How to write a book review?


Frontlist.com is dedicated to writing book reviews. And since most of these reviews are posted by our readers, we thought it would be a good idea to create a step by step guide on writing the perfect book review. But before we focus on how to write a book review, let’s first explain what a book review exactly is.

What is a book review?

A book review is not a summary of a book. Instead it is a critical analysis in which the style, content and significance of a book is evaluated. Book reviews are published in newspapers, magazines and on the internet to give potential readers a critical preview of a particular book. Since book reviews are based on personal taste, one should be critcal of the book review itself while reading it.

Writing a book review step by step

  1. Choose a book: This seems like a trivial point to mention, but realize that it’s much easier to write a review about a book that grabs your attention. And this will eventually result in a higher quality review of the chosen book.
  2. Carefully evaluate the front and back cover: Take the book into your hands and take a good look at the cover. Does the cover illustration look appealing? How about the title of the book and the text on the back cover? Do you think that it’s convincing enough to make people read the book?
  3. Open the book and flip through the pages: Look at how the book is structured. How many chapters are there? Is there a contents section, an index section, bibliography? How many paragraphs are there in each chapter and how much of the book is dialogue? How about the font size and letter spacing? All these elements should give you an idea about the readability of the book.
  4. Read the book and take notes: While reading the book, pay attention to your reading experience. Especially the first pages of the book have to be appealing to the reader. If the book hasn’t hooked you in the first chapter, then it’s unlikely to become a best seller. After all, when people pick up a book in a book store, they will look at the front cover illustration, read the back cover and check out the first couple of pages of the book. So, a careful evaluation of the first chapter of the book, is a required part of your book review. When you move on to the next chapters, write short, but useful notes about things that catch your attention. Always write down the page number while making those notes.
  5. Think about the content of the book: After you finish reading, it’s time to think about the content of the book. Try to write down an answer to the following questions:
    • How did the book as a whole affect you and how did the author achieve these effects?
    • Who are the main characters in the book and what is their role in the story?
    • What is the relationship between each of the characters?
  6. Write a summary of the book: This will help your reader to give context to the book review. But be very careful not to reveal too much about the story plot! Usually a book review starts with a summary of the book. Additionally to the summary, you may want to mention the genre of the book (adventure, fantasy, horror, romance,…) and relate it to other books in the same genre.
  7. Write the review: This is what it’s all about. Did you like the book or not? Write down your judgement carefully and explain why you feel like this about the book. The notes you took before will proof to be an invaluable help during this process. Use specific examples while expressing your judgement.
  8. Review your review: After writing your review, take a moment to step back. Focus on a different task or take a break. When you cleared your mind, it’s time to revise and edit your previously written review. Be critical for your own writings and ‘review your review’ using the same steps as mentioned above.

Notes

  • In this article we focus on writing a book review of a fiction book, but many of these steps can also be used for non fiction books.
  • There is not one perfect way to write a book review. Writing a book review is a highly personal matter and only reflects the personal opinion of the reviewer.
  • When writing in a critical way about other people’s work, you should be ready for some criticism coming your way as well. Therefor, we cannot express to much how important it is to explain your reasoning carefully in the book review. Never criticize without explaining why.

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