue.

Daniel McDonald

Wonderful article. The first I have read by you. It especially gets those of us who don’t feel we have the formula down for review writing to be introduced to a form we can build upon with experience. You’ve kept it simple but you have given us the main ingredients needed for a good review. I printed this one off to look at the next few times I write reviews. Thank you.

Glad you found it helpful. Thanks for reading and commenting!

Dave Diss

I haven’t gone into all this. It’s a matter of time, Joe. I gad about all over the place, not knowing where I am or where I’m going. Within weeks, I’ll be 87. I’ve books of my own that I’d like to see reviewed. Even sorting them out, however, even finding where any of them are, would be a time burden. You see the fix?

Hi Dave, You aren’t alone in feeling the press of time for getting your stories out into the world. May I gently offer this: start with finding and sorting one. If you can’t find it, write it anew. You’ve probably grown in time and perspective since you wrote the first draft, which will make for a stronger story. Good luck. I’m cheering you on!


This is an article for me, because I am happy to receive a rating. I haven’t sold many books. But, at least some thinks that it was worth the time to read. That was refreshing. And, I think I wrote two reviews, so far. It was on Thank you.

You’re welcome!

John Grumps Hamshare

Hi, Sue. Thanks for the helpful advice. I did a review on Amazon for the first of a 7-part thriller titled ‘Mosh Pit (The Rose Garden Incident)’ by Michael Hiebert. [Here it is.]

“5.0 out of 5 stars Advance copy review. By A fellow author on September 18, 2016 Format: Kindle Edition I Recommend This Book Strongly

I enjoyed reading this first part of the thriller. The author’s opening chapter/prologue was fast paced, and set me in the middle of the inciting incident along with two of the main characters. After that thrilling opening, I felt the ensuing chapters moved at a more leisurely pace, and was about to grade them as less praiseworthy when I watched a lecture by Brandon Sanderson on YouTube about building three dimensional characters and realised Michael Hiebert had done exactly that by introducing the reader to the minutiae of other characters who had parts to play in the development of the story. So, instead of cardboard cutouts of bland stock characters, the author shows us real people with real concerns that the reader can relate to.and actually care about. I look forward to reading the rest of this intriguing thriller, and highly recommend it to all lovers of well-written, and well-crafted thrillers.”

I also reviewed Part 2 of the series, but that review is too long to post here.

Footnote: The author, Michael Hiebert, was so pleased with my reviews, he recently asked me to beta-read a short story collection he plans to publish in November.

Great review, John! I like how you shared a bit of your process as a reader too, in recognizing what the writer was doing with their characterization. Thanks!

John Hamshare

Thank you, Sue.

Five out of five stars When I picked up a copy of “The Girl with All the Gifts,” by M R Carey, at the used book store, I somehow had it in my head that it was a YA dystopian novel along the lines of “Divergent” or “The Hunger Games.” While I would definitely say that I was not right about that, I wouldn’t say that I was completely wrong. I was, however, completely unprepared for a zombie novel–which is a good thing, cause I wouldn’t have read it, and I’m glad I did. Think “The Walking Dead” meets (why do I want to say ‘The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night”?) “Peter Pan.” I really enjoyed seeing things from, the main character, Melanie’s point of view. Her limited knowledge of her own situation was intriguing, to say the least (and probably why I thought of “The Curious Incident”). I was a bit disappointed when the POV changed to another character’s, but, as the novel progressed, I found myself sympathizing with nearly all the characters–with one exception, and I’ll leave that for you to ponder when you read it. I wondered how much of the science was real, but not enough for me to research it myself. Although, based on other reviews, I guess most of the science about the fungus is real. I also wondered about the fate of the remaining ‘lost boys’ of the cities. If you liked…. well, I don’t know. I’m not typically a fan of things zombie, so I don’t have a comparison, but the book was somewhat similar to “Divergent” and “The Hunger Games” in that the main character goes through a hellluva time and comes out the other side with a plan for her future.


“Tuesdays with Morrie” by Mitch Albom is a true story about how one man found meaning in life when his doctors gave him a death sentence. Morrie was a college professor who passed on his new found wisdom in the last year of his life to a favorite student, the author, who chronicled his professor’s perspectives on death and dying.

I chose this book because of its philosophical topic, and because it is so well written that the words just jump off the page.

Knowing we are all mortal beings, I especially liked the insights, the tidbits of wisdom imparted by the dying man. Death is a subject that few, if any of us, ever talk about seriously with friends and family. The subject of death is verboten. We deny its existence. And, if we are religious, we pretend we will not really die, but we deceive ourselves and think we will live on in some afterlife existence for all eternity. But the professor, Morrie, learns some valuable life lessons from his impending death, and Mitch Albom was gracious enough to capture them in this short but eminently readable book.

I really liked the book because it is timeless. This true story will impart serious life lessons for all future generations, and will help us gain perspectives on our lives and the relationships with those we love the most.

R. Allan Worrell

Cathy Ryan

Sue, I’ve been meaning to come back since this was first posted to tell you thanks for a great article. I seldom review books for alllllll the reasons you listed. This is a perfect tool and I’ll surely use it. Cathy


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How to Write a Book Review: A Comprehensive Tutorial With Examples

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You don’t need to be a literary expert to craft captivating book reviews. With one in every three readers selecting books based on insightful reviews, your opinions can guide fellow bibliophiles toward their next literary adventure.

Learning how to write a book review will not only help you excel at your assigned tasks, but you’ll also contribute valuable insights to the book-loving community and turn your passion into a professional pursuit.

In this comprehensive guide,  PaperPerk  will walk you through a few simple steps to master the art of writing book reviews so you can confidently embark on this rewarding journey.

What is a Book Review?

A book review is a critical evaluation of a book, offering insights into its content, quality, and impact. It helps readers make informed decisions about whether to read the book.

Writing a book review as an assignment benefits students in multiple ways. Firstly, it teaches them how to write a book review by developing their analytical skills as they evaluate the content, themes, and writing style .

Secondly, it enhances their ability to express opinions and provide constructive criticism. Additionally, book review assignments expose students to various publications and genres, broadening their knowledge.

Furthermore, these tasks foster essential skills for academic success, like critical thinking and the ability to synthesize information. By now, we’re sure you want to learn how to write a book review, so let’s look at the book review template first.

Table of Contents

Book Review Template

How to Write a Book Review- A Step-by-Step Guide

Check out these 5 straightforward steps for composing the best book review.

Step 1: Planning Your Book Review – The Art of Getting Started

You’ve decided to take the plunge and share your thoughts on a book that has captivated (or perhaps disappointed) you. Before you start book reviewing, let’s take a step back and plan your approach. Knowing how to write a book review that’s both informative and engaging is an art in itself.

Choosing Your Literature

First things first, pick the book you want to review. This might seem like a no-brainer, but selecting a book that genuinely interests you will make the review process more enjoyable and your insights more authentic.

Crafting the Master Plan

Next, create an  outline  that covers all the essential points you want to discuss in your review. This will serve as the roadmap for your writing journey.

The Devil is in the Details

As you read, note any information that stands out, whether it overwhelms, underwhelms, or simply intrigues you. Pay attention to:

  • The characters and their development
  • The plot and its intricacies
  • Any themes, symbols, or motifs you find noteworthy

Remember to reserve a body paragraph for each point you want to discuss.

The Key Questions to Ponder

When planning your book review, consider the following questions:

  • What’s the plot (if any)? Understanding the driving force behind the book will help you craft a more effective review.
  • Is the plot interesting? Did the book hold your attention and keep you turning the pages?
  • Are the writing techniques effective? Does the author’s style captivate you, making you want to read (or reread) the text?
  • Are the characters or the information believable? Do the characters/plot/information feel real, and can you relate to them?
  • Would you recommend the book to anyone? Consider if the book is worthy of being recommended, whether to impress someone or to support a point in a literature class.
  • What could be improved? Always keep an eye out for areas that could be improved. Providing constructive criticism can enhance the quality of literature.

Step 2 – Crafting the Perfect Introduction to Write a Book Review

In this second step of “how to write a book review,” we’re focusing on the art of creating a powerful opening that will hook your audience and set the stage for your analysis.

Identify Your Book and Author

Begin by mentioning the book you’ve chosen, including its  title  and the author’s name. This informs your readers and establishes the subject of your review.

Ponder the Title

Next, discuss the mental images or emotions the book’s title evokes in your mind . This helps your readers understand your initial feelings and expectations before diving into the book.

Judge the Book by Its Cover (Just a Little)

Take a moment to talk about the book’s cover. Did it intrigue you? Did it hint at what to expect from the story or the author’s writing style? Sharing your thoughts on the cover can offer a unique perspective on how the book presents itself to potential readers.

Present Your Thesis

Now it’s time to introduce your thesis. This statement should be a concise and insightful summary of your opinion of the book. For example:

“Normal People” by Sally Rooney is a captivating portrayal of the complexities of human relationships, exploring themes of love, class, and self-discovery with exceptional depth and authenticity.

Ensure that your thesis is relevant to the points or quotes you plan to discuss throughout your review.

Incorporating these elements into your introduction will create a strong foundation for your book review. Your readers will be eager to learn more about your thoughts and insights on the book, setting the stage for a compelling and thought-provoking analysis.

How to Write a Book Review: Step 3 – Building Brilliant Body Paragraphs

You’ve planned your review and written an attention-grabbing introduction. Now it’s time for the main event: crafting the body paragraphs of your book review. In this step of “how to write a book review,” we’ll explore the art of constructing engaging and insightful body paragraphs that will keep your readers hooked.

Summarize Without Spoilers

Begin by summarizing a specific section of the book, not revealing any major plot twists or spoilers. Your goal is to give your readers a taste of the story without ruining surprises.

Support Your Viewpoint with Quotes

Next, choose three quotes from the book that support your viewpoint or opinion. These quotes should be relevant to the section you’re summarizing and help illustrate your thoughts on the book.

Analyze the Quotes

Write a summary of each quote in your own words, explaining how it made you feel or what it led you to think about the book or the author’s writing. This analysis should provide insight into your perspective and demonstrate your understanding of the text.

Structure Your Body Paragraphs

Dedicate one body paragraph to each quote, ensuring your writing is well-connected, coherent, and easy to understand.

For example:

  • In  Jane Eyre , Charlotte Brontë writes, “I am no bird; and no net ensnares me.” This powerful statement highlights Jane’s fierce independence and refusal to be trapped by societal expectations.
  • In  Normal People , Sally Rooney explores the complexities of love and friendship when she writes, “It was culture as class performance, literature fetishized for its ability to take educated people on false emotional journeys.” This quote reveals the author’s astute observations on the role of culture and class in shaping personal relationships.
  • In  Wuthering Heights , Emily Brontë captures the tumultuous nature of love with the quote, “He’s more myself than I am. Whatever our souls are made of, his and mine are the same.” This poignant line emphasizes the deep, unbreakable bond between the story’s central characters.

By following these guidelines, you’ll create body paragraphs that are both captivating and insightful, enhancing your book review and providing your readers with a deeper understanding of the literary work. 

How to Write a Book Review: Step 4 – Crafting a Captivating Conclusion

You’ve navigated through planning, introductions, and body paragraphs with finesse. Now it’s time to wrap up your book review with a  conclusion that leaves a lasting impression . In this final step of “How to write a Book Review,” we’ll explore the art of writing a memorable and persuasive conclusion.

Summarize Your Analysis

Begin by summarizing the key points you’ve presented in the body paragraphs. This helps to remind your readers of the insights and arguments you’ve shared throughout your review.

Offer Your Final Conclusion

Next, provide a conclusion that reflects your overall feelings about the book. This is your chance to leave a lasting impression and persuade your readers to consider your perspective.

Address the Book’s Appeal

Now, answer the question: Is this book worth reading? Be clear about who would enjoy the book and who might not. Discuss the taste preferences and circumstances that make the book more appealing to some readers than others.

For example:  The Alchemist is a book that can enchant a young teen, but those who are already well-versed in classic literature might find it less engaging.

Be Subtle and Balanced

Avoid simply stating whether you “liked” or “disliked” the book. Instead, use nuanced language to convey your message. Highlight the pros and cons of reading the type of literature you’ve reviewed, offering a balanced perspective.

Bringing It All Together

By following these guidelines, you’ll craft a conclusion that leaves your readers with a clear understanding of your thoughts and opinions on the book. Your review will be a valuable resource for those considering whether to pick up the book, and your witty and insightful analysis will make your review a pleasure to read. So conquer the world of book reviews, one captivating conclusion at a time!

How to Write a Book Review: Step 5 – Rating the Book (Optional)

You’ve masterfully crafted your book review, from the introduction to the conclusion. But wait, there’s one more step you might consider before calling it a day: rating the book. In this optional step of “how to write a book review,” we’ll explore the benefits and methods of assigning a rating to the book you’ve reviewed.

Why Rate the Book?

Sometimes, when writing a professional book review, it may not be appropriate to state whether you liked or disliked the book. In such cases, assigning a rating can be an effective way to get your message across without explicitly sharing your personal opinion.

How to Rate the Book

There are various rating systems you can use to evaluate the book, such as:

  • A star rating (e.g., 1 to 5 stars)
  • A numerical score (e.g., 1 to 10)
  • A letter grade (e.g., A+ to F)

Choose a rating system that best suits your style and the format of your review. Be consistent in your rating criteria, considering writing quality, character development, plot, and overall enjoyment.

Tips for Rating the Book

Here are some tips for rating the book effectively:

  • Be honest: Your rating should reflect your true feelings about the book. Don’t inflate or deflate your rating based on external factors, such as the book’s popularity or the author’s reputation.
  • Be fair: Consider the book’s merits and shortcomings when rating. Even if you didn’t enjoy the book, recognize its strengths and acknowledge them in your rating.
  • Be clear: Explain the rationale behind your rating so your readers understand the factors that influenced your evaluation.

Wrapping Up

By including a rating in your book review, you provide your readers with additional insight into your thoughts on the book. While this step is optional, it can be a valuable tool for conveying your message subtly yet effectively. So, rate those books confidently, adding a touch of wit and wisdom to your book reviews.

Additional Tips on How to Write a Book Review: A Guide

In this segment, we’ll explore additional tips on how to write a book review. Get ready to captivate your readers and make your review a memorable one!

Hook ’em with an Intriguing Introduction

Keep your introduction precise and to the point. Readers have the attention span of a goldfish these days, so don’t let them swim away in boredom. Start with a bang and keep them hooked!

Embrace the World of Fiction

When learning how to write a book review, remember that reviewing fiction is often more engaging and effective. If your professor hasn’t assigned you a specific book, dive into the realm of fiction and select a novel that piques your interest.

Opinionated with Gusto

Don’t shy away from adding your own opinion to your review. A good book review always features the writer’s viewpoint and constructive criticism. After all, your readers want to know what  you  think!

Express Your Love (or Lack Thereof)

If you adored the book, let your readers know! Use phrases like “I’ll definitely return to this book again” to convey your enthusiasm. Conversely, be honest but respectful even if the book wasn’t your cup of tea.

Templates and Examples and Expert Help: Your Trusty Sidekicks

Feeling lost? You can always get help from formats, book review examples or online  college paper writing service  platforms. These trusty sidekicks will help you navigate the world of book reviews with ease. 

Be a Champion for New Writers and Literature

Remember to uplift new writers and pieces of literature. If you want to suggest improvements, do so kindly and constructively. There’s no need to be mean about anyone’s books – we’re all in this literary adventure together!

Criticize with Clarity, Not Cruelty

When adding criticism to your review, be clear but not mean. Remember, there’s a fine line between constructive criticism and cruelty. Tread lightly and keep your reader’s feelings in mind.

Avoid the Comparison Trap

Resist the urge to compare one writer’s book with another. Every book holds its worth, and comparing them will only confuse your reader. Stick to discussing the book at hand, and let it shine in its own light.

Top 7 Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

Writing a book review can be a delightful and rewarding experience, especially when you balance analysis, wit, and personal insights. However, some common mistakes can kill the brilliance of your review. 

In this section of “How to write a book review,” we’ll explore the top 7 blunders writers commit and how to steer clear of them, with a dash of  modernist literature  examples and tips for students writing book reviews as assignments.

Succumbing to the Lure of Plot Summaries

Mistake: Diving headfirst into a plot summary instead of dissecting the book’s themes, characters, and writing style.

Example: “The Bell Jar chronicles the life of a young woman who experiences a mental breakdown.”

