How to Write a Book Review

Learn everything you need to know about how to write a book review!
Kelly Spancer
8
min read
Sep 7, 2021

Everyone's a critic nowadays! Reviews are becoming increasingly more important in today's world of social media. Whereas in the past, book reports were common school assignments,  now book reviews are becoming popular. Whether it's for class, for social media, or platforms like Goodreads or Audible, knowing how to write a review of a book is a useful skill to have.             

What is a Book Review?

To write a book review is different from a simple book report. Though similar, a book report Is much simpler than a book review. A book report requires you to summarize the main plot points, characters, themes, and motifs of a book while giving some background information about the author. A book review includes a brief summary of the book but also analyzes the story. A book review is a commentary on, not just a summary of, the story of a book. The goal is to provide a critical evaluation of the merits of the writing style, plot, perspectives, etc. In a book review, in the end, you give your opinion of whether the book should be read by others and how good it is. By the end of this article, you will know how to write a good book review.

How do I structure a book review?

The structure of a book review is no different than the structure of any kind of writing with an introduction, body paragraphs, and conclusion. Below is a general how to write a book review template.


You should start your introduction with a catchy hook that grabs the reader's attention. Follow this up with some background information like the title of the book and the name of the author. Give some background information regarding what the book is about and what the purpose of the book is. Finish off with a thesis statement about whether you liked the book or not and then transition to the body paragraphs.


When you write a book review, the body paragraphs are where you build your case by providing support to back up your thesis. The first body paragraph should be a brief summary of the main plot of the book. The second body paragraph should contain your personal opinions of what you liked, what the author did well, and the key strengths of the book. The third body paragraph should be about what you didn't like, what the author could have done better, and the weaknesses of the book. 


In the conclusion, go over the main strengths and weaknesses of the book and draw your own conclusion on whether you would recommend it to others. Depending on the purpose of the book review, give it a rating. Talk about what you've learned from reading the book, how it can help other people, what was particularly interesting, and mention other books that are similar. 


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7 Steps to Writing a Book Review

A book review doesn't have to be a long piece of writing. They are usually just around 1000 words long. There are a few differences between how to write a scholarly book review, how to write a college book review, how to write a history book review, and how to write a book review for kids, but as long as you follow the seven steps to writing a book review below, you’ll be fine!


Step 1. Start with a brief summary of the book

When you write a book review, a summary of the book is important for two reasons. Ideally, you want to give people a brief idea of what the story is about so that they are keener to read it, and without a quick summary, people will find it difficult to understand your analysis. The trick to writing a summary for a book review is giving the reader enough information to hook them while not giving away any major plot points, twists, or spoilers. Keep it relatively general, and don't give away any crucial plot details. Remember this is not a book report, so don't spend too much time on the summary.

Step 2. Pick out anything you liked about the book 

Start your evaluation by talking about the things that you enjoyed about the book. This could be anything from the overall plot, writing style, specific character arcs, the overall thematic importance of the story, etc. Think about what genre the book is, what are the important elements of writing in the genre, and what the book did right. For example, worldbuilding may not be as important in a crime thriller but is a crucial element of a fantasy book. 

Step 3. Mention what you disliked about the book

Unless you really loved every single thing about a book you must include a few things that you disliked as well. There are always ways that a book can be improved based on individual subjective perspectives. You can be critical of the progression of the characters, the pacing,  specific plot points, etc. Give your own opinion of how the author could have improved on those elements. 

Step 4.Include brief quotes as examples

Quotes are a great way of backing up a point that you make and showing some of the writer’s skills when you write a book review. If you say that the writer does a great job of building tension, include a brief quote where he or she uses visual imagery to heighten the drama. If you say that the book is peppered with humor, include a quote that made you laugh. Be careful though, don't use quotes that are too long. Your review should be about your evaluation and long quotes take up too much space. 

Step 5. Write a conclusion

Summarize the most important elements of your analysis and give your final recommendation about the book. Did you personally enjoy it? Do you think other people would? What kind of people would enjoy this book? are a few of the questions you can answer. As you write a book review, think about your own biases and give reasons for why you may have done things differently.  

Step 6. Find similar books

Recommending similar books or making connections between books you have read and the book being reviewed is a great addition to the end of your book review.  Drawing a connection both shows your depth of knowledge about literature, as well as shows that you have carefully considered the book. It also allows readers to read more books like the one you reviewed. Finally, if you compare it positively to well-known books, it is a sign to the readers that they might enjoy this title as well. 

Step 7. Give the book a rating

If you are writing a book review for a non-academic purpose, then leaving a rating is quite common. If the website or platform has some metrics for star ratings make sure you give them a look. Otherwise think of the highest rating as the best book you have ever read, the lowest rating as the worst book you've ever read, and see where the book you have reviewed fits into that scale.       

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Conclusion

You should now know how to write a critical review of a book! Writing a book review can be a fun academic assignment, a way of sharing your love of a book, an interesting social media post, or a way to get paid for writing! Here are a few more tips for writing a book review.


  • Make sure that you don't end up rambling when you write a book review since a book review should not be too long 
  • Read your book review out loud to make sure that it has a good flow
  • Make sure you proofread your book review
  • Provide constructive criticism and don't be too mean. After all, somebody worked really hard to write a book
  • The goal of a book review is to give other readers your own personal opinion of a book so don't spend too long on the summary
  • Don't save your opinion for the conclusion, your thesis statement in the introductory paragraph should state whether you overall like the book or not
  • Go over a how to write a book review example to get an idea of what works and what doesn't
  • Give context on the book, including information like whether it's part of a series, is it the author's first novel, has a movie been made out of it, etc. 
  • Give some of the author’s background information, especially if it gives context to the book
  • Use quotes to give examples of good writing


If you need any more help with writing a book review, or any help with homework assignments, editing, proofreading, etc, the experts at Studyfy are always at hand to help you!

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