How to Write a Book Review: A Comprehensive Tutorial With Examples

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You don’t need to be a literary expert to craft captivating book reviews. With one in every three readers selecting books based on insightful reviews, your opinions can guide fellow bibliophiles toward their next literary adventure.

Learning how to write a book review will not only help you excel at your assigned tasks, but you’ll also contribute valuable insights to the book-loving community and turn your passion into a professional pursuit.

In this comprehensive guide,  PaperPerk  will walk you through a few simple steps to master the art of writing book reviews so you can confidently embark on this rewarding journey.

What is a Book Review?

A book review is a critical evaluation of a book, offering insights into its content, quality, and impact. It helps readers make informed decisions about whether to read the book.

Writing a book review as an assignment benefits students in multiple ways. Firstly, it teaches them how to write a book review by developing their analytical skills as they evaluate the content, themes, and writing style .

Secondly, it enhances their ability to express opinions and provide constructive criticism. Additionally, book review assignments expose students to various publications and genres, broadening their knowledge.

Furthermore, these tasks foster essential skills for academic success, like critical thinking and the ability to synthesize information. By now, we’re sure you want to learn how to write a book review, so let’s look at the book review template first.

Table of Contents

Book Review Template

How to Write a Book Review- A Step-by-Step Guide

Check out these 5 straightforward steps for composing the best book review.

Step 1: Planning Your Book Review – The Art of Getting Started

You’ve decided to take the plunge and share your thoughts on a book that has captivated (or perhaps disappointed) you. Before you start book reviewing, let’s take a step back and plan your approach. Knowing how to write a book review that’s both informative and engaging is an art in itself.

Choosing Your Literature

First things first, pick the book you want to review. This might seem like a no-brainer, but selecting a book that genuinely interests you will make the review process more enjoyable and your insights more authentic.

Crafting the Master Plan

Next, create an  outline  that covers all the essential points you want to discuss in your review. This will serve as the roadmap for your writing journey.

The Devil is in the Details

As you read, note any information that stands out, whether it overwhelms, underwhelms, or simply intrigues you. Pay attention to:

  • The characters and their development
  • The plot and its intricacies
  • Any themes, symbols, or motifs you find noteworthy

Remember to reserve a body paragraph for each point you want to discuss.

The Key Questions to Ponder

When planning your book review, consider the following questions:

  • What’s the plot (if any)? Understanding the driving force behind the book will help you craft a more effective review.
  • Is the plot interesting? Did the book hold your attention and keep you turning the pages?
  • Are the writing techniques effective? Does the author’s style captivate you, making you want to read (or reread) the text?
  • Are the characters or the information believable? Do the characters/plot/information feel real, and can you relate to them?
  • Would you recommend the book to anyone? Consider if the book is worthy of being recommended, whether to impress someone or to support a point in a literature class.
  • What could be improved? Always keep an eye out for areas that could be improved. Providing constructive criticism can enhance the quality of literature.

Step 2 – Crafting the Perfect Introduction to Write a Book Review

In this second step of “how to write a book review,” we’re focusing on the art of creating a powerful opening that will hook your audience and set the stage for your analysis.

Identify Your Book and Author

Begin by mentioning the book you’ve chosen, including its  title  and the author’s name. This informs your readers and establishes the subject of your review.

Ponder the Title

Next, discuss the mental images or emotions the book’s title evokes in your mind . This helps your readers understand your initial feelings and expectations before diving into the book.

Judge the Book by Its Cover (Just a Little)

Take a moment to talk about the book’s cover. Did it intrigue you? Did it hint at what to expect from the story or the author’s writing style? Sharing your thoughts on the cover can offer a unique perspective on how the book presents itself to potential readers.

Present Your Thesis

Now it’s time to introduce your thesis. This statement should be a concise and insightful summary of your opinion of the book. For example:

“Normal People” by Sally Rooney is a captivating portrayal of the complexities of human relationships, exploring themes of love, class, and self-discovery with exceptional depth and authenticity.

Ensure that your thesis is relevant to the points or quotes you plan to discuss throughout your review.

Incorporating these elements into your introduction will create a strong foundation for your book review. Your readers will be eager to learn more about your thoughts and insights on the book, setting the stage for a compelling and thought-provoking analysis.

How to Write a Book Review: Step 3 – Building Brilliant Body Paragraphs

You’ve planned your review and written an attention-grabbing introduction. Now it’s time for the main event: crafting the body paragraphs of your book review. In this step of “how to write a book review,” we’ll explore the art of constructing engaging and insightful body paragraphs that will keep your readers hooked.

Summarize Without Spoilers

Begin by summarizing a specific section of the book, not revealing any major plot twists or spoilers. Your goal is to give your readers a taste of the story without ruining surprises.

Support Your Viewpoint with Quotes

Next, choose three quotes from the book that support your viewpoint or opinion. These quotes should be relevant to the section you’re summarizing and help illustrate your thoughts on the book.

Analyze the Quotes

Write a summary of each quote in your own words, explaining how it made you feel or what it led you to think about the book or the author’s writing. This analysis should provide insight into your perspective and demonstrate your understanding of the text.

Structure Your Body Paragraphs

Dedicate one body paragraph to each quote, ensuring your writing is well-connected, coherent, and easy to understand.

For example:

  • In  Jane Eyre , Charlotte Brontë writes, “I am no bird; and no net ensnares me.” This powerful statement highlights Jane’s fierce independence and refusal to be trapped by societal expectations.
  • In  Normal People , Sally Rooney explores the complexities of love and friendship when she writes, “It was culture as class performance, literature fetishized for its ability to take educated people on false emotional journeys.” This quote reveals the author’s astute observations on the role of culture and class in shaping personal relationships.
  • In  Wuthering Heights , Emily Brontë captures the tumultuous nature of love with the quote, “He’s more myself than I am. Whatever our souls are made of, his and mine are the same.” This poignant line emphasizes the deep, unbreakable bond between the story’s central characters.

By following these guidelines, you’ll create body paragraphs that are both captivating and insightful, enhancing your book review and providing your readers with a deeper understanding of the literary work. 

How to Write a Book Review: Step 4 – Crafting a Captivating Conclusion

You’ve navigated through planning, introductions, and body paragraphs with finesse. Now it’s time to wrap up your book review with a  conclusion that leaves a lasting impression . In this final step of “How to write a Book Review,” we’ll explore the art of writing a memorable and persuasive conclusion.

Summarize Your Analysis

Begin by summarizing the key points you’ve presented in the body paragraphs. This helps to remind your readers of the insights and arguments you’ve shared throughout your review.

Offer Your Final Conclusion

Next, provide a conclusion that reflects your overall feelings about the book. This is your chance to leave a lasting impression and persuade your readers to consider your perspective.

Address the Book’s Appeal

Now, answer the question: Is this book worth reading? Be clear about who would enjoy the book and who might not. Discuss the taste preferences and circumstances that make the book more appealing to some readers than others.

For example:  The Alchemist is a book that can enchant a young teen, but those who are already well-versed in classic literature might find it less engaging.

Be Subtle and Balanced

Avoid simply stating whether you “liked” or “disliked” the book. Instead, use nuanced language to convey your message. Highlight the pros and cons of reading the type of literature you’ve reviewed, offering a balanced perspective.

Bringing It All Together

By following these guidelines, you’ll craft a conclusion that leaves your readers with a clear understanding of your thoughts and opinions on the book. Your review will be a valuable resource for those considering whether to pick up the book, and your witty and insightful analysis will make your review a pleasure to read. So conquer the world of book reviews, one captivating conclusion at a time!

How to Write a Book Review: Step 5 – Rating the Book (Optional)

You’ve masterfully crafted your book review, from the introduction to the conclusion. But wait, there’s one more step you might consider before calling it a day: rating the book. In this optional step of “how to write a book review,” we’ll explore the benefits and methods of assigning a rating to the book you’ve reviewed.

Why Rate the Book?

Sometimes, when writing a professional book review, it may not be appropriate to state whether you liked or disliked the book. In such cases, assigning a rating can be an effective way to get your message across without explicitly sharing your personal opinion.

How to Rate the Book

There are various rating systems you can use to evaluate the book, such as:

  • A star rating (e.g., 1 to 5 stars)
  • A numerical score (e.g., 1 to 10)
  • A letter grade (e.g., A+ to F)

Choose a rating system that best suits your style and the format of your review. Be consistent in your rating criteria, considering writing quality, character development, plot, and overall enjoyment.

Tips for Rating the Book

Here are some tips for rating the book effectively:

  • Be honest: Your rating should reflect your true feelings about the book. Don’t inflate or deflate your rating based on external factors, such as the book’s popularity or the author’s reputation.
  • Be fair: Consider the book’s merits and shortcomings when rating. Even if you didn’t enjoy the book, recognize its strengths and acknowledge them in your rating.
  • Be clear: Explain the rationale behind your rating so your readers understand the factors that influenced your evaluation.

Wrapping Up

By including a rating in your book review, you provide your readers with additional insight into your thoughts on the book. While this step is optional, it can be a valuable tool for conveying your message subtly yet effectively. So, rate those books confidently, adding a touch of wit and wisdom to your book reviews.

Additional Tips on How to Write a Book Review: A Guide

In this segment, we’ll explore additional tips on how to write a book review. Get ready to captivate your readers and make your review a memorable one!

Hook ’em with an Intriguing Introduction

Keep your introduction precise and to the point. Readers have the attention span of a goldfish these days, so don’t let them swim away in boredom. Start with a bang and keep them hooked!

Embrace the World of Fiction

When learning how to write a book review, remember that reviewing fiction is often more engaging and effective. If your professor hasn’t assigned you a specific book, dive into the realm of fiction and select a novel that piques your interest.

Opinionated with Gusto

Don’t shy away from adding your own opinion to your review. A good book review always features the writer’s viewpoint and constructive criticism. After all, your readers want to know what  you  think!

Express Your Love (or Lack Thereof)

If you adored the book, let your readers know! Use phrases like “I’ll definitely return to this book again” to convey your enthusiasm. Conversely, be honest but respectful even if the book wasn’t your cup of tea.

Templates and Examples and Expert Help: Your Trusty Sidekicks

Feeling lost? You can always get help from formats, book review examples or online  college paper writing service  platforms. These trusty sidekicks will help you navigate the world of book reviews with ease. 

Be a Champion for New Writers and Literature

Remember to uplift new writers and pieces of literature. If you want to suggest improvements, do so kindly and constructively. There’s no need to be mean about anyone’s books – we’re all in this literary adventure together!

Criticize with Clarity, Not Cruelty

When adding criticism to your review, be clear but not mean. Remember, there’s a fine line between constructive criticism and cruelty. Tread lightly and keep your reader’s feelings in mind.

Avoid the Comparison Trap

Resist the urge to compare one writer’s book with another. Every book holds its worth, and comparing them will only confuse your reader. Stick to discussing the book at hand, and let it shine in its own light.

Top 7 Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

Writing a book review can be a delightful and rewarding experience, especially when you balance analysis, wit, and personal insights. However, some common mistakes can kill the brilliance of your review. 

In this section of “How to write a book review,” we’ll explore the top 7 blunders writers commit and how to steer clear of them, with a dash of  modernist literature  examples and tips for students writing book reviews as assignments.

Succumbing to the Lure of Plot Summaries

Mistake: Diving headfirst into a plot summary instead of dissecting the book’s themes, characters, and writing style.

Example: “The Bell Jar chronicles the life of a young woman who experiences a mental breakdown.”

How to Avoid: Delve into the book’s deeper aspects, such as its portrayal of mental health, societal expectations, and the author’s distinctive narrative voice. Offer thoughtful insights and reflections, making your review a treasure trove of analysis.

Unleashing the Spoiler Kraken

Mistake: Spilling major plot twists or the ending without providing a spoiler warning, effectively ruining the reading experience for potential readers.

Example: “In Metamorphosis, the protagonist’s transformation into a monstrous insect leads to…”

How to Avoid: Tread carefully when discussing significant plot developments, and consider using spoiler warnings. Focus on the impact of these plot points on the overall narrative, character growth, or thematic resonance.

Riding the Personal Bias Express

Mistake: Allowing personal bias to hijack the review without providing sufficient evidence or reasoning to support opinions.

Example: “I detest books about existential crises, so The Sun Also Rises was a snoozefest.”

How to Avoid: While personal opinions are valid, it’s crucial to back them up with specific examples from the book. Discuss aspects like writing style, character development, or pacing to support your evaluation and provide a more balanced perspective.

Wielding the Vague Language Saber

Mistake: Resorting to generic, vague language that fails to capture the nuances of the book and can come across as clichéd.

Example: “This book was mind-blowing. It’s a must-read for everyone.”

How to Avoid: Use precise and descriptive language to express your thoughts. Employ specific examples and quotations to highlight memorable scenes, the author’s unique writing style, or the impact of the book’s themes on readers.

Ignoring the Contextualization Compass

Mistake: Neglecting to provide context about the author, genre, or cultural relevance of the book, leaving readers without a proper frame of reference.

Example: “This book is dull and unoriginal.”

How to Avoid: Offer readers a broader understanding by discussing the author’s background, the genre conventions the book adheres to or subverts, and any societal or historical contexts that inform the narrative. This helps readers appreciate the book’s uniqueness and relevance.

Overindulging in Personal Preferences

Mistake: Letting personal preferences overshadow an objective assessment of the book’s merits.

Example: “I don’t like stream-of-consciousness writing, so this book is automatically bad.”

How to Avoid: Acknowledge personal preferences but strive to evaluate the book objectively. Focus on the book’s strengths and weaknesses, considering how well it achieves its goals within its genre or intended audience.

Forgetting the Target Audience Telescope

Mistake: Failing to mention the book’s target audience or who might enjoy it, leading to confusion for potential readers.

Example: “This book is great for everyone.”

How to Avoid: Contemplate the book’s intended audience, genre, and themes. Mention who might particularly enjoy the book based on these factors, whether it’s fans of a specific genre, readers interested in character-driven stories, or those seeking thought-provoking narratives.

By dodging these common pitfalls, writers can craft insightful, balanced, and engaging book reviews that help readers make informed decisions about their reading choices.

These tips are particularly beneficial for students writing book reviews as assignments, as they ensure a well-rounded and thoughtful analysis.!

Many students requested us to cover how to write a book review. This thorough guide is sure to help you. At Paperperk, professionals are dedicated to helping students find their balance. We understand the importance of good grades, so we offer the finest writing service , ensuring students stay ahead of the curve. So seek expert help because only Paperperk is your perfect solution!

What is the difference between a book review and a report?

Who is the target audience for book reviews and book reports, how do book reviews and reports differ in length and content, can i write professional book reviews, what are the key aspects of writing professional book reviews, how can i enhance my book-reviewing skills to write professional reviews, what should be included in a good book review.

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The Write Practice

How to Write a Book Review: The Complete Guide

by Sue Weems | 23 comments

If you've ever loved (or hated) a book, you may have been tempted to review it. Here's a complete guide to how to write a book review, so you can share your literary adventures with other readers more often! 

How to Write a Book Review: The Complete Guide

You finally reach the last page of a book that kept you up all night and close it with the afterglow of satisfaction and a tinge of regret that it’s over. If you enjoyed the book enough to stay up reading it way past your bedtime, consider writing a review. It is one of the best gifts you can give an author.

Regardless of how much you know about how to write a book review, the author will appreciate hearing how their words touched you.

But as you face the five shaded stars and empty box, a blank mind strikes. What do I say? I mean, is this a book really deserving of five stars? How did it compare to Dostoevsky or Angelou or Dickens?

Maybe there’s an easier way to write a book review.

Want to learn how to write a book from start to finish? Check out How to Write a Book: The Complete Guide .

The Fallacy of Book Reviews

Once you’ve decided to give a review, you are faced with the task of deciding how many stars to give a book.

When I first started writing book reviews, I made the mistake of trying to compare a book to ALL BOOKS OF ALL TIME. (Sorry for the all caps, but that’s how it felt, like a James Earl Jones voice was asking me where to put this book in the queue of all books.)

Other readers find themselves comparing new titles to their favorite books. It's a natural comparison. But is it fair?

This is honestly why I didn’t give reviews of books for a long time. How can I compare a modern romance or historical fiction war novel with Dostoevsky? I can’t, and I shouldn’t.

I realized my mistake one day as I was watching (of all things) a dog show. In the final round, they trotted out dogs of all shapes, colors, and sizes. I thought, “How can a Yorkshire Terrier compete with a Basset Hound?” As if he'd read my mind, the announcer explained that each is judged by the standards for its breed.

This was my “Aha!” moment. I have to take a book on its own terms. The question is not, “How does this book compare to all books I’ve read?” but “How well did this book deliver what it promised for the intended audience?”

A review is going to reflect my personal experience with the book, but I can help potential readers by taking a minute to consider what the author intended. Let me explain what I mean. 

How to Write a Book Review: Consider a Book’s Promise

A book makes a promise with its cover, blurb, and first pages. It begins to set expectations the minute a reader views the thumbnail or cover. Those things indicate the genre, tone, and likely the major themes.

If a book cover includes a lip-locked couple in flowing linen on a beach, and I open to the first page to read about a pimpled vampire in a trench coat speaking like Mr. Knightly about his plan for revenge on the entire human race, there’s been a breach of contract before I even get to page two. These are the books we put down immediately (unless a mixed-message beachy cover combined with an Austen vampire story is your thing).

But what if the cover, blurb, and first pages are cohesive and perk our interest enough to keep reading? Then we have to think about what the book has promised us, which revolves around one key idea: What is the core story question and how well is it resolved?

Sometimes genre expectations help us answer this question: a romance will end with a couple who finds their way, a murder mystery ends with a solved case, a thriller’s protagonist beats the clock and saves the country or planet.

The stories we love most do those expected things in a fresh or surprising way with characters we root for from the first page. Even (and especially!) when a book doesn’t fit neatly in a genre category, we need to consider what the book promises on those first pages and decide how well it succeeds on the terms it sets for itself.