How to Avoid: Delve into the book’s deeper aspects, such as its portrayal of mental health, societal expectations, and the author’s distinctive narrative voice. Offer thoughtful insights and reflections, making your review a treasure trove of analysis.

Unleashing the Spoiler Kraken

Mistake: Spilling major plot twists or the ending without providing a spoiler warning, effectively ruining the reading experience for potential readers.

Example: “In Metamorphosis, the protagonist’s transformation into a monstrous insect leads to…”

How to Avoid: Tread carefully when discussing significant plot developments, and consider using spoiler warnings. Focus on the impact of these plot points on the overall narrative, character growth, or thematic resonance.

Riding the Personal Bias Express

Mistake: Allowing personal bias to hijack the review without providing sufficient evidence or reasoning to support opinions.

Example: “I detest books about existential crises, so The Sun Also Rises was a snoozefest.”

How to Avoid: While personal opinions are valid, it’s crucial to back them up with specific examples from the book. Discuss aspects like writing style, character development, or pacing to support your evaluation and provide a more balanced perspective.

Wielding the Vague Language Saber

Mistake: Resorting to generic, vague language that fails to capture the nuances of the book and can come across as clichéd.

Example: “This book was mind-blowing. It’s a must-read for everyone.”

How to Avoid: Use precise and descriptive language to express your thoughts. Employ specific examples and quotations to highlight memorable scenes, the author’s unique writing style, or the impact of the book’s themes on readers.

Ignoring the Contextualization Compass

Mistake: Neglecting to provide context about the author, genre, or cultural relevance of the book, leaving readers without a proper frame of reference.

Example: “This book is dull and unoriginal.”

How to Avoid: Offer readers a broader understanding by discussing the author’s background, the genre conventions the book adheres to or subverts, and any societal or historical contexts that inform the narrative. This helps readers appreciate the book’s uniqueness and relevance.

Overindulging in Personal Preferences

Mistake: Letting personal preferences overshadow an objective assessment of the book’s merits.

Example: “I don’t like stream-of-consciousness writing, so this book is automatically bad.”

How to Avoid: Acknowledge personal preferences but strive to evaluate the book objectively. Focus on the book’s strengths and weaknesses, considering how well it achieves its goals within its genre or intended audience.

Forgetting the Target Audience Telescope

Mistake: Failing to mention the book’s target audience or who might enjoy it, leading to confusion for potential readers.

Example: “This book is great for everyone.”

How to Avoid: Contemplate the book’s intended audience, genre, and themes. Mention who might particularly enjoy the book based on these factors, whether it’s fans of a specific genre, readers interested in character-driven stories, or those seeking thought-provoking narratives.

By dodging these common pitfalls, writers can craft insightful, balanced, and engaging book reviews that help readers make informed decisions about their reading choices.

These tips are particularly beneficial for students writing book reviews as assignments, as they ensure a well-rounded and thoughtful analysis.!

Many students requested us to cover how to write a book review. This thorough guide is sure to help you. At Paperperk, professionals are dedicated to helping students find their balance. We understand the importance of good grades, so we offer the finest writing service , ensuring students stay ahead of the curve. So seek expert help because only Paperperk is your perfect solution!

What is the difference between a book review and a report?

Who is the target audience for book reviews and book reports, how do book reviews and reports differ in length and content, can i write professional book reviews, what are the key aspects of writing professional book reviews, how can i enhance my book-reviewing skills to write professional reviews, what should be included in a good book review.

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Want to write a perfect book review that readers enjoy? Discover how to pen a book review in 6 easy steps. To help you understand, we’ve included amazing examples of book reviews. 

We’ve also answered many questions you might have such as: How long should a book review be? How to start a book review? How to conclude a book review? For beginners, we’ve also mentioned the basic book review format. So without further delay, let’s begin! 

Get a professional review for your book! Learn more

What is a book review? 

A book review is the critical analysis of the book’s content and significance. It includes an evaluation of the plot, character development, and writing style. A good book review highlights the book’s strengths and weaknesses. Reviewers often include quotes to support the opinions mentioned in the book review. A book review is different from a book report which objectively describes the book’s main content. 

Now that we know what is a book review, let’s understand their length. 

How long is a book review? 

The length of a book review can vary, depending on the purpose and the medium used. Book reviews in newspapers, magazines, and journals can range from 500-2000 words. In contrast, book reviews by readers on platforms like Goodreads, Amazon, Facebook, or Google can range from 50-500 words. 

Now let us see the 6 easy steps to write book reviews. Whether you’re writing book reviews for your assignment or book promotion, these steps will help! 

How to write a book review

  • Note down the key points- This is an important step before writing a book review. Jot down your analysis about the characters, themes, plot, and your personal view. Also, note down the book title, author’s name, and any relevant information about the book. 
  • Start with a strong introduction- Mention the author’s name, book title, themes, and main characters in the introduction. The introduction should give a very brief book summary without giving spoilers. 
  • Analyze the book- Discuss the book’s strong points and weaknesses. This can include your opinion on the narrative pacing, writing style, character development , and structure. You can also compare it with books belonging to a similar genre. To enhance the review, you can also use relevant quotes to support your perspective. 
  • Reflect on your experience- Describe how the book makes you feel. Did you find it engaging or was it slow-paced? Were you happy with the climax or did you expect more? 
  • Conclude the review- Summarize the important points and end the review with a final evaluative statement about the book. This is where you can state whether you will recommend the book to readers or not. This is an important step in writing a book review. 
  • Rate the book (Optional)- Depending on the platform requirements, you can rate the book out of 5 or 10. 

Now that we’ve seen how to write a book review, let’s see five amazing tips to create the perfect book review.

Top 5 tips to create an amazing book review 

Here are the top 5 tips to create the perfect book review: 

  • Start with an attractive hook- Begin the review with an intriguing question or statement, capturing the book’s essence. For example, “In ‘The Enchanted Labyrinth’, every page takes you into a magical world of intrigue and wonder. 
  • Discuss originality- Write what makes the book unique as compared to other books in the same genre. If the book highlights an unexplored theme or gives a unique take on a common theme, you can mention it in the book review. 
  • Analyze worldbuilding- Review the fictional world created by the author (Its depth, complexity and detail). You can discuss how the setting of the story affected your experience as a reader. This is a good practice, especially while reviewing fantasy and science fiction novels. 
  • Evaluate key themes- Discuss how the central themes of the story are seamlessly woven into the narrative. You can do this by highlighting how the characters’ relationships and choices reflect the themes. Describe how themes add depth to the story. 
  • Edit and proofread- Once you’ve completed your book review, thoroughly check it. Correct any grammatical mistakes , spelling, and word choice errors. 

Book review examples

1. a thousand splendid suns by khaled hosseini .

“A Thousand Splendid Suns,” by Khaled Hosseini, is a profoundly moving story set against the backdrop of Afghan history. This novel tells the tale of two women, Mariam and Laila, whose lives become entwined in a harrowing journey of friendship, suffering, and redemption.

Mariam, an illegitimate child, suffers from stigma and rejection from an early age. Her tragic story evolves when she is forced into an abusive marriage with Rasheed, a brutish shoemaker. Laila, born generations later, is initially a symbol of the new Afghanistan – hopeful and educated. Their shared struggles against the backdrop of Afghanistan crumbling under Taliban rule form the novel’s heart.

Hosseini’s writing is evocative, capturing the stark realities in Afghanistan while also highlighting the profound resilience of his characters. The author masterfully portrays the emotional landscapes of Mariam and Laila, making them vividly relatable.

“A Thousand Splendid Suns” is more than a story of survival; it is a testament to the unyielding strength of human connection and endurance. This book is a must-read, not only for its storytelling brilliance but for its deep exploration of the often-unheard voices of Afghan women. It’s a heartbreaking, yet ultimately hopeful novel that stays with you long after the last page.

Now let’s see another example of a book review. 

2. A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman 

“A Man Called Ove ” by Fredrik Backman is a heartwarming novel that takes readers on an emotional journey of its titular character, Ove. At first glance, Ove appears to be nothing more than a grumpy old man. However, as the story unfolds, we discover that there is so much more to Ove than meets the eye.

The novel skillfully explores themes of loss, grief, and the human capacity for change. Ove’s journey is one of rediscovery and redemption, as he learns to open his heart to the people around him. Backman’s writing is both poignant and humorous, capturing the essence of human relationships and the power of community.

Ove is a character who is easy to relate to, with his quirks making him all the more endearing. As we delve into his past through flashbacks, we understand the events that shaped him. These glimpses provide depth and complexity to his character, making him incredibly three-dimensional.

The supporting characters are equally charming and well-developed. Parvaneh, the pregnant neighbor, and her family are a refreshing contrast to Ove’s gruff exterior. Their interactions with Ove are both heartwarming and hilarious, playing an important role in his transformation.

What makes “A Man Called Ove” truly exceptional is its ability to elicit a wide range of emotions from its readers. It can make you laugh out loud on one page and bring tears to your eyes on the next. The story is a testament to the importance of human connection.

In conclusion, “A Man Called Ove” is a beautifully written novel that explores the themes of love, friendship, and the capacity for change. Fredrik Backman’s storytelling is both touching and humorous, and his characters are unforgettable. For those who appreciate heartwarming stories that inspire the soul, this book is a must-read.”

After seeing these book review examples, let’s see a simple book review template you can use. 

Book review template

The following template highlights a basic book review format and book review outline. You can use this template for reference. 

We hope this book review template and book review examples have inspired you to start writing. Now that you’ve understood how to write a good book review, you can begin brainstorming. Want to get a polished, professional book review? At PaperTrue, our team of experts can help you craft the perfect review for your book. Get in touch with us and forget all stress about how to do a book review. 

You can also take advantage of our self-publishing services like editing, book cover design, securing an ISBN, and creating a copyright page. This ensures that your book is ready for publication. Whether you want a simple edit or an end-to-end service package, we’re here to help! 

Here are some other articles that you might find interesting: 

  • Top 10 Best Print-on-Demand Book Companies in 2024
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  • What Is a Blurb? Meaning, Examples & 10 Expert Tips

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the purpose of a book review, what makes a good book review, how to end a book review, how to structure a book review, where to write a book review.

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This is Writing

review of a book

How to Write a Book Review

By Kara Hutchings

A great book review is one that helps a reader decide whether they will pick up the book and read it. This article will provide guidance on how to write a book review. It will answer the question ‘what is a book review’, help you choose which book to review and explore the key elements that form a successful review.

Whether you’re a seasoned professional, student, or brand new to book reviewing, here’s our strategies and suggestions for writing an effective book review.

What you’ll learn in this article

The purpose of this article is to teach you how to write a book review. By reading this article you will learn the following: 

What is a book review?

  • How to choose a book to review
  • How to critically analyse a book
  • The key elements of a book review
  • Rating a book
  • FAQs about book reviewing

Before you even pick up the book, it’s important to understand exactly what a book review is. 

A book review describes, analyzes and evaluates a book based on elements including writing style, plot, characters, significance, impact and fitness for purpose. The criteria for evaluating a book are explored in more detail below.

The most important part of a book review is the analysis and evaluation. A book review requires a critical evaluation meaning you must form an opinion about the book and support your opinion with evidence. Evidence from the book can include direct quotes, writing techniques, themes and character dialogue.

To ensure you are critically evaluating a book, it’s important to avoid falling into the trap of simply describing the plot and characters. Your opinion must be clearly stated, whether it’s positive or negative. The following is an example of a simple description, without any analysis or evaluation:

“The unnamed narrator, a woman writer, lives in Vienna with a man named Malina who works at a military museum, and she is conducting an affair with a Hungarian man named Ivan, who lives nearby and has two young children.” [1]

Book reviews can vary in tone and style, depending on the author of the review (i.e. whether you’re an academic writing a scholarly review, a journalist, or an amateur reviewer, etc) and the book you are reviewing. 

However, there are key elements that should always be addressed in order to create an effective book review. These include:

  • a summary of the book,
  • a critical assessment, and;
  • a conclusion, including whether or not you would recommend the book to your audience.

You can read more about the key elements of a book review below. 

Choosing a book to review

The first and probably most important step of writing a book review is choosing the book you would like to review.

If you’re considering writing a book review then you most likely already have a book in mind. But if not, a good place to start is by thinking about your favourite author, or genre, and finding books in this area.

Don’t be afraid to choose a book from an author you love. Some people can feel intimidated by well-respected or famous authors and hence avoid being overly critical of them. But it’s important to choose a book that you’re actually interested in. 

Reviewing a book you don’t really want to read will feel too much like a school project.

If you’re truly interested in the book before you, you’ll find the time to properly research, carefully read, and form ideas about the book – all elements of a good book review.

If you’re hoping to get your review published online, it’s also best to select a recently published book. A newer book is less likely to have already been reviewed by another book reviewer and therefore more likely to get published.

Writing the book review

Now the fun part begins. Getting your opinion out there for the world to see. But there’s much more to a book review than simply writing. A sound structure, supported by thorough research, will ensure your book review gets the credibility it deserves.

Here’s how to get started:

Before you start writing

Before you jump into writing, it’s important that you do your research. It’s easy to know whether you do or don’t like a book. But why you have that opinion needs to be supported by research and evidence (i.e. the elements that inform your critical evaluation ).

  • Download sample book reviews

A great place to start, particularly if this is your very first book review, is to read other reviews. Most of the reviews you read will follow a similar structure and touch on similar points, so use others as a guide for how you should be setting out your work. If you come across a book review that you find really engaging, ask yourself why it was so impactful and try to reproduce those elements in your own work. Because if the review was persuasive enough to encourage (or dissuade) you to read the book, it’s a successful book review.

You can browse professional book reviews from writers all around the world on websites including:

  • The Telegraph (UK) website
  • The New York Times Sunday Book Review
  • The New York Review of Books
  • National Library of Australia website
  • The Australian newspaper website
  • Kirkus Book Reviews
  • This Is Writing

As you’re reading through the book reviews make sure to take notes on factors that will form the basis of your review

  • What are the common elements of the book reviews you have read? 
  • What do you like about the reviews? 
  • Do you prefer reviews with controversial opinions? 
  • Do you like when a serious tone is used, or do you prefer a more casual review? 
  • What could you do better? 

2. Do your research

A good book review is one supported by thorough research.

Understanding the context in which a novel was written will help you form an opinion later when you start writing.

It’s difficult to form an argument about the author’s choice of language, for example, if you don’t understand the time period in which the novel was composed. If you’re reading a vampire mystery book, how can you evaluate the structure of the storyline if you don’t understand the elements of that genre?

There are a number of complex and competing elements that will influence the choices an author has made, so it’s crucial to understand the reasons behind their choices in order to form an opinion about things like style, tone, character development, plot and language. Here is a great example of a book review which considers the historical context in which the novel was composed.

To help you with your contextual research, use the below template as a starting point: 

Who is the author?Qualifications, education, reputation, nationality, personal history, historical context, social and political ideals, influences, etc
What is the genre?Does the book conform or depart from the traditional conventions of the genre?
What is the purpose of the book?Why was the book written? What is the author trying to achieve?
What is the thesis of the book?What are the major themes and how were they revealed?

In addition to the above criteria, you should also be reading actively and critically. As you’re reading, ask yourself questions like;

  • how did the author structure their argument and how did they support it?
  • has the book helped you understand the topic?
  • And most importantly, would you recommend this book to others? 

We will explore how to form an opinion and making recommendations more in-depth below.

How long should a book review be?

The length of your book review depends on why you are writing the review and who it is for. Is it simply to provide your opinion to your social media followers, or are you trying to get published online? Is it for an academic purpose? Perhaps it is a university assignment.

Generally, book reviews are around 500 words. However, professional and academic book reviews can be thousands of words in length. If you’re interested in writing a professional book review, check out example book reviews on The Guardian online to get an idea of length. Ultimately, the more words you use, the more thorough your analysis can be. But always be conscious of keeping your writing concise and to the point.

If you are opting for a longer review (around the 1,000 word mark), you can break up long paragraphs of text by using headings and sub-headings. This helps make the content more digestible for the reader.

The elements of a book review

Now that you’ve finished reading the book, made extensive notes, and completed your research, it’s time to begin writing.

Any writer would know that a high-quality piece of writing is well structured. Your arguments should be developed in a logical manner, beginning with the context of the novel and a general overview of the plot, followed by an exploration of the author’s argument, your own opinions about the book, and ending with a conclusion – what rating do you give the book and would you recommend it to others.

The three key elements that you should include in your book review are:

  • A summary of the content – including the plot, context, author’s argument, etc. (i.e. all the information you gathered in your initial research).
  • A critical assessment of the book – your reaction to the book and whether or not it was effective in meeting its purpose.
  • A recommendation – whether or not the audience you are writing for would appreciate the book.

