What is Book Review?

A book review is a description, analysis, and evaluation of a book. It talks about the quality, meaning, and significance of a book. It isn't just a short, 6 paragraph retelling. It's not a book report or a summary.

What to Put in a Book Review
You should identify the book by giving:
• • • • •

the author the full title the publisher the place and date of publication the edition

You might use some or all of the following approaches in your review: outline the contents of the book evaluate and make critical comments on the book use quotations or references to the new ideas in the book to illustrate your theme • identify the author's qualifications, and any other personal information that is relevant to your discussion of the book • place the book with reference to the author's other writings • compare the book with a similar work by a contemporary • point out the author's intentions, including the audience for which the book is intended • relate the work to a social or literary trend
• • •

Writing the review
A good review is clear, orderly, and fair. It should not merely summarize but also evaluate. Like most academic writing, reviews are extremely formulaic: They generally open with (1) An introductory comment or two on the overall value of the book; then (2) Summarize each chapter in order, including chapter numbers but not titles, and citing authors if the book is an edited collection (3) Mention the book's greatest strengths (4) Mention its greatest weaknesses

4. . price. you can ask yourself these questions: • • • • • • • Why did the author write on this subject rather than on some other subject? From what point of view is the work written? Was the author trying to give information. most evaluation will take place in the discussion of each chapter.). to explain something technical. the conclusion will some simply. Explain how the author got his point across. influences. type of book. • How did the book affect you? Did you change any ideas you held because of it? 3. make note of the book's format . and how does the book fit into it? Who is the intended audience? What is the author's style? Did it suit your own tastes? Scan the Table of Contents to see how it's organized sensibly. biographical.establishes them as an authority 6.and did they keep you interested? Did their arguments make sense? Did they leave anything out or leave you unconvinced at the end? 5. color plates. List the main topics. Use specific references and quotations to support your statements. and conclusions. typography.(5) Give an overall assessment once again. Summarize (briefly). etc. 2. first copyright date. after the summary. 1.layout. Sum up the book in an elevator pitch . qualifications. analyze. illustrations? Do they help your understanding? 7. general subject matter.if you had to recommend this book to someone during an elevator ride. Are there maps. Write an opening statement giving essential information about the book: title. Check into the author and see if what you find . Once you have a good grip on that book. What descriptions did they use? How did they tell the story . special features (maps. and comment on the book's content and its summary. Where they don't come out and say so. in the time between floors. If relevant. You can often get this from their preface or first chapter. If the book is an edited volume. . author. main points. etc. etc. to convince the reader of something? What is the general field or genre.reputation. binding. State the author’s purpose in writing the book. and briefly summarize the author's ideas about these topics.

an introduction. and how the author handles his or her material. • Tell readers why the author took many months to write the book. what the state of knowledge is in the subject. and how this new book adds. • Avoid repeating its table of contents. give the reader some idea of the author's thesis and how he or she develops it. Try not to be too abstract or vague (e. rather. not chapter by chapter so much as the entire book. a novel approach. but this should be quite secondary. not about the reviewer's feelings on having read the book. • Include an exposition of how the book fits into the current thinking on the subject (e. The review should be fair to the author. the finest book on the subject ever written. • Convey the content of the book. • Add flavor to the review by including pungent or revealing quotations from the book or notable facts or findings. avoid writing "interesting observations. • Do not tell the author what book you feel he or she should have written. • Be specific.g. changes." or "a strange view of campus design" unless you complement this with specific examples). a magisterial review. • If the book is an edited collection of essays. who the intended audience is. but be free to focus on specific chapters you consider particularly significant or worthwhile. or chapters by different individuals.g.). Give details.Characteristics of a good review: The review should introduce the reader to the book's content and focus on the subject of the book being reviewed. . • Write the review about the book and its contribution to the subject. • The reviewer's appraisal is valuable. • Inform the reader about what is happening in the area of academic activity the book addresses. give some idea of the overall theme and content." "lots of arresting data. etc.. or breaks new ground in our knowledge of this subject. You should submerge your own opinions or reaction.

What to leave out of a book review Usually a book review does not include: • • • • footnotes a bibliography long quotations from the book or other reviews information about the author's life that is not related to the theme of the review . • Strive to make your review richly informative. a bold. • An evaluation of the book's merits. Components of the review: • An introduction to the author(s). but display in a detailed and instructive way your expertise on the subject. along with shortcomings you think are necessary to point out. and special contributions. the renowned authority on campus finance.You should establish your authority to write the review. a frequent critic of academic administration). • A comparison with earlier or similar books in the field to place the book in the existing literature. even insightful. usefulness. • A summary of the intended purpose of the book and how it contributes to improving academic life and operations and to the discipline of college planning generally. and some indication of who the author is (e. and they are enlightening little essays in their own right. including the author's title and place of work.g. and the readability of the prose. Judgments about a book's usefulness and scholarly value based on a close reading of the text make the heart of a good review. young architect-scholar of campus design. • The finest reviews are extraordinarily understanding and moderately generous (but not uncritical). • Do not point out the author's flaws. • There is no substitute for a careful reading of the book itself.. the logic of the argument. the rigor of the research and scholarship. • A description of the way the author approaches his or her topic.

footnotes. including quotes. • Before writing the review. • Keep your audience in mind! This will help define the emphasis you put on various parts of the review. or as long as 1500 words. • Double space everything. . • Do not use legal size paper. • Use a one inch (1”) margin on all sides. depending on the purpose of the review. Book reviews are highly personal and reflect the opinions of the reviewer. • A review can be as short as 50-100 words. be sure that you understand what type of review is required for your assignment.Reminders • There is no right way to write a book review. tables and references.

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