When I Don’t Know What to Write

About a month ago, I realized I was overthinking how to write a book review. Here at the Write Practice we have a longstanding tradition of giving critiques using the Oreo method : point out something that was a strength, then something we wondered about or that confused us, followed by another positive.

We can use this same structure to write a simple review when we finish books. Consider this book review format: 

[Book Title] by [book author] is about ___[plot summary in a sentence—no spoilers!]___. I chose this book based on ________. I really enjoyed ________. I wondered how ___________. Anyone who likes ____ will love this book.

Following this basic template can help you write an honest review about most any book, and it will give the author or publisher good information about what worked (and possibly what didn’t). You might write about the characters, the conflict, the setting, or anything else that captured you and kept you reading.

As an added bonus, you will be a stronger reader when you are able to express why you enjoyed parts of a book (just like when you critique!). After you complete a few, you’ll find it gets easier, and you won’t need the template anymore.

What if I Didn’t Like It?

Like professional book reviewers, you will have to make the call about when to leave a negative review. If I can’t give a book at least three stars, I usually don’t review it. Why? If I don’t like a book after a couple chapters, I put it down. I don’t review anything that I haven’t read the entire book.

Also, it may be that I’m not the target audience. The book might be well-written and well-reviewed with a great cover, and it just doesn’t capture me. Or maybe it's a book that just isn't hitting me right now for reasons that have nothing to do with the book and everything to do with my own reading life and needs. Every book is not meant for every reader.

If a book kept me reading all the way to the end and I didn’t like the ending? I would probably still review it, since there had to be enough good things going on to keep me reading to the end. I might mention in my review that the ending was less satisfying than I hoped, but I would still end with a positive.

How to Write a Book Review: Your Turn

As writers, we know how difficult it is to put down the words day after day. We are typically voracious readers. Let’s send some love back out to our fellow writers this week and review the most recent title we enjoyed.

What was the last book you read or reviewed? Do you ever find it hard to review a book? Share in the comments .

Now it's your turn. Think of the last book you read. Then, take fifteen minutes to write a review of it based on the template above. When you're done, share your review in the Pro Practice Workshop . For bonus points, post it on the book's page on Amazon and Goodreads, too!

Don't forget to leave feedback for your fellow writers! What new reads will you discover in the comments?

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Sue Weems is a writer, teacher, and traveler with an advanced degree in (mostly fictional) revenge. When she’s not rationalizing her love for parentheses (and dramatic asides), she follows a sailor around the globe with their four children, two dogs, and an impossibly tall stack of books to read. You can read more of her writing tips on her website .

25 YA Writing Prompts


Azure Darkness Yugi

The Ice Dragon by George R.R. Martin is about a girl that shows no emotion befriending a ice dragon.

I chose this book based on the cover that had a little girl riding a ice dragon, and wondered what is about.

I really enjoyed the interaction the little girl had with the dragon.

I wondered how how the girl’s bond with the dragon.

Anyone who likes a coming of age story set in a fantasy will love this book.


Thanks for sharing your practice, Azure!

You’re welcome.


A interesting, at times perplexing, subject! And one on my mind lately,as I’ve agreed to do a few. I do enjoy giving reviews and am delighted when I can say, “This was a great book!” Or even, “I enjoyed this book.” It gets perplexing when I agree to review a book — and simply don’t like it. Then what to say? I hate to disappoint the writer but I’ve promised to give my honest opinion.

I’ve found some books mediocre and yet I see a dozen other reviewers saying “A great story!” Tastes do vary. But when there are obvious flaws I tend to skip all the best-friend-and-cousin reviewers and find the first person who says, “This writer has a problem with…” Usually there’ll be a number of reviewers who spot the same problems I do.

I like upbeat main characters, but not aggressive, belligerent, and/or self-centered ones. I like to meet in a story the kind of people I’d like to meet in real life— not people I’d avoid if possible. I recently read a book where the main character came across as insipid and the story only mildly interesting. Other reviewers said it was great and I know for this specific audience — readers who want a certain slant to a story — it was quite suitable. So I tried to cut the book some slack. Everyone has their limit as to how much blood and gore, smooching and snuggling, they are willing to read about.

Once I agreed to review a book and would have tossed it after the first chapter — for several reasons. A lot of “writer inserting facts for reader’s benefit”; teach/preach paragraphs; excess of description; attitudes of MCs. Once it’s live on seller’s sites like Amazon, what can you say? The one thing good it had going for it was the story line or theme. With a pro editor’s help it could have been a great story.

As for a review, one book I read lately was “A Clue for the Puzzle Lady” by Parnell Hall. It’s one of those “Stayed up half the night to finish it” books; I think anyone who likes a compelling cozy mystery would probably like it. Downside: I didn’t care for the “Puzzle Lady.” She’s a lush, hangs out at the bar getting sloshed. The upside: her sensible niece has a starring role —trying to keep her aunt on the straight-and-narrow and the mystery keeps you guessing until the end.

Christine, Thanks for sharing your insight! It sounds like you are approached often to review new books. It does make it tricky if it’s a request, especially outside your own preferences. Thanks for chiming in about your process, as I’m sure others will appreciate the perspective too. I’ll have to take a look at the Puzzle Lady– I do enjoy cozy mysteries. Sue

Here’s another cozy mystery book review in case you’re interested. I’m not approached by writers that often, but there are the Story Cartel, Book Bub and Goodreads, all sites where authors ask for review volunteers.

Reel Estate Ripoff by Renee Pawlish

The detective Reed Ferguson is a fan of Humphry Bogart, movie memorabilia of that era, and fancies himself a bit of a Sam Slade. Though not your super-sleuth, rather inept at times, he’s a likeable character. Told in first person, the story has a Philip Marlowe tone to it, but much tamer. Dialogue and story line are well done, the story well plotted and believable. I’d gladly read more stories about this particular gumshoe.

Beth Schmelzer

If you like cozy mystery books, I’ll send you a list later, Sue. Love them too and I’ve met many authors who write in this genre. Back on topic– you inspire me again to add some reviews to my Blog. I have been reading and writing many middle grade mysteries for a project! My latest favorite: “The World’s Greatest Detective” by Caroline Carson (who I hope to meet tomorrow in Arlington, VA!) My 12 year old grandson borrowed it and finished it before I could. “It’s the best mystery I ever read, Grandma! You’ ll never guess the ending with unpredictable twists!” What better review could we read. The target audience and I both highly recommend this 2017 mystery.

Adding it to my stack, Beth. Thanks!

Kelly Hansen

Not wanting to sound life an idiot, but willing to risk it here among friends: What exactly is a cozy mystery?

Glad you asked! It’s a subgenre of mystery. The best examples of cozy mysteries are those by Agatha Christie. They usually avoid profanity, excessive gore/ violence, and sex. They focus more on the puzzle, sleuth, and their smaller world. Hope that helps!

Thanks, Sue.

Daniel McDonald

Wonderful article. The first I have read by you. It especially gets those of us who don’t feel we have the formula down for review writing to be introduced to a form we can build upon with experience. You’ve kept it simple but you have given us the main ingredients needed for a good review. I printed this one off to look at the next few times I write reviews. Thank you.

Glad you found it helpful. Thanks for reading and commenting!

Dave Diss

I haven’t gone into all this. It’s a matter of time, Joe. I gad about all over the place, not knowing where I am or where I’m going. Within weeks, I’ll be 87. I’ve books of my own that I’d like to see reviewed. Even sorting them out, however, even finding where any of them are, would be a time burden. You see the fix?

Hi Dave, You aren’t alone in feeling the press of time for getting your stories out into the world. May I gently offer this: start with finding and sorting one. If you can’t find it, write it anew. You’ve probably grown in time and perspective since you wrote the first draft, which will make for a stronger story. Good luck. I’m cheering you on!


This is an article for me, because I am happy to receive a rating. I haven’t sold many books. But, at least some thinks that it was worth the time to read. That was refreshing. And, I think I wrote two reviews, so far. It was on Thank you.

You’re welcome!

John Grumps Hamshare

Hi, Sue. Thanks for the helpful advice. I did a review on Amazon for the first of a 7-part thriller titled ‘Mosh Pit (The Rose Garden Incident)’ by Michael Hiebert. [Here it is.]

“5.0 out of 5 stars Advance copy review. By A fellow author on September 18, 2016 Format: Kindle Edition I Recommend This Book Strongly

I enjoyed reading this first part of the thriller. The author’s opening chapter/prologue was fast paced, and set me in the middle of the inciting incident along with two of the main characters. After that thrilling opening, I felt the ensuing chapters moved at a more leisurely pace, and was about to grade them as less praiseworthy when I watched a lecture by Brandon Sanderson on YouTube about building three dimensional characters and realised Michael Hiebert had done exactly that by introducing the reader to the minutiae of other characters who had parts to play in the development of the story. So, instead of cardboard cutouts of bland stock characters, the author shows us real people with real concerns that the reader can relate to.and actually care about. I look forward to reading the rest of this intriguing thriller, and highly recommend it to all lovers of well-written, and well-crafted thrillers.”

I also reviewed Part 2 of the series, but that review is too long to post here.

Footnote: The author, Michael Hiebert, was so pleased with my reviews, he recently asked me to beta-read a short story collection he plans to publish in November.

Great review, John! I like how you shared a bit of your process as a reader too, in recognizing what the writer was doing with their characterization. Thanks!

John Hamshare

Thank you, Sue.

Five out of five stars When I picked up a copy of “The Girl with All the Gifts,” by M R Carey, at the used book store, I somehow had it in my head that it was a YA dystopian novel along the lines of “Divergent” or “The Hunger Games.” While I would definitely say that I was not right about that, I wouldn’t say that I was completely wrong. I was, however, completely unprepared for a zombie novel–which is a good thing, cause I wouldn’t have read it, and I’m glad I did. Think “The Walking Dead” meets (why do I want to say ‘The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night”?) “Peter Pan.” I really enjoyed seeing things from, the main character, Melanie’s point of view. Her limited knowledge of her own situation was intriguing, to say the least (and probably why I thought of “The Curious Incident”). I was a bit disappointed when the POV changed to another character’s, but, as the novel progressed, I found myself sympathizing with nearly all the characters–with one exception, and I’ll leave that for you to ponder when you read it. I wondered how much of the science was real, but not enough for me to research it myself. Although, based on other reviews, I guess most of the science about the fungus is real. I also wondered about the fate of the remaining ‘lost boys’ of the cities. If you liked…. well, I don’t know. I’m not typically a fan of things zombie, so I don’t have a comparison, but the book was somewhat similar to “Divergent” and “The Hunger Games” in that the main character goes through a hellluva time and comes out the other side with a plan for her future.


“Tuesdays with Morrie” by Mitch Albom is a true story about how one man found meaning in life when his doctors gave him a death sentence. Morrie was a college professor who passed on his new found wisdom in the last year of his life to a favorite student, the author, who chronicled his professor’s perspectives on death and dying.

I chose this book because of its philosophical topic, and because it is so well written that the words just jump off the page.

Knowing we are all mortal beings, I especially liked the insights, the tidbits of wisdom imparted by the dying man. Death is a subject that few, if any of us, ever talk about seriously with friends and family. The subject of death is verboten. We deny its existence. And, if we are religious, we pretend we will not really die, but we deceive ourselves and think we will live on in some afterlife existence for all eternity. But the professor, Morrie, learns some valuable life lessons from his impending death, and Mitch Albom was gracious enough to capture them in this short but eminently readable book.

I really liked the book because it is timeless. This true story will impart serious life lessons for all future generations, and will help us gain perspectives on our lives and the relationships with those we love the most.

R. Allan Worrell

Cathy Ryan

Sue, I’ve been meaning to come back since this was first posted to tell you thanks for a great article. I seldom review books for alllllll the reasons you listed. This is a perfect tool and I’ll surely use it. Cathy


  • Professional Development -> accessiblity – Live love and learn - […] […]

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Home » Writing » How to Write a Good Book Review

how to prepare book review

Tips for Writing a Good Book Review 

Now that you’ve prepped what you want to say, how you want to say it, and who you want to say it to, it’s time to start writing. Below we’ve gathered our favorite tips to help you write a good book review. Wait… make that a GREAT book review.

1. Include general information

Make sure to include all the relevant book information for your audience , including the title, author, genre, and publisher in your review. While not necessary, it is also helpful to include the number of pages, list price, and ISBN number.

2. Provide a brief plot summary

After the hook, you can then move on to the brief plot summary. This summary shouldn’t be too long, but it can be a paragraph that explains the basic plot so that the reader better understands if it’s a topic of interest. One pitfall to avoid is to give away spoilers in the plot summary. Don’t give away any plot twists, and err on the side of caution if you feel that the information is too much. For example, tell the reader that the plot has unexpected twists rather than explain any surprises in the summary.

3. Focus on the book, not the author

Keep in mind that your main job as a reviewer is to share your opinion on the book, not to critique the author. Keep the focus on the story. Avoid referencing pitfalls in any of the author’s past books or what you about them as a writer. You can provide a brief introduction to the story mentioning the author and past books, but don’t spend too much time focused on the author. The review should focus on the content of the book and its characters.

4. Be clear and specific

It is not enough to just say that you did or didn’t like the book. Let your readers know why. Make your thoughts clear as early as possible and explain the reasons why you liked or disliked specific storyline components and characters. Be specific about what you loved about the writing, what drew you to the characters, or what left you feeling lukewarm about the plot. You don’t need to explain every aspect of the book, but the reader should walk away with a sense that they understand the basic plot and determine from the review if they want to read the book for themselves.

Write a 5 star book review

5. Remain subjective

Not all book reviews have to be glowing, but they should be subjective. Rather than just saying you didn’t like something, support it by letting your readers know why. We all gravitate towards different things, so what may not appeal to you may appeal to someone else. If you remain subjective, then you can explain to the reader the basic story and let them decide for themselves. The review can include your likes and dislikes, but they should focus on what you felt the story did well and what parts of the story you didn’t like. However, the main focus of the review should be to explain the story so that readers can determine if they want to read the book further.

6. Avoid spoilers

We know it can be tempting, but do your best not to let any spoilers slip in your book review. Have you ever been excited to see the latest blockbuster hit (or watch the season cliffhanger to your favorite TV show) and then someone spoils the end before you even have time to watch? That is exactly what you don’t want to do to your reader. As you explain the book in your summary, ask yourself if what you are explaining ruins any surprises or twists. As you write the review, keep it vague. For example, explain that there is a major plot twist but don’t go into the specifics.

7. Be transparent

Always share if you received an incentive to review the book, got an advance copy, or have any connection to the author. Your readers will appreciate your honesty. Plus, it helps you avoid the negative impact on your credibility if they find out later. Getting paid for a review is a perfectly reasonable excuse to read a book, but it does allow readers to determine if you’re being unbiased. By specifying if you have any relationship with the author, the reader can better trust your opinion, even if they feel you’re being more biased.

8. Keep it short

While book reviews can be any length, it is always best to keep it short and succinct. Pull in your reader with a strong first sentence that sets the tone of the review and end with your recommendation. Remember, most people start to scan when something gets too long. A book review is a short summary, so writing a novel-length review loses reader interests. Keeping it short will ensure that your readers will dive into your likes and dislikes and use your reviews to determine if they have an interest in the books.

9. Proofread before posting

The quickest way to lose credibility is to post a review filled with typos. Make sure to give your final book review a thorough read before posting it and double check the spelling of any character names or places that you mention. Even better, ask someone else to read it over. It is always good to have a fresh pair of eyes proof to catch any typos. If you don’t have a family or friend who will help with proofreader, you can join a writing community where members offer test reads and proofreading. Make sure that you don’t post the review publicly, because search engines will index it and the review will no longer be unique content.

Also, keep in mind that you will want to write different book reviews for different sites. Don’t just copy and paste the same review. Google search engines scan for duplicate content and if flagged, your review won’t appear.

10. Add a hook

The hook is one or two sentences that grab the reader and convince them to keep going. It should be interesting, but it should also stick with the topic without misleading readers. The hook could be a simple statement that explains the main character of the book, or it could ask a question that resonates with the reader. Don’t make the hook too sensational to avoid sounding like a sales pitch. It should simply provide an introduction that grabs reader interests.

11. Explain what you liked about the book

Writing your own book review is a way to explain what you liked about it, and what you liked could be of interest to another reader. This section allows you to personalize the review. You can explain what you liked about the characters, who was your favorite character, what part of the book was your favorite, and if the book invoked any personal feelings (e.g., you laughed or cried).

12. Explain what you disliked about the book

You likely have something that you disliked about the book, and this section explains what you wish would have been different about the storyline or the characters. Just like the other sections, make sure that you do not reveal too much and give away important plot lines that could be considered spoilers for the rest of the story.

13. Include brief quotes as examples

Brief quotes provide readers with better insight into characters. Using quotes from characters will help the reader follow the plot summary and determine if the characters are people they can relate to. Avoid using excessively long quotes. Since the reader hasn’t read the book, a long quote could ruin plot twists or overpower the review.

14. Reference similar books

A great way to introduce readers to a specific book is to compare your book review with other books. For example, you can explain to the reader that they will like the current book you’re reviewing if they like another similar book. Alternatively, you can also compare characters between books to provide better insight into the story’s characters and the dynamic between individual characters.

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On Book Street

How to Write a Book Review in 10 Steps – Beginner’s Guide

book review.jpg

So, you want to get into writing book reviews.

Maybe you discovered that it’s harder than it seems - along with everyone else who’s tried before you.

Maybe you like to do some research before jumping headfirst into any new endeavour.

Whatever the reason you've happened upon this article, you will find out how to navigate the intricate and enthralling world of book reviews. There’s a long road ahead, but it’s a fulfilling and delightful road so hop right in and get started!