Here’s a breakdown of each point:

1. Introduction

Your book review should begin with a captivating introduction to draw your reader in and make them want to continue reading. Generally, it’ll be around one sentence in length and give a quick overview of the main theme of the book. Here are two examples of short and snappy introductions that hook the reader in:

 “For every child kidnapped, another must be taken. Otherwise The Chain will be broken.” [2]

“Throughout college, Evvie, Maggie, and Topher were the best of friends. But time and the mistakes that come with simply being human may strain their love to the breaking point.” [3]

While trying to keep your introduction short, it’s important to also be concise. A complicated introduction can turn your reader away before they’ve even gotten to your analysis.

By trying to contain the introduction to a single, lengthy sentence , the below opening line is complicated and overloaded with commas, making it difficult to read:

The English nature writer Robert Macfarlane’s new book, “Underland: A Deep Time Journey,” has a title that evokes a burrowing theme park ride or an IMAX movie, and indeed, like Alice in Wonderland or Orpheus in the underworld, down we go. [4]

2. Describe the plot

Your introduction should lead into a description of the plot. In a few sentences, Include a description of the book’s setting, the main characters, and a loose summary of the plot. An outline of the storyline will help your audience decide whether or not they’re interested in reading the book.

However, make sure your introduction doesn’t give everything away. There should be just enough details to make the reader want to pick up the book, without giving away the whole story.

Not only do you want to touch on the plot of the book in your introduction, but you will also need to set the context. What is the historical, political, and/or social context in which the novel was written? What is the author’s background? What genre is the book written in? These questions set the scene for your critical assessment. Whether the author was successful in meeting their intended purpose will be informed by the reasons behind writing the novel.

3. Avoid spoilers

It almost goes without saying. Don’t spoil the book!

While your readers will want to know what the book is about, don’t rob them of experiencing genuine emotional reactions to the shocks and plot twists of the book. For example, if the main character dies at the end of the book, keep those details to yourself. There’ll be no point in your audience reading the book if they already know what happens.

It can be really tempting to reveal spoilers in your book review, because more often than not, the big shocks of the book are those that you want to talk about. When forming an opinion of the book’s effectiveness, your emotional reaction to surprising details are likely to be the evidence you need to prove the book’s effectiveness.

But it is possible to review a book without completely revealing the details if you choose your words carefully. After all, the purpose of your book review is to encourage others (or discourage if you didn’t enjoy the book) to read the book, and no-one is going to want to read the book if you’ve already told them the ending.

For example, ‘I Let You Go’ by Clare Mackintosh is renowned for having two ‘absolute stunner’ plot twist , however, this review on The New York Times only alludes to the twist enough to entice the reader to want to pick up the book, without completely  giving it away:

“The big plot twist in Clare Mackintosh’s first novel, I LET YOU GO, is genuinely shocking. The jolts that follow, right up until the last page, are pretty good too. And if you’re the kind of genre geek who jumps back to the ­beginning of a book to work out how you’ve been hoodwinked, you’ll find that the author has played fair and square.”[5]

4. Form an opinion

By far the most important part of writing a book review is forming an opinion. As we touched on earlier, your critical evaluation is what takes your writing from a simple summary of a book, to a review.

Keep in mind your critique doesn’t have to be all negative or all praise. A well-balanced book review would explore both sides so that the reader of your review gets the whole picture. A one-sided book review can give your audience the impression that your critique is an unfair assessment. Remember, a bad book takes just as long to write as a good one and every author deserves fair treatment. Even if you hated the book, you’ll be able to find some positives. And ultimately, make sure you are reviewing the book you read, not the book you wished the author had written.

Think back to the list you wrote when you were first reading the book. Here’s where those considerations come into play – the author’s background, the genre, the purpose of the book and the main thesis of the work are all elements that inform your opinion. Whether you did or did not enjoy the book can be supported by opinions based on factors such as whether the author effectively subverted traditional elements of the genre, or whether the author’s thesis didn’t challenge your way of thinking.

This review of the novel ‘Malina’ provides an example of the reviewer evaluating how the author’s academic experience influences her language style and the overall readability of the novel:

“Taken in bites, Bachmann’s prose is often lucid and powerful, enlivened by her poetic gifts. At length, she can be tough chewing. She wrote a doctoral dissertation on Heidegger and was a devoted reader of Wittgenstein’s “Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus,” though she’s nowhere near that tough. For every aphoristic dart she throws at the human condition (“the world is sick and doesn’t want a healthy force to prevail”), there is a sentence or meaning that remains tightly knotted, and a general lack of clear orientation prevails. Whatever verifiable facts about the plot and characters might exist beneath the novel’s psychological static, you can imagine Bachmann insisting, are none of your business.”[6]

Your book review will include multiple different arguments, so aim to break them down into separate paragraphs that each deal with individual aspects. And each paragraph should contain an evaluation with an example from the book to support it.

The following criteria can be used to help you form an evaluation: 

  • objectivity
  • thoroughness
  • usefulness for intended purpose.

5. Include your favourite quotes

When making an argument you need examples to support your opinion. The easiest way to do this is by directly quoting the book.

For example, one of the key themes of Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird , is prejudice and the following quote directly illustrates this theme:

“You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view … Until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it.” [7]

The main thing to consider when quoting the book is to keep the quotes short. A lengthy quote will take up too many words and potentially overpower your review. A short quote will help to get your point across while still letting your work shine through. The purpose of including quotes is to simply bring your argument to light.

6. Provide recommendations to your audience

Would you recommend the book to your audience?

In order to recommend the book, you need to determine who your audience is. Who are you writing the book review for? Not every book is suited to every reader. For example, a book written under the magical realism genre, wouldn’t be recommended to an audience that enjoy non-fiction.

This goes back to the point above, it’s important to remember that your individual tastes don’t necessarily reflect those of your readers. Even if you didn’t enjoy the book, there may be readers out there who it would appeal to so make sure you consider diverse tastes when making a book recommendation.

If you’re reviewing children, teenage or young adult books, it’s a good idea to give an ‘age-appropriateness’ recommendation. It can be tricky for parents when buying books for their children to know whether the book would be appropriate or not, so do the hard work for them. Check out Common Sense Media for ideas on how to give an age-appropriateness rating – this site rates books by age and learning value.

A captivating way to make a recommendation is to also compare the book to other similar ones. If the book you are reviewing has similar themes, characters, writing style, or is even composed by the same author, you will be able to make a recommendation based on how it compares to other work. You might write something along the lines of ‘If loved XXX book, you will love this one’. If your audience has already read the other book, they will be able to get a good idea of whether they will also like your book based on this comparison.

7. Rate the book

You might wonder if you’ve already expressed your opinion about the book throughout your review, why give it a rating as well?

Attaching a rating to your book review is a great way to give your audience an immediate sense of how you felt about the book. Before they even begin reading your review, they already know whether you’re recommending it or not.

The simplest way to rate a book is using a star rating. Goodreads uses a 5-star book rating system.

You can see the most popular books published in 2018 here based on the star rating. If you intend for your book review to be published on a website such as this, you will need to use the rating system provided by the site.

But if you’re self-publishing the review, you can choose whatever rating system that works best for you. You could break your rating system down into categories – maybe the book deserves four stars out of five for writing style, but only two stars for the plot development. It’s up to you.

8. Write a conclusion

The conclusion to your book review is the last thing your audience will read so you want to make sure it leaves them with a lasting impression. A reader has most likely come to your review to decide whether they will or won’t read the book, so if you want them to read the book, make it clear.

Your conclusion should follow general conclusion writing guidelines. The University of Melbourne suggests a conclusion should :

  • Summaries the key points made in reaching your position; and
  • Make a final comment on the topic.

While summarising the key points you should aim to balance the strengths and weakness of the book. What did the author do well? What could be improved upon? And remember, no new information should be included in the conclusion. Any interesting points you want to make about the book should be included in the body of your text.

This review of Laura Lippman’s ‘Lady in the Lake’ wraps up the book in the following short and sweet sentence:

The racism, classism, and sexism of 50 years ago wrapped up in a stylish, sexy, suspenseful period drama about a newsroom and the city it covers. [8]

9. Bibliographical details

A professional book review will also include a bibliographic citation of the book. Check out some examples on Kirkus Reviews to get an idea on how you can format your citation.

Here are the bibliographic details you should include in your review:

  • Title: Clockwork Angel (The Infernal Devices)
  • Author: Cassandra Clare
  • Place of Publication: USA
  • Date of Publication: Margaret K. McElderry Books
  • Date of publication edition: August 31, 2010
  • Number of pages: 496
  • ISBN number*: 978-1416975861

*ISBN or ‘International Standard Book Number’ is a unique identifier for books . It is used by publishers, booksellers, libraries, internet retailers and other suppliers for ordering, listing, sales records and stock control purposes. It identifies the registrant as well as the title, edition and format of the book.

10. Editing

After you’ve completed the first draft of your book review, it’s time to start the editing process. Step away from your work for at least an hour to give your brain a rest. When you come back to review your work with fresh eyes, look out for the following:

  • Is the paper well-organised?
  • Are the transitions between paragraphs smooth?
  • Have you backed up each point with evidence?
  • Is there an introduction and a conclusion?
  • Have you cited all your references?

Take the time to rewrite your work and make any changes necessary to improve it.

There are also some great tools that can assist in editing such as the Hemingway App . Copy and paste your work into the app and it will give you a readability score as well as highlight sentences that are too long and complicated.

Another useful tool is Grammarly . Grammarly is a handy application that detects spelling, punctuation, grammar, word choice, plagiarism and style, and suggests corrections. It’s also available as an app for both iOS and Android.

11. Proofread

The best way to undermine your credibility as a book reviewer is with spelling mistakes. To critique the work of another writer with a piece of writing that is littered with typos and incorrect punctuation tells your audience you don’t know what you’re talking about.

Before publishing your work, read over it a few times to catch any spelling or grammar errors, as well as double-checking your facts – including double-checking that the quotes and character names you referenced from the book are accurate, as well as the facts you’ve included about the author’s background.

If you’re not feeling confident in your proofreading skills, test yourself by reading this article from The Writing Centre . It contains seven errors (two punctuation errors, two grammatical errors and three spelling errors). See if you can spot them, then refer to this handout with the errors marked in red .

It might even be worthwhile also having another person proofread your work. Once you’ve read over your own work a few times it can be easy to miss things, so a fresh set of eyes could be useful in picking up any errors you haven’t. 

12. Have fun!

While it might seem like there are a lot of rules that go into writing a high-quality book review, the most important thing is that you enjoy what you’re doing! Your passion for the book you are reviewing will shine through in your writing.

If you have been book reviewing for some time and begin to feel burned out, take a break and remind yourself why you started writing book reviews in the first place – to share your love of reading with your fellow readers all over the world.

What is the objective of a book review?

The main purpose of a book review is to help a reader device whether to read the book themselves. For this reason, a book review should include a brief summary of the book’s content, characters and setting, as well as a critical evaluation on the success or effectiveness of the book.

Book reviews save other readers time and offer them a chance to connect with the book before they even pick it up. They help validate the worthiness of a book – if someone else enjoyed the book, I might enjoy it too .

Book reviews are also very important to authors . They give a book greater visibility and a higher chance of being found by readers whether it’s online, in bookstores, among book clubs or blogging communities. A book review is a great opportunity for an author to expand their reach, as well as a platform for other books written in a similar style or from the same genre to be found.

Can you use ‘I’ in a book review?

Whether or not you use first person to write your book review will ultimately come down to why you are writing the review.

An academic piece of writing, for example, would not use first person. So if you’re writing your review for a school, university/college assignment or to be published in an academic journal or magazine (for example, the Oxford Academic Journal of Communication ), avoid using first person.

If you’re writing the review for your personal blog or website, or writing customer reviews online, then it’s okay to be a little more casual. Depending on your writing style and the purpose of your website, first-person can make your review more personal and relatable for your audience. It’s easier to give an opinion about how you felt about a book when writing in the first person, for example – ‘I loved the way the author used XYZ to ABC’.

Where can I get my book review published?

If you’re looking to get your book review published, here’s a step-by-step guide on how to:

  • Identify where you want your book review to be published

There are a number of journals devoted to book reviews if you’re interested in having your book review published in a scholarly journal like the Oxford Academic Journal of Communication , Cambridge University’s Historical Journal , or the Australian Book Review .

If you’re not interested in going down the academic route, there are a host of websites where you can publish your book review, including This is Writing. A quick Google search will help you find websites where you could potentially have your review published, or check out our list of ‘Book Blogs and Review Websites for Book Lovers ’.

Otherwise, you can self-publish your book review on your own website or blog.

  • Reach out to the editor Once you’ve decided where you’d like your book review to be published, get in contact with the journal or website. Your email to the editor or website owner should include a brief introduction about yourself, the book you intend on reviewing and why you’d like to write a review for the publication.It’s important to do your homework before contacting the editor or website owner. If you have a book in mind, do a quick search of the journal or website to make sure the book hasn’t already been reviewed by someone else. It’s recommended to select a book that has been published in the last two years, as anything earlier has likely already been claimed by another reviewer.And above all else, be confident! Even if you’re brand new to book reviewing, it’s perfectly alright to reach out to editors to ask them to publish your work. Conta c t us at This is Writing to have your book review featured.
  • Read the book and write the review Once the editor or website owner has accepted your proposal to write a review for their publication, it’s time to get started. Refer to our recommendations on how to structure your book review above. If you’re writing for a journal you might even be lucky enough to be sent a free copy of the book.
  • Submit and wait After you’ve completed the final proofread of your work it’s time to submit it to the editor or website owner. Be sure to read the journal or website submission guidelines thoroughly. Each publisher will have unique submission guidelines relating to criteria such as spelling and grammar, and offensive content, etc. Most book review journals and websites will receive a large number of submissions, so if yours doesn’t meet the guidelines it’s not likely to be considered for publishing.If you haven’t heard back after a month, it’s worthwhile following up. Send a second email asking the editor or website owner if they’ve received your submission and tell them you’re looking forward to hearing from them. The most important thing is to keep it polite and respectful. And make sure to check the website’s submission guidelines first to see if there’s a general timeline for feedback before you start harassing them after only a few days!

Can I get paid to write book reviews?

Yes. There are a number of websites that will pay writers to create book reviews for their website.

If you’re just getting started and looking for a bit of unpaid book reviewing experience, a great place to start is by writing customer reviews on websites that sell books, such as Amazon . These websites allow customers to give a star rating for the product as well as leave a comment. On Amazon, others can then mark your review as ‘helpful’ so you’ll be able to get a good idea on how people feel about your reviewing. Interacting with other book lovers and reviewers can also help improve your own reviewing style and build an audience.

You can also share your book reviews via your social media platforms, or start your own website or blog to publish your book reviews. Check out these tips on how to create a website from the Queensland Government.

The book I have chosen to review is not the first book of the series, does it matter?

No. As mentioned earlier in this article , if you want your book review to be published, you should be aiming to review a recently released book. The newer the book, the less likely it has already been reviewed by another review. If the first book of a series was released five years ago, and the second book released this year, review the second book. Chances are, the first book has already been reviewed to death. Reviewing book two is a chance to create brand new content for your audience.

Despite this, it’s still worthwhile touching on the storyline of the novels that have come before your book in the series as this provides context on the effectiveness of the book. Was book two a good sequel to the first book? What was different? What was the same? If the reader of your review has already read the first book, a comparison between the two will help them decide if they want to read the next book of the series.

[1] John Williams. “ A Postwar Love Triangle in Which One Partner May Be Pure Fantasy ”. The New York Times . July 24, 2019. Viewed 25 July 2019.

[2] “ The Chain ”. Kirkus Review. Viewed 29 July 2019.

[3] “ The Friends We Keep ”. Kirkus Review . Viewed 29 July 2019.

[4] Dwight Garner. “ ‘Underland’ Offers Excellent Nature Writing From Deep, Dark Places ”. The New York Times . Viewed 29 July 2019,

[5] Clare Mackintosh. “ Clare Mackintosh’s ‘I Let You Go’, and More ”. The New York Times . Viewed 25 July 2019.

[6] John Williams. “ A Postwar Love Triangle in Which One Partner May Be Pure Fantasy ”. The New York Times . July 24, 2019. Viewed 25 July 2019.

[7] Harper Lee. “To Kill a Mockingbird”. J. B. Lippincott & Co . Chapter 3.

