Your lecturer asks you to make his or her book to be reviewed by you? What will you do? Don’t be confused. Just do these steps:
Method 1 of 4:
1. Learning about the Book
2. Get to know your book. Read the book jacket, which generally offers a summary of the book (without giving away the ending). Figure out what genre the book is. Is it fiction, nonfiction, poetry, youth fiction, romance, sci-fi, etc.?
3. Research the author. Find out if he or she has written other books or won other awards. Research the writing style of the author. Knowing the author’s background and style will help give you some context while you read the book. Does he/she write like Hemingway- with long, winding sentences- or does he/she do something unique, such as not using quotation marks like Cormac McCarthy?
4. Read the preface or introduction if the book has one. Prefaces can tell you a lot about a book-where the author got the idea, what you can expect from the book, what the goals of the book are etc.
Method 2 of 4:
1. Reading the Book
2. Take notes as you read. Notes will help you to remember everything you were thinking or feeling as you read the book. Sometimes, you will dislike a book at first but will grow to love it. Notes remind you of why your change in feelings happened.
3. Make a list of the characters. At the very least, make a list of the primary characters. Note what a character’s personality is like at the beginning and end of the book. Try to figure out what creates a shift in his/her personality. Was there a specific event that happened in the book that made the character change?
Some other questions you should ask as you read are: Who are the primary characters in the book? How do they affect the story? Do you like them or empathize with them?
4. Pick out what you think is the main idea of the book. The main idea is the focus of the story. Your job is to determine whether or not the author’s idea is good or groundbreaking in some way. Do you agree with the idea? Does the author support his/her idea well?
5. Make a list of the themes you notice. A theme is a universal concept or message that the author tries to convey through his/her writing. Some common themes are chaos vs. order, the circle of life, love and sacrifice, man against nature, etc. How does the author convey those themes? Do you think he/she does a good job supporting those themes through the text?
6. Determine the author’s argument, if there is one. An argument could be something like “harming nature is evil.” You must determine how the author supports this argument. Does he/she do a good job? Do you agree with the argument?
7. Write down any quotes that stand out to you. In this case, a quote is not necessarily something that a character says, but is instead a few lines of the book that you think summarize the work well, support a theme or argument, or is a good example of the author’s style.
Here is an example from Jack London’s The Call of the Wild: “But in the main they were the wild wolf husky breed. Every night, regularly, at nine, at twelve, at three, they lifted a nocturnal song, a weird and eerie chant, in which it was Buck’s delight to join.(Ch.3, Pg.27)” In this quote, Buck, a domesticated dog, gives into his basic nature by joining the howl of wild wolves. Through this quote, London plays upon the theme of Man’s Relationship with Nature.
Method 3 of 4: Writing your Book Review
1. Understand the structure of a book review. Book reviews begin with a summary of the book that avoids giving away too much about the book. The summarizing paragraph is followed by a paragraph that conveys your opinion of the book.
If you are writing this for a class, or have specific instructions regarding the structure of your book review, follow those instructions. Generally, book reviews assigned for a class will be one paragraph of summary and one paragraph about your opinion of the book.
2. Keep your audience in mind. Your audience is the group of readers (perhaps your teacher and classmates) that will be reading your book review. Remember that your audience has not read the book. You must introduce the characters and plot efficiently so that your audience feels like they have a basic understanding of the book.
3. Write the summary. Keep your summary brief. Discuss the main idea of the book, the plot, and the major characters. Do not go into too much detail- you have a limited amount of space to write in, so only give the most important details about the plot and characters.
4. Write your evaluation of the book. Choose one to three major points to discuss about the book. This is where you can discuss the themes of the book. This is also where you give your opinion of the book. You can use quotes to support your argument but make sure that they are not too long, since you do not have much room to write.
What themes did the author convey? Were they effectively conveyed? Did you agree with them? Did the book appeal to you either emotionally or logically? Did you like the book? Why or why not? How did this book compare to other books you have read in the same genre, or other books the author has written? What was the author’s style like? Did you like the author’s style?
5. Finish your article by including a sentence or two about the publisher and the price. If you have specific instructions regarding whether or not to do this, follow them. Most book reviews end with a sentence that says what publisher the book was published by, and what the prices of both the hardback and paper copies are. Some book reviews end with the year the book was published and the ISBN number.
The ISBN number is the commercial identifier of the book. It is generally located on the copyright page at the front of the book.
Method 4 of 4: Finalizing your Book Review
1. Read your essay from the viewpoint of your audience. Pretend that you have not read the book. Are you able to understand everything that you have written? Do you get a good sense of the book’s plot, character, and themes? Is your writing easy to understand? Does your argument make sense?
2. Have someone else read your review. Getting someone else to read your work is a great way to make sure that what you have written is clear and easy to understand.
3. Double check your spelling. Make sure that the name of the author, the title of the book, the names of the characters, and the publisher are spelled correctly. If you have included quotes, make sure that they are accurate and match what is written in the book.
4. Proofread your review. Make sure there are no typos and that everything is grammatically correct. Read your review out loud to check for any awkward sentences. Reading your writing out loud helps you to determine whether or not your writing sounds awkward.