In 10 Steps to a Great Book Review

Read the Entire Book

Take Notes of Said Book

Give an Idea of the Book Outline

Don’t Forget the Author

Evaluate the Book Thoroughly

Don’t Beat Around the Bush

Don’t Be Afraid of Adverse Feedback

Support Your Views

Draw a Conclusion

Read Other Reviews

1. Read the Entire Book

I’m not insulting your intelligence with this one – there are many DNF (did not finish) book reviews flitting around. Any review on a half-read book is automatically a half-written review, and no one wants to read a half-written review.

You’ll not only do your review a disservice but any potential reader and the author of the book. It is impossible to paint a full, all-inclusive picture of the book if you have not reached its final page. Though you may want to fling the thing out of the nearest window you must remember that every page is vital to a fully-fledged and professional review. Tough it out, knuckle down, and just think of the cathartic relief as you spill your overflowing criticism into your scathing book review.

Or just DNF that thing and don't write one.

If you absolutely have to write a book review for a book you didn’t finish, make sure you are super transparent about the fact that you haven’t read the whole book and can’t paint a full picture.

2. Take Notes of Said Book

Does something catch your eye? Makes you ponder? Strikes you as crucial to the book’s flow? Don’t assign it to memory – it’s not always as reliable as we like to think.

Notes will keep your mind fresh and ensure you don’t lose any vital perspective along the way. You may even begin to notice some themes, patterns or connections throughout your notes thus making your review an in-depth and hashed out one.

If recoil at the idea of writing on a book and are appalled by the thought of carrying around a notebook – you can pick yourself up some sticky notes or tags to place throughout the book. This sticky method is highly recommended as it helps you find exactly what section of the book you were commenting on.

3. Give an Idea of the Book Outline

There’s really no need for an extensive run-through of the book. Summary writers have already done that for you. You’re here to write a book review and people need to know what you’re reviewing.

Keep that in mind as you introduce your piece. The introduction should be concise and to the point . You don’t want to lose people before you’ve even given one opinion on the book at hand. Keep your eye on the prize at all times – your readers are here to discover your insight and opinion on a book. A story can become good or bad depending on how it is written – that’s what your readers really want to know.

This is also your chance to set the tone for the review – let readers know how you will be continuing throughout, don’t leave them waiting!

book review guide.jpg

4. Don’t Forget the Author

You must give credit where credit is due. Writing a book is a laborious task that can take years of work on just the editing alone!

Reference any milestones the author may have achieved throughout their lifetime. Let the reader know about any life experiences they had that could possibly have influenced their writing. If they have a degree – mention it. Exercise a literary profession? Shout it from the rooftops.

Three or four lines should suffice for giving the reader an idea of who is behind the book. In this section, you should also include the publisher, translator and any other essential information pertaining to the book.

5. Evaluate the Book Thoroughly

It’s all fine and dandy to go on a personal diatribe against a book or weave together an ode for your favourite book, but there is so much more to a proper book review than this. Make sure to elaborate on the themes behind the book. Delve into the characters without giving away too much of their storyline, show how the character dynamics develop and interweave throughout the book. During this part of the review, it is possible to perform character analysis ’ and opine on whether you found the character to be sufficiently developed and realistic. During the evaluation any possible tropes such as a ‘Mary Sue’ character should be noted and reviewed – take into account whether the trope is appropriate for the storyline or if it is utilized due to lazy writing. Be sure to direct attention towards the writing style of the author – whether it be flippant, conversational or formal – the tone and style can completely change a reader’s experience of a book. This point also ties into the importance of pointing towards a specific genre for the book. The reader wants to know what they’re in for. If there’s an overuse of a particular trope, plot device or the characters all have suspiciously similar dialogue – be sure to mention it. Don’t forget to sing the praises of all the beautiful aspects of the book that you might find, maybe even quoting some particularly striking lines from the book to provide your reader with insight into the book. Even share what you have learned from your reading . If you have learned how to simultaneously let go of the past and remember it from “The Picture of Dorian Gray” or how completely changing who you truly are for someone else doesn’t benefit anyone from “The Great Gatsby”, then let the reader know. Sharing the knowledge and lessons you have garnered from a book despite your opinions can be incredibly beneficial to the reader, giving them the opportunity to follow in your footsteps. This is only one part of what makes reviewing books so rewarding.


6. Don’t Beat Around the Bush

Take a moment to shake off any social restraints before you write. A good reviewer will do the book justice, whether that means sending it to literary jail or completely absolving it of any literary crimes.

You must try to call it as it is . After completing that task (particularly challenging for beginners) you then must give your opinion on it. Holding back will only serve as a hindrance to your reviewing capabilities. No one reads book reviews for their impartial and incomplete viewpoints, and even if your opinion is that the book is middle of the road, then let the reader know why. Readers and the entire literary world will thank you.

Remember that reading tastes differ. What you may list as a book’s flaw some other reader could have a particular interest in. I’ve discovered some of my favourite books from reading “bad” reviews.

7. Don’t Be Afraid of Adverse Feedback

Speaking of not being afraid, you’re going to come across people who don’t agree with you. Though this stands for every aspect of life – readers can be particularly opinionated and sentimental about certain books. Remember your opinion is as good as any .

Reading is completely subjective . The writer creates a world on paper and then opens it up to you, fully aware that the world will not appear the same to you. That’s a risk all writers take. Don’t back down on your stance despite what people may say. Be open and honest about your opinions - that’s a risk that reviewers take.

8. Support Your Views

You’ve dug the foundations now build the building. Convincing the reader of your views is the majority of the battle. Your argument will not stand if you don’t provide it with substance and armour.

Elaborate on why you think the way you do . Say, for example, you just couldn’t relate to a character that was intended by the writer to be relatable. You might feel that the author focused far too much on this aspect of the character to the point that it was unrealistic. Don’t let the reader jump to a conclusion – lead them to it.

book reviewer.jpg

9. Draw a Conclusion

It is imperative that you sum up everything you learned from the book. Pack your final punch and don’t leave any loose ends .

The conclusion is used as a time to reflect back over what you’ve written, to solidify your ideas into the minds of anyone who could be thinking of potentially purchasing the book you are reviewing.

You are looking to leave your readers with a lasting view of the book , letting them know that you are certain about your views and the whole review wasn’t just written hastily without any real interest. So, as you could’ve guessed, the conclusion is not the time for tiptoeing around the subject or taking back your opinions. There is no room for “maybe ifs” and “buts” in the conclusion – stick to your guns!

10. Read Other Book Reviews

Generally, there are two things that most professional writers will recommend to people looking to get into the field: Read a lot and write a lot .

Perpetual reading and writing are the hallmarks of all good writers. You may think that since you can already read and write that it’s not of much importance but the knowledge and tidbits you glean from simply exercising your literary muscles every day is indispensable. It doesn’t have to be overwhelming and can even be enjoyable.

Look up reviews of your favourite book, read through a number of them, and then write your own review. Experiencing a mix of writing styles will only enrich your own and make it more unique.

So, there you have it – helpful guidelines on how to write either your first book review or to hone your book reviewing skills.


If you’re not sure where to start and just need a push, or are looking to improve your reviews why not try out my easy-to-follow  book review guide . You won’t even run the risk of forgetting crucial steps while reviewing due to its checklist formatting, ensuring that you’ve included all essential information. So, what are you waiting for?

Refine and enhance your reviews by downloading the free guide now.

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Why You Should Read the Classics and Where to Start

7 reasons why you should start a reading journal right now.

The Writing Center • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Book Reviews

What this handout is about.

This handout will help you write a book review, a report or essay that offers a critical perspective on a text. It offers a process and suggests some strategies for writing book reviews.

What is a review?

A review is a critical evaluation of a text, event, object, or phenomenon. Reviews can consider books, articles, entire genres or fields of literature, architecture, art, fashion, restaurants, policies, exhibitions, performances, and many other forms. This handout will focus on book reviews. For a similar assignment, see our handout on literature reviews .

Above all, a review makes an argument. The most important element of a review is that it is a commentary, not merely a summary. It allows you to enter into dialogue and discussion with the work’s creator and with other audiences. You can offer agreement or disagreement and identify where you find the work exemplary or deficient in its knowledge, judgments, or organization. You should clearly state your opinion of the work in question, and that statement will probably resemble other types of academic writing, with a thesis statement, supporting body paragraphs, and a conclusion.

Typically, reviews are brief. In newspapers and academic journals, they rarely exceed 1000 words, although you may encounter lengthier assignments and extended commentaries. In either case, reviews need to be succinct. While they vary in tone, subject, and style, they share some common features:

  • First, a review gives the reader a concise summary of the content. This includes a relevant description of the topic as well as its overall perspective, argument, or purpose.
  • Second, and more importantly, a review offers a critical assessment of the content. This involves your reactions to the work under review: what strikes you as noteworthy, whether or not it was effective or persuasive, and how it enhanced your understanding of the issues at hand.
  • Finally, in addition to analyzing the work, a review often suggests whether or not the audience would appreciate it.

Becoming an expert reviewer: three short examples

Reviewing can be a daunting task. Someone has asked for your opinion about something that you may feel unqualified to evaluate. Who are you to criticize Toni Morrison’s new book if you’ve never written a novel yourself, much less won a Nobel Prize? The point is that someone—a professor, a journal editor, peers in a study group—wants to know what you think about a particular work. You may not be (or feel like) an expert, but you need to pretend to be one for your particular audience. Nobody expects you to be the intellectual equal of the work’s creator, but your careful observations can provide you with the raw material to make reasoned judgments. Tactfully voicing agreement and disagreement, praise and criticism, is a valuable, challenging skill, and like many forms of writing, reviews require you to provide concrete evidence for your assertions.

Consider the following brief book review written for a history course on medieval Europe by a student who is fascinated with beer:

Judith Bennett’s Ale, Beer, and Brewsters in England: Women’s Work in a Changing World, 1300-1600, investigates how women used to brew and sell the majority of ale drunk in England. Historically, ale and beer (not milk, wine, or water) were important elements of the English diet. Ale brewing was low-skill and low status labor that was complimentary to women’s domestic responsibilities. In the early fifteenth century, brewers began to make ale with hops, and they called this new drink “beer.” This technique allowed brewers to produce their beverages at a lower cost and to sell it more easily, although women generally stopped brewing once the business became more profitable.

The student describes the subject of the book and provides an accurate summary of its contents. But the reader does not learn some key information expected from a review: the author’s argument, the student’s appraisal of the book and its argument, and whether or not the student would recommend the book. As a critical assessment, a book review should focus on opinions, not facts and details. Summary should be kept to a minimum, and specific details should serve to illustrate arguments.

Now consider a review of the same book written by a slightly more opinionated student:

Judith Bennett’s Ale, Beer, and Brewsters in England: Women’s Work in a Changing World, 1300-1600 was a colossal disappointment. I wanted to know about the rituals surrounding drinking in medieval England: the songs, the games, the parties. Bennett provided none of that information. I liked how the book showed ale and beer brewing as an economic activity, but the reader gets lost in the details of prices and wages. I was more interested in the private lives of the women brewsters. The book was divided into eight long chapters, and I can’t imagine why anyone would ever want to read it.

There’s no shortage of judgments in this review! But the student does not display a working knowledge of the book’s argument. The reader has a sense of what the student expected of the book, but no sense of what the author herself set out to prove. Although the student gives several reasons for the negative review, those examples do not clearly relate to each other as part of an overall evaluation—in other words, in support of a specific thesis. This review is indeed an assessment, but not a critical one.

Here is one final review of the same book:

One of feminism’s paradoxes—one that challenges many of its optimistic histories—is how patriarchy remains persistent over time. While Judith Bennett’s Ale, Beer, and Brewsters in England: Women’s Work in a Changing World, 1300-1600 recognizes medieval women as historical actors through their ale brewing, it also shows that female agency had its limits with the advent of beer. I had assumed that those limits were religious and political, but Bennett shows how a “patriarchal equilibrium” shut women out of economic life as well. Her analysis of women’s wages in ale and beer production proves that a change in women’s work does not equate to a change in working women’s status. Contemporary feminists and historians alike should read Bennett’s book and think twice when they crack open their next brewsky.

This student’s review avoids the problems of the previous two examples. It combines balanced opinion and concrete example, a critical assessment based on an explicitly stated rationale, and a recommendation to a potential audience. The reader gets a sense of what the book’s author intended to demonstrate. Moreover, the student refers to an argument about feminist history in general that places the book in a specific genre and that reaches out to a general audience. The example of analyzing wages illustrates an argument, the analysis engages significant intellectual debates, and the reasons for the overall positive review are plainly visible. The review offers criteria, opinions, and support with which the reader can agree or disagree.

Developing an assessment: before you write

There is no definitive method to writing a review, although some critical thinking about the work at hand is necessary before you actually begin writing. Thus, writing a review is a two-step process: developing an argument about the work under consideration, and making that argument as you write an organized and well-supported draft. See our handout on argument .

What follows is a series of questions to focus your thinking as you dig into the work at hand. While the questions specifically consider book reviews, you can easily transpose them to an analysis of performances, exhibitions, and other review subjects. Don’t feel obligated to address each of the questions; some will be more relevant than others to the book in question.

  • What is the thesis—or main argument—of the book? If the author wanted you to get one idea from the book, what would it be? How does it compare or contrast to the world you know? What has the book accomplished?
  • What exactly is the subject or topic of the book? Does the author cover the subject adequately? Does the author cover all aspects of the subject in a balanced fashion? What is the approach to the subject (topical, analytical, chronological, descriptive)?
  • How does the author support their argument? What evidence do they use to prove their point? Do you find that evidence convincing? Why or why not? Does any of the author’s information (or conclusions) conflict with other books you’ve read, courses you’ve taken or just previous assumptions you had of the subject?
  • How does the author structure their argument? What are the parts that make up the whole? Does the argument make sense? Does it persuade you? Why or why not?
  • How has this book helped you understand the subject? Would you recommend the book to your reader?

Beyond the internal workings of the book, you may also consider some information about the author and the circumstances of the text’s production:

  • Who is the author? Nationality, political persuasion, training, intellectual interests, personal history, and historical context may provide crucial details about how a work takes shape. Does it matter, for example, that the biographer was the subject’s best friend? What difference would it make if the author participated in the events they write about?
  • What is the book’s genre? Out of what field does it emerge? Does it conform to or depart from the conventions of its genre? These questions can provide a historical or literary standard on which to base your evaluations. If you are reviewing the first book ever written on the subject, it will be important for your readers to know. Keep in mind, though, that naming “firsts”—alongside naming “bests” and “onlys”—can be a risky business unless you’re absolutely certain.

Writing the review

Once you have made your observations and assessments of the work under review, carefully survey your notes and attempt to unify your impressions into a statement that will describe the purpose or thesis of your review. Check out our handout on thesis statements . Then, outline the arguments that support your thesis.

Your arguments should develop the thesis in a logical manner. That logic, unlike more standard academic writing, may initially emphasize the author’s argument while you develop your own in the course of the review. The relative emphasis depends on the nature of the review: if readers may be more interested in the work itself, you may want to make the work and the author more prominent; if you want the review to be about your perspective and opinions, then you may structure the review to privilege your observations over (but never separate from) those of the work under review. What follows is just one of many ways to organize a review.


Since most reviews are brief, many writers begin with a catchy quip or anecdote that succinctly delivers their argument. But you can introduce your review differently depending on the argument and audience. The Writing Center’s handout on introductions can help you find an approach that works. In general, you should include:

  • The name of the author and the book title and the main theme.
  • Relevant details about who the author is and where they stand in the genre or field of inquiry. You could also link the title to the subject to show how the title explains the subject matter.
  • The context of the book and/or your review. Placing your review in a framework that makes sense to your audience alerts readers to your “take” on the book. Perhaps you want to situate a book about the Cuban revolution in the context of Cold War rivalries between the United States and the Soviet Union. Another reviewer might want to consider the book in the framework of Latin American social movements. Your choice of context informs your argument.
  • The thesis of the book. If you are reviewing fiction, this may be difficult since novels, plays, and short stories rarely have explicit arguments. But identifying the book’s particular novelty, angle, or originality allows you to show what specific contribution the piece is trying to make.
  • Your thesis about the book.

Summary of content

This should be brief, as analysis takes priority. In the course of making your assessment, you’ll hopefully be backing up your assertions with concrete evidence from the book, so some summary will be dispersed throughout other parts of the review.

The necessary amount of summary also depends on your audience. Graduate students, beware! If you are writing book reviews for colleagues—to prepare for comprehensive exams, for example—you may want to devote more attention to summarizing the book’s contents. If, on the other hand, your audience has already read the book—such as a class assignment on the same work—you may have more liberty to explore more subtle points and to emphasize your own argument. See our handout on summary for more tips.

Analysis and evaluation of the book

Your analysis and evaluation should be organized into paragraphs that deal with single aspects of your argument. This arrangement can be challenging when your purpose is to consider the book as a whole, but it can help you differentiate elements of your criticism and pair assertions with evidence more clearly. You do not necessarily need to work chronologically through the book as you discuss it. Given the argument you want to make, you can organize your paragraphs more usefully by themes, methods, or other elements of the book. If you find it useful to include comparisons to other books, keep them brief so that the book under review remains in the spotlight. Avoid excessive quotation and give a specific page reference in parentheses when you do quote. Remember that you can state many of the author’s points in your own words.

Sum up or restate your thesis or make the final judgment regarding the book. You should not introduce new evidence for your argument in the conclusion. You can, however, introduce new ideas that go beyond the book if they extend the logic of your own thesis. This paragraph needs to balance the book’s strengths and weaknesses in order to unify your evaluation. Did the body of your review have three negative paragraphs and one favorable one? What do they all add up to? The Writing Center’s handout on conclusions can help you make a final assessment.