[8] “ Lady in the Lake ”. Kirkus Review . Viewed 27 July 2019.

Scott Mullins

Blurb Blog

Home » Writing » How to Write a Good Book Review

review of a book

Tips for Writing a Good Book Review 

Now that you’ve prepped what you want to say, how you want to say it, and who you want to say it to, it’s time to start writing. Below we’ve gathered our favorite tips to help you write a good book review. Wait… make that a GREAT book review.

1. Include general information

Make sure to include all the relevant book information for your audience , including the title, author, genre, and publisher in your review. While not necessary, it is also helpful to include the number of pages, list price, and ISBN number.

2. Provide a brief plot summary

After the hook, you can then move on to the brief plot summary. This summary shouldn’t be too long, but it can be a paragraph that explains the basic plot so that the reader better understands if it’s a topic of interest. One pitfall to avoid is to give away spoilers in the plot summary. Don’t give away any plot twists, and err on the side of caution if you feel that the information is too much. For example, tell the reader that the plot has unexpected twists rather than explain any surprises in the summary.

3. Focus on the book, not the author

Keep in mind that your main job as a reviewer is to share your opinion on the book, not to critique the author. Keep the focus on the story. Avoid referencing pitfalls in any of the author’s past books or what you about them as a writer. You can provide a brief introduction to the story mentioning the author and past books, but don’t spend too much time focused on the author. The review should focus on the content of the book and its characters.

4. Be clear and specific

It is not enough to just say that you did or didn’t like the book. Let your readers know why. Make your thoughts clear as early as possible and explain the reasons why you liked or disliked specific storyline components and characters. Be specific about what you loved about the writing, what drew you to the characters, or what left you feeling lukewarm about the plot. You don’t need to explain every aspect of the book, but the reader should walk away with a sense that they understand the basic plot and determine from the review if they want to read the book for themselves.

Write a 5 star book review

5. Remain subjective

Not all book reviews have to be glowing, but they should be subjective. Rather than just saying you didn’t like something, support it by letting your readers know why. We all gravitate towards different things, so what may not appeal to you may appeal to someone else. If you remain subjective, then you can explain to the reader the basic story and let them decide for themselves. The review can include your likes and dislikes, but they should focus on what you felt the story did well and what parts of the story you didn’t like. However, the main focus of the review should be to explain the story so that readers can determine if they want to read the book further.

6. Avoid spoilers

We know it can be tempting, but do your best not to let any spoilers slip in your book review. Have you ever been excited to see the latest blockbuster hit (or watch the season cliffhanger to your favorite TV show) and then someone spoils the end before you even have time to watch? That is exactly what you don’t want to do to your reader. As you explain the book in your summary, ask yourself if what you are explaining ruins any surprises or twists. As you write the review, keep it vague. For example, explain that there is a major plot twist but don’t go into the specifics.

7. Be transparent

Always share if you received an incentive to review the book, got an advance copy, or have any connection to the author. Your readers will appreciate your honesty. Plus, it helps you avoid the negative impact on your credibility if they find out later. Getting paid for a review is a perfectly reasonable excuse to read a book, but it does allow readers to determine if you’re being unbiased. By specifying if you have any relationship with the author, the reader can better trust your opinion, even if they feel you’re being more biased.

8. Keep it short

While book reviews can be any length, it is always best to keep it short and succinct. Pull in your reader with a strong first sentence that sets the tone of the review and end with your recommendation. Remember, most people start to scan when something gets too long. A book review is a short summary, so writing a novel-length review loses reader interests. Keeping it short will ensure that your readers will dive into your likes and dislikes and use your reviews to determine if they have an interest in the books.

9. Proofread before posting

The quickest way to lose credibility is to post a review filled with typos. Make sure to give your final book review a thorough read before posting it and double check the spelling of any character names or places that you mention. Even better, ask someone else to read it over. It is always good to have a fresh pair of eyes proof to catch any typos. If you don’t have a family or friend who will help with proofreader, you can join a writing community where members offer test reads and proofreading. Make sure that you don’t post the review publicly, because search engines will index it and the review will no longer be unique content.

Also, keep in mind that you will want to write different book reviews for different sites. Don’t just copy and paste the same review. Google search engines scan for duplicate content and if flagged, your review won’t appear.

10. Add a hook

The hook is one or two sentences that grab the reader and convince them to keep going. It should be interesting, but it should also stick with the topic without misleading readers. The hook could be a simple statement that explains the main character of the book, or it could ask a question that resonates with the reader. Don’t make the hook too sensational to avoid sounding like a sales pitch. It should simply provide an introduction that grabs reader interests.

11. Explain what you liked about the book

Writing your own book review is a way to explain what you liked about it, and what you liked could be of interest to another reader. This section allows you to personalize the review. You can explain what you liked about the characters, who was your favorite character, what part of the book was your favorite, and if the book invoked any personal feelings (e.g., you laughed or cried).

12. Explain what you disliked about the book

You likely have something that you disliked about the book, and this section explains what you wish would have been different about the storyline or the characters. Just like the other sections, make sure that you do not reveal too much and give away important plot lines that could be considered spoilers for the rest of the story.

13. Include brief quotes as examples

Brief quotes provide readers with better insight into characters. Using quotes from characters will help the reader follow the plot summary and determine if the characters are people they can relate to. Avoid using excessively long quotes. Since the reader hasn’t read the book, a long quote could ruin plot twists or overpower the review.

14. Reference similar books

A great way to introduce readers to a specific book is to compare your book review with other books. For example, you can explain to the reader that they will like the current book you’re reviewing if they like another similar book. Alternatively, you can also compare characters between books to provide better insight into the story’s characters and the dynamic between individual characters.

Ready to make your own book? Get started quickly and easily with our free bookmaking software, Bookwright .

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review of a book

How To Write A Book Review: 6 Steps To Take

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Adiba Jaigirdar

Adiba Jaigirdar is an Irish-Bangladeshi writer, poet, and teacher. She resides in Dublin, Ireland and has an MA in postcolonial studies. She is currently working on her own postcolonial novel and hopes that someday it will see the light of day outside of her computer screen. Twitter:  @adiba_j

View All posts by Adiba Jaigirdar

Whether you’re a student, a novice blogger, or just someone looking to become a more active user of Goodreads, writing a book review is an important skill to have! Here are six steps for how to write a book review for school and beyond. 

How To Write A Book Review in 6 Steps

1. Begin with a brief summary of the book

This is probably the best way to introduce any review because it gives context. But make sure to not go into too much detail. Keep it short and sweet since an official summary can be found through a quick google search!

2. Pick out the most important aspects of the book

I usually break this down with character, world-building, themes, and plot. But this might vary between books, genres, and your tastes!

Dedicate a paragraph to each of these important aspects, discussing how well the author dealt with it, along with what you enjoyed and what you didn’t enjoy.

3. Include brief quotes as examples

Including quotes is always a great idea, because it gives examples for everything that you’re saying! If your review talks about a character being particularly witty, a witty line from the character lets your readers see exactly what kind of witty character you’re dealing with here.

But be careful: lengthy quotes can take up big chunks of space and overpower your review. Short quotes will usually get your points across while letting your work shine through.

4. Write a conclusion that summarises everything

Like your introduction, keep your conclusion short and sweet! It should bring up the main points of your review, along with your overall opinion of the book.

5. Find similar books

A great way to wrap up a review is to find similar books to the one you’re reviewing. So you can say, “if you were a fan of X book, I think you’ll definitely like this one!”

You can also be more specific, looking at the exact things that might make two books similar. So you can suggest something like…“if you liked that the main character in X book was a kick-ass superhero, then you’ll love the main character of this book!”

6. Give it a star rating

A star rating is obviously encouraged in a lot of review sites, but they’re not necessary! If you do want to give a star rating, you can go the conventional “out of five/ten” route. You could also try something slightly less conventional, and break down your star-rating into different categories for character/plot/world-building, etc.

Now go forth and review! And share any tips you have for how to write a book review in the comments.

review of a book

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The Writing Center • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Book Reviews

What this handout is about.

This handout will help you write a book review, a report or essay that offers a critical perspective on a text. It offers a process and suggests some strategies for writing book reviews.

What is a review?

A review is a critical evaluation of a text, event, object, or phenomenon. Reviews can consider books, articles, entire genres or fields of literature, architecture, art, fashion, restaurants, policies, exhibitions, performances, and many other forms. This handout will focus on book reviews. For a similar assignment, see our handout on literature reviews .

Above all, a review makes an argument. The most important element of a review is that it is a commentary, not merely a summary. It allows you to enter into dialogue and discussion with the work’s creator and with other audiences. You can offer agreement or disagreement and identify where you find the work exemplary or deficient in its knowledge, judgments, or organization. You should clearly state your opinion of the work in question, and that statement will probably resemble other types of academic writing, with a thesis statement, supporting body paragraphs, and a conclusion.

Typically, reviews are brief. In newspapers and academic journals, they rarely exceed 1000 words, although you may encounter lengthier assignments and extended commentaries. In either case, reviews need to be succinct. While they vary in tone, subject, and style, they share some common features:

  • First, a review gives the reader a concise summary of the content. This includes a relevant description of the topic as well as its overall perspective, argument, or purpose.
  • Second, and more importantly, a review offers a critical assessment of the content. This involves your reactions to the work under review: what strikes you as noteworthy, whether or not it was effective or persuasive, and how it enhanced your understanding of the issues at hand.
  • Finally, in addition to analyzing the work, a review often suggests whether or not the audience would appreciate it.

Becoming an expert reviewer: three short examples

Reviewing can be a daunting task. Someone has asked for your opinion about something that you may feel unqualified to evaluate. Who are you to criticize Toni Morrison’s new book if you’ve never written a novel yourself, much less won a Nobel Prize? The point is that someone—a professor, a journal editor, peers in a study group—wants to know what you think about a particular work. You may not be (or feel like) an expert, but you need to pretend to be one for your particular audience. Nobody expects you to be the intellectual equal of the work’s creator, but your careful observations can provide you with the raw material to make reasoned judgments. Tactfully voicing agreement and disagreement, praise and criticism, is a valuable, challenging skill, and like many forms of writing, reviews require you to provide concrete evidence for your assertions.

Consider the following brief book review written for a history course on medieval Europe by a student who is fascinated with beer:

Judith Bennett’s Ale, Beer, and Brewsters in England: Women’s Work in a Changing World, 1300-1600, investigates how women used to brew and sell the majority of ale drunk in England. Historically, ale and beer (not milk, wine, or water) were important elements of the English diet. Ale brewing was low-skill and low status labor that was complimentary to women’s domestic responsibilities. In the early fifteenth century, brewers began to make ale with hops, and they called this new drink “beer.” This technique allowed brewers to produce their beverages at a lower cost and to sell it more easily, although women generally stopped brewing once the business became more profitable.

The student describes the subject of the book and provides an accurate summary of its contents. But the reader does not learn some key information expected from a review: the author’s argument, the student’s appraisal of the book and its argument, and whether or not the student would recommend the book. As a critical assessment, a book review should focus on opinions, not facts and details. Summary should be kept to a minimum, and specific details should serve to illustrate arguments.

Now consider a review of the same book written by a slightly more opinionated student:

Judith Bennett’s Ale, Beer, and Brewsters in England: Women’s Work in a Changing World, 1300-1600 was a colossal disappointment. I wanted to know about the rituals surrounding drinking in medieval England: the songs, the games, the parties. Bennett provided none of that information. I liked how the book showed ale and beer brewing as an economic activity, but the reader gets lost in the details of prices and wages. I was more interested in the private lives of the women brewsters. The book was divided into eight long chapters, and I can’t imagine why anyone would ever want to read it.

There’s no shortage of judgments in this review! But the student does not display a working knowledge of the book’s argument. The reader has a sense of what the student expected of the book, but no sense of what the author herself set out to prove. Although the student gives several reasons for the negative review, those examples do not clearly relate to each other as part of an overall evaluation—in other words, in support of a specific thesis. This review is indeed an assessment, but not a critical one.

Here is one final review of the same book:

One of feminism’s paradoxes—one that challenges many of its optimistic histories—is how patriarchy remains persistent over time. While Judith Bennett’s Ale, Beer, and Brewsters in England: Women’s Work in a Changing World, 1300-1600 recognizes medieval women as historical actors through their ale brewing, it also shows that female agency had its limits with the advent of beer. I had assumed that those limits were religious and political, but Bennett shows how a “patriarchal equilibrium” shut women out of economic life as well. Her analysis of women’s wages in ale and beer production proves that a change in women’s work does not equate to a change in working women’s status. Contemporary feminists and historians alike should read Bennett’s book and think twice when they crack open their next brewsky.

This student’s review avoids the problems of the previous two examples. It combines balanced opinion and concrete example, a critical assessment based on an explicitly stated rationale, and a recommendation to a potential audience. The reader gets a sense of what the book’s author intended to demonstrate. Moreover, the student refers to an argument about feminist history in general that places the book in a specific genre and that reaches out to a general audience. The example of analyzing wages illustrates an argument, the analysis engages significant intellectual debates, and the reasons for the overall positive review are plainly visible. The review offers criteria, opinions, and support with which the reader can agree or disagree.

Developing an assessment: before you write

There is no definitive method to writing a review, although some critical thinking about the work at hand is necessary before you actually begin writing. Thus, writing a review is a two-step process: developing an argument about the work under consideration, and making that argument as you write an organized and well-supported draft. See our handout on argument .

What follows is a series of questions to focus your thinking as you dig into the work at hand. While the questions specifically consider book reviews, you can easily transpose them to an analysis of performances, exhibitions, and other review subjects. Don’t feel obligated to address each of the questions; some will be more relevant than others to the book in question.

  • What is the thesis—or main argument—of the book? If the author wanted you to get one idea from the book, what would it be? How does it compare or contrast to the world you know? What has the book accomplished?
  • What exactly is the subject or topic of the book? Does the author cover the subject adequately? Does the author cover all aspects of the subject in a balanced fashion? What is the approach to the subject (topical, analytical, chronological, descriptive)?
  • How does the author support their argument? What evidence do they use to prove their point? Do you find that evidence convincing? Why or why not? Does any of the author’s information (or conclusions) conflict with other books you’ve read, courses you’ve taken or just previous assumptions you had of the subject?
  • How does the author structure their argument? What are the parts that make up the whole? Does the argument make sense? Does it persuade you? Why or why not?
  • How has this book helped you understand the subject? Would you recommend the book to your reader?

Beyond the internal workings of the book, you may also consider some information about the author and the circumstances of the text’s production:

  • Who is the author? Nationality, political persuasion, training, intellectual interests, personal history, and historical context may provide crucial details about how a work takes shape. Does it matter, for example, that the biographer was the subject’s best friend? What difference would it make if the author participated in the events they write about?
  • What is the book’s genre? Out of what field does it emerge? Does it conform to or depart from the conventions of its genre? These questions can provide a historical or literary standard on which to base your evaluations. If you are reviewing the first book ever written on the subject, it will be important for your readers to know. Keep in mind, though, that naming “firsts”—alongside naming “bests” and “onlys”—can be a risky business unless you’re absolutely certain.

Writing the review

Once you have made your observations and assessments of the work under review, carefully survey your notes and attempt to unify your impressions into a statement that will describe the purpose or thesis of your review. Check out our handout on thesis statements . Then, outline the arguments that support your thesis.

Your arguments should develop the thesis in a logical manner. That logic, unlike more standard academic writing, may initially emphasize the author’s argument while you develop your own in the course of the review. The relative emphasis depends on the nature of the review: if readers may be more interested in the work itself, you may want to make the work and the author more prominent; if you want the review to be about your perspective and opinions, then you may structure the review to privilege your observations over (but never separate from) those of the work under review. What follows is just one of many ways to organize a review.


Since most reviews are brief, many writers begin with a catchy quip or anecdote that succinctly delivers their argument. But you can introduce your review differently depending on the argument and audience. The Writing Center’s handout on introductions can help you find an approach that works. In general, you should include:

  • The name of the author and the book title and the main theme.
  • Relevant details about who the author is and where they stand in the genre or field of inquiry. You could also link the title to the subject to show how the title explains the subject matter.
  • The context of the book and/or your review. Placing your review in a framework that makes sense to your audience alerts readers to your “take” on the book. Perhaps you want to situate a book about the Cuban revolution in the context of Cold War rivalries between the United States and the Soviet Union. Another reviewer might want to consider the book in the framework of Latin American social movements. Your choice of context informs your argument.
  • The thesis of the book. If you are reviewing fiction, this may be difficult since novels, plays, and short stories rarely have explicit arguments. But identifying the book’s particular novelty, angle, or originality allows you to show what specific contribution the piece is trying to make.
  • Your thesis about the book.

