Writing a Book Review


The purpose of a book review is to help other people decide whether or not they want to read a book. You do this by summarizing the book and by evaluating how well the writer wrote the book. The book review can explain the positive aspects of the book, the negative aspects of the book, or both.

Book reviews can be any length. Some book reviews are only one or two paragraphs. Others are several pages. The length of the review will depend on who your audience is. If the audience is your teacher, ask her/him about the length.

Style and Content
The style and content of your book review can also vary depending on your audience (who you are writing for). For example, if your book was a factual book about how deafness affects children's learning styles, you would write differently for different audiences. If you are writing for new parents of deaf children, you might provide a very detailed explanation of the subject matter; if you were writing for teachers of deaf children, you could provide less detail because you would assume that they already have a good understanding of the topic.

The content of your book review will vary depending on whether the book is fiction or non-fiction. For example, if you are writing a book review about a work of fiction, you should probably analyze the book’s characters, plot, setting, and theme. If you are writing about a non-fiction book, you will need to evaluate how useful, correct, and well-presented the book's information is.

Book reviews should be formatted like an essay. This means that you need to write an essay with an introduction, body and conclusion.

The introductory paragraph of a book review usually includes . . .

  • the main idea for a non-fiction book or the theme for fiction;
  • identify the author, the title of the book and publisher ( some teachers prefer the book information at the top of the paper using an APA/MLA citation);
  • author’s background (this is optional);
  • your thesis (your opinion why other people should read the book).

The body of your essay must include . . .

  • your summary of the main points of the book;
  • your evaluation of the book where you explain to your reader why they should read the book or not.

The conclusion of your essay . . .

  • should remind your reader of your thesis.
  • may also review the main points of your essay.

Sample Outline for a Book Review

I.  Introductory Paragraph

A. Identify the title, the author and the publisher of the book. (This information can be placed at the top of the paper using APA or MLA reference citation instead of in the introductory paragraph.)

B.  Summarize the main idea/theme of the book you are reviewing in one or two sentences.

C. Write your thesis (what you think of the book).

1. Example: I loved the book but I had some problems with it.

2. Example: I thought the book has useful information for parents of deaf children.

II.  Body Paragraphs

A. Summarize the important points of the book (This can be one or several paragraphs depending on your audience/teacher’s directions.)

1. Use quotes or paraphrases from the book to prove your points.

B.  Evaluate (This can be one or several paragraphs depending on your audience/ teacher’s directions.)

1. Explain the writer’s purpose for writing the book. Give your opinion on whether the writer achieved her/his purpose in writing the book.

2. Criticize/praise the book

a. Explain to your audience if you thought the book was entertaining or boring, has good characters or unrealistic characters, has thorough information or inadequate information.

b. Use quotes or paraphrases from the book to prove your points.

III.  Conclusion

A. Review the main points of your argument.

B.  Remind the reader of your thesis (whether or not you thought the book was good).


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