Finally, a few general considerations:

  • Review the book in front of you, not the book you wish the author had written. You can and should point out shortcomings or failures, but don’t criticize the book for not being something it was never intended to be.
  • With any luck, the author of the book worked hard to find the right words to express her ideas. You should attempt to do the same. Precise language allows you to control the tone of your review.
  • Never hesitate to challenge an assumption, approach, or argument. Be sure, however, to cite specific examples to back up your assertions carefully.
  • Try to present a balanced argument about the value of the book for its audience. You’re entitled—and sometimes obligated—to voice strong agreement or disagreement. But keep in mind that a bad book takes as long to write as a good one, and every author deserves fair treatment. Harsh judgments are difficult to prove and can give readers the sense that you were unfair in your assessment.
  • A great place to learn about book reviews is to look at examples. The New York Times Sunday Book Review and The New York Review of Books can show you how professional writers review books.

Works consulted

We consulted these works while writing this handout. This is not a comprehensive list of resources on the handout’s topic, and we encourage you to do your own research to find additional publications. Please do not use this list as a model for the format of your own reference list, as it may not match the citation style you are using. For guidance on formatting citations, please see the UNC Libraries citation tutorial . We revise these tips periodically and welcome feedback.

Drewry, John. 1974. Writing Book Reviews. Boston: Greenwood Press.

Hoge, James. 1987. Literary Reviewing. Charlottesville: University Virginia of Press.

Sova, Dawn, and Harry Teitelbaum. 2002. How to Write Book Reports , 4th ed. Lawrenceville, NY: Thomson/Arco.

Walford, A.J. 1986. Reviews and Reviewing: A Guide. Phoenix: Oryx Press.

You may reproduce it for non-commercial use if you use the entire handout and attribute the source: The Writing Center, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

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Literacy Ideas

How to Write a Book Review: The Ultimate Guide

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how to write a book review | what is a Book review | How to Write a Book Review: The Ultimate Guide |

Traditionally, book reviews are evaluations of a recently published book in any genre. Usually, around the 500 to 700-word mark, they briefly describe a text’s main elements while appraising the work’s strengths and weaknesses. Published book reviews can appear in newspapers, magazines, and academic journals. They provide the reader with an overview of the book itself and indicate whether or not the reviewer would recommend the book to the reader.


There was a time when book reviews were a regular appearance in every quality newspaper and many periodicals. They were essential elements in whether or not a book would sell well. A review from a heavyweight critic could often be the deciding factor in whether a book became a bestseller or a damp squib. In the last few decades, however, the book review’s influence has waned considerably, with many potential book buyers preferring to consult customer reviews on Amazon, or sites like Goodreads, before buying. As a result, book review’s appearance in newspapers, journals, and digital media has become less frequent.


Even in the heyday of the book review’s influence, few students who learned the craft of writing a book review became literary critics! The real value of crafting a well-written book review for a student does not lie in their ability to impact book sales. Understanding how to produce a well-written book review helps students to:

●     Engage critically with a text

●     Critically evaluate a text

●     Respond personally to a range of different writing genres

●     Improve their own reading, writing, and thinking skills.

Not to Be Confused with a Book Report!



While the terms are often used interchangeably, there are clear differences in both the purpose and the format of the two genres. Generally speaking, book reports aim to give a more detailed outline of what occurs in a book. A book report on a work of fiction will tend to give a comprehensive account of the characters, major plot lines, and themes in the book. Book reports are usually written around the K-12 age range, while book reviews tend not to be undertaken by those at the younger end of this age range due to the need for the higher-level critical skills required in writing them. At their highest expression, book reviews are written at the college level and by professional critics.

Learn how to write a book review step by step with our complete guide for students and teachers by familiarizing yourself with the structure and features.


ANALYZE Evaluate the book with a critical mind.

THOROUGHNESS The whole is greater than the sum of all its parts. Review the book as a WHOLE.

COMPARE Where appropriate compare to similar texts and genres.

THUMBS UP OR DOWN? You are going to have to inevitably recommend or reject this book to potential readers.

BE CONSISTENT Take a stance and stick with it throughout your review.


PAST TENSE You are writing about a book you have already read.

EMOTIVE LANGUAGE Whatever your stance or opinion be passionate about it. Your audience will thank you for it.

VOICE Both active and passive voice are used in recounts.


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As with any of the writing genres we teach our students, a book review can be helpfully explained in terms of criteria. While there is much to the ‘art’ of writing, there is also, thankfully, a lot of the nuts and bolts that can be listed too. Have students consider the following elements before writing:

●     Title: Often, the title of the book review will correspond to the title of the text itself, but there may also be some examination of the title’s relevance. How does it fit into the purpose of the work as a whole? Does it convey a message or reveal larger themes explored within the work?

●     Author: Within the book review, there may be some discussion of who the author is and what they have written before, especially if it relates to the current work being reviewed. There may be some mention of the author’s style and what they are best known for. If the author has received any awards or prizes, this may also be mentioned within the body of the review.

●     Genre: A book review will identify the genre that the book belongs to, whether fiction or nonfiction, poetry, romance, science-fiction, history etc. The genre will likely tie in, too with who the intended audience for the book is and what the overall purpose of the work is.

●     Book Jacket / Cover: Often, a book’s cover will contain artwork that is worthy of comment. It may contain interesting details related to the text that contribute to, or detract from, the work as a whole.

●     Structure: The book’s structure will often be heavily informed by its genre. Have students examine how the book is organized before writing their review. Does it contain a preface from a guest editor, for example? Is it written in sections or chapters? Does it have a table of contents, index, glossary etc.? While all these details may not make it into the review itself, looking at how the book is structured may reveal some interesting aspects.

●     Publisher and Price: A book review will usually contain details of who publishes the book and its cost. A review will often provide details of where the book is available too.

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As students read and engage with the work they will review, they will develop a sense of the shape their review will take. This will begin with the summary. Encourage students to take notes during the reading of the work that will help them in writing the summary that will form an essential part of their review. Aspects of the book they may wish to take notes on in a work of fiction may include:

●     Characters: Who are the main characters? What are their motivations? Are they convincingly drawn? Or are they empathetic characters?

●     Themes: What are the main themes of the work? Are there recurring motifs in the work? Is the exploration of the themes deep or surface only?

●     Style: What are the key aspects of the writer’s style? How does it fit into the wider literary world?

●     Plot: What is the story’s main catalyst? What happens in the rising action? What are the story’s subplots? 

A book review will generally begin with a short summary of the work itself. However, it is important not to give too much away, remind students – no spoilers, please! For nonfiction works, this may be a summary of the main arguments of the work, again, without giving too much detail away. In a work of fiction, a book review will often summarise up to the rising action of the piece without going beyond to reveal too much!

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The summary should also provide some orientation for the reader. Given the nature of the purpose of a review, it is important that students’ consider their intended audience in the writing of their review. Readers will most likely not have read the book in question and will require some orientation. This is often achieved through introductions to the main characters, themes, primary arguments etc. This will help the reader to gauge whether or not the book is of interest to them.

Once your student has summarized the work, it is time to ‘review’ in earnest. At this point, the student should begin to detail their own opinion of the book. To do this well they should:

i. Make It Personal

Often when teaching essay writing we will talk to our students about the importance of climbing up and down the ladder of abstraction. Just as it is helpful to explore large, more abstract concepts in an essay by bringing it down to Earth, in a book review, it is important that students can relate the characters, themes, ideas etc to their own lives.

Book reviews are meant to be subjective. They are opinion pieces, and opinions grow out of our experiences of life. Encourage students to link the work they are writing about to their own personal life within the body of the review. By making this personal connection to the work, students contextualize their opinions for the readers and help them to understand whether the book will be of interest to them or not in the process.

ii. Make It Universal

Just as it is important to climb down the ladder of abstraction to show how the work relates to individual life, it is important to climb upwards on the ladder too. Students should endeavor to show how the ideas explored in the book relate to the wider world. The may be in the form of the universality of the underlying themes in a work of fiction or, for example, the international implications for arguments expressed in a work of nonfiction.

iii. Support Opinions with Evidence

A book review is a subjective piece of writing by its very nature. However, just because it is subjective does not mean that opinions do not need to be justified. Make sure students understand how to back up their opinions with various forms of evidence, for example, quotations, statistics, and the use of primary and secondary sources.


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As with any writing genre, encourage students to polish things up with review and revision at the end. Encourage them to proofread and check for accurate spelling throughout, with particular attention to the author’s name, character names, publisher etc. 

It is good practice too for students to double-check their use of evidence. Are statements supported? Are the statistics used correctly? Are the quotations from the text accurate? Mistakes such as these uncorrected can do great damage to the value of a book review as they can undermine the reader’s confidence in the writer’s judgement.

The discipline of writing book reviews offers students opportunities to develop their writing skills and exercise their critical faculties. Book reviews can be valuable standalone activities or serve as a part of a series of activities engaging with a central text. They can also serve as an effective springboard into later discussion work based on the ideas and issues explored in a particular book. Though the book review does not hold the sway it once did in the mind’s of the reading public, it still serves as an effective teaching tool in our classrooms today.

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Teaching Resources

Use our resources and tools to improve your student’s writing skills through proven teaching strategies.


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Book and Movie review writing examples (Student Writing Samples)

Below are a collection of student writing samples of book reviews.  Click on the image to enlarge and explore them in greater detail.  Please take a moment to both read the movie or book review in detail but also the teacher and student guides which highlight some of the key elements of writing a text review

Please understand these student writing samples are not intended to be perfect examples for each age or grade level but a piece of writing for students and teachers to explore together to critically analyze to improve student writing skills and deepen their understanding of book review writing.

We would recommend reading the example either a year above and below, as well as the grade you are currently working with to gain a broader appreciation of this text type .

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Transactional Writing

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How to write a text response

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How to Write a Compare and Contrast Essay

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How to Write Excellent Expository Essays

Sheila Loves Books

This blog is about my passion for books

how to prepare book review

Step-by-Step Guide: How to Write a Book Review for Beginners

Writing a book review can be a rewarding and fulfilling experience for book lovers. It allows you to share your thoughts and opinions about a book while helping others make informed choices. it provides an opportunity to connect with a community of readers who share similar interests. Here are the steps to write a book review and some tips for writing an effective one.

Why Write a Book Review?

  • Share Your Opinion: Writing a book review allows you to express your thoughts, feelings, and insights about a book.
  • Help Others Make Informed Choices: Your review can assist potential readers in deciding whether a book aligns with their interests and preferences.
  • Connect with a Community: Engaging in book reviews allows you to connect with fellow readers, exchange recommendations, and participate in meaningful discussions.

Steps to Write a Book Review:

  • Read the Book Carefully: Take your time to read the book thoroughly, paying attention to its themes, plot, characters, and writing style.
  • Take Notes and Highlight Key Points: Make note of important ideas, memorable quotes, and significant moments that stand out to you while reading.
  • Structure Your Review: Organize your review into sections such as introduction, summary, plot analysis, writing style evaluation, personal thoughts, and conclusion.
  • Begin with an Engaging Introduction: Capture the reader’s attention by providing a brief overview of the book and its significance.
  • Provide a Brief Summary: Summarize the main plot and introduce the central characters without giving away any major spoilers.
  • Discuss the Plot and Characters: Analyze the plot’s development, pacing, and twists. Evaluate the strength of the characters and their impact on the story.
  • Evaluate the Writing Style and Organization: Assess the author’s writing style, use of language, and overall organization of the book.
  • Share your Personal Thoughts and Opinions: Express your likes, dislikes, and thoughts on the book’s themes, messages, and overall impact.
  • Give Examples and Supporting Evidence: Support your opinions with specific examples from the book, such as quotes or scenes, to strengthen your arguments.
  • Write a Clear and Concise Conclusion: Sum up your review in a concise manner and provide a final verdict on whether you recommend the book or not.

Tips for Writing an Effective Book Review:

  • Be Honest and Balanced: Present both the strengths and weaknesses of the book in a fair and balanced manner.
  • Avoid Spoilers: Be mindful of not revealing major plot twists or giving away the ending to preserve the reader’s experience.
  • Use Clear and Concise Language: Write in a clear, concise, and engaging manner to keep the reader’s attention.
  • Provide Context: Include relevant background information about the author, genre, or any historical context that may enhance the reader’s understanding.
  • Support Your Opinions with Evidence: Back up your opinions with examples, quotes, and references from the book to add credibility to your review.
  • Consider the Target Audience: Keep in mind the book’s intended audience and tailor your review accordingly to address their interests and expectations.

By following these steps and tips, you can confidently write a comprehensive and insightful book review that will help readers make informed choices and engage in meaningful discussions within the reading community.

Table of Contents

Key takeaways:

  • Writing a book review allows you to share your opinion, help others make informed choices, and connect with a community of readers.
  • To write an effective book review, carefully read the book, take notes, structure your review, and provide a brief summary, character and plot analysis, and evaluation of the writing style.
  • When writing a book review, be honest and balanced, avoid spoilers, use clear and concise language, provide context, support your opinions with evidence, and consider the target audience.

Why write a book review? It’s more than just sharing your opinion on a page-turner. It’s a chance to help others make informed choices, connect with a community of book lovers, and take notes on key points that truly resonated. So, grab that pen and paper, and unleash your creativity! From an engaging introduction to a clear and concise conclusion, we’ll explore the structure, plot, characters, writing style, and more. Get ready to dive into the exciting world of book reviews!

Share Your Opinion

To effectively share your opinion in a book review, there are several key factors to consider. Firstly, it’s important to be honest and balanced in your assessment of the book. Providing a fair evaluation will give readers a trustworthy perspective. Additionally, avoiding spoilers is crucial as it allows readers to discover the plot themselves, enhancing their reading experience.

To ensure your opinion is well-understood, it is essential to use clear and concise language. This will help convey your thoughts effectively and prevent any confusion. In addition, providing context by discussing the genre, themes , and target audience of the book will enrich your review. This allows readers to better understand the book’s intended audience and purpose.

To strengthen your opinion, supporting it with evidence is vital. Incorporate specific examples from the book to back up your arguments. This will demonstrate that your opinions are well-grounded and thoughtful.

Lastly, keep in mind the target audience when expressing your thoughts and opinions. Tailoring your review to match the interests and preferences of the intended readership will make your opinion more relevant and valuable to them.

By considering these guidelines, you can craft a book review that effectively shares your opinion while providing valuable insights for potential readers.

Help Others Make Informed Choices

Writing a book review can help others make informed choices when deciding what books to read. Here are some reasons why writing a book review is important:

  • Share your opinion: Your review can give readers an insight into your thoughts and feelings about the book.
  • Help others make informed choices : By sharing your evaluation of the book, you can help others make informed choices if it’s the right book for them.
  • Connect with a community: Book lovers can connect and engage in conversations about books through reviews.

By writing a comprehensive and well-structured review, you can provide valuable information to potential readers, guiding them in their book selection process. So, don’t hesitate to share your thoughts and help others make informed choices!

Connect with a Community

Connecting with a community is one of the benefits of writing a book review. It allows you to connect with a community and share your thoughts and opinions with others who have similar interests. By engaging in discussions with fellow readers , you can connect with a community, gain new insights, recommendations , and perspectives. Writing a book review provides an opportunity to connect with a community of readers and establish meaningful connections. So, whether it’s joining a book club , participating in online forums , or attending literary events , connecting with a community is a great way to enhance your reading experience.

Pro-tip : Join online book communities or social media groups dedicated to book discussions to connect with a larger community of readers and discover new books.

Read the Book Carefully

When writing a book review, it is essential to thoroughly read the book in order to provide a meticulous and thoughtful analysis. Pay close attention to the plot , characters , writing style , and themes that are explored in the book. Take detailed notes while reading to ensure you remember the important details and impactful quotes. By comprehensively understanding the book, you will be able to offer a well-informed review that provides valuable insights to potential readers. Remember to take your time and fully immerse yourself in the book to grasp its nuances and appreciate the author’s craftsmanship .

Take Notes and Highlight Key Points

Taking comprehensive notes and highlighting key points while reading a book is crucial for writing an effective book review. Noting down significant details, memorable quotes , and important themes is essential for providing a comprehensive analysis of the book. Here’s how to efficiently take notes:

Jot down Highlight Make note of Highlight Record Focus on Take note of Highlight
key plot developments and character arcs impactful quotes or passages that resonate with you any inconsistencies or plot holes themes and motifs that recur throughout the book your emotional reactions and thoughts while reading any unique writing techniques or stylistic choices any notable strengths or weaknesses in the storytelling any questions or lingering thoughts that arise

By taking comprehensive notes and highlighting key points, you’ll have a solid foundation for writing an insightful book review. Keep in mind that the purpose of a review is not only to summarize the book but also to provide your personal analysis and evaluation.

Structure Your Review

  • Structure Your Review by reading the book carefully to have a thorough understanding of its content.
  • Take notes and highlight key points that you want to discuss in your review in order to effectively Structure Your Review .
  • To Structure Your Review effectively, begin with an engaging introduction that grabs the reader’s attention.
  • Provide a brief summary of the book to give readers an overview and help Structure Your Review .
  • Discuss the plot and characters , exploring their development and impact on the story, as part of the process to Structure Your Review .
  • Evaluate the writing style and organization , commenting on the author’s technique and how well the book flows to Structure Your Review .
  • Share your personal thoughts and opinions, expressing what worked or didn’t work for you, as this is crucial to Structure Your Review .
  • Give examples and supporting evidence from the book to strengthen your review and further Structure Your Review with concrete evidence.
  • Write a clear and concise conclusion that summarizes your main points and final thoughts to Structure Your Review effectively.

Remember to be honest, avoid spoilers, use clear language, provide context, support your opinions with evidence, and consider the target audience. Have fun writing your book review!

Begin with an Engaging Introduction

When writing a book review, it is crucial to begin with an engaging introduction that grabs the reader’s attention. This introduction sets the tone for your review and piques the curiosity of your audience. You can start by providing a brief but captivating summary of the book, highlighting its main themes or unique aspects. Additionally, you can share your initial impressions or explain why you chose to read the book. However, it is important to avoid giving away any spoilers . By starting with an engaging introduction, you will hook your readers and leave them eager to continue reading your review.

