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How to Write a Book Review Template


  1. Class: Unspecified
  2. This template is published for use.
  1. Step 1: Preparation
    Percent time spent on this step: 50%


    • If a book was not assigned to you by your instructor, choose it yourself. Think carefully about what book you would be interested in reviewing.

      • Consider your literary preferences. You can choose a book you have already read, or a book which is new to you.
      • If you find it difficult to decide on what book to review, try browsing Amazon.com (or any other similar service) for the newest bestsellers.
      • Consider the length and difficulty of the book. You do not want the book to be too long or too difficult for your reading level.
    • Read the book in a way that you memorize everything necessary for a review.

      • In the process of reading, note down your impressions of the book every time it makes you smile, sad, grimace, and so on.
      • Mark interesting places in the text; it can be an interesting quote, a vivid description, an effective scene, and so on.
      • Mark places which you do not understand or feel like rereading several times in order to get a clearer picture.
      • If you can help it, do not speed read. Soak in each word.
    • After reading the book for the first time, you must develop a general opinion of it. It is not your final opinion however, and it can change after rereading the book.

      • Make a list of your expectations for the book, and compare them to the emotions that the book evoked in you while reading. Decide whether the difference is favorable.
      • Briefly formulate your opinion on the book in up to five sentences and write it down.
    • Return to the places you marked in the text while reading. You need to gather material to support your opinion of the book.

      • Choose the quotes, descriptions, and so on that you can use as examples to illustrate your critique or compliments.
      • Make sure to cite quotations properly and in an organized fashion.
    • Make sure you have a firm grasp and a complete understanding of what is going on in the book.

      • Sometimes your bad impression of a paragraph, chapter, or book, can be caused by poor understanding. Return to the places in the text that you marked as difficult to understand, and try to grasp their meaning again. Ask your instructor about difficult passages or consult research about it.
      • Pay attention to characters and their motives. If you are reviewing a nonfiction book, make sure you understand the context.
  2. Step 2: Read Reviews
    Percent time spent on this step: 5%


    • After you make your personal opinion, it is useful to know what other people think.

      • Check only the first two pages of Internet search engine results.
      • Pay more attention to reviews published on popular and/or authoritative resources.
    • Look for advice from professional critics discussing what the author could have done better while writing the book.

      • By reading the reviews of professional critics and noticing what they pay their attention to, you can discover something new about the book you are reviewing.
      • Read the reviews even of those critics whose opinion is different from yours. This way you can get a new perspective on the book.
      • Trust your opinion and the opinion of critics. Keep an open mind.
    • Now that you have read the book twice and made yourself acquainted with alternative opinions, you know the book’s plot, have support material, and are ready to make your final opinion.

      • Return to your briefly formulated opinion on the book, and expand it to ten sentences. Has your opinion changed for better or for worse? What new information have you gathered from the reviews written by other critics? What has affected your final opinion? What is your verdict of the book? This is what you should update your initial opinion with.
      • Mind that it is not the review itself, but rather a brief but detailed synopsis for you, so you do not need to be wordy or use many details in your write-up.
  3. Step 3: Write the First Draft
    Percent time spent on this step: 30%


    • Review and arrange all the information you have collected about the book.

      • Decide on up to five subjects regarding the book that you will cover in your review. This can be the plot, characters, literary techniques, the author’s skill, and so on.
      • Decide on what supporting material you will use to illustrate the statements you make in the review. Create a map of ideas; in it, list your main points (in the order of priority), as well as fragments of the original text that will serve as supporting material. Match these fragments with the main points they should be supporting.
      • Make sure the chosen main points correspond with the synopsis you have created for yourself. Be aware of situations when the main points you decide to cover do not actually reflect your opinion of the book.
    • You must allocate your ideas between the paragraphs of your review. Each paragraph should be centered on one idea.

      • Make a brief scheme of the introduction. Usually, it is a general introductory sentence, a “narrow-down” sentence (meaning a sentence or two that gradually leads readers to the particular book you are reviewing), some background information, and a thesis statement in which you express your general opinion on the book.
      • Chalk out the main body of your review. Each paragraph of the main body should be dedicated to one of the subjects that you have chosen to cover. A main body paragraph usually consists of a topic sentence, the actual subject of this paragraph, your opinion and arguments on it, supported by the respective excerpts of the original text. Make sure to transit between the main body paragraphs smoothly.
      • Think about what you are going to include in the conclusion. Usually, a conclusion is a brief summary of the information presented in the main body.
    • Using the outline, start filling it with details.

      • When writing, pay attention to whether various parts of your review logically connect to each other.
      • When writing the main body, expand on each paragraph; it is acceptable to use metaphors, comparisons with other authors (working in the same field with the one you are reviewing), and so on. You can also use humor--just remember that it should not be offensive.
      • In the concluding paragraph, repeat your opinion of the book (but do not simply copy-paste it from the introduction), and include your recommendations about whether the book is worth reading or not.
      • Go back to your introductory paragraph and check whether your thesis statement corresponds with what you have written in the review.
  4. Step 4: Work on the Final Draft
    Percent time spent on this step: 10%


    • Check whether you have included all the information you wanted.

      • All of the claims you make should be illustrated by the examples from the original text.
      • Check if you have given a comprehensive opinion, considering the opinions of others and the faults of the book.
    • A review should not contain grammatical, punctuation, or stylistic mistakes, as well as typos.

      • Read through the text of your review, paying attention to the spelling of words, and punctuation marks. Also, look for typos.
      • Read your review aloud. This way you will be able to find parts that seem unnatural, and fix them. Cut out all unnecessary words.
  5. Step 5: Feedback
    Percent time spent on this step: 5%


    • Visiting your school writing center is the best option. If you are not in school, hire a private tutor to look over your writing.

      • Set an appointment at your local writing center. Be sure to be on time, to bring in a printed copy of your writing, and to be open to suggestions/critique.
      • When hiring a private tutor, it is better to hire an experienced tutor that charges a bit more than expected. They can, sometimes, completely change your outlook on wiring and dramatically improve your writing.
    • Listen carefully to what your colleague and/or tutor has said, and make notes about what needs to change. Use your best discretion and change your book review according to your teacher’s criteria.

      • When receiving criticism, be open-minded. Do not fall into the trap of being defensive.
      • Do not be overly-receptive as well. Do not change your entire book review based on others’ comments if the changes do not work better than the original.
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