A book review is a form of literary criticism in which you describe, analyze, and evaluate the work of a particular author as well as provide detailed evidence to support the analysis and evaluation. In a review, often you find an explanation on how the book compares to other works dealing with similar topics or illuminates its contribution to your understanding of a historical topic. These make performing a literary criticism, especially in a form of a review, is not an easy task. It takes a hard work and is time consuming if the components of a review are not known to the reviewer. The following explanation will give you guidelines on how to write a review of a particular book.

The first step in reviewing a book is to consider the elements you need to include in your review. Before you read, it is advisable that you have knowledge about the basics of the book. These basics are background knowledge that includes the author, the genre, the title, the table of contents, and the cover or printing of the book. You need to know who the author is and how he or she came upon writing the book you are reviewing. Also, find out what type of book it is, who the intended audience is, and what purpose the book serves. Consider if the title fits the genre and is interesting or not. See the table of contents to figure out how the book is arranged. It is true that you cannot judge a book based only on its cover. However, it is not faulty if you include to your review your assessment on whether the book jacket sparks your interest, and the typescript is clear to you or not.

The next step is to begin reading the book critically. In order to give analysis and evaluation you need to know the book thoroughly. Make sure that you read the book with care, highlight quotable passages, and note your impressions. Reading the book with full concentration and enjoyment without intentionally skipping a page or two will help you absorb information as much and deep as you can. If you happen to stumble upon some compelling lines or sections, underline them with a colored pen or slip a bookmark on the intended page. Thus, you can always go back whenever you need backing for your arguments. It is also important that you jot down your thoughts and impressions of the book because this will help you create your thesis and build your arguments which you can discuss in your review.

This last step asks you to write the review in an organized structure. A thorough review should respectively include these components: introduction, summary of content, analysis or evaluation, and conclusion. Be short and direct in your introduction. An introduction must include at least two of these elements. The first is background, in which you tell a little bit about the author, the book, and essential historical or historiographical background. The second is your thesis which depicts your evaluation in one sentence. Before summarizing the content of the book, find out who the review is addressed to. There is no need to do an in depth summary if your audience has already read the book. Further explain your thesis in the analysis or evaluation section. This is a challenging part to accomplish. It is natural if you feel daunted by critiquing the work of an author who normally has had a considerable training and expertise. Writing a critical review means analyzing and considering it in a reasoned manner. According to an article from a website called Scholastic, you must give explanation on how the book makes you feel and why the book evokes such emotions towards its readers. The article also suggests that what makes a good review is not merely that it reflects the reviewer’s opinion, but also gives influence to the readers to share and read or not read it (Philbrick). By the end of the review give an overall conclusion by summing up or restating your thesis statement or making a final judgment regarding the book.

In conclusion, there are three main points to successfully write a book review. These book review guidelines can be arranged in an order of before, during, and after sequence. Before reading the book, you need to have mastered its background information. During your reading, you need to pay close attention to its content. Thus, it will help you gain thorough understanding and support your evaluation. After reading the book, you need to construct your analysis in an organized manner.


Philbrick, R. (n.d.). Write a Book Review with Rodman Philbrick. Retrieved September 24, 2016, from http://teacher.scholastic.com/writewit/bookrev/tips.htm