In the realm of ancient literature , the art of storytelling has always held a special place in the hearts of readers. From Homer’s epic poems to Shakespeare’s masterful plays, the power of a well-crafted narrative has transcended time. Through the magic of literature , tales of triumph, tragedy, and everything in between have been passed down and cherished by countless generations. Therefore, when embarking on the task of writing a book review, it is essential to begin with an engaging introduction that draws readers into the enchanting world of words.

Provide a Brief Summary

A well-crafted book review includes the provision of a brief summary. It is essential to capture the main points of the book while avoiding excessive details or spoilers. The summary serves the purpose of giving readers a general understanding of the book’s content and what they can expect from it. A concise and clear summary emphasizes the crucial aspects of the plot, setting , and characters. By providing this brief overview, readers can quickly assess if the book matches their interests and make a decision regarding whether to read it. A noteworthy fact is that a skillfully written summary has the potential to entice readers to explore the book further, thereby increasing their interest and engagement.

Discuss the Plot and Characters

When writing a book review, it is crucial to thoroughly discuss the plot and characters in an insightful and detailed manner. Take the time to analyze the storyline , examining how the plot unfolds and develops, and evaluate how the characters contribute to the overall narrative. It is also important to assess the believability and depth of the characters, as well as explore their motivations and relationships . In addition, discuss whether the characters experience personal growth or remain stagnant throughout the book. Enhance your analysis by providing examples and specific evidence from the text to support your points. By delving into both the plot and characters, you will offer readers a comprehensive understanding of the book, allowing them to make an informed decision.

Evaluate the Writing Style and Organization

Evaluating the writing style and organization of a book is essential when writing a review. When analyzing a book’s qualities, it is important to consider the following factors:

  • Clarity: Is the writing clear and easily understandable?
  • Flow: Does the book transition smoothly between ideas, or are there sudden shifts?
  • Structure: Does the book have a well-organized structure, including a clear beginning, middle, and end?
  • Pacing: Does the book maintain an appropriate pace, or does it feel either too slow or rushed?
  • Character development: Are the characters well-developed and believable?
  • Plot progression: Does the plot progress logically, or are there any inconsistencies?

By evaluating both the writing style and organization, you can provide readers with valuable insights to guide them in determining if the book suits their preferences. It is worth noting that a well-written book with strong organization has the potential to enhance the reading experience and captivate its audience.

Share your Personal Thoughts and Opinions

When writing a book review, it is crucial to share your personal thoughts and opinions . By doing this, you allow readers to comprehend your perspective and assist them in making well-informed choices . It is important to incorporate specific examples and evidence from the book to substantiate your viewpoints. Additionally, strive to maintain honesty and balance in your assessment by presenting both positive and negative aspects of the book. Using clear and concise language is also essential in effectively conveying your thoughts. Furthermore, always bear in mind the target audience of the book and tailor your opinions accordingly. By openly expressing your personal thoughts and opinions, you can actively contribute to a dynamic and captivating book review community .

Give Examples and Supporting Evidence

When writing a book review, it is crucial to provide examples and supporting evidence to substantiate your opinions. By furnishing specific examples from the book, you can effectively demonstrate your points and aid readers in comprehending your perspective. For instance, if you discovered the characterization in the book to be robust , you could present examples of well-developed and relatable characters. Similarly, if you sensed that the plot was feeble , you could provide particular instances where the story lacked tension or resolution. Incorporating supporting evidence bolsters your review and enhances its persuasiveness to others.

Write a Clear and Concise Conclusion

  • Summarize your main points: Briefly recap the key aspects of the book, including the plot, characters , and writing style .
  • Evaluate the overall impact: Share your overall assessment of the book . Did it meet your expectations? Did it fulfill its purpose?
  • Offer a recommendation: Based on your review, recommend whether or not others should read the book . Provide a concise reason for your recommendation.

A pro-tip for writing a conclusion: Keep it concise and impactful . Your conclusion should leave a lasting impression and encourage readers to take action, whether that’s picking up the book or skipping it.

Tips for Writing an Effective Book Review

Looking to write an effective book review? Look no further as we dive into some valuable tips that will elevate your review game. From being honest and balanced to avoiding spoilers, using clear and concise language, and providing context, we’ll cover it all. We’ll explore the importance of supporting your opinions with evidence and considering the target audience. With these guidelines, you’ll be equipped to write book reviews that captivate readers and offer valuable insights. So grab your pen and let’s get started!

Be Honest and Balanced

  • To write an effective book review, it is crucial to be honest and balanced in your assessment.
  • When evaluating the book , make sure to provide an objective and impartial evaluation, highlighting both its strengths and weaknesses .
  • Avoid allowing personal biases or preferences to overly influence your review, and give credit where it is due.
  • Consider different perspectives and think about the potential audience for the book.
  • Present a well-rounded viewpoint by acknowledging any flaws or shortcomings in the book alongside its positive aspects .
  • Support your opinions with evidence from the book, such as specific examples or quotes .
  • Communicate your thoughts using clear and concise language, without resorting to excessive praise or criticism.

Avoid Spoilers

When writing a book review, it’s crucial to avoid spoilers in order to preserve the suspense and surprise for other readers. Here are some tips to help you steer clear of spoilers when crafting your review:

  • Emphasize the overarching themes and impressions of the book rather than divulging specific plot twists or endings.
  • Steer clear of discussing significant character developments or surprises that may impact the reader’s experience.
  • Instead of revealing specific details, delve into the author’s writing style, the pacing of the story, or the effectiveness of the narrative structure.
  • Provide enough information to give readers an idea of what to expect without giving away crucial plot points.
  • Consider using vague statements or generalizations to explore important aspects of the story without spoiling the specifics.

In a similar vein, when recounting a true historical event , it’s vital to gradually reveal the details in order to preserve the suspense and intrigue for the audience. By gradually unveiling the facts, it enables the reader or listener to engage with the event in a more captivating and profound manner.

Use Clear and Concise Language

When writing a book review , it’s crucial to incorporate the use of clear and concise language. This is important to effectively communicate your thoughts and opinions to the reader . Avoid the use of unnecessary jargon or complex vocabulary that may confuse the reader. Instead, focus on using straightforward sentences and expressing your ideas in a concise manner. Aim to be clear and direct in your language, getting straight to the point . By incorporating the use of clear and concise language, you can ensure that your book review is easily understandable and engaging for the reader. Always remember, simplicity is key in conveying your thoughts effectively.

Provide Context

To effectively provide context in a book review, it is of utmost importance to tactfully present readers with a brief background on the author , the genre , and any relevant historical or cultural context. This approach helps readers grasp the book’s significance and fully appreciate it within its specific context. For instance, when analyzing a historical fiction novel, mentioning the specific time period in which it is set, as well as any pertinent historical events that contribute to the story, becomes crucial. By incorporating context, readers gain a deeper understanding and appreciation for the book’s themes, characters, and plot. As a result, they are empowered to make well-informed decisions about whether the book aligns with their interests and preferences.

In a similar vein, a true story serves as a powerful exemplification of the profound impact of providing context. A book reviewer shared their initial confusion and lack of interest in a classic novel. However, after delving deeper into the historical context surrounding the book’s creation and the personal experiences of the author, they found a newfound appreciation for the story and its underlying themes. This anecdote beautifully underscores how the inclusion of context can significantly augment readers’ understanding and enjoyment of a book.

Support Your Opinions with Evidence

To write an effective book review, it is vital to support your opinions with evidence. Here are some ways to accomplish that:

  • Present specific examples from the book to validate your arguments and opinions.
  • Show references to quotes or passages that stood out to you and explain why they carried significance.
  • Explore the author’s implementation of literary devices, such as symbolism or foreshadowing , and discuss how they influenced the story.
  • Analyze the development of characters and provide instances of their actions or dialogue that illustrate your points.
  • Draw comparisons between the book and other works by the same author or within the same genre to offer context and back your evaluation.

By incorporating evidence from the book, you can enhance your review and assist readers in making informed decisions about whether to read the book or not.

Consider the Target Audience

Considering the target audience is crucial when writing a book review . It is important to consider the target audience to ensure that your review is tailored to their specific needs and interests. By taking into account the age group , genre preferences , reading level , and cultural background of the readers, you can provide a more insightful and valuable review.

Ensure your review is appropriate and engaging for the intended age range.
Understand the genre expectations of the target audience to provide relevant insights.
Consider the reading abilities of the target audience to evaluate the book’s complexity or accessibility.
Recognize the cultural context of the readers to appreciate how the book resonates with them.

By considering the target audience , you can provide a more insightful and valuable review that caters to their specific needs and interests.

Some Facts About How to Write a Book Review:

  • ✅ A book review should offer a critical perspective and engage in dialogue with the work’s creator and other audiences. (Source: UNC Writing Center)
  • ✅ Reviews are typically brief and rarely exceed 1000 words. (Source: UNC Writing Center)
  • ✅ A book review should provide a concise summary of the content, offer a critical assessment of the work, and suggest whether the audience would appreciate it. (Source: UNC Writing Center)
  • ✅ Writing a book review can be daunting as it requires expressing opinions and making judgments. However, it is encouraged to provide concrete evidence for assertions and voice agreement or disagreement tactfully. (Source: UNC Writing Center)
  • ✅ A good book review should be concise, avoid repetition, be supported by evidence from the book, and be proofread before submission. (Source: Grammarly)

Frequently Asked Questions

Faqs on how to write a book review, 1. how can i write a concise summary of a book in my review.

A concise summary of a book in your review can be written by focusing on the main ideas, key events, and central themes of the book. Include a brief description of the plot or contents, highlighting the significant aspects without getting into excessive detail.

2. How should I analyze a book in my review?

To analyze a book in your review, pay attention to its literary elements, such as themes, characters, dialogue, and the author’s style. Discuss how these elements contribute to the overall message or impact of the book. It’s also helpful to consider the book’s historical, social, or cultural context.

3. What are some key steps for writing an effective introduction paragraph?

When writing the introduction paragraph of your book review, start with a captivating opening sentence that grabs the reader’s attention. Provide a brief overview of the book, including its title, author, and a short summary of its content. Finally, state your thesis statement, which outlines your main argument or evaluation of the book.

4. How can I offer a critical assessment of the book in my review?

To offer a critical assessment of the book in your review, carefully evaluate its strengths and weaknesses. Discuss what aspects of the book worked well and what could have been improved. Support your assessment with specific examples, evidence from the book, and comparisons to relevant sources or similar works.

5. How do I write a conclusion paragraph for a book review?

The conclusion paragraph of your book review should summarize your main points and restate your thesis statement. You can also provide a final evaluation or recommendation for the book, explaining whether you would recommend it to others and why. Avoid introducing new ideas in the conclusion.

6. Where can I find additional resources to enhance my book review writing skills?

To enhance your book review writing skills, consider exploring academic journals, professional works, and recently written books in your field of interest. These sources can help you deepen your analytical skills and learn from expert reviewers. Additionally, online writing guides and resources provided by writing centers or universities can be valuable in improving your academic writing abilities.

how to prepare book review


How to Write a Book Review: Formats + 7 Examples

Posted on Jan 5, 2024

Avatar Of Bella Rose Emmorey

Written by Bella Rose Emmorey

Learning how to write a book review is useful for many reasons. Whether you need to get that assignment done or you want to grow a book review blog or newsletter, it can really help to lay out your reading experience in a way that allows others understand if they’d enjoy the book.

Plus, if you’re a beta reader or on someone’s launch team and have no idea what to say in your review, learning how to write a book review can help you feel like you’re fulfilling your commitment and helping sell an author’s book.

But you can’t just say whether the book was good or bad. That’s not helpful for anyone, no matter the reason you’re writing a book review. There’s more to it than that and more uses of a book review than you might expect.

Let’s take a look at those uses, the difference in types of book reviews, and how to write a book review that will fulfill your purpose for writing one.

Here’s what you’ll learn about how to write a book review:

  • Types of book reviews
  • What makes a good review?
  • Book Review Format
  • Examples of Book Reviews

Types of Book Reviews: Academic, Personal, Retail

Many need to learn how to write a book review because it’s been assigned to them. Others want to write these reviews for their platform, like a blog or newsletter, which I’d classify as “personal”. And of course, there are always those who just want to write one for friends or to participate in reader Facebook groups, and these also fall under the “personal” category.

There are differences between academic book reviews in a school setting and personal book reviews.

Academic book reviews: Typically these have a specific structure and format the writer needs to follow to fulfill the assignment. I’ll teach the format for this below, but instructors will often dictate certain requirements for the assignment. These are often meant to be about certain books, likely pulled from the syllabus or assigned reading.

Personal book reviews: More pleasurable for the writer, since they’re doing it because they enjoy it. These will often have a secondary purpose than just reviewing a book, which is where the location of publication comes into play; blog, email newsletter, Facebook post on page, Facebook post in group, a comment in a Facebook group, a video shared to Youtube. Many who write book reviews want to urge people to read the book through their affiliate link so they might collect a percentage of the book’s sale. Personal book reviews tend to have a more unique structure that’s dictated by the writer and what they tend to see and observe more when reading versus a standard format.

Book review on a retail website: While still somewhat of a “personal” book review, this one is what you would leave on a website where others who are choosing to buy the book or not can see it and use it to inform their purchasing decision. Many beta readers and launch team members fall in this category, often people who don’t know a thing about how to write a book review.

And of course, there are those who just write quick book reviews in a private journal for their own viewing and tracking, which follow no rules and are strictly for individual use, so I won’t talk much about that practice .

What makes for a good book review?

A good book review is not for the reviewer to display all they know of the literary world and talk down about an author. It’s to showcase the nuances of a book so the right readers can choose to read for themselves. And if the book is truly poorly written, a book review can serve as a means to uncover the reasons it didn’t deliver well, and even showcase how the author could have done better.

Book reviews are highly subjective, because everyone’s taste differs. What some people love about a book, others can’t stand.

This much is evident if you’ve spent any time in reader groups, like this Fantasy Faction group.

How To Write A Book Review Subjectivity Example

Personal opinions often affect the way we read a book, and that’s why a good book review uses more opinion, and ensures the reader of the review understands the writer’s worldview and perspective. Someone who doesn’t think there are any actually good people in the world will interpret a book filled with morally gray characters completely differently than someone who believes most people are good.

How to Write a Book Review: Formats & Structure

If you’re learning how to write a book review for academic purposes, yes there is a format that’s typically preferred, but there are actually a few of them. If you’re writing a book review for more personal reasons, there’s less of a structure but definitely elements you want to make sure you include.

Academic Book Review Format:

Your instructor may give you the format they’d prefer for you to use, but if you’re learning how to write a book review for academic purposes, you’ll have four main components.


This is where you’ll state the book, author, genre, and possibly the length of the book. You’ll also give a short synopsis of what the book is about, without too many details or spoilers. This helps the reader (your instructor) understand the overall makeup of the book so they can move through your review with a sense of the piece.

Book Contents or Outline:

If the book is separated into parts, beats, or have any other structural elements that are relevant, here’s a good place to touch on them. You’ll also go into more detail about the contents of the book, including the elements of fiction if it’s that type of book, or what’s covered throughout the book if it’s nonfiction.

This part can include details that may be spoilers, and hone in on aspects you’ll be reviewing further in the next section. If you’re going to highlight an author’s skillset in character development , for example, focus on outlining that journey in this section.

Opinion / Argument / Takeaway:

Many academic book reviews are aimed at a purpose. Sometimes it’s persuasive, and your job is convince the reader to buy the book. Other times it’s to demonstrate your ability to dive into a specific nuance of the content. No matter what that purpose is, here is where you’ll focus on making it known.

You’ll make your opinion clear and use specifics from the book to back it up.

If you’re making a case about a character’s development, you’ll want to cite pages, quotes, and bring up plot points and the character’s actions that support your opinion or argument. You can also just focus on your main takeaway of the book and do the same thing.

This section is more of the nitty-gritty of the book and will contain spoilers if it’s fiction and have content from within if it’s nonfiction.


This should be short, and will contain a reiteration of your overall opinion of the book along with a summary of a few main points that support your opinion.

Personal Book Review Structure:

There’s a lot of wiggle room when it comes to learning how to write a book review for your blog, friends, or just to post on the book’s sales page online. These don’t have formats, necessarily, but you do want to touch on a few key elements to make a well-rounded review.

  • Your rating out of 5 stars
  • Whether or not the review contains spoilers
  • A brief synopsis
  • Whether or not you’re the book’s target audience
  • If you read books like this often or not
  • What you enjoyed most and why
  • What you felt was lacking
  • Things you were surprised by
  • Your favorite character/s and why
  • Things you’re looking forward to in the next (if it’s a series)
  • If you would recommend the book to people and what type of person

Remember the purpose of the book review if it’s personal. Are you trying to get someone to buy the book? Are you highlighting a specific talent of the author you want others to see? Or are you supporting a new author by leaving a review that will help them sell more copies? All of that will dictate the structure and length of your book review.

If this is something you’ll continue to do often, you’ll fall into your own rhythm and end up creating your own sort of “structure” for the book review.

Examples of Well-Written Book Reviews to Learn From

Learning how to write a book review is more intuitive than you think. As long as you’re providing “evidence” to back up your opinion on the book, it’s a good review! Just saying whether it was good or back offers no insight for those deciding whether or not to purchase the book.

But as I usually say, learning from examples will help you more than any book review format I could give you, and you’ll learn pretty quickly how to write a book review.

Book Review Example 1 – Blog Post Review

Many book review bloggers nowadays take to Youtube, Instagram, and even TikTok to share their thoughts and grow their platform. But there are still book bloggers out there that serve a good example of how to write a book review.

This post is an example of a round-up style book review , where they cover various books, their thoughts, and whether or not they’d recommend them.