Summary of content

This should be brief, as analysis takes priority. In the course of making your assessment, you’ll hopefully be backing up your assertions with concrete evidence from the book, so some summary will be dispersed throughout other parts of the review.

The necessary amount of summary also depends on your audience. Graduate students, beware! If you are writing book reviews for colleagues—to prepare for comprehensive exams, for example—you may want to devote more attention to summarizing the book’s contents. If, on the other hand, your audience has already read the book—such as a class assignment on the same work—you may have more liberty to explore more subtle points and to emphasize your own argument. See our handout on summary for more tips.

Analysis and evaluation of the book

Your analysis and evaluation should be organized into paragraphs that deal with single aspects of your argument. This arrangement can be challenging when your purpose is to consider the book as a whole, but it can help you differentiate elements of your criticism and pair assertions with evidence more clearly. You do not necessarily need to work chronologically through the book as you discuss it. Given the argument you want to make, you can organize your paragraphs more usefully by themes, methods, or other elements of the book. If you find it useful to include comparisons to other books, keep them brief so that the book under review remains in the spotlight. Avoid excessive quotation and give a specific page reference in parentheses when you do quote. Remember that you can state many of the author’s points in your own words.

Sum up or restate your thesis or make the final judgment regarding the book. You should not introduce new evidence for your argument in the conclusion. You can, however, introduce new ideas that go beyond the book if they extend the logic of your own thesis. This paragraph needs to balance the book’s strengths and weaknesses in order to unify your evaluation. Did the body of your review have three negative paragraphs and one favorable one? What do they all add up to? The Writing Center’s handout on conclusions can help you make a final assessment.

Finally, a few general considerations:

  • Review the book in front of you, not the book you wish the author had written. You can and should point out shortcomings or failures, but don’t criticize the book for not being something it was never intended to be.
  • With any luck, the author of the book worked hard to find the right words to express her ideas. You should attempt to do the same. Precise language allows you to control the tone of your review.
  • Never hesitate to challenge an assumption, approach, or argument. Be sure, however, to cite specific examples to back up your assertions carefully.
  • Try to present a balanced argument about the value of the book for its audience. You’re entitled—and sometimes obligated—to voice strong agreement or disagreement. But keep in mind that a bad book takes as long to write as a good one, and every author deserves fair treatment. Harsh judgments are difficult to prove and can give readers the sense that you were unfair in your assessment.
  • A great place to learn about book reviews is to look at examples. The New York Times Sunday Book Review and The New York Review of Books can show you how professional writers review books.

Works consulted

We consulted these works while writing this handout. This is not a comprehensive list of resources on the handout’s topic, and we encourage you to do your own research to find additional publications. Please do not use this list as a model for the format of your own reference list, as it may not match the citation style you are using. For guidance on formatting citations, please see the UNC Libraries citation tutorial . We revise these tips periodically and welcome feedback.

Drewry, John. 1974. Writing Book Reviews. Boston: Greenwood Press.

Hoge, James. 1987. Literary Reviewing. Charlottesville: University Virginia of Press.

Sova, Dawn, and Harry Teitelbaum. 2002. How to Write Book Reports , 4th ed. Lawrenceville, NY: Thomson/Arco.

Walford, A.J. 1986. Reviews and Reviewing: A Guide. Phoenix: Oryx Press.

You may reproduce it for non-commercial use if you use the entire handout and attribute the source: The Writing Center, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

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The 10 Best Book Reviews of 2020

Adam morgan picks parul sehgal on raven leilani, merve emre on lewis carroll, and more.

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The pandemic and the birth of my second daughter prevented me from reading most of the books I wanted to in 2020. But I was able to read vicariously  through book critics, whose writing was a true source of comfort and escape for me this year. I’ve long told my students that criticism is literature—a genre of nonfiction that can and should be as insightful, experimental, and compelling as the art it grapples with—and the following critics have beautifully proven my point. The word “best” is always a misnomer, but these are my personal favorite book reviews of 2020.

Nate Marshall on Barack Obama’s A Promised Land ( Chicago Tribune )

A book review rarely leads to a segment on The 11th Hour with Brian Williams , but that’s what happened to Nate Marshall last month. I love how he combines a traditional review with a personal essay—a hybrid form that has become my favorite subgenre of criticism.

“The presidential memoir so often falls flat because it works against the strengths of the memoir form. Rather than take a slice of one’s life to lay bare and come to a revelation about the self or the world, the presidential memoir seeks to take the sum of a life to defend one’s actions. These sorts of memoirs are an attempt maybe not to rewrite history, but to situate history in the most rosy frame. It is by nature defensive and in this book, we see Obama’s primary defensive tool, his prodigious mind and proclivity toward over-considering every detail.”

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland

Merve Emre on Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland ( The Point )

I’m a huge fan of writing about books that weren’t just published in the last 10 seconds. And speaking of that hybrid form above, Merve Emre is one of its finest practitioners. This piece made me laugh out loud and changed the way I think about Lewis Carroll.

“I lie awake at night and concentrate on Alice,  on why my children have fixated on this book at this particular moment. Part of it must be that I have told them it ‘takes place’ in Oxford, and now Oxford—or more specifically, the college whose grounds grow into our garden—marks the physical limits of their world. Now that we can no longer move about freely, no longer go to new places to see new things, we are trying to find ways to estrange the places and objects that are already familiar to us.”

Parul Sehgal on Raven Leilani’s Luster ( The New York Times Book Review )

Once again, Sehgal remains the best lede writer in the business. I challenge you to read the opening of any  Sehgal review and stop there.

“You may know of the hemline theory—the idea that skirt lengths fluctuate with the stock market, rising in boom times and growing longer in recessions. Perhaps publishing has a parallel; call it the blurb theory. The more strained our circumstances, the more manic the publicity machine, the more breathless and orotund the advance praise. Blurbers (and critics) speak with a reverent quiver of this moment, anointing every other book its guide, every second writer its essential voice.”

The Tenant of Wildfell Hall

Constance Grady on Anne Brontë’s The Tenant of Wildfell Hall ( Vox )

Restoring the legacies of ill-forgotten books is one of our duties as critics. Grady’s take on “the least famous sister in a family of celebrated geniuses” makes a good case for Wildfell Hall’ s place alongside Wuthering Heights  and Jane Eyre  in the Romantic canon.

“[T]he heart of this book is a portrait of a woman surviving and flourishing after abuse, and in that, The Tenant of Wildfell Hall feels unnervingly modern. It is fresh, shocking, and wholly new today, 200 years after the birth of its author.”

Ismail Muhammad on Anna Wiener’s Uncanny Valley ( The Atlantic )

Muhammad is a philosophical critic, so it’s always fun to see him tackle a book with big ideas. Here, he makes an enlightened connection between Wiener’s Silicon Valley memoir and Michael Lewis’s 1989 Wall Street exposé, Liar’s Poker.

“Like Lewis, Wiener found ‘a way out of unhappiness’ by writing her own gimlet-eyed generational portrait that doubles as a cautionary tale of systemic dysfunction. But if her chronicle acquires anything like the must-read status that Lewis’s antic tale of a Princeton art-history major’s stint at Salomon Brothers did, it will be for a different reason. For all her caustic insight and droll portraiture, Wiener is on an earnest quest likely to resonate with a public that has been sleepwalking through tech’s gradual reshaping of society.”

Breasts and Eggs_Mieko Kawakami

Hermione Hoby on Mieko Kawakami’s Breasts and Eggs ( 4 Columns )

Hoby’s thousand-word review is a great example of a critic reading beyond the book to place it in context.

“When Mieko Kawakami’s Breasts and Eggs  was first published in 2008, the then-governor of Tokyo, the ultraconservative Shintaro Ishihara, deemed the novel ‘unpleasant and intolerable.’ I wonder what he objected to? Perhaps he wasn’t into a scene in which the narrator, a struggling writer called Natsuko, pushes a few fingers into her vagina in a spirit of dejected exploration: ‘I . . . tried being rough and being gentle. Nothing worked.’”

Taylor Moore on C Pam Zhang’s How Much Of These Hills Is Gold ( The A.V. Club )

Describing Zhang’s wildly imaginative debut novel is hard, but Moore manages to convey the book’s shape and texture in less than 800 words, along with some critical analysis.

“Despite some characteristics endemic to Wild West narratives (buzzards circling prey, saloons filled with seedy strangers), the world of How Much Of These Hills Is Gold feels wholly original, and Zhang imbues its wide expanse with magical realism. According to local lore, tigers lurk in the shadows, despite having died out ‘decades ago’ with the buffalo. There also exists a profound sense of loss for an exploited land, ‘stripped of its gold, its rivers, its buffalo, its Indians, its tigers, its jackals, its birds and its green and its living.’”

Grace Ebert on Paul Christman’s Midwest Futures ( Chicago Review of Books )

I love how Ebert brings her lived experience as a Midwesterner into this review of Christman’s essay collection. (Disclosure: I founded the Chicago Review of Books five years ago, but handed over the keys in July 2019.)

“I have a deep and genuine love for Wisconsin, for rural supper clubs that always offer a choice between chicken soup or an iceberg lettuce salad, and for driving back, country roads that seemingly are endless. This love, though, is conflicting. How can I sing along to Waylon Jennings, Tanya Tucker, and Merle Haggard knowing that my current political views are in complete opposition to the lyrics I croon with a twang in my voice?”

Michael Schaub on Bryan Washington’s Memorial ( NPR )

How do you review a book you fall in love with? It’s one of the most challenging assignments a critic can tackle. But Schaub is a pro; he falls in love with a few books every year.

“Washington is an enormously gifted author, and his writing—spare, unadorned, but beautiful—reads like the work of a writer who’s been working for decades, not one who has yet to turn 30. Just like Lot, Memorial  is a quietly stunning book, a masterpiece that asks us to reflect on what we owe to the people who enter our lives.”

Mesha Maren on Fernanda Melchor’s Hurricane Season ( Southern Review of Books )

Maren opens with an irresistible comparison between Melchor’s irreverent novel and medieval surrealist art. (Another Disclosure: I founded the Southern Review of Books in early 2020.)

“Have you ever wondered what internal monologue might accompany the characters in a Hieronymus Bosch painting? What are the couple copulating upside down in the middle of that pond thinking? Or the man with flowers sprouting from his ass? Or the poor fellow being killed by a fire-breathing creature which is itself impaled upon a knife? I would venture to guess that their voices would sound something like the writing of Mexican novelist Fernanda Melchor.”

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How to Write a Book Review Tips

review of a book

Book reviews are like guiding lights in the world of literature, helping readers navigate through countless stories. But writing a good review isn't just about summarizing a book – it's about making your thoughts resonate with the audience. 

Whether you're a writer, a critic, or someone who loves books, knowing how to prepare a book review can enrich your reading experience and contribute to the literary community. 

In this article, experts of our book review writing service break down the key elements and tips for compelling book reviews that spark conversation and excitement.

What Is a Book Review

A book review is a critical evaluation of a book, where the reviewer discusses its content, themes, and overall impact. It typically includes a summary of the book's main points, the reviewer's analysis and opinions, and a recommendation for potential readers. The goal is to inform others about the book's strengths and weaknesses, helping them decide if it’s worth reading.

Later in the article, you’ll find a quality book review example for your inspiration and motivation. If you’re in a hurry, try our cheap essay writing service that covers all types of academic papers.


Simply send us your paper requirements, choose a writer and we’ll get it done.

How to Write a Book Review: Step-By-Step

Writing a book review might seem complex, but in reality, the process can be divided into only three steps:

How to Write a Book Review: Step-By-Step

Summarize the Book's Content

Book reviews summarize the source's content by providing a brief and clear overview of the main plot, key characters, and central themes without giving away any spoilers. This helps readers understand the essence of the book and sets the stage for your analysis and evaluation.

Actionable Tips:

  • Read the Book Thoroughly: Ensure you grasp the full story, including subplots and character development.
  • Highlight Key Points: Note down significant events, character arcs, and main themes as you read.
  • Be Concise: Keep your summary short and to the point, focusing on the most important aspects.
  • Avoid Spoilers: Do not reveal major plot twists or the book’s ending.
  • Use Your Own Words: Write the summary in your own language to maintain originality and avoid plagiarism.
  • Provide Context: Include the book’s genre, setting, and relevant background information to help readers understand the summary.
  • Focus on Clarity: Ensure your summary is easy to read and understand, avoiding complex language or unnecessary details.

Feeling tired already? Maybe you should use our book report writing services and give yourself a break until tomorrow.

Analyze and Evaluate

You’re always halfway through writing a book review! Next, you have to critically examine its elements, such as the writing style, character development, plot structure, and thematic depth. This step is where you share your personal insights and opinions, providing evidence from the text to support your views.

Tips Explanation
Consider the Writing Style Assess the author's writing style, including tone, language, and pacing. Is it engaging and appropriate for the genre?
Evaluate Character Development Analyze how well the characters are developed. Are they believable and well-rounded? Do they evolve throughout the story?
Examine the Plot Look at the plot structure. Is it coherent and well-paced? Are there any plot holes or areas that felt rushed?
Assess Themes and Messages Identify the main themes and messages of the book. Are they effectively conveyed and thought-provoking?
Use Specific Examples Provide specific examples from the book to support your analysis. This could include quotes, key scenes, or significant events.
Reflect on the Emotional Impact Consider how the book made you feel. Did it evoke strong emotions or leave a lasting impression?
Compare with Similar Works If relevant, compare the book to other works in the same genre or by the same author. How does it stand out or fall short?
Balance Praise and Critique Offer a balanced perspective, highlighting both strengths and weaknesses. Be fair and objective in your evaluation.

Conclude with a Recommendation

We’re almost reached the finishing line of the how to write a book review race. Conclude your review of a book with either a summary, recommendation, or addressing readers directly. This step provides a clear and concise verdict based on your analysis, helping potential readers decide if the book is right for them.

Tips Example 1 Example 2
Summary "Overall, this book is a must-read for fans of historical fiction, offering a gripping narrative and well-researched background." "While the book has some strong points, such as vivid descriptions and compelling characters, its slow pace might not appeal to everyone."
Recommendation "I highly recommend it to those who enjoy rich historical settings and complex characters." "I recommend it with reservations; it's worth trying if you enjoy detailed world-building, but be prepared for a slower pace."
Audience "Ideal for readers who appreciate historical depth and emotional storytelling." "Best suited for readers who enjoy immersive settings and don’t mind a leisurely narrative."

Dive into literary analysis with EssayPro . Our experts can help you craft insightful book reviews that delve deep into the themes, characters, and narratives of your chosen books. Enhance your understanding and appreciation of literature with us.

book review order

Book Review Structure

A book review outline usually follows a structured format with an introduction, main body, and conclusion.


This section introduces the book, mentioning its title, author, genre, and publication details. It gives a brief overview of the book's premise and main themes to provide context for the reader.

The main body offers a detailed analysis and critique of the book. It's divided into paragraphs focusing on specific aspects such as plot, characters, and writing style. Each paragraph provides evidence from the book to support the reviewer's analysis.

Are you ready to use our service yet? All you have to do is drop us a line with a message that says, ‘ write paper for me .’ Our experts will do the rest!

The conclusion summarizes the reviewer's overall thoughts and impressions of the book, restating key points and the main argument. It often includes a recommendation for potential readers and may provide final reflections or insights about the book's significance.

Book Review Template

Here's a basic structure you can follow every time you’re tasked with such an assignment:

Section Description
Title [Book Title]
Author [Author's Name]
Genre [Genre of the Book]
Publication [Publication Date/Year]
Introduction - Briefly introduce the book, including its title, author, genre, and publication information.
Summary - Provide a concise overview of the book's premise and main themes.
- Summarize the main plot points, characters, and setting.
- Highlight key events and any significant themes or motifs.
Analysis - Evaluate the book's strengths and weaknesses.
- Discuss the writing style, character development, and pacing.
- Analyze how effectively the book conveys its themes and ideas.
Critique - Offer a critical assessment of the book.
- Discuss what you liked and disliked about the book.
- Compare the book to similar works in its genre.
Conclusion - Summarize your overall thoughts and impressions of the book.
- Restate your thesis statement or main argument.
- Recommend the book to potential readers or suggest its target audience.
- Provide any final reflections or insights.

