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What is a Book Review? How is it different from a Book Report?

A book report presents the content and structure of a book as objectively as possible,
without comparison with any other books or theories. It provides not only a summary of
content but also an analysis of structure. The purpose of the report is to give enough
information about a book to help decide whether it will be of use or interest to the reader.

A book review is a descriptive and critical or evaluative account of a book. Like the book
report, it provides a summary of content and an analysis of structure, yet you will also
assess the value of a book and recommend (or not recommend) the book to other readers.

Thus, in writing a review, you combine the skills of:

1. Describing what is in the book

2. Analyzing how the book tried to achieve its purpose
3. Expressing your own reactions

What is the process to put together the Review?


1. Look at the Title, the Table of Contents and any Preface or Introduction

These should give you some idea of the central focus and the coverage of the book, and the
author's reasons for writing the book. Pay attention to Introduction and Preface as this is
where authors often present the reasons for their book, their perspective and those of any
other contributors.

2. Skim quickly through the whole book, glancing at any tables, illustrations or other
graphic materials. Read the first and the last chapter before reading the rest of the

This shows you some of the strategies the author has used to get the meaning across. This
will give a clearer indication of the intended audience as well. For example; the information
in tables may be very technical, indicating interpretation will be easier for those with some
prior knowledge.

a. Read more closely the first chapter, which should tell you the main issues to be
discussed and indicate the theoretical or conceptual framework within which the
author proposes to work.
b. Read closely the final chapter, which should cover the author's conclusions and
summarise the main reasons why these conclusions have been reached.
c. Now that you are familiar with the text, read the whole text thoroughly to develop a
basis on which to critically review it.


3. Note the Author’s views that determine the Author’s purpose of writing the book.
Note the logic pattern, details, examples and proof the author uses to substantiate
his/her theories.

a. Do not skip abstracts and summaries. These are a quick way to get an overview of
the book (from the author's point of view).
b. Make notes of the main points and identify key quotations and key phrases from the
c. Highlight major points, the sources used, and the logic of the argument presented.
d. Note whether the information is new.


4. Decide which aspects of the book you wish to discuss in detail in your review

Usually you will discuss the main issues which the author has specifically examined.
Sometimes you may choose a particular issue because it has importance for you and the
course you are studying, even if it is not the main issue for the author.

Do you need to critically evaluate the theoretical approach, the content or case studies, the
selection and interpretation of evidence, the range of coverage, and/or the style of

5. Deepen your Perspective

a. Now, on the basis of your overall knowledge of the book and your decision about
which issues you will discuss, read in closer detail the sections of the book which are
relevant to these issues.
b. Locate some other sources on the same content/issue and/or the same genre to
provide you with background and other views.
c. If necessary, read other articles or books which are relevant to your topic, possibly to
provide supporting evidence or alternative theoretical models or interpretations of
d. You may also want to glance at other reviews of the book in recent academic
journals in order to get a feel for the way the book has been received within the

What is a possible Format for the Book Review?

Bibliographical Information

1. Author's name
2. Full title of book including subtitle
3. Editor, if any
4. Place, publisher and date of publication; edition, if necessary
5. Number of pages

Introduction to the Book

1. Why has the book been written? What is its purpose? What is the main topic?
2. Who is the author, his/ her qualifications, background, other works (if any)?
3. What makes the author an authority on the subject?
4. Any influences, which may have affected the author's point of view.
5. When was it written?
6. What is the scope of the book? Who is the intended audience? Is the material
meant for specialists, students, or the general public? Is it limited to a narrow area
or is it a survey of the subject?
7. A comment about the relationship between this work and others by the same
author, the same subject and the same genre

Overview of the Book

1. Book's division into chapters, sections, or points of discussion.

2. What are the main issues according to the author?
3. What are the author’s conclusions and the reasons for reaching these conclusions?

Author’s Perspective

1. What are the key points according to the author based on the sequencing of the
2. What kind of evidence does the author use to prove his or her points?
3. What is the significance of the content to the intended audience?
4. Is the author refuting earlier work, building on another author's ideas or rehashing
an earlier piece of work?
5. What are the new theories the author has introduced to the Subject?
6. How easy is it to understand the author's point of view? If it is difficult, what is the
7. What group of readers, if any, would find this book most useful?

My Perspective

1. How does the book compare to other books on the same subject
2. On what areas of the book are you going to base your evaluation? Why have you
chosen these specific areas?
3. Decide on how accurate and credible the content was
4. Decide on whether the author’s main view was supported well with evidence and
5. How relevant are the areas of evaluation to what you’re studying now?
6. Decide whether you would recommend the book and to whom
7. Decide on your reasons for recommending the book.
8. Are there any omissions? / What has the book left out?
9. What specific points are not convincing
10. Decide on what could have been written differently or could have been added into
the book