Book Review Example 2 – Comment in Group

This is one that will teach you how to write a book review in a short, concise manner that will answer someone’s question in a Facebook group, or even just in a text to friends. Here, someone even suggested I write book reviews because they liked the way it was said.

How To Write A Book Review Example Facebook Comment

That’s his earliest work, and I read it after a lot of other stuff and it was definitely not representative of his later stuff. But it is cool to see how far he’s come from writing that one! Just don’t think that Elantris = his other work. He got a ton better. Keep in mind though that he’s not a “gripping” writer in general (in my opinion). The plot payoff and the worldbuilding is where his work shines. There’s definitely excitement at times, but he’s not a fast-paced storyteller and doesn’t rely on a bunch of tension and action scenes to move things forward (I add that bit because I see a lot of readers use “bored” as a synonym for “lack of action”). Still worth it! He’s masterful with plot.

Notably here, I mention something pivotal to the original commenter’s concern: she’s bored. My explanation talks about the book, the author’s strengths, as well as touching on why a feeling of boredom can happen. Sometimes learning how to write a book review is also about seeing what most people are saying is wrong with the book and covering those components in your review.

Book Review Example 3 – Fiction Amazon Review

This is a review of a very popular book, one where the reviewer gave 3 stars . It’s important to understand that if you want to know how to write a book review, you’ll also need to know how to write one for books you don’t love. This reviewer did a good job of backing up her opinions with information from the book, without spoiling it.

“ The first half of the book was challenging, it was a painfully slow and uneventful read. The writing is easy to follow but heavy on the internal dialogue and narration. There would be mere snippets of dialogue between characters, never a full-blown conversation. We mainly follow the main character, Feyre, as she’s lounging around an estate. Her days consists of walking around, painting, having dinner, and checking out the forest. The plot was pretty much dead until about 250 pages. Due to the lack of interaction and dialogue, and Feyre just milling around, you don’t learn anything about… anything. I had no idea what the plot was, whatever was revealed was done so only in riddle or mystery. I can do with little world-building as long as the story thrives on other points, but this just fell flat all-around. Tamlin, the love interest, is there… I liked him fine but felt that I learned nothing about him or his personality. It’s not an insta-love, per se, but there should’ve been more build-up and interaction, I don’t see where the physical attraction or emotional connection happened. Feyre and Tamlin were basically just skirting around each other, hardly having a meaningful conversation, so the sudden want for one another felt out of the blue. Past the midpoint is where the story starts to pick up. There’s an info dump to catch the reader up on the plotline, the setting changes, and it generally becomes much more interesting and fun to follow along. It practically turned into a whole other book. Frankly, I was glad to get to the finish line and won’t be reading the rest of the series. “

Book Review Example 4 – Nonfiction Amazon Review

Nonfiction books typically serve a specific purpose. They’re teaching, informing, arguing, or enlightening in various ways. So when learning how to write a book review for nonfiction books, it’s vital to focus on whether or not there’s a solution, how it works, and a few of the other details of the book.

This reviewer did a good job of keeping it condensed, but voicing a reality of the book, and rating it 4 stars.

“The book seems to be intended for people that are looking for a set of practical guidelines towards understanding and limiting distractions. As such, it does a rather fine job at conveying a pretty thorough rule set for an indistractable life The only thing that the book is missing is some ‘poetry’ or something to keep it interesting at times and also a structure that it would stick to. Although the book introduces the concept of indestractability on 3 planes : personal, home, work, it seems to not be keen on respecting the structure near the end of thr book. Overall, I do recommend the book to anyone that is struggling with attention span and I give big kudos to the author.”

Book Review Example 5 – Facebook Post

You can keep your writing short and still know how to write a book review that gets the job done. This is what someone wrote about a popular book and their take on it. Notice how they specifically tell who this book is for and who would most enjoy it.

“ Legends and Lattes is a charming, lower key story that us fantasy lovers can enjoy without intense pressure on the hero to save the world. I don’t necessarily want to read about assassins on a mission gone wrong, sidekick-eating ogres or blood and gore befouling someone’s armour while eating breakfast. It was an awesome book to pick-up and casually read while slipping into a classic high-fantasy world with all of the familiar elements of magic, mystical creatures and heroes (my other current read, The Shadow of the Gods, is a little intense). I’m sad that it’s over and hope that Baldree churns out a few more.”

Notably, though, they did leave out an overall rating, which would make this a great book review. But that’s okay. As you can see, you can learn how to write a book review and get the point across without a full rating.

Book Review Example 6 – Facebook Post

This review is short, to the point, and covers the criteria we talk about above. Because it’s shorter, you won’t find too many details, but that’s because it’s spoiler-free. This was a post in a Facebook group and can serve as a great example of how to write a book review that doesn’t take a lot of your time, or what you can write if you’re on a launch team.

How To Write A Book Review Example Facebook Post

“Book Review Author: Hunter Chadwick Book: The Force of Magic Genre: YA Fantasy Rating: Blurb: As long as anyone can remember, the Dominion has held the land of Cairn within its iron grasp. Using overwhelming force and powerful magic, they are seemingly unbeatable. Now the Overlord, ruler of all, is failing. He has ordered the Guild of the Helm, powerful sorcerers and magic users, to find a cure for his wasting health. A young soldier…desperate to return home to help his mother on their family farm, volunteers for their experiments, with unexpected results. A young girl…taken from her family, abused, and handed over for a life of servitude is called to join the experiments. Can these two young heroes overcome their fears to stand against such a great evil? Read The Force of Magic to find out. ~•~•~•~•~•~•~•~•~•~•~•~•~•~•~•~•~•~•~ Review: This book was the first of a trilogy and what a great start to the series it was! I really enjoyed the characters involved and the magic element to this fantasy was really interesting and felt wholly unique. I loved the introduction to this world and it felt kind of similar to the level of adventure of that in The Hobbit. There were a few times where some of the action sequences felt a little confusing but overall, I am really looking forward to reading the rest of the series. I can’t wait to experience more of the world building, as well as continue on the adventure with Perin and Trace. If you are new to fantasy or want a good magical fantasy adventure trilogy this is a great start that I believe will appeal to a lot of readers! I received an advance review copy for free, and I am leaving this review voluntarily.”

Book Review Example 7 – Blog Post Review

This example of how to write a book review is done by a single person run website. She takes various books and does a write up on what she liked, didn’t and so on.

You can read this full review here , but there’s also a sample below.

“And I need to take a moment for  Ravel , the boy who is so vicious and monstrous and spilling over with uncanny and inhuman claws and fangs–but yet is an absolute sweetheart deep down inside. The raw way he cherished Everline had me on the floor. Every time the book described Ravel, I was just [clenches fist] so enraptured. He is meant to be a mindless monster and Everline is confused why he seems so…human but yet not human. Their hatred for each other is so palpable, and the way they fall in love while still distrusting each other is addictive to read. It’s enemies-to-lovers the way I crave: claws and teeth and generational hatred and monstrous love. “

Part of learning how to write a book review has to do with self-awareness. If you don’t know why you like what you do, it’s hard to dictate that to other people. That said, if you’re an author, you need awareness of where you are in your publishing journey, our Publishing Path Assessment should point you in the right direction!

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Want to write a perfect book review that readers enjoy? Discover how to pen a book review in 6 easy steps. To help you understand, we’ve included amazing examples of book reviews. 

We’ve also answered many questions you might have such as: How long should a book review be? How to start a book review? How to conclude a book review? For beginners, we’ve also mentioned the basic book review format. So without further delay, let’s begin! 

Get a professional review for your book! Learn more

What is a book review? 

A book review is the critical analysis of the book’s content and significance. It includes an evaluation of the plot, character development, and writing style. A good book review highlights the book’s strengths and weaknesses. Reviewers often include quotes to support the opinions mentioned in the book review. A book review is different from a book report which objectively describes the book’s main content. 

Now that we know what is a book review, let’s understand their length. 

How long is a book review? 

The length of a book review can vary, depending on the purpose and the medium used. Book reviews in newspapers, magazines, and journals can range from 500-2000 words. In contrast, book reviews by readers on platforms like Goodreads, Amazon, Facebook, or Google can range from 50-500 words. 

Now let us see the 6 easy steps to write book reviews. Whether you’re writing book reviews for your assignment or book promotion, these steps will help! 

How to write a book review

  • Note down the key points- This is an important step before writing a book review. Jot down your analysis about the characters, themes, plot, and your personal view. Also, note down the book title, author’s name, and any relevant information about the book. 
  • Start with a strong introduction- Mention the author’s name, book title, themes, and main characters in the introduction. The introduction should give a very brief book summary without giving spoilers. 
  • Analyze the book- Discuss the book’s strong points and weaknesses. This can include your opinion on the narrative pacing, writing style, character development , and structure. You can also compare it with books belonging to a similar genre. To enhance the review, you can also use relevant quotes to support your perspective. 
  • Reflect on your experience- Describe how the book makes you feel. Did you find it engaging or was it slow-paced? Were you happy with the climax or did you expect more? 
  • Conclude the review- Summarize the important points and end the review with a final evaluative statement about the book. This is where you can state whether you will recommend the book to readers or not. This is an important step in writing a book review. 
  • Rate the book (Optional)- Depending on the platform requirements, you can rate the book out of 5 or 10. 

Now that we’ve seen how to write a book review, let’s see five amazing tips to create the perfect book review.

Top 5 tips to create an amazing book review 

Here are the top 5 tips to create the perfect book review: 

  • Start with an attractive hook- Begin the review with an intriguing question or statement, capturing the book’s essence. For example, “In ‘The Enchanted Labyrinth’, every page takes you into a magical world of intrigue and wonder. 
  • Discuss originality- Write what makes the book unique as compared to other books in the same genre. If the book highlights an unexplored theme or gives a unique take on a common theme, you can mention it in the book review. 
  • Analyze worldbuilding- Review the fictional world created by the author (Its depth, complexity and detail). You can discuss how the setting of the story affected your experience as a reader. This is a good practice, especially while reviewing fantasy and science fiction novels. 
  • Evaluate key themes- Discuss how the central themes of the story are seamlessly woven into the narrative. You can do this by highlighting how the characters’ relationships and choices reflect the themes. Describe how themes add depth to the story. 
  • Edit and proofread- Once you’ve completed your book review, thoroughly check it. Correct any grammatical mistakes , spelling, and word choice errors. 

Book review examples

1. a thousand splendid suns by khaled hosseini .

“A Thousand Splendid Suns,” by Khaled Hosseini, is a profoundly moving story set against the backdrop of Afghan history. This novel tells the tale of two women, Mariam and Laila, whose lives become entwined in a harrowing journey of friendship, suffering, and redemption.

Mariam, an illegitimate child, suffers from stigma and rejection from an early age. Her tragic story evolves when she is forced into an abusive marriage with Rasheed, a brutish shoemaker. Laila, born generations later, is initially a symbol of the new Afghanistan – hopeful and educated. Their shared struggles against the backdrop of Afghanistan crumbling under Taliban rule form the novel’s heart.

Hosseini’s writing is evocative, capturing the stark realities in Afghanistan while also highlighting the profound resilience of his characters. The author masterfully portrays the emotional landscapes of Mariam and Laila, making them vividly relatable.

“A Thousand Splendid Suns” is more than a story of survival; it is a testament to the unyielding strength of human connection and endurance. This book is a must-read, not only for its storytelling brilliance but for its deep exploration of the often-unheard voices of Afghan women. It’s a heartbreaking, yet ultimately hopeful novel that stays with you long after the last page.

Now let’s see another example of a book review. 

2. A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman 

“A Man Called Ove ” by Fredrik Backman is a heartwarming novel that takes readers on an emotional journey of its titular character, Ove. At first glance, Ove appears to be nothing more than a grumpy old man. However, as the story unfolds, we discover that there is so much more to Ove than meets the eye.

The novel skillfully explores themes of loss, grief, and the human capacity for change. Ove’s journey is one of rediscovery and redemption, as he learns to open his heart to the people around him. Backman’s writing is both poignant and humorous, capturing the essence of human relationships and the power of community.

Ove is a character who is easy to relate to, with his quirks making him all the more endearing. As we delve into his past through flashbacks, we understand the events that shaped him. These glimpses provide depth and complexity to his character, making him incredibly three-dimensional.

The supporting characters are equally charming and well-developed. Parvaneh, the pregnant neighbor, and her family are a refreshing contrast to Ove’s gruff exterior. Their interactions with Ove are both heartwarming and hilarious, playing an important role in his transformation.

What makes “A Man Called Ove” truly exceptional is its ability to elicit a wide range of emotions from its readers. It can make you laugh out loud on one page and bring tears to your eyes on the next. The story is a testament to the importance of human connection.

In conclusion, “A Man Called Ove” is a beautifully written novel that explores the themes of love, friendship, and the capacity for change. Fredrik Backman’s storytelling is both touching and humorous, and his characters are unforgettable. For those who appreciate heartwarming stories that inspire the soul, this book is a must-read.”

After seeing these book review examples, let’s see a simple book review template you can use. 

Book review template

The following template highlights a basic book review format and book review outline. You can use this template for reference. 

We hope this book review template and book review examples have inspired you to start writing. Now that you’ve understood how to write a good book review, you can begin brainstorming. Want to get a polished, professional book review? At PaperTrue, our team of experts can help you craft the perfect review for your book. Get in touch with us and forget all stress about how to do a book review. 

You can also take advantage of our self-publishing services like editing, book cover design, securing an ISBN, and creating a copyright page. This ensures that your book is ready for publication. Whether you want a simple edit or an end-to-end service package, we’re here to help! 

Here are some other articles that you might find interesting: 

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  • What Is a Blurb? Meaning, Examples & 10 Expert Tips

Frequently Asked Questions

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How to Write a Book Review

Last Updated: January 10, 2024 Approved

This article was co-authored by Christopher Taylor, PhD . Christopher Taylor is an Adjunct Assistant Professor of English at Austin Community College in Texas. He received his PhD in English Literature and Medieval Studies from the University of Texas at Austin in 2014. There are 10 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page. wikiHow marks an article as reader-approved once it receives enough positive feedback. This article received 66 testimonials and 93% of readers who voted found it helpful, earning it our reader-approved status. This article has been viewed 1,207,003 times.

Writing a book review is not just about summarizing; it's also an opportunity for you to present a critical discussion of the book so others get an idea of what to expect. Whether you’re writing a review as an assignment or as a publication opportunity, you should combine an accurate, analytical reading with a strong, personal touch. An effective book review describes what is on the page, analyzes how the book tried to achieve its purpose, and expresses any reactions and arguments from a unique perspective.

Review Template

how to prepare book review

Preparing to Write Your Review

Step 1 Read the book and take notes.

  • Write down notes in a notebook or use a voice recorder to document any thoughts or impressions you have of the book as you are reading. They don't have to be organized or perfect, the idea is to brainstorm any impressions you may have of the book.
  • Try summarizing the major sections of the book you’re reviewing to help understand how it’s structured.

Step 2 Think about the book's genre and/or field of study.

  • For example, if you are reviewing a non-fiction book about the development of the polio vaccine in the 1950s, consider reading other books that also examine the same scientific issue and/or period of scientific development. Or if you are reviewing a work of fiction like Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter, consider how Hawthorne's book relates to other 19th-century works of romanticism and historical fiction set in the same time period (the 17th century) as points of comparison.

Step 3 Determine the major arguments and themes of the book.

  • Pay attention to the preface, any quotes, and /or references in the book's introduction, as this content will likely shed light on the book's major themes and viewpoint.
  • A simple way to determine one of the major themes of a book is to sum up the book in one word or sentence. So, for example, the major theme of The Scarlet Letter could be "sin". Once you have your one-word summary, stretch the single word into a message or lesson, such as "sin can lead to knowledge, but it can also lead to suffering."

Step 4 Consider the author's writing style.

  • For example, in The Scarlet Letter, Hawthorne attempts to combine the writing style of the Romantic Period (1800-1855) with the common, everyday language of the American Puritans of the 1600s. Hawthorne does this with long, descriptive sentences that are strung together with commas and semicolons.

Step 5 Think about how well the author develops the major areas or points in the book.

  • In the Scarlet Letter, for example, Hawthorne begins the book with an introduction to the text, narrated by an individual who has many autobiographical details in common with the author. In the introduction, the nameless narrator tells the story of finding the manuscript bundled in a scarlet letter "A". Hawthorne uses this narrative framing to create a story within a story, an important detail when discussing the book as a whole.

Step 7 Consider any literary devices in the book.

  • If we were to use the Scarlett Letter again, it would be significant to note that Hawthorne chose the adulterer and sinner Hester Prynne as his protagonist, and placed the religious, anti-sin Reverend Wilson in the role of antagonist. In writing a review of The Scarlet Letter, it would be useful to consider why Hawthorne did this, and how it relates back to the book's overall theme of sin.

Step 8 Think about how unique the book is.

Creating a First Draft of the Review

Step 1 Begin with a heading.

  • Ensure your introduction contains relevant details like the author's background, and if applicable, their previous work in the genre. [2] X Trustworthy Source University of North Carolina Writing Center UNC's on-campus and online instructional service that provides assistance to students, faculty, and others during the writing process Go to source You can also indicate the main themes you will be discussing in your review to situate the reader and give them an indication of your "take" on the book.
  • Several possible openings include: a historical moment, an anecdote, a surprising or intriguing statement, and declarative statements. Regardless of your opening sentences, make sure they directly relate to your critical response to the book and keep them short and to the point.
  • If you're unsure on how to begin the review, try writing your introduction last. It may be easier to organize all of your supporting points and your critical position, and then write the introduction last—that way you can be sure that the introduction will match the body of the review. [3] X Trustworthy Source University of North Carolina Writing Center UNC's on-campus and online instructional service that provides assistance to students, faculty, and others during the writing process Go to source

Step 3 Write a summary of the book.