Extra Tips for Writing Better Book Reviews

Here are 11 extra tips for writing better book reviews:

  • Look for essay topics that are interesting personally for you.
  • Consider your audience and what they might want to know about the book.
  • Be mindful not to give away major plot twists or endings that could ruin the reading experience for others.
  • Use quotes or examples from the book to support your analysis and critique.
  • Express your opinions openly, but respect the author and their work.
  • Think about the book's historical, cultural, or social context when evaluating its themes and messages.
  • Paint a vivid picture of the book's qualities using descriptive language to engage your readers.
  • Acknowledge the book's strengths and weaknesses to provide a balanced review.
  • Aim to be concise and to the point, focusing on the most important aspects of the book.
  • Let your enthusiasm for the book shine through in your review to captivate your readers.
  • Gain insights from reading other reviews to see different perspectives and approaches to reviewing books.

Book Review Example

As promised at the beginning of the article, we’d like to share a good example of a book review as it should be done by students either in school or college:

Final Thoughts

Book reviews empower students to become active participants in the literary conversation. They learn to contribute their unique perspectives and interpretations to the broader discourse. With a custom term paper writing service , learners can become true educational powerhouses who never miss deadlines.

Through critical engagement with literary sources, students develop a deeper understanding of complex themes and issues, honing their ability to think analytically and empathetically. At the end of the day, aren’t these two skills that every educated individual should possess? 

Need To Write a Book Review But DON’T HAVE THE TIME

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How To Write A Book Review?

What to include in a book review, what is a book review.

Adam Jason

is an expert in nursing and healthcare, with a strong background in history, law, and literature. Holding advanced degrees in nursing and public health, his analytical approach and comprehensive knowledge help students navigate complex topics. On EssayPro blog, Adam provides insightful articles on everything from historical analysis to the intricacies of healthcare policies. In his downtime, he enjoys historical documentaries and volunteering at local clinics.

review of a book

  • Added new infographics.
  • Updated writing tips.
  • Added new example.
  • How to write a book review | BookTrust. (n.d.-b).
  • Book Reviews – The Writing Center • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. (2024, May 14). The Writing Center • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
  • Research Guides: Organizing Your Social Sciences Research Assignments: Writing a Book Review. (n.d.).  

How to Write a Critical Thinking Essay

Literacy Ideas

How to Write a Book Review: The Ultimate Guide

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how to write a book review | what is a Book review | How to Write a Book Review: The Ultimate Guide |

Traditionally, book reviews are evaluations of a recently published book in any genre. Usually, around the 500 to 700-word mark, they briefly describe a text’s main elements while appraising the work’s strengths and weaknesses. Published book reviews can appear in newspapers, magazines, and academic journals. They provide the reader with an overview of the book itself and indicate whether or not the reviewer would recommend the book to the reader.


There was a time when book reviews were a regular appearance in every quality newspaper and many periodicals. They were essential elements in whether or not a book would sell well. A review from a heavyweight critic could often be the deciding factor in whether a book became a bestseller or a damp squib. In the last few decades, however, the book review’s influence has waned considerably, with many potential book buyers preferring to consult customer reviews on Amazon, or sites like Goodreads, before buying. As a result, book review’s appearance in newspapers, journals, and digital media has become less frequent.


Even in the heyday of the book review’s influence, few students who learned the craft of writing a book review became literary critics! The real value of crafting a well-written book review for a student does not lie in their ability to impact book sales. Understanding how to produce a well-written book review helps students to:

●     Engage critically with a text

●     Critically evaluate a text

●     Respond personally to a range of different writing genres

●     Improve their own reading, writing, and thinking skills.

Not to Be Confused with a Book Report!



While the terms are often used interchangeably, there are clear differences in both the purpose and the format of the two genres. Generally speaking, book reports aim to give a more detailed outline of what occurs in a book. A book report on a work of fiction will tend to give a comprehensive account of the characters, major plot lines, and themes in the book. Book reports are usually written around the K-12 age range, while book reviews tend not to be undertaken by those at the younger end of this age range due to the need for the higher-level critical skills required in writing them. At their highest expression, book reviews are written at the college level and by professional critics.

Learn how to write a book review step by step with our complete guide for students and teachers by familiarizing yourself with the structure and features.


ANALYZE Evaluate the book with a critical mind.

THOROUGHNESS The whole is greater than the sum of all its parts. Review the book as a WHOLE.

COMPARE Where appropriate compare to similar texts and genres.

THUMBS UP OR DOWN? You are going to have to inevitably recommend or reject this book to potential readers.

BE CONSISTENT Take a stance and stick with it throughout your review.


PAST TENSE You are writing about a book you have already read.

EMOTIVE LANGUAGE Whatever your stance or opinion be passionate about it. Your audience will thank you for it.

VOICE Both active and passive voice are used in recounts.


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As with any of the writing genres we teach our students, a book review can be helpfully explained in terms of criteria. While there is much to the ‘art’ of writing, there is also, thankfully, a lot of the nuts and bolts that can be listed too. Have students consider the following elements before writing:

●     Title: Often, the title of the book review will correspond to the title of the text itself, but there may also be some examination of the title’s relevance. How does it fit into the purpose of the work as a whole? Does it convey a message or reveal larger themes explored within the work?

●     Author: Within the book review, there may be some discussion of who the author is and what they have written before, especially if it relates to the current work being reviewed. There may be some mention of the author’s style and what they are best known for. If the author has received any awards or prizes, this may also be mentioned within the body of the review.

●     Genre: A book review will identify the genre that the book belongs to, whether fiction or nonfiction, poetry, romance, science-fiction, history etc. The genre will likely tie in, too with who the intended audience for the book is and what the overall purpose of the work is.

●     Book Jacket / Cover: Often, a book’s cover will contain artwork that is worthy of comment. It may contain interesting details related to the text that contribute to, or detract from, the work as a whole.

●     Structure: The book’s structure will often be heavily informed by its genre. Have students examine how the book is organized before writing their review. Does it contain a preface from a guest editor, for example? Is it written in sections or chapters? Does it have a table of contents, index, glossary etc.? While all these details may not make it into the review itself, looking at how the book is structured may reveal some interesting aspects.

●     Publisher and Price: A book review will usually contain details of who publishes the book and its cost. A review will often provide details of where the book is available too.

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As students read and engage with the work they will review, they will develop a sense of the shape their review will take. This will begin with the summary. Encourage students to take notes during the reading of the work that will help them in writing the summary that will form an essential part of their review. Aspects of the book they may wish to take notes on in a work of fiction may include:

●     Characters: Who are the main characters? What are their motivations? Are they convincingly drawn? Or are they empathetic characters?

●     Themes: What are the main themes of the work? Are there recurring motifs in the work? Is the exploration of the themes deep or surface only?

●     Style: What are the key aspects of the writer’s style? How does it fit into the wider literary world?

●     Plot: What is the story’s main catalyst? What happens in the rising action? What are the story’s subplots? 

A book review will generally begin with a short summary of the work itself. However, it is important not to give too much away, remind students – no spoilers, please! For nonfiction works, this may be a summary of the main arguments of the work, again, without giving too much detail away. In a work of fiction, a book review will often summarise up to the rising action of the piece without going beyond to reveal too much!

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The summary should also provide some orientation for the reader. Given the nature of the purpose of a review, it is important that students’ consider their intended audience in the writing of their review. Readers will most likely not have read the book in question and will require some orientation. This is often achieved through introductions to the main characters, themes, primary arguments etc. This will help the reader to gauge whether or not the book is of interest to them.

Once your student has summarized the work, it is time to ‘review’ in earnest. At this point, the student should begin to detail their own opinion of the book. To do this well they should:

i. Make It Personal

Often when teaching essay writing we will talk to our students about the importance of climbing up and down the ladder of abstraction. Just as it is helpful to explore large, more abstract concepts in an essay by bringing it down to Earth, in a book review, it is important that students can relate the characters, themes, ideas etc to their own lives.

Book reviews are meant to be subjective. They are opinion pieces, and opinions grow out of our experiences of life. Encourage students to link the work they are writing about to their own personal life within the body of the review. By making this personal connection to the work, students contextualize their opinions for the readers and help them to understand whether the book will be of interest to them or not in the process.

ii. Make It Universal

Just as it is important to climb down the ladder of abstraction to show how the work relates to individual life, it is important to climb upwards on the ladder too. Students should endeavor to show how the ideas explored in the book relate to the wider world. The may be in the form of the universality of the underlying themes in a work of fiction or, for example, the international implications for arguments expressed in a work of nonfiction.

iii. Support Opinions with Evidence

A book review is a subjective piece of writing by its very nature. However, just because it is subjective does not mean that opinions do not need to be justified. Make sure students understand how to back up their opinions with various forms of evidence, for example, quotations, statistics, and the use of primary and secondary sources.


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As with any writing genre, encourage students to polish things up with review and revision at the end. Encourage them to proofread and check for accurate spelling throughout, with particular attention to the author’s name, character names, publisher etc. 

It is good practice too for students to double-check their use of evidence. Are statements supported? Are the statistics used correctly? Are the quotations from the text accurate? Mistakes such as these uncorrected can do great damage to the value of a book review as they can undermine the reader’s confidence in the writer’s judgement.

The discipline of writing book reviews offers students opportunities to develop their writing skills and exercise their critical faculties. Book reviews can be valuable standalone activities or serve as a part of a series of activities engaging with a central text. They can also serve as an effective springboard into later discussion work based on the ideas and issues explored in a particular book. Though the book review does not hold the sway it once did in the mind’s of the reading public, it still serves as an effective teaching tool in our classrooms today.

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Teaching Resources

Use our resources and tools to improve your student’s writing skills through proven teaching strategies.


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Book and Movie review writing examples (Student Writing Samples)

Below are a collection of student writing samples of book reviews.  Click on the image to enlarge and explore them in greater detail.  Please take a moment to both read the movie or book review in detail but also the teacher and student guides which highlight some of the key elements of writing a text review

Please understand these student writing samples are not intended to be perfect examples for each age or grade level but a piece of writing for students and teachers to explore together to critically analyze to improve student writing skills and deepen their understanding of book review writing.

We would recommend reading the example either a year above and below, as well as the grade you are currently working with to gain a broader appreciation of this text type .

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Transactional Writing

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How to write a text response

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How to Write a Compare and Contrast Essay

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How to Write Excellent Expository Essays

  • Writing & Editing

How to Write a Book Review (The Definitive Guide)

How to Write a Book Review (The Definitive Guide)

You should know how to write a book review, whether you want to help a writer friend with his or her book sales or just want to provide your two cents on a specific book.

A book review is a subtle yet effective way to show your reaction to a book, and it holds a great deal of weight with readers.

Let’s delve into book reviews and how to write them properly.

What is a book review?

A book review is a written assessment of a specific book. The book review is often well-regarded by book aficionados because they look for affirmation from a well-known source.

As a rule, if you are going to write a book review, you should make sure that you write the book review as effectively as possible.

Here is a step-by-step guide to on how to write a book review:

1. Read the book thoroughly

When you receive a copy of the book, the first thing you should do is read it thoroughly. Don't rush into writing a book review. You must be as thorough as possible and be familiar with the most subtle aspects of the book.

Keep in mind that the author is counting on you to write an objective and well-written review of his or her book. If you rush through the book review, you will be doing the author a grave injustice.

2. Choose a rating system

You should make sure to set up a rating system for your book review. By having a rating system, you will be able to convey whether a book is worth reading or not.

The rating system could be practically anything. It could be a five-star system, or any other rating system. What’s important is that your rating system is easy to understand.

3. Know what to include in your book review

While you are reading the book, you should already have a format for your book review. The review should have a set blueprint. As you write the book review, you should include an introduction, thesis, body, and conclusion.

Here is a short description of the book review parts:


The introduction should describe the book's title and cover. It should also take note of any subtitles and the name of the author.

This part of the book review should have a quick description of the book’s contents and show the key points of the book. It is best to avoid making any opinions during this part.

Quote at least three parts from the book, and give your own take on them. You should make sure to separate each opinion into a specific paragraph.

The conclusion should include a summary of all the key points from the main body. This should also contain your rating and an overall opinion of the book. You should also explain why you have this specific opinion about the book.

4. Fairness is key

Once you finish reading the book and have written down all the key concepts in it, it is now time to write the book review. As you write your book review, it is important that you have one thing in mind. Fairness is of the utmost importance. Whether you like or don’t like the author, it is very important that you have an unbiased approach to reviewing their book.

5. Take your time with writing the book review

As you are writing the book review, you may be tempted to just write a generic review. What’s so important about honesty or detail, right? This is a very bad way of looking at book reviews.

Remember that readers will use your book review to gauge whether to buy the book. If your book review is half-hearted or rushed, they will not really heed your critique.

If you want readers to follow your book recommendation, you should write a well-written book review. Take the time to double check every aspect of the book review.

Make sure that your grammar, spelling, and word usage are all on point. Remember that readers will base their decision to buy a book on your expertise and experience as a writer.

However, if the book review itself does not make sense or has a lot of spelling and grammatical errors, then the readers may think twice about heeding your recommendations. If you don’t want to get embarrassed, you should make sure to double check every aspect of your book review.

Book reviews are a big part of the book publishing industry. A majority of book lovers often use book reviews to gauge whether they should read a specific book or not. 

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How to Write a Book Review

Last Updated: January 10, 2024 Approved

This article was co-authored by Christopher Taylor, PhD . Christopher Taylor is an Adjunct Assistant Professor of English at Austin Community College in Texas. He received his PhD in English Literature and Medieval Studies from the University of Texas at Austin in 2014. There are 10 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page. wikiHow marks an article as reader-approved once it receives enough positive feedback. This article received 66 testimonials and 93% of readers who voted found it helpful, earning it our reader-approved status. This article has been viewed 1,206,895 times.

Writing a book review is not just about summarizing; it's also an opportunity for you to present a critical discussion of the book so others get an idea of what to expect. Whether you’re writing a review as an assignment or as a publication opportunity, you should combine an accurate, analytical reading with a strong, personal touch. An effective book review describes what is on the page, analyzes how the book tried to achieve its purpose, and expresses any reactions and arguments from a unique perspective.

Review Template

review of a book

Preparing to Write Your Review

Step 1 Read the book and take notes.

  • Write down notes in a notebook or use a voice recorder to document any thoughts or impressions you have of the book as you are reading. They don't have to be organized or perfect, the idea is to brainstorm any impressions you may have of the book.
  • Try summarizing the major sections of the book you’re reviewing to help understand how it’s structured.

Step 2 Think about the book's genre and/or field of study.

  • For example, if you are reviewing a non-fiction book about the development of the polio vaccine in the 1950s, consider reading other books that also examine the same scientific issue and/or period of scientific development. Or if you are reviewing a work of fiction like Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter, consider how Hawthorne's book relates to other 19th-century works of romanticism and historical fiction set in the same time period (the 17th century) as points of comparison.

Step 3 Determine the major arguments and themes of the book.

  • Pay attention to the preface, any quotes, and /or references in the book's introduction, as this content will likely shed light on the book's major themes and viewpoint.
  • A simple way to determine one of the major themes of a book is to sum up the book in one word or sentence. So, for example, the major theme of The Scarlet Letter could be "sin". Once you have your one-word summary, stretch the single word into a message or lesson, such as "sin can lead to knowledge, but it can also lead to suffering."

Step 4 Consider the author's writing style.

  • For example, in The Scarlet Letter, Hawthorne attempts to combine the writing style of the Romantic Period (1800-1855) with the common, everyday language of the American Puritans of the 1600s. Hawthorne does this with long, descriptive sentences that are strung together with commas and semicolons.

Step 5 Think about how well the author develops the major areas or points in the book.

  • In the Scarlet Letter, for example, Hawthorne begins the book with an introduction to the text, narrated by an individual who has many autobiographical details in common with the author. In the introduction, the nameless narrator tells the story of finding the manuscript bundled in a scarlet letter "A". Hawthorne uses this narrative framing to create a story within a story, an important detail when discussing the book as a whole.

Step 7 Consider any literary devices in the book.

  • If we were to use the Scarlett Letter again, it would be significant to note that Hawthorne chose the adulterer and sinner Hester Prynne as his protagonist, and placed the religious, anti-sin Reverend Wilson in the role of antagonist. In writing a review of The Scarlet Letter, it would be useful to consider why Hawthorne did this, and how it relates back to the book's overall theme of sin.

Step 8 Think about how unique the book is.

Creating a First Draft of the Review

Step 1 Begin with a heading.

