How to Write a Book Review

Writing a book review for a high school, college or university assignment is an interesting experience. We often consume books like soup; it goes in and out quickly. With such an assignment, you get to be a critic for a while. You might read a book with the intent of writing a review. Another reason for reading a book is to gain some knowledge, especially if it is nonfiction. Also, you might get insight into an author's style and talent for writing, regardless of the kind of the book it is.

There are a number of templates on the Internet that can help you to write an effective book review. A book review is basically answering a set of questions about the book and your experience in reading it. The questions may differ slightly whether you are reading nonfiction or fiction. We have prepared a template of our own to assist you.

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How to Approach a Book Review Assignment

First of all, you have to be ready to take notes. If you have a long book, there might not be enough time to reread it for the sole purpose of taking notes. Even if it is a short one, it doesn’t mean you will want to read it again. So, have a notebook available as you read. If, by the end of the book, you want to read it again, that’s worth mentioning in your review.

Study the template questions and think of some more you might want to ask. Keep these in mind while you are reading and get into the role of a critic.

While reading, try to determine the major themes and the book’s overall message. A book can have several themes, so focus on two or three major ones and offer an example of one or two.

Take note of any gaps or unanswered questions in the plot or character inconsistencies. These kinds of issues don’t necessarily make a book bad, but this will help you think more critically and sound more professional with your review.

A book review conclusion is about expressing your attitude towards the book. This includes whether you would recommend it to others and who you perceive the intended audience to be. So it is worth noting, from the very beginning, how the book makes you feel, what your first impressions are, and so on.

Book Review Template Questions

Here is a basic template for what you need to mention in your review. You can add more items, if relevant or if the allowed word count permits.

The title of your book review should contain the title and author of the book being reviewed. Here, you can also mention if it’s part of a series. If your requirement doesn’t specify how the heading should be formatted, then the bibliographic information is enough.

The introduction of your review is the paragraph that will encourage people to continue reading the review. Giving a brief summary of the book may be a good hook for gaining the readers’ attention.

The body paragraphs make up the main part of the review where you will tell about the book and discuss its strengths and weaknesses.

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You can structure this part by answering the following questions:

  • Fiction book summary questions
    • Is it a 1st or 3d person narration?
    • What are the main and secondary themes of the book?
    • What is the book’s setting (location, time period)? How does it affect the theme and writing style?
    • Are you familiar with the author’s previous works? Does this book reflect the author’s typical style?
    • What is the book’s genre? Does the book easily fit it or did the author try to expand the characteristics of the genre?
  • Nonfiction book summary questions (additional to the items above)
    • Is the writer a reliable source of information?
    • Does the book fit into the field of study for which it is written?
    • Are the book’s references relevant for the current study of the topic?
  • Evaluation questions (for the conclusion)
    • Did you like the book? Explain your response with reasons and explanations?
    • Did the plot and ending satisfy you? Did you learn something new? Did it satisfy your curiosity?

Other Points to Consider

  • Do you agree with the author’s point of view or with the ideas discussed?
  • Do you need to cite passages from the book? Don’t forget to use the correct format for citations.
  • Did the publishing company do a good job with the format, layout, and other technical details? Did you find any mistakes?
  • Is this book unique? If so, in what way?

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