  • Keep the summary short, to the point, and informative. Use quotes or paraphrasing from the book to support your summary. [4] X Research source Make sure you properly cite all quotes and paraphrasing in your review to avoid plagiarism. [5] X Research source
  • Be wary of summaries that begin with phrases like “[This essay] is about…” “[This book] is the story of…” “[This author] writes about…”. [6] X Trustworthy Source University of North Carolina Writing Center UNC's on-campus and online instructional service that provides assistance to students, faculty, and others during the writing process Go to source Focus on weaving a description of the book's setting, narrative voice, and plot within a critical analysis. Avoid simply regurgitating the book's premise.
  • Don't give away important details or reveal the ending of the book in your summary, and don't go into detail about what happens from the middle of the book onwards. [7] X Research source As well, if the book is part of a series, you can mention this to potential readers and situate the book within the series. [8] X Research source

Step 4 Evaluate and critique the book.

  • Use the answers you brainstormed during your preparation for the review to formulate your critique. Address how well the book has achieved its goal, how the book compares to other books on the subject, specific points that were not convincing or lacked development, and what personal experiences, if any, you've had related to the subject of the book.
  • Always use (properly cited) supporting quotes and passages from the book to back up your critical discussion. This not only reinforces your viewpoint with a trustworthy source, it also gives the reader a sense of the writing style and narrative voice of the book. [9] X Research source
  • The general rule of thumb is that the first one-half to two-thirds of the review should summarize the author’s main ideas, and at least one-third should evaluate the book.

Step 5 Wrap up the review.

  • Examine the strengths and weaknesses of the book, and discuss whether you would recommend the book to others. If so, who do you think is the ideal audience for the book? [10] X Research source Do not introduce new material in your conclusion or discuss a new idea or impression that was not examined in your introduction and body paragraphs. [11] X Research source
  • You can also give the book a numerical score, a thumbs up or thumbs down, or a starred rating. [12] X Research source

Polishing the Review

Step 1 Re read and revise your review.

  • Always use spell check and adjust any grammar or spelling. Nothing undermines a quality review more than bad spelling and grammar.
  • Double check that all quotes and references are properly cited in your review.

Step 2 Get feedback.

Community Q&A

Community Answer

  • As you're writing, try thinking of your reader as a friend to whom you're telling a story. How would you relay the book's themes and main points to a friend in a casual conversation? This will help you balance formal and informal language and simplify your critical assessment. [13] X Research source Thanks Helpful 0 Not Helpful 0
  • Review the book in front of you, not the book you wish the author had written. Being critical means pointing out shortcomings or failures, but avoid focusing your criticism of the book on what the book is not. Be fair in your discussion and always consider the value of the book for its audience. [14] X Trustworthy Source University of North Carolina Writing Center UNC's on-campus and online instructional service that provides assistance to students, faculty, and others during the writing process Go to source Thanks Helpful 0 Not Helpful 0
  • Make sure, after you've finished your review, to reread it and check any grammar or spelling mistakes so that it makes sense. Try reading your review from numerous perspectives, or asking a friend to proofread it for you. Thanks Helpful 4 Not Helpful 1

Make sure to read the book thoroughly. If you don't, it will be bad.

how to prepare book review

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About This Article

Christopher Taylor, PhD

To write a book review, start with a heading that includes the book's title, author, place of publication, publisher, date of publication, and number of pages. Then, open your review with an introduction that includes the author's background as well as the main points you'll be making. Next, split up the body of your review so the first half of the review is a summary of the author's main ideas and the rest is your critique of the book. Finally, close your review with a concluding paragraph that briefly summarizes your analysis. To learn how to read a book critically so it's easier to write a review, keep reading! Did this summary help you? Yes No

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How to Write a Book Review: Introduction

  • Introduction

Steps to Write a Book Review

  • Other Resources on Writing Reviews

Writing Book Reviews

Academic book reviews are helpful in enabling people to decide if they want to read a given book. A book review is not a book report, which you may hae done in elementary school. A book report describes the basic contents. Book reviews go far deeper than that. This guide will explain what an academic book review is and how to write one well.

Introduction to Writing Book Reviews

  • What is a Book Review?
  • Benefits of Writing Book Reviews

 What is a Book Review?

  • Describes the purpose of the book
  • Describes the contents of the book (subject of each chapter)
  • Analyzes the approach/argument(s) of the book: Does it seem accurate? Does it make sense? Is the argument strong or weak?
  • Assesses whether the book did what the author said it would do
  • Suggests potential audiences for the book (pastors, students, professors, lay people) and potential uses, such as a textbook
  • Based upon a careful reading of the entire book
  • Uses a structured, formal, academic tone
  • Most often appears in academic journals, though more informal versions may appear in magazines and blogs
  • May include comparisons to other works in the same subject, e.g., if you are reviewing a book on Paul's theology, it would help to compare it briefly to another book on Paul's theology
  • In an academic setting, a review assumes an academic audience

A book review requires the reviewer to read the book carefully and reflect on its contents. The review should tell a reader what the book seeks to do and offer an appraisal of how well the author(s) accomplished this goal. That is why this is a "critical" book review. You are analyzing the book, not simply describing it. A review assumes that the readers know the vocabulary of the discipline. For example, a reviewer of a book on the Gospel of Matthew could use "Q" and not need to explain it because it is assumed that the audience knows what Q is in the context of talking about the canonical gospels.

A book review does not

  • Seek to be entertaining and/or engaging
  • Describe your feelings regarding the book, e.g., “I loved it,” “it was terrible,” or “I disagree completely.”
  • Superficial treatment similar to the blurb on the back of the book
  • Offers an ad hominem (against the person) attack on the author

Here are two examples of typical academic book reviews:,sso&custid=s8984749,sso&custid=s8984749

You may see non-academic book reviews that are more inform al or use humor but that is not appropriate for an academic book review.

Why would you write a book review? There are a few reasons.

  • Meet a course requirement
  • Understand a book better and grow as a scholar
  • Write reviews for publications in the future, such as magazines

1. Your professor assigned it. You are probably reading this page because a professor gave you an assignment to write a review. This is straightforward. Your professor may have a specific set of requirements or directions and you need to follow those, even if they differ from what you read here. In either case, assume that your review is for a large audience. 

2. Writing a review will help you understand a book better. When you are going to write a good book review, you need to read the entire book carefully. By assigning a book review, the professor is seeking to help you understand the book better. A book review is a critical assessment of a book. “Critical” here means analytical. What did the author seek to do and how convincing was it? Your professor wants you to read the book carefully enough to explain both. A critical assessment recognizes that the status of an author/scholar is no guarantee that the book accomplishes its goal. The skill of critical assessment is valuable in all your research work, both now and after graduation.

3. You may have an opportunity in the future to write a book review for a denominational publication, a magazine like Christianity Today , a church newsletter, or in a blog post, which is very common.

So, a book review can fulfill a course requirement, make you better at critical assessment of the views of others, and create opportunities to use that skill for various publications.

Step 1: Read the book carefully.

Step 2: Write the basics.

Step 3: Fill in the details.

These steps are explained in the next tab of this research guide.

This is not for Book Reflections

If you have a (personal) reflection on a book assigned, what this guide says, besides step #1, likely does not apply to your assignment. You need to ask your professor for guidance on writing a reflection. There are two reasons.

1. A book reflection is not a standard, academic type of document. Therefore, general help based upon reading book reviews is not relevant.

2. Book reflections are heavily dependent upon exactly what a professor asks for. These frequently require comparing good and bad points of the book. That is not a feature of book reviews as such and reviews do not include your personal reflections.

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Tips for Writing a Book Review


As many avid readers know, book reviews can be magical. Not only are they book recommendations, they’re also bridges to our fellow bookworms all around the world. Reviews offer a chance to share your thoughts with other readers and to keep track of your own musings on the books on your shelf, but many find that writing a review isn’t as easy as it seems. To help our NetGalley members craft the best reviews possible, we’ve put together a list of 12 tips for how to write a book review. Whether you’re reviewing books on NetGalley or your personal blog and social media accounts , these steps are sure to help take your reviews to the next level.

Describe the plot First things first: Your readers will want to know what the book is about. But describing the plot needs to be a fine balance in a book review. You want to share just enough to hook the reader without giving too much away and without veering into book report territory. Give a bit more background on the plot outlined on the book’s jacket, and focus on any elements that you feel particularly strongly about or you think that your readers will want to be aware of. If you’re reviewing an audiobook, you’ll need to also talk about the narrator, pacing, and more. You’ll find our tips for writing audiobook reviews here .

Avoid spoilers Spoilers—enemy number one of readers everywhere. Most readers take spoilers very seriously, but they continue to pop up in book reviews. Often, spoilers can be tempting to share because they are frequently the elements that gave the reviewer an intense reaction (a sudden twist, a shocking death, a surprise unveiling). But make sure you don’t rob any of your readers of that genuine emotional reaction or discovery. Unless your reviewing platform offers a way to hide spoilers, avoid them completely or at least add a “spoiler alert” warning to your review.

Consider content warnings Content warnings can help readers be aware of elements of a book that might trigger traumatic memories, cause anxiety, or are generally upsetting. Providing them in a review is a helpful way of giving readers a heads up about what they’re in for so they can make a healthy and informed choice about whether or not they want to engage with that book.

Find the hook There are two hooks to think about when writing a book review. First, how to make a reader stop scrolling and read your entire review. Second, in cases of positive reviews, how to convince them to pick up the book. Don’t wait until the middle of your review to try to catch the reader’s attention. Try to hook them from the very first sentence. Think about what made you pick the book up, and use that to inspire your own way of writing about it.

Make your opinion clear This tip might seem obvious, but sometimes a reviewer may get caught up in describing the plot and forget to offer their own insight. We recommend making your thoughts clear as early as possible and throughout the review. As you describe the plot, share your opinion on the things that worked or didn’t when it comes to the writing, characters, and events of the book. Tell readers why they should (or shouldn’t) pick this book up.

Find your voice Readers choose to follow certain reviewers because of similar reading taste, but also because they enjoy their review style. Celebrate your uniqueness in your book reviews. Provide the insight only you can offer. This is an opportunity to share your passion with other readers, so make it personal. Don’t be discouraged if this doesn’t happen immediately. Rewrite, hone your voice, and keep reviewing. Your signature style will develop as you go.

Rating system Ratings help to give readers an immediate sense of how you felt about a book. If you review on a personal blog, decide on the rating system that works for you and make sure you clearly explain how it works to your readers. Professional reviewing platforms like NetGalley provide readers with a pre-set rating system . NetGalley’s system pairs stars with a likelihood of recommending the book to fellow readers. Think about how the way you personally rate books fits into their system. For example, if you give half stars on your blog (or in your mind!) but the platform doesn’t have half-stars as an option, decide if those should be rounded up or down.

Consider the reviews you’ve read Browse through NetGalley to read reviews and find examples that you think are effective. Ask yourself what it is that you like about the review, and find ways to showcase those same elements in an original way in your own. Maybe you’re swayed by great pull quotes, thorough plot summaries, or a review with a strong voice. Do you love reviews that are conversational, like you’re talking with a friend? Do you want a bit of humor in your book recs? Or do you prefer a serious tone, to convey how much thought you’ve put into your feelings about the book? These are all techniques you can use to make your own reviews even more successful.

Explain both praise and critiques When it comes to book reviews, it’s important to explain both your praise and critiques of a book so that other readers get the whole picture. For example, don’t just say that the book has great characters—explain what makes them great. Don’t tell readers that the book was boring—explain which elements failed to capture your attention. This will help readers to understand your point of view and decide for themselves whether or not this is a book that they might enjoy. Thoughtful praise and critique often can also be a great starting point for a continued conversation about a book. Click here to read our tips for writing a critical book review !

Think about the audience Let readers know if this is a book you’d recommend, and to whom. Not every book is suited to every reader, so you’ll want to be specific about who is likely to enjoy it. For example, you’d recommend  A Game of Thrones  to fans of historical fantasy, not urban fantasy. But it may also be a great recommendation for those who love a good political thriller. Keep in mind that even if a book didn’t fit your personal reading tastes, there’s a chance it may appeal to other readers and your review could help them discover it.

Proofread before posting The fastest way to lose credibility with your audience is to have a typo-laden review. Give your entire review a final read before posting to catch any spelling or grammar errors, including checking facts you share, the spelling of author and characters names, pronouns used, and any quotes you use. The last thing you want is for a reader to stop following your reviews because you accidentally kept calling the main character Jay Catsby.

This is also a great time to add a disclosure statement! The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) requires readers to disclose if they received a review copy of a book. In reviews, members should include a simple line like, “Thank you (name of publishing company) for providing this book for review consideration via NetGalley. All opinions are my own.”

Have fun! Reviewing can be a labor of love, but it’s a job that should always bring you joy. If you ever find yourself feeling burned out, take a break and remind yourself of why you started reviewing in the first place: to share your love of books with readers all over the world.

Looking for fresh and creative review formats? We’ve got you covered!

Check out the  netgalley review guidelines  and  tips for writing and submitting feedback  to publishers. , netgalley tips.

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Kelly Gallucci

Kelly Gallucci is the Executive Editor of We Are Bookish, where she oversees the editorial content, offers book recommendations, and interviews authors and NetGalley members. When she's not working, Kelly can be found color coordinating her bookshelves, eating Chipotle, and watching way too many baking shows.

Great summary. I write quite a few book reviews and this has helped me think more about what I should emphasize and how to phrase my comments. I like the reminder to have fun, too! Thanks!

I have seen it written in many places that book reviews should be impersonal. Keep the focus on the book, not on the reviewer. Probably good advice if one is looking to make a living at it. But I often find that a personal touch adds a lot. Not all books will touch those individual nerves, or connect to one’s life experiences, but I have found that when books do, incorporating those elements gives my reviews considerable extra punch. Also, I have found them among the most fun to write.

Excellent points! Thanks!

This looks great!

Thanks for the great tips on writing book reviews. I often wonder what would make my review stand out or really express my feelings about a book. I totally agree about careful proofreading before being posted. I am also turned off if a reviewer has grammatical errors, misspellings, and exhibits poor writing habits. I also agree that a good review should give the reader a little glimpse into the personality of the reviewer! ❤️????

Great tips and very helpful suggestions!

Loved this article ????

Very useful article. Thank you!

Thank you so very much for the tips! Been doing reviews for over a year now and I’m getting better at it! One thing do hate is your not dc king a book report! I try and getting better,I don’t want to know a bunch when reading a reviewing but ,just enough I say to wet my whistle! I never thought about using the humor think I will try that when it’s warranted! Thanks again,will let you know if I think I am improving ,lol,can’t get any worse than I am now!!Maybe when I write one I will have you look at it for me. I will send you a copy!!

The tips are good and helpful. As I read other reviews I do get insights into way to present my views. But I refrain from being too much of a critic in respect to the author’s effort in writing so many pages. Thanks for the tips.

I’m trying to write my 1st ever review and to be honest I’m nervous. I really like the author and the book was amazing, so I’m worried about letting the author down. These tips are going to be invaluable, so thank you.

Thank you very much, this was very helpful in helping me get started! I’m so excited!

Thank you for these great and helpful hints for writing a book review. I am new to book reviewing online but have been giving book reviews in the 5 libraries I have worked in, over the past 20 years, as an Assistant Librarian. I have loved reading since 1st grade and have tried to pass that passion on to family, friends, and strangers! I write brief reviews on BookBub and GoodRead, while keeping a list of all the books I have read. Sincerely, Ramona

This was very helpful! Thanks

Write a book that is not only going to fill your pocket but is also going to satisfy your mind and heart. In essence, to write an amazing book, you must be an amazing, passionate author.

Lots of good tips on writing a review. I don’t agree on including a summary of the story in my reviews. A summary can be found on the jacket front fly or on various websites. I believe a review should include the rest of the items you mentioned and should be my personal viewpoint of the book. Then the reader can make their own decision on whether or not to read the book.

I agree with you, Kathy C., about foregoing the summary of the story in the book review. Not only is this information available on the book jacket or online description, but reading review after review that begins with a summary becomes tedious. I’m really more interested in what people think about the book rather than their summary of the plot. I definitely agree with all the other tips offered. Thanks for your helpful thoughts!

I understand that you want to your reviewers to put some thought into their reviews. I read a lot of books (200 plus a year, not including the ones I don’t finish). I review most of them and I get a lot of positive comments on my reviews. The reason why is I am honest, and I explain to the readers how this books relates to events in my life. The response is that readers respect my reviews because I have a worldly view and have experienced events that most people have not. For example, I wrote a review about Mohammed Ali biography and the author include a lot of current events that were going on during that time. This was when I was a teenager, and I remember those events and Ali’s life relevant to me because he was reacting to what was going on at that time. So yes you can write a long review, and describe the plot, but if you can’t explain how the book makes you feel then you have lost your audience.

I’m finding out what is proving difficult in writing reviews is that some books have almost the same theme/plot. For me, it’s like watching an exciting weekly TV series that engages me and I want to continue until the season ending. I really can’t complain about the authors because I tend to pick my favorites. Any ideas on how to write a good review?

Yolie McLaughlin

Thank you for this article! I have a brand new book blog and reading thru these tips gave me a few ideas to keep me on track while writing a review. I do like that the information is conveniently separated so I can just glance at the topics when I need to. I’ll be saving this for ease of reference. Thanks again!

Just wondering about book covers we love, do we mention that in the review? Some book covers are just beautiful, and some are fairly ordinary. If a cover really makes an impact should we also give credit in our review of the book?

Thanks for your insightful tips, Cheers Jools

Great question! While it isn’t necessary to talk about a book’s cover in your review, if it had a particularly positive impact on you it’s definitely worth mentioning. You can also use the Thumbs Up/Thumbs Down option on all book pages to show your love for favorite covers, or by selecting that it’s what drew you to the book when making a request!

Thank you for these tips. I will try to leave reviews in accordance with these suggestions that will be a credit to the company and to the authors that have shown confidence in my commitment to be a reliable and honest reviewer.

