Strategies on How to Write an Academic Book Review

Reading time
12 minutes
Updated Sep 14, 2021
Strategies on How to Write an Academic Book Review

A book review is a critical analysis of a text. A well-written review shows your own in-depth understanding of the piece. Follow the given guide to writing well-organized book reviews for your reader.

Step 1 - Assessing the Book before Writing

Although there is no one method to write a scholarly book review, it serves well if some prior critical thinking is done before writing it. To develop an argument about the text, you need to assess a few questions.

  • What is the author's argument in the book at hand?
  • What is the subject of the book?
  • How does the writer support the book's argument?
  • How was the main argument structured?
  • How has the book affected your understanding of the subject?
  • What is the book's genre?
  • Who is the author?

Step 2 - Writing the Book Review

After you have made your critical assessment of the book, try to organize your thoughts and understandings into one logical statement that will serve as your review's thesis statement. Now there are two ways to organize your main idea based on the nature of the review and the intended audience:

  • Focus on the writer and his work;
  • Emphasize more on your observations and understandings rather than the ones presented in the work.

Following is just one of the strategies you can adopt to write your book report.

Introduction

Like all other writing projects, a book review also contains an introduction. Begin your review with a bibliographic citation along with your name as the book reviewer and affiliation.

Example:

Fudge, Phoebe, et al. The Theology of Chocolate. Chicago: Epicurean Publications, 2013. pp. xi, 192. $19.99 (softcover). ISBN: 978-0-18-9874111-1.

Reviewed by

X-Y-Z

University of Northamptonshire

[email protected]

You must adhere to one formatting style throughout, whether it is MLA, APA, or Chicago.

Your introduction should contain the following elements:

  • Writer's name, book title, and the main theme in the book;
  • Relevant information about the writer and the genre in which he writes;
  • Your brief review about the context of the book;
  • Your thesis of the book.

Summation

Summarizing the main points is an important element in your review. It is a brief section as the primary purpose of the writing assignment is to give your view. However, depending on who your audience is, you will vary the content of this section. For example, if your readership includes graduate students, you would perhaps want to give a little detailed summary of the book to provide them with a better understanding of the content. However, if you are writing for academic journals or your professor, you would prefer to summarize and move on to the next section briefly.

Analysis

This is the most important section in your review as this will discuss the book's strengths and weaknesses at length. This section is the true test of your writing skills. Organize your assessment into paragraphs based on the themes or methods in the book rather than chronologically. This will be easier to organize along with relevant textual evidence.

Do's and Dont's of Critical Analysis

  • Evaluate how the author has presented his/her arguments throughout the text and critique as to how it fits the main theme of the book;
  • Your review should criticize the book and not what you think it should have been about;
  • Give a personal tone to your review since it is going to be your understanding of the text;
  • You can also make a reference or compare and contrast with other works of the same genre, yet remember not to overdo it. Keep your focus on the book itself;
  • You should try not to be too harsh to the author in your analysis to show some respect for the hard work he has put in writing it. However, do not hesitate to state your agreement or disagreement as long as you support them with proper shreds of evidence;
  • Your format should refrain from quoting excessively;
  • Also, make sure to give proper referencing according to the writing style you are following.

Conclusion

It would help if you kept this section brief. Reinforce your thesis statement here. Some of the reviewers make the mistake of introducing a new argument in this section. Refrain from doing so. Make your final analysis and give a strong conclusion to your review.

Step 3 - Revise and Proofread

The last of the steps is a very crucial one. Revise your text from a book review editor's perspective to see for any loopholes in the main body. Ensure that the writing methodology you have adopted is consistent throughout. Make proper citations with relevant information. Check for grammatical errors, typos, spelling mistakes, and punctuation errors before finalizing the document. Give a final proofread before submitting your document.

Your document is now ready to be submitted. This comprehensive guide enables you to write good book reviews for any purpose, whether for academic publishing or an assignment.

Tasha Kolesnikova
Content Team Member

I write articles and do SEO-optimisation here at Studybay. I'm obsessed with creating content both people and Google love, surfing in Portugal, and dancing Jazz-funk.