  • Ensure your introduction contains relevant details like the author's background, and if applicable, their previous work in the genre. [2] X Trustworthy Source University of North Carolina Writing Center UNC's on-campus and online instructional service that provides assistance to students, faculty, and others during the writing process Go to source You can also indicate the main themes you will be discussing in your review to situate the reader and give them an indication of your "take" on the book.
  • Several possible openings include: a historical moment, an anecdote, a surprising or intriguing statement, and declarative statements. Regardless of your opening sentences, make sure they directly relate to your critical response to the book and keep them short and to the point.
  • If you're unsure on how to begin the review, try writing your introduction last. It may be easier to organize all of your supporting points and your critical position, and then write the introduction last—that way you can be sure that the introduction will match the body of the review. [3] X Trustworthy Source University of North Carolina Writing Center UNC's on-campus and online instructional service that provides assistance to students, faculty, and others during the writing process Go to source

Step 3 Write a summary of the book.

  • Keep the summary short, to the point, and informative. Use quotes or paraphrasing from the book to support your summary. [4] X Research source Make sure you properly cite all quotes and paraphrasing in your review to avoid plagiarism. [5] X Research source
  • Be wary of summaries that begin with phrases like “[This essay] is about…” “[This book] is the story of…” “[This author] writes about…”. [6] X Trustworthy Source University of North Carolina Writing Center UNC's on-campus and online instructional service that provides assistance to students, faculty, and others during the writing process Go to source Focus on weaving a description of the book's setting, narrative voice, and plot within a critical analysis. Avoid simply regurgitating the book's premise.
  • Don't give away important details or reveal the ending of the book in your summary, and don't go into detail about what happens from the middle of the book onwards. [7] X Research source As well, if the book is part of a series, you can mention this to potential readers and situate the book within the series. [8] X Research source

Step 4 Evaluate and critique the book.

  • Use the answers you brainstormed during your preparation for the review to formulate your critique. Address how well the book has achieved its goal, how the book compares to other books on the subject, specific points that were not convincing or lacked development, and what personal experiences, if any, you've had related to the subject of the book.
  • Always use (properly cited) supporting quotes and passages from the book to back up your critical discussion. This not only reinforces your viewpoint with a trustworthy source, it also gives the reader a sense of the writing style and narrative voice of the book. [9] X Research source
  • The general rule of thumb is that the first one-half to two-thirds of the review should summarize the author’s main ideas, and at least one-third should evaluate the book.

Step 5 Wrap up the review.

  • Examine the strengths and weaknesses of the book, and discuss whether you would recommend the book to others. If so, who do you think is the ideal audience for the book? [10] X Research source Do not introduce new material in your conclusion or discuss a new idea or impression that was not examined in your introduction and body paragraphs. [11] X Research source
  • You can also give the book a numerical score, a thumbs up or thumbs down, or a starred rating. [12] X Research source

Polishing the Review

Step 1 Re read and revise your review.

  • Always use spell check and adjust any grammar or spelling. Nothing undermines a quality review more than bad spelling and grammar.
  • Double check that all quotes and references are properly cited in your review.

Step 2 Get feedback.

Community Q&A

Community Answer

  • As you're writing, try thinking of your reader as a friend to whom you're telling a story. How would you relay the book's themes and main points to a friend in a casual conversation? This will help you balance formal and informal language and simplify your critical assessment. [13] X Research source Thanks Helpful 0 Not Helpful 0
  • Review the book in front of you, not the book you wish the author had written. Being critical means pointing out shortcomings or failures, but avoid focusing your criticism of the book on what the book is not. Be fair in your discussion and always consider the value of the book for its audience. [14] X Trustworthy Source University of North Carolina Writing Center UNC's on-campus and online instructional service that provides assistance to students, faculty, and others during the writing process Go to source Thanks Helpful 0 Not Helpful 0
  • Make sure, after you've finished your review, to reread it and check any grammar or spelling mistakes so that it makes sense. Try reading your review from numerous perspectives, or asking a friend to proofread it for you. Thanks Helpful 4 Not Helpful 1

Make sure to read the book thoroughly. If you don't, it will be bad.

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About This Article

Christopher Taylor, PhD

To write a book review, start with a heading that includes the book's title, author, place of publication, publisher, date of publication, and number of pages. Then, open your review with an introduction that includes the author's background as well as the main points you'll be making. Next, split up the body of your review so the first half of the review is a summary of the author's main ideas and the rest is your critique of the book. Finally, close your review with a concluding paragraph that briefly summarizes your analysis. To learn how to read a book critically so it's easier to write a review, keep reading! Did this summary help you? Yes No

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Independent Book Review

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A Celebration of Indie Press and Self-Published Books

review of a book

How to Write a Great Book Review

"How to Write a Great Book Review" by Joe Walters is a writer's resource for brainstorming, planning, drafting, and editing the best book reviews. Check it out for tips & tricks from our book review editor.

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by Joe Walters

How to write a great book review featured photo

There are so many ways to write a great book review.

But it all starts with careful and attentive reading. 

Read every word on every page, and if you don’t understand something, read it again. Back in college, I read things I didn’t understand but continued moving forward because that’s what I did in high school, in grade school, in class all the time. You’re taught to use context clues and follow along.

You have my permission to stop doing that. (Tell your teacher to blame me).

If you don’t understand something, read it again. If you still don’t understand it, try writing down what happens in each and every scene. A scene could be a full chapter, a paragraph, or a few paragraphs. I had to do this with Le Morte D’Arthur when I was in school, and I actually ended up loving it by the end, regardless of the hard to decipher Olde English spellings.

Just because you’re a slow reader doesn’t mean you’re a bad one.

Before you learn how to write great book reviews, understand this…

People write book reviews for different reasons. Sometimes they want to publish their writing in a publication (like a newspaper, magazine, or Independent Book Review ). Sometimes they have to write a book review for school. Sometimes they want to build a platform on Goodreads, or they want to support indie authors by leaving the review on Amazon.

If you’re writing a book review for school, my first recommendation is to combine this treasure trove of a blog post with the specifics of what your teacher is asking you to do on their rubric. They may want analytical points that go beyond the 50% marker because they don’t care for spoilers, while reviewing for publication might want it to be spoiler-free.

The kinds of reviews I’m talking about? These would put you in a good position to publish your book reviews on blogs, magazines, and platforms like Goodreads or Amazon .

Your first big question :

review of a book

Should you take notes while you read? 

Maybe? Probably? It’s up to you in the end, but I’d recommend it, especially if you’re just starting out.

If you take notes while you go, you can not only pinpoint comments in specific locations in the book regarding how you’re feeling about it (so that you can write about it later), you can also highlight some of your favorite quotes in the book. 

Adding quotes directly from the text can add some intrigue (and length) to your book review. It’s one thing to hear that the book has great prose; it’s another to see it for yourself.

After reading the book

sleep on it before writing your book review

Sleep on it. Not literally (unless it’s comfy, I guess?). 

The main point here is to just give yourself some time to stew on it. How is it sitting with you now that you’ve read the ending? Now that you understand what the author really wanted to do? 

Then, imagine a scenario where you are talking to another reader about it. 

How would you start the conversation? How would you set the story up so that they understand the characters and the plotline and where it goes from there?

The good news is that you’re not just babbling to your friend about it (although that’s cool too). Unlike a conversation, with a review, you will have time to revise and edit instead of just spouting out all the things you have to say.

But still, it’s good practice. You will figure out what is most important to talk about simply by imagining this friend’s perspective— wait, did I tell them about the revolt yet? The love interest? They’re gonna need to know who the hell Puck is before I get to why it’s so good.

How do you write great book reviews without reading some examples first? You can’t. So check these out before you go any further: Book Review: Rock Gods & Messy Monsters and Book Review: The Devil Pulls the Strings .

How to write a first draft of a great book review:  .

review of a book

“Some people call it verbal diarrhea. I just call it word shit.” – Wanderlust (2012)

Regardless of what you call it, let the words spill out. Write about what happens in the book, how you feel about it, and why. Just write.

If you start out with the skeleton of a structure, it could be even easier to draft. Here’s what we share with our reviewers for our 400+ word reviews:

  • “An evocative psychological thriller that explores the influence of trauma on the human mind and soul” – Robyn-Lee Samuels, Book Review: A Cabin in the Woods
  • “A tender, inventive memoir that grapples with the unexpected loss of a child” – Tucker Lieberman, Book Review: An Ambiguous Grief
  • “The laugh-out-loud antics of three unlikely pilgrims headline this poignantly told humorous novel.” – Frank Pizzoli, Book Review: The Jesus Nut
  • Part 1: Introduce the characters & goals of the book early on.
  • Part 2: Write an enticing summary up until about the 50% marker
  • Part 3: How the author/book succeeded. Be specific & use examples. If you said that it has great characters, tell me who they are and what’s great about them.
  • Part 4: What you did not like about the novel (if applicable). If not applicable, use this paragraph to indicate another thing that the author/book did well.
  • Part 5: Closing comments, recommendation, and overall feeling about the novel.

Self-editing your book review

You’re not done yet. I’m sure you’ve already written a great book review, and everyone else in the world would applaud you for it, but—wait, actually, no.

No you didn’t. Not yet.

I have not read it obviously, but I feel pretty confident in saying your first draft can be improved upon. Please read your review from the top to the bottom, asking yourself questions like:

  • Did I write in present tense to describe the happenings in the plot?
  • Did I italicize the book title but use quotation marks for stories or essays within the book?
  • Does this sentence communicate exactly what I am trying to say in as few words as possible? Are there filler words that could be removed without impacting the clarity of the sentence?
  • Do I avoid cliche and speak honestly and originally about this book?
  • Do I tell the story in a linear fashion up until about the 50% marker?
  • Did I accidentally include any spoilers?
  • Are the words I use to praise the book really saying anything? Avoid empty words and phrases like “interesting” and “relatable”
  • Do I have a good mix of summary, praise, and (if applicable) criticism?
  • If I added a quote from within the book, would it help make my case or entice readers into buying it?
  • Do I use evidence to back up why I am saying this character is so great? Evidence for why the pacing worked?
  • How’s my last line? Is it as catchy and clear as it could be? Am I leaving the reader with some of my best work?

What I love about great book reviews

review of a book

They don’t always follow the rules.

I edit book reviews for a living, and I share tips like the ones I’ve shared here with my reviewers, but sometimes, they write reviews that look far different from my guided outline and are about as wonderful as I could ask for. They are clear, they are honest, they are poetic, they are so many things at once. 

Reviewing is an art form. It’s important to know the foundations of a great book review, but like great art, sometimes it takes writers stepping out of boundaries to really do something amazing.

Here are a couple examples of reviews that threw my outline out the window but absolutely nailed the execution: Book Review: Obit and Book Review: Anthropica .

Thanks for checking out our tips for how to write a great book review! If you would like to apply to write for IBR, fill out the submission form on this page .

About the Author

Joe Walters IBR founder

Joe Walters  is the founder and editor-in-chief of Independent Book Review and a book marketing specialist at Sunbury Press. When he’s not doing editorial, promoting, or reviewing work, he’s working on his novel and trusting the process. Find him @joewalters13 on Twitter.

Thank you for reading Joe Walters’s blog post “ How to Write a Great Book Revie w!” If you liked what you read, please spend some more time with us at the links below.

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5 comments on “ how to write a great book review ”.

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Cool. Thanks. Working on one for the Catholic Worker as we type.

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Great post! Your emphasis on the importance of careful reading and taking notes while reading is spot on. I appreciate the practical tips you provided for writing book reviews. Keep up the good work!

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The piece i read was and is really helpful. But i have questions to ask. More like i need clarity on certain things i read from Joe Walters’ piece. I do not know how to contact him. Not a fan of twitter. Searched for him on Facebook but came up with nothing. So, if there is another way to contact him, i will appreciate.

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The Only Book Review Templates You'll Ever Need

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Blog – Posted on Thursday, Nov 11

The only book review templates you'll ever need.

The Only Book Review Templates You'll Ever Need

Whether you’re trying to become a book reviewer , writing a book report for school, or analyzing a book, it’s nice to follow a book review template to make sure that your thoughts are clearly presented. 

A quality template provides guidance to keep your mind sharp and your thoughts organized so that you can write the best book review possible. On Reedsy Discovery , we read and share a lot of book reviews, which helps us develop quite a clear idea what makes up a good one. With that in mind, we’ve put together some trustworthy book review templates that you can download, along with a quick run-through of all the parts that make up an outstanding review — all in this post! 

Pro-tip : But wait! How are you sure if you should become a book reviewer in the first place? If you're on the fence, or curious about your match with a book reviewing career, take our quick quiz:

Should you become a book reviewer?

Find out the answer. Takes 30 seconds!

Book review templates for every type of review

With the rapid growth of the book community on Instagram, Youtube, and even TikTok, the world of book commentary has evolved far beyond your classic review. There are now many ways you can structure a book review. Some popular formats include:

  • Book reports — often done for school assignments; 
  • Commentary articles — think in-depth reviews in magazines and newspapers; 
  • Book blog reviews — short personal essays about the book; and
  • Instagram reviews — one or two-paragraph reviews captioned under a nice photo. 

But while the text in all these review styles can be organized in different ways, there are certain boxes that all good book reviews tick. So, instead of giving you various templates to use for different occasions, we’ve condensed it down to just two book review templates (one for fiction and one for nonfiction) that can guide your thoughts and help you nail just about any review. 

review of a book

⭐ Download our free fiction book review template  

⭐ Download our free nonfiction book review template  

All you need to do is answer the questions in the template regarding the book you’re reading and you’ve got the content of your review covered. Once that’s done, you can easily put this content into its appropriate format. 

Now, if you’re curious about what constitutes a good book review template, we’ll explain it in the following section! 

Elements of a book review template

Say you want to build your own book review template, or you want to customize our templates — here are the elements you’ll want to consider. 

We’ve divided our breakdown of the elements into two categories: the essentials and the fun additions that’ll add some color to your book reviews.

What are the three main parts of a book review?

We covered this in detail (with the help of some stellar examples) in our post on how to write a book review , but basically, these are the three crucial elements you should know: 

The summary covers the premise of the book and its main theme, so readers are able to understand what you’re referring to in the rest of your review. This means that, if a person hasn’t read the book, they can go through the summary to get a quick idea of what it’s about. (As such, there should be no spoilers!) 

The analysis is where, if it’s a fiction book, you talk more about the book, its plot, theme, and characters. If it’s nonfiction, you have to consider whether the book effectively achieves what it set out to do. 

The recommendation is where your personal opinion comes in the strongest, and you give a verdict as to who you think might enjoy this book. 

You can choose to be brief or detailed, depending on the kind of review you’re writing, but you should always aim to cover these three points. If you’re needing some inspiration, check out these 17 book review examples as seen in magazines, blogs, and review communities like Reedsy Discovery for a little variation. 

Which review community should you join?

Find out which review community is best for your style. Takes 30 seconds!

Which additional details can you include?

Once you’ve nailed down the basics, you can jazz things up a little and add some personal flavor to your book review by considering some of these elements:

  • A star-rating (the default is five stars but you can create your own scales); 
  • A bullet-point pros and cons list; 
  • Your favorite quotation from the book; 
  • Commentary on the format you read (i.e., ebook, print, or audiobook);
  • Fun facts about the book or author; 
  • Other titles you think are similar.

This is where you can really be creative and tailor your review to suit your purpose and audience. A formal review written for a magazine, for instance, will likely benefit from contextual information about the author and the book, along with some comment on how that might have affected the reading (or even writing) process.

Meanwhile, if you’re reviewing a book on social media, you might find bullet points more effective at capturing the fleeting attention of Internet users. You can also make videos, take creative pictures, or even add your own illustrations for more personal touches. The floor is yours at this point, so go ahead and take the spotlight! 

That said, we hope that our templates can provide you with a strong foundation for even your most adventurous reviews. And if you’re interested in writing editorial reviews for up-and-coming indie titles, register as a reviewer on Reedsy Discovery !

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How to Write a Book Review On Amazon: 10 Approved Steps

  • February 20, 2024

Table of Contents:

How to write a book review on amazon, 1. choose a book you enjoyed, 2. understand the genre, 3. read attentively, 4. personal reflection is key, 5. structure your review, 6. be honest and balanced, 7. keep it concise and engaging, 8. edit your review, 9. post your review on amazon, 10. share your review, final words:.

Writing a book review can be an enjoyable and rewarding experience, especially if you love sharing your thoughts about books. This guide is here to help you learn how to write a book review on Amazon effectively. Whether you’re reviewing fiction vs nonfiction or any other genre, these steps will ensure your review is insightful and helpful to others. Remember, a great review doesn’t require you to be an experienced critic or to have the skills to write a book with no experience . Let’s Jump in!

The first step to writing a book review is picking a book you love. It might be a novel, a memoir, or an exciting non-fiction work. Think about a book that made you smile, kept you turning the pages, or even changed your thoughts. This could be from a range of top story writers  or twitter ghostwriter you admire. When you write about something you enjoy, your words come alive. Your readers can feel your joy and excitement. This makes your review not just informative but also a pleasure to read. Your enthusiasm can inspire others to pick up the book, too!

Knowing the genre you are reviewing is important. This knowledge shapes your review. Like fiction, look at how the story unfolds, who the characters are, and what happens in the plot. It’s about the journey, the twists and turns, and the emotional ride. In nonfiction, focus on how clear and strong the information and arguments are. Ask yourself: does this book teach, persuade, or inform effectively? Understanding the genre helps you highlight the right aspects of the book, making your review more useful and insightful for your readers. It’s like choosing the right tool for the job – it makes everything more effective and fitting.

To write a book review full of insights, reading with full attention is crucial. Go deep into the book’s themes, the writer’s unique style, and how the story moves. Notice how the book makes you feel or think. Are you excited, curious, or moved? Write down these feelings and thoughts. These notes are precious. They help you remember your initial reactions and impressions. When you start writing your review, these notes will guide you, helping you share a genuine and engaging perspective. Reading attentively is like being a detective, looking for clues to understand the story better.

Think deeply about how the book touched you. Did it open your eyes to new ideas or keep you entertained from start to finish? Sharing your personal experience is crucial. It adds a special, relatable quality to your review. Your reflections show how a book can impact a reader. They make your review a list of observations and a story of your encounter with the book. When readers see your journey with the book, it helps them connect more with your review. It’s like sharing a part of your reading adventure with them.

A good book review has a clear structure. Start with a brief book summary like Haunting Adeline , followed by your analysis and personal reflections. Finally, conclude with your overall thoughts and recommendations.

Being honest is vital when you write a book review. If certain parts didn’t catch your fancy or seemed off, it’s important to say so. But remember, balance is crucial. Even if the book wasn’t to your liking, try to spot the good bits. Maybe the writing style was excellent, or some chapters were engaging. Sharing both the ups and downs makes your review trustworthy. It shows you’ve looked at the book from all angles, which is helpful for other readers. They get a full picture, not just one side. So, while being honest, also be fair. It’s like giving a complete map, not just a part of it.

Make your review short and sweet. Long reviews might lose your reader’s interest. Aim for clear, straightforward points. Mix up your sentence lengths – some short, some a bit longer. This keeps your writing lively and easy to follow. Using simple, everyday words helps, too. It makes your review easy to read and understand. Everyone appreciates a review that gets to the heart of the matter without wandering off into too many words. It’s like giving a clear, quick snapshot rather than a long movie.

Before posting, spend some time editing your review. Look for any spelling mistakes or grammar slip-ups. Consider hiring a book editor if needed. Read it aloud to hear how it sounds. Does it flow nicely? Are your points clear? A well-edited review stands out for its clarity and smoothness. It’s like polishing a gem – the extra effort makes it shine. Remember, a few minutes of editing can greatly enhance your review’s impact and readability.

Once your review is polished and ready, it’s time to share it on Amazon. Browse through the page of the book you’ve reviewed. Look for the ‘Write a Customer Review’ button – it’s usually easy to find. Click it, and then paste your review into the box provided. Don’t forget to also give the book a star rating. This rating helps others get a quick sense of your overall opinion. It’s a simple yet important step, like putting the final stamp on your thoughts about the book.

Don’t keep your review to yourself – share it with friends and on your social media platforms. Your thoughts and insights on the book might be what someone else needs to find their next great read. It’s like spreading a bit of joy and knowledge. Your review could spark interest or start a lively book discussion. It’s a simple action, but your opinion can influence and guide others in their reading choices. Sharing is caring, especially when it comes to great books!

Writing a book review is not just about summarizing a book. It’s an opportunity to express your thoughts, feelings, and insights about your reading. Whether you’re discussing books from professional book writers , your review can be a valuable guide for other readers. So, next time you finish a book, take a moment to share your experience on Amazon. Your review could be the one that inspires someone to pick up their next great read!

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Our Critic’s Take on the 100 List: Books That ‘Cast a Sustained Spell’

Dwight Garner writes that voters, who “seemed to want a break from contemporary social reportage,” looked for immersive reads.

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A color photograph of a spread of paperback books.

By Dwight Garner

A long friendship between two girls in a poor neighborhood in Naples, Italy. The exodus of nearly six million Black Americans from South to North. The rise of Thomas Cromwell in cutthroat Tudor England. A series of unsolved murders in a Mexican border town. The Underground Railroad reimagined as a literal one, rails and all.

These are stories from some of the 100 books that — in the opinion of more than 500 novelists, nonfiction writers, librarians, poets, booksellers, editors, critics, journalists and other readers polled by the Book Review — are the best of this still-young century.

What do we mean by “best?” We left that to the respondents. Most appeared to agree with E.M. Forster, who wrote that “the final test for a novel will be our affection for it, as it is the test of our friends, and of anything else which we cannot define.” The only criterion for eligibility was publication in English on or after Jan. 1, 2000. (Somebody — one of you pedants who celebrated the new millennium a year after everyone else — is going to point out that the year 2000 is technically part of the 20th century. Don’t let it be you.)

The best of the best, Nos. 1 through 10, are linked for sure by sensitive intelligence and achieved ambition. But other connections can be made. Most are historical novels or narrative histories, as if readers, weary of the vacuity and smash-and-grab belligerence that dominate much of American political and social discourse, desired either to escape or to gaze backward, to better understand how we arrived here.

Memory and identity are especially strong concerns in the top 10. Readers seemed to want a break from contemporary social reportage; they wanted immersive and unfractured narratives that cast a sustained spell.

The highest tier also underlines a generational cohort. Each of the 10 writers, save the comparatively young Colson Whitehead, was born close to the middle of the last century. Besides Isabel Wilkerson, all of them are represented by novels. Three — Elena Ferrante, W.G. Sebald and Roberto Bolaño — made the list with books in translation.

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Opinion: J.D. Vance’s book ‘Hillbilly Elegy’ was a con job. Don’t let it slide

J.D. Vance, wearing a dark suit, stands waving with American flags in background

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The selection of J.D. Vance on Monday as Donald Trump’s running mate is a direct result of the political media’s failure to understand class in America. For his 2016 memoir, “Hillbilly Elegy,” Vance was venerated by many journalists and book critics as a powerful voice representing long-overlooked Americans. But he’s no working-class hero.

Vance portrayed this group — 35% of Americans , by the way — as tragic victims of alcoholism, drug abuse, laziness and their own self-destructive moral failings. Journalists ran with that, bringing their own stereotypes to depict the working class as angry, uneducated white men driven by economic insecurity and racist nostalgia to support Trump’s retrogressive campaign.

MILWAUKEE, WI JULY 15, 2024 -- Former US President Donald Trump, left, and J.D. Vance during the first day of the Republican National Convention at Milwaukee, WI on Monday, July 15, 2024. (Jason Armond / Los Angeles Times)

Trump picks Ohio Sen. J.D. Vance, ‘Hillbilly Elegy’ author, as running mate

J.D. Vance, the Ohio senator and author of the acclaimed memoir ‘Hillbilly Elegy,’ will be the Republican vice presidential nominee, former President Trump announces.

July 15, 2024

This distortion, in turn, widened a real divide by alienating many Americans, fueling support for Trump and even veneration of Vance.

Lauded by David Brooks as the interpreter of some mythical “working-class honor code” that could illuminate the motivations of the core Trump voter, Vance was praised in reviews in the New York Times , the Washington Post and a host of other publications, and he became the go-to guy on the working-class perspective. CNN hired him as a political pundit.

This was no better than the “parachute journalism” of upper-middle-class reporters who would visit an Appalachian tavern for one afternoon and then presume to tell the nation what the working class was thinking.

Still shot from (and courtesy of) the 2024 documentary "Bad Faith: Christian Nationalism's Unholy War on Democracy." The photo is of an unidentified protester on Jan. 6, 2021, outside the Capitol, where Trump supporters tried to derail Congress as it counted and certified the 2020 electoral college results.

Column: The once-secretive right-wing ideology emerging as an overt threat to American democracy

A new documentary, ‘Bad Faith,’ explores the racist, reactionary movement driving the success of Donald Trump and being endorsed by the likes of Josh Hawley.

July 14, 2024

So who actually is the working class? Consistent data has shown that, in the words of the Center for American Progress, “Black, Hispanic, and other workers of color make up 45 percent of the working class, while non-Hispanic white workers comprise the remaining 55 percent. Nearly half of the working class is women, and 8 percent have disabilities.” Media portrayals that equate this group with uneducated white men elide most of the people who actually fit the definition.

A few contemporary reports called out Vance’s misrepresentations and the media’s fallacious thinking. In October 2016, writing for the Guardian, journalist Sarah Smarsh pointed out that exit polls and surveys showed that Trump supporters had a higher median income — $72,000 — than supporters of Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders. Vance himself, she reported, had been raised in a middle-class household. By ignoring such realities, Smarsh argued, “Media makers cast the white working class as a monolith and imply an old, treacherous story convenient to capitalism: that the poor are dangerous idiots.”

Another journalist, Elizabeth Catte , also notably called out national media misrepresentations, including in her 2018 book, “What You Are Getting Wrong About Appalachia.” It should have been required reading as a reality check for anyone who heard Vance on TV or read his book.

A brilliant work like Stephanie Land ’s 2019 memoir, “Maid,” became the basis of a Netflix series, but even as journalists praised the book, they failed to feature her as a pundit. Kerri Arsenault’s “Mill Town,” a memoir-history of a small town in Maine, was reviewed, but again, her expertise didn’t appear in mainstream political commentary. Worst of all, when historian Steven Stoll’s masterful history of Appalachia, “Ramp Hollow,” was published in 2017, the New York Times allowed Vance himself to review it; he criticized Stoll’s “polemical” views of the market economy and dismissed the author as “earnest.”

The voices of Black historians were largely ignored, because Black voters of a certain kind were being ignored. Historian Blair LM Kelley published “Black Folk: The Roots of the Black Working Class” last fall, linking the Black working class to America’s history of slavery. It received scant media attention. Joe William Trotter’s “ Workers on Arrival: Black Labor in the Making of America ” suffered a similar fate, although it earned academic awards.

Ironically, before he abandoned his distrust of Trump and joined the right-wing-fringe circus, even Vance thought the media had gotten it wrong in various ways.

The news media must not fail the working class again. The stakes are too high. Trump has made clear his desire to dismantle the authority of the federal government, turn social policy over to Christian nationalists and take away any regulation of industries that contribute to climate change or that devastate communities and land through extractive practices such as fracking.

But I’m not optimistic that critics and journalists have learned much since the debacle of 2016.

When Barbara Kingsolver’s novel “Demon Copperhead” came out in October 2022, I described the book’s perspective as pitying toward the people of Appalachia while also intimating that “falling into drug abuse, rejecting education, and ‘clinging’ to their ways are moral choices that keep them in their dire circumstances. Appalachia becomes the region of the damned.”

But “Demon Copperhead” received near-universal rave reviews and won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction.

The privileged class learned all the wrong lessons from Vance’s book, if they learned anything from it. I hope more journalists will do better now that he and Trump are headed for the ballot as a package deal.

Lorraine Berry is a writer and critic in Eugene, Ore. @BerryFLW

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Donald Glover Closes the Book on Childish Gambino With the Masterful ‘Bando Stone and the New World’: Album Review

By Jem Aswad

Executive Editor, Music

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Childish Gambino

Donald Glover doesn’t do anything by half, and the massive multifaceted project he’s launched for what he says is the final statement from Childish Gambino , the long-running alter-ego he rode to musical stardom, is no exception. “ Bando Stone and the New World” is an album, a film and a sprawling world tour , which were all announced simultaneously back in April (along with another album, a finished version of “Atavista,” the nearly-complete set he’d quietly rush-released in the early days of the pandemic and re-released last May).

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We’d expect nothing less. Glover is so talented at so many things it doesn’t seem fair — rapper, singer, actor, songwriter, screenwriter, director, dancer, who knows what else — but it comes with a deep contrarian streak, which isn’t the only thing he has in common with another great contrarian, Prince. He makes blink-and-you-miss-it announcements to fans with no advance notice on livestreams that aren’t archived; “Atavista” was originally released as a stream on a one-off website for just 24 hours; he dropped his heavily coded video for his Grammy-winning song “This Is America,” in the middle of his “Saturday Night Live” double-duty hosting-musical guest stint in 2018. And although Glover’s predilection for being, as Tyler, the Creator once put it, “all secret and cryptic like a dickfuck” can lead people to “miss out on some really cool shit,” his work nearly always rewards the time and patience it takes to search or wait for it.

All that backdrop seems to have little obvious impact on “Bando Stone,” and apart from some brief bits of dialogue between songs (seemingly from a plotline about a comically squabbling family lost in a jungle), advancing a plot doesn’t either. Although the meaning behind the lyrics will likely become clearer once the film is released, intriguing lines float by like “I’mma make a billi’ like I’m Eilish,” “I got a ego ’bout as big as Lake Tahoe,” and “Shoot a motherfucker, I’m the new Spike Lee/ Everybody Satan and I’m G-O-D.” But the album is such a grand slam of musical styles that its concepts wouldn’t be the first thing you’d notice anyway.  

Over the course of 17 songs and an hour, it leaps between styles and moods dramatically and at times abruptly — the otherworldly electronic haze of “We Are God” cuts immediately into the emo-pop of “Running Around” — but also surprisingly smoothly. There are power chords on “Lithonia”; “Steps Beach” is a sweet, Stevie Wonderesque acoustic ballad with a tinkling electric piano and gentle backing vocals; there’s an orchestral, almost Marvin Gaye-esque idyll on “No Excuses.” There are also two full-on indie-pop songs with “Real Love” and the emo-ish “Running Around”; and forays into alt-R&B with the Chloe-featuring “Survive” and “In the Night” (a tag-team with Jorja Smith and Amaarae); there’s even one sung by his eldest son, 8-year-old Legend. Fans may be disappointed that there’s nothing as sumptuously vintage-R&B as his 2016 classic “Redbone,” but to be fair, that would be hard to top.

He’s also rapping much more than he has on recent albums, in a style that sometimes recalls both Kanye West’s early material and his abrasive “Yeezy” era. But the album’s most brain-busting moment comes on the Kendrick Lamar-esque “Yoshinoya,” the middle section of which features Glover rapping hard over a thudding beat and a wild looped vocal snippet. There are traces of African and Caribbean rhythms and vocals throughout, and it all climaxes with the closing track, the epic “A Place Where Love Goes,” which combines a menacing rap with an inane chanted loop of children singing “We don’t care about the party/ We just want to dance” and even a Daft Punk-esque vocoder’ed segment and an anthemic chorus.

In many ways, the hard-hitting “Yoshinoya” — named after a century-old Japanese restaurant chain that Gambino uses as a symbol for his longevity — is the centerpiece of the album, and is pretty clearly autobiographical in ways that seem to fall outside the film’s storyline.

“This is a code red for old heads Who never liked my short shorts and pro-Keds … Told me that money make you lonely, it ain’t so bad N—a’s jokes are so dad… Sold some Apple stock to buy a farm, I needed to stunt I told ’em take the back-end points, he wanted to front Now his career’s in a blunt … These n—as almost fifty and they dressin’ like a hype beast Used to get the peach milkshake and add the eight-piece White boy throwin’ dirt on my name for the think piece… Put they hands on a woman for the clout but said I’m wildin’ Death before dishonor On my mom like Keke Palmer I’m allergic to the drama, you saw me and Tyler… Fuck with my kids, you fuck with your life You fuckin’ these hoes, I’m fuckin’ my wife.” (Courtesy )

Is that Gambino’s parting shot? If so, it’s a strong one, and although he doesn’t name names, if anyone takes exception, he’s got a whole tour to respond even if this is his last album.

But presumably “Bando” is just the curtain call for the alter-ego Glover rode to stardom, an admission that such things aren’t for grown-ass dads, and hopefully he’ll continue his musical career’s progression for years to come. “Bando” is a mind-blowingly diverse and versatile album that finds him adopting a huge number of styles convincingly — and actually lives up to the drum-roll that introduced it.

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