I appreciate your wonderful and practical book review writing advice. Although I’m new to book reviews on the internet, I have 20 years of experience as an assistant librarian and have reviewed books in 5 different libraries. Since the first grade, I have loved reading, and I have made an effort to share my enthusiasm with friends, family, and strangers. I maintain an inventory of all the books I’ve read and post succinct reviews on BookBub and GoodRead.

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How to Write a Book Review (The Definitive Guide)

How to Write a Book Review (The Definitive Guide)

You should know how to write a book review, whether you want to help a writer friend with his or her book sales or just want to provide your two cents on a specific book.

A book review is a subtle yet effective way to show your reaction to a book, and it holds a great deal of weight with readers.

Let’s delve into book reviews and how to write them properly.

What is a book review?

A book review is a written assessment of a specific book. The book review is often well-regarded by book aficionados because they look for affirmation from a well-known source.

As a rule, if you are going to write a book review, you should make sure that you write the book review as effectively as possible.

Here is a step-by-step guide to on how to write a book review:

1. Read the book thoroughly

When you receive a copy of the book, the first thing you should do is read it thoroughly. Don't rush into writing a book review. You must be as thorough as possible and be familiar with the most subtle aspects of the book.

Keep in mind that the author is counting on you to write an objective and well-written review of his or her book. If you rush through the book review, you will be doing the author a grave injustice.

2. Choose a rating system

You should make sure to set up a rating system for your book review. By having a rating system, you will be able to convey whether a book is worth reading or not.

The rating system could be practically anything. It could be a five-star system, or any other rating system. What’s important is that your rating system is easy to understand.

3. Know what to include in your book review

While you are reading the book, you should already have a format for your book review. The review should have a set blueprint. As you write the book review, you should include an introduction, thesis, body, and conclusion.

Here is a short description of the book review parts:


The introduction should describe the book's title and cover. It should also take note of any subtitles and the name of the author.

This part of the book review should have a quick description of the book’s contents and show the key points of the book. It is best to avoid making any opinions during this part.

Quote at least three parts from the book, and give your own take on them. You should make sure to separate each opinion into a specific paragraph.

The conclusion should include a summary of all the key points from the main body. This should also contain your rating and an overall opinion of the book. You should also explain why you have this specific opinion about the book.

4. Fairness is key

Once you finish reading the book and have written down all the key concepts in it, it is now time to write the book review. As you write your book review, it is important that you have one thing in mind. Fairness is of the utmost importance. Whether you like or don’t like the author, it is very important that you have an unbiased approach to reviewing their book.

5. Take your time with writing the book review

As you are writing the book review, you may be tempted to just write a generic review. What’s so important about honesty or detail, right? This is a very bad way of looking at book reviews.

Remember that readers will use your book review to gauge whether to buy the book. If your book review is half-hearted or rushed, they will not really heed your critique.

If you want readers to follow your book recommendation, you should write a well-written book review. Take the time to double check every aspect of the book review.

Make sure that your grammar, spelling, and word usage are all on point. Remember that readers will base their decision to buy a book on your expertise and experience as a writer.

However, if the book review itself does not make sense or has a lot of spelling and grammatical errors, then the readers may think twice about heeding your recommendations. If you don’t want to get embarrassed, you should make sure to double check every aspect of your book review.

Book reviews are a big part of the book publishing industry. A majority of book lovers often use book reviews to gauge whether they should read a specific book or not. 

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How to Write a Book Review: 16 Easy Steps

Learn how to write a book review in this step-by-step guide.

A review of a written work is a critical evaluation of it. You can review any written text, but book reviews have become very popular. People looking for the next great read value other readers’ opinions and often turn to book reviews to help them select a reading. A book review is slightly different from a book report.

If you wrote book reports in school, you likely had to outline all of the book’s details, including the main characters, book genre, plot, setting, main themes, and the author’s name. A book report will also give a summary of the book and a concise opinion about what you liked about it and why. You will likely need to share many details about the book, including spoilers.

The primary goal is to summarize the book. Some of these items may be in your review, too, but summarizing the book is not your primary focus. Instead, it is to tell people whether they should or should not read the book. It is also to analyze the book or bring new light to someone who reads it later.

If you are wondering how to write a book review, there are some specific steps to take. Walk through them, and you will end up with a compelling review.

Materials Needed

Step 1: read the book, step 2: look at book review examples, step 3: start with a hook, step 4: include basic information, step 5: add a summary, step 6: break down the parts, step 7: discuss artistic elements, step 8: define the main theme, step 9: weave in similar works, step 10: make a recommendation, step 11: write a conclusion, step 12: give a star rating, step 13: provide author background, step 14: revise and shorten, step 15: be kind, step 16: proofread.

  • Book to review
  • Pen or pencil
  • Grammar checking software

Read the book twice

It may seem obvious, but reading the book is the first step in writing a book review. First, however, you’ll need to read the book with intention. Take notes while you read to see what you liked about it, your impressions, how it made you feel, and what the author could have done better.

Remember, if you are planning to review a book, you do need to read it carefully. You need to know the main points and your opinion of the book. This might require deeper reading than you would need for just a book report. Consider keeping a notebook next to you while you read the book. You can jot down notes as you read through each part of the book, including your opinions and analysis, and use those later when writing a book review.

You might also be interested in learning about position essays .

Before writing a book review, take time to look at examples of book reviews. Goodreads is an excellent place to look at short reviews from people who have read a title. For example, if you look up Huckleberry Finn on Goodreads , you will find this review: 

“Mark Twain tells us the story of Huckleberry Finn and Jim, who attempts to free themselves from society’s restraints in this book. The racism aspect of this novel is one of the most discussed and debated topics. The readers will have to encounter the N-word multiple times, which can be difficult for many people. The beauty of this book is that it can be viewed from various angles. The theme of how black and white people work together in their quest for freedom has inspired many people. There are many more layers to this book, including the empathy facet, which is not discussed in depth compared to the racism aspect. It is sad to see some people just considering it as a young adult book discussing racism that just high school children should read. This is unequivocally a true classic that all should read due to the author’s exceptional writing skills and multiple embedded themes in it.”  

This is an excellent example of a review because it explains potential problems with the book while highlighting the benefit of reading it and addressing who should read it. The reviewer gives the book a five-star rating.

Goodreads is a popular site, but there are other review sites you can look at, including:

  • LibraryThing

Read through these examples, and decide what makes them effective or ineffective. Do you want to read the book after reading the review? Then, try to copy the successful aspects in your book review.

A book review’s first one to three sentences must capture the reader’s attention. It makes them interested in reading the rest of the review and, ultimately, the book. What makes a statement a good hook? It will bring something new to light and go beyond just a basic theme or summary. It will be provocative and make the reader think again about reading the book. It will be about three sentences or less. This might be a good hook for the book Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling: 

“An orphan with an unusual scar thinks there is nothing more to his dreary existence, until one day a letter arrives, not by mail, but by owl. Harry soon learns his destiny is far larger than he once imagined from his room under the stairs. But can this orphan boy really be the hero of the secret wizarding world?”  

This hook details the book’s plot enough to make the reader interested. It ends with a provocative question and fits within the length required for a hook.

Before you go on to the rest of the review, determine if there are any pieces of information the intended audience of the book needs to know. For example, they need to know if the book is part of a series. Let them know if they should read previous books before opening this one.

If the book’s point of view is of particular importance, make sure to call that out. If the book’s date of publication is essential to understanding the book, include this information. For instance, a book published in the early days of America’s history may use words that today are considered racial slurs. Let the reader know this so they understand the author’s reasoning.

The beginning of your review should be a synopsis of the plot. Keep this plot summary short. Paraphrasing the book is not the primary goal of the book review. Use the summary to show that you have read the book. One reviewer writes an excellent summary of Michael Doane’s book The Crossing on Reedsy Discovery . She opens her review with this: 

“In Doane’s debut novel, a young man embarks on a journey of self-discovery with surprising results. An unnamed protagonist (The Narrator) is dealing with heartbreak. His love, determined to see the world, sets out for Portland, Oregon. But he’s a small-town boy who hasn’t traveled much. So, the Narrator mourns her loss and hides from life, throwing himself into rehabbing an old motorcycle. Until one day, he takes a leap; he packs his bike and a few belongings and heads out to find the Girl.”  

In this summary, the reviewer captures the reader’s attention but does not give away all of the book’s details. The reviewer does not give away any spoilers. Potential readers can still read and enjoy the book. The information provided is a good synopsis but not a full plot summary. Read through your review, especially where you explore the plot, and determine if you have given away anything that readers need to keep hidden while they enjoy the book. Also, the summary needs to be very concise when writing book reviews. The summary should be no more than a paragraph.

Now you are ready to break down the parts of the book. Do this in your notes, then decide which ones should be in your review. Some parts to consider include:

  • Main themes
  • Plot (for a fiction book)
  • World-building (for a fiction book)
  • Topic (for a non-fiction book)

If you are writing a long review, you could put each of these into its own paragraph. Be sure to discuss how the author handled it and whether or not you thought that it was well done. Give your opinion about these elements and how much you did or did not enjoy them. In the review on The Crossing, the REedsy reviewer covers the characters well when she writes:

“As he crosses the country, The Narrator connects with several unique personalities whose experiences and views deeply impact his own. Duke, the complicated cowboy and drifter, who opens The Narrator’s eyes to a larger world. Zooey, the waitress in Colorado who opens his heart and reminds him that love can be found in this big world. And Rosie, The Narrator’s sweet landlady in Portland, who helps piece him back together both physically and emotionally.”

Does the book cover add to the experience of the book? Does the author use a particular writing style or dialect to add to the experience? When reading the book, look for these features and discuss them in your review. These types of artistic elements are worth discussing in your book review if there are any that stand out. This is particularly true for fiction works, where artistic elements significantly impact the reading experience.

Next, decide what the central theme of the book is. In the previous paragraph, you may have outlined a few themes, but now you need to hone in on what you feel is the central theme. Remember that what you feel is the main theme may differ from another reviewer. Reviews are based on opinion, so that is not wrong or right. You get to define the theme and then write about how well the author handled that theme and wove it into the story.

Throughout your review, consider weaving in similar authors or books. This tactic will help readers connect with your writing and decide if the story fits their ideal book choice. If they are familiar with the authors you mention, and like them, they may be more interested in reading the book. For example, in her review of The Crossing, the reviewer says: 

“Following in the footsteps of Jack Kerouac and William Least Heat-Moon, Doane offers a coming of age story about a man finding himself on the backroads of America. Doane’s a gifted writer with fluid prose and insightful observations, using The Narrator’s personal interactions to illuminate the diversity of the United States.”  

Here she discusses two writers that the review’s reader may know. Though she doesn’t mention their works directly, naming the authors will make it clear to anyone who knows those authors what writing style she is talking about.

Now that you have covered the basics of the book, you are ready to recommend it or not. Keep in mind that work you didn’t like but that was well-written should not get a negative review. Instead, tell the reader why you did not enjoy it but what you did like and why the intended audience would likely find it a good book. For example, if you read Harry Potter and did not enjoy it because fantasy novels aren’t for you, you could say: 

“I recommend this book to anyone who loves adventure and magic. Rowling keeps the reader engaged throughout the story and brings in several surprises. The magical world was a bit far-fetched for my personal tastes, but overall it was an enticing read for those who enjoy fantasy.”

The final paragraph of your review should be a conclusion that ties together what you have already written. It should be reasonably short, but it should conclude your thoughts. For example, the  Crossing reviewer concludes her review: 

“Despite his flaws, it’s a pleasure to accompany The Narrator on his physical and emotional journey. The unexpected ending is a fitting denouement to an epic and memorable road trip.”  Your conclusion could include your recommendation.

If you plan to publish your review on social media or sites, consider adding a star rating. If you do a lot of book reviews, set up a rating system that you can refer to. Otherwise, could you give it a rating of 10 or 5 stars? In your rating, tell how many a perfect book would receive. This will help your readers know if you are saying “yay” or “nay” to the book.

Sometimes, background about the author is helpful in a book review. Decide if the author’s background makes a difference in understanding the book. If it does, consider adding it as part of your review. You will have to decide where in the review this information best fits. It may be in the first paragraph where you discuss different factors necessary to understand the book, or it may be towards the end.

Revising is key to writing a book review. Your review should be as concise and streamlined as possible, and you may find that it’s reasonably long at first, especially if you have strong opinions about the book. When you revise, look for repetition and areas you can cut without changing the meaning of your review. Remember, readers reading your review want to know your opinion and some basic facts about the book, but they do not want to read a lengthy piece.

Remember, the book you are reviewing is someone else’s writing and work of heart. Try to be kind, even if you need to give a negative review. Point out what you did not enjoy, but look for some positive points to note if you can find some. Here is an example of a negative book review of My Morning Routine, originally published on the What’s Hot Blog , that still maintains an air of kindness: 

“This book is a case of quantity of quality with heaps of accounts of people’s mornings routines but few specifics about how these routines helped these people get to their positions. It’s these crucial specifics that I usually find most motivating so this disappointed me. The most interesting part of My Morning Routine is the conclusion, which neatly sums up the statistics collated throughout. It tells you the average amount of sleep these successful people get, whether or not they meditate or exercise, what they eat for breakfast and more.”  

Even though the reviewer did not enjoy the book, they pointed out something of interest that was positive in this review, maintaining a feeling of kindness in addition to honesty. 

Now you are finished with your review and are ready to proofread it. Use a grammar checking program to check the grammar, and read through the piece to see if it has any spots where you could change the wording for better clarity. Consider reading it out loud when you proofread. This writing tip will help you find errors you may overlook while reading silently.

When editing for grammar, we also recommend taking the time to improve the readability score of a piece of writing before publishing or submitting.

ProWritingAid is one of our top grammar checkers. Find out why in this ProWritingAid review .

how to prepare book review

How to Write a Book Review Tips

how to prepare book review

Book reviews are like guiding lights in the world of literature, helping readers navigate through countless stories. But writing a good review isn't just about summarizing a book – it's about making your thoughts resonate with the audience. 

Whether you're a writer, a critic, or someone who loves books, knowing how to prepare a book review can enrich your reading experience and contribute to the literary community. 

In this article, experts of our book review writing service break down the key elements and tips for compelling book reviews that spark conversation and excitement.

What Is a Book Review

A book review is a critical evaluation of a book, where the reviewer discusses its content, themes, and overall impact. It typically includes a summary of the book's main points, the reviewer's analysis and opinions, and a recommendation for potential readers. The goal is to inform others about the book's strengths and weaknesses, helping them decide if it’s worth reading.

Later in the article, you’ll find a quality book review example for your inspiration and motivation. If you’re in a hurry, try our cheap essay writing service that covers all types of academic papers.


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How to Write a Book Review: Step-By-Step

Writing a book review might seem complex, but in reality, the process can be divided into only three steps:

How to Write a Book Review: Step-By-Step

Summarize the Book's Content

Book reviews summarize the source's content by providing a brief and clear overview of the main plot, key characters, and central themes without giving away any spoilers. This helps readers understand the essence of the book and sets the stage for your analysis and evaluation.

Actionable Tips:

  • Read the Book Thoroughly: Ensure you grasp the full story, including subplots and character development.
  • Highlight Key Points: Note down significant events, character arcs, and main themes as you read.
  • Be Concise: Keep your summary short and to the point, focusing on the most important aspects.
  • Avoid Spoilers: Do not reveal major plot twists or the book’s ending.
  • Use Your Own Words: Write the summary in your own language to maintain originality and avoid plagiarism.
  • Provide Context: Include the book’s genre, setting, and relevant background information to help readers understand the summary.
  • Focus on Clarity: Ensure your summary is easy to read and understand, avoiding complex language or unnecessary details.

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Analyze and Evaluate

You’re always halfway through writing a book review! Next, you have to critically examine its elements, such as the writing style, character development, plot structure, and thematic depth. This step is where you share your personal insights and opinions, providing evidence from the text to support your views.

Tips Explanation
Consider the Writing Style Assess the author's writing style, including tone, language, and pacing. Is it engaging and appropriate for the genre?
Evaluate Character Development Analyze how well the characters are developed. Are they believable and well-rounded? Do they evolve throughout the story?
Examine the Plot Look at the plot structure. Is it coherent and well-paced? Are there any plot holes or areas that felt rushed?
Assess Themes and Messages Identify the main themes and messages of the book. Are they effectively conveyed and thought-provoking?
Use Specific Examples Provide specific examples from the book to support your analysis. This could include quotes, key scenes, or significant events.
Reflect on the Emotional Impact Consider how the book made you feel. Did it evoke strong emotions or leave a lasting impression?
Compare with Similar Works If relevant, compare the book to other works in the same genre or by the same author. How does it stand out or fall short?
Balance Praise and Critique Offer a balanced perspective, highlighting both strengths and weaknesses. Be fair and objective in your evaluation.

Conclude with a Recommendation

We’re almost reached the finishing line of the how to write a book review race. Conclude your review of a book with either a summary, recommendation, or addressing readers directly. This step provides a clear and concise verdict based on your analysis, helping potential readers decide if the book is right for them.

Tips Example 1 Example 2
Summary "Overall, this book is a must-read for fans of historical fiction, offering a gripping narrative and well-researched background." "While the book has some strong points, such as vivid descriptions and compelling characters, its slow pace might not appeal to everyone."
Recommendation "I highly recommend it to those who enjoy rich historical settings and complex characters." "I recommend it with reservations; it's worth trying if you enjoy detailed world-building, but be prepared for a slower pace."
Audience "Ideal for readers who appreciate historical depth and emotional storytelling." "Best suited for readers who enjoy immersive settings and don’t mind a leisurely narrative."

Dive into literary analysis with EssayPro . Our experts can help you craft insightful book reviews that delve deep into the themes, characters, and narratives of your chosen books. Enhance your understanding and appreciation of literature with us.

book review order

