How to Write a Book Review

A good book review is not a book report. It does not summarize the book anymore than necessary to make its points. It does provide some summary, though, plus: an analysis of the book and a critique (a discussion of both strengths and weaknesses of the book). Often the book is placed into a larger context of other works--by the same author, on the same subject, or of the same type.

A good book review also uses excellent English. WhiteSmoke grammar checking software will help you write your best English. Its thesaurus, dictionary, and word enhancement feature will strengthen the precision and power of your English writing, as well.

You can learn a great deal about how to write a good book review by reading good book reviews. Check such sources at the Times Literary Supplement, the New York Times Book Review Section, and the New York Review of Books. Notice the writing style.

Find the details for formatting your review from the publisher where you intend to submit it. Check for writing guidelines. Most publishers of book reviews specify these details: format for including publication information about the book, format for a title, the maximum number of words , and the style they prefer. Follow these guidelines carefully. They also provide preferences for writing style and content.

However, here are some general guidelines for how to write a good book review that should serve you well in most situations:

Many publishers prefer little or no quoting from the book. So, when writing a book review, quote sparingly, only to show tone or voice or to make a point. Do not quote to fill space. In general, quotations should not exceed a line or two of the original text. Most publishers will specify how they want you to cite a quote, but minimally provide the page number so copy editors and fact checkers can verify the quote.

Writing a book review is an exercise in criticism. It gives both an impression of the work under review and a sense of the reviewer's perspective on that work. This is what is meant by a "critical book review." A book reviewer interprets the book, helping readers grasp what the book is about, what it is trying to do, and whether it succeeds or not.

If you want readers to accept your authority to make such an interpretation,  you must use your best English writing skills. WhiteSmoke software can help you. It provides a powerful synonym dictionary (thesaurus) to suggest better word choices, and a large dictionary to check the precision of your language. Its grammar check and contextual spell check features are unsurpassed. And its unique writing enhancement tool provides suggestions of adjectives and adverbs that will strengthen your writing. It will correct your punctuation and other writing mechanics, as well.

A good book review provides just enough information about the book so that readers can understand your interpretation. Don't spoil the fun or the experience of reading. Avoid plot summary or other descriptions of the book that do not serve the criticism. However, do identify characters, setting and plot set-up (for example: Where does the story lead? What conflicts are established early on in the book?).

Readers are less interested in knowing the plot of a book than in ascertaining enough of the flavor of the book to decide whether to read it themselves or, if they have read it, whether they agree with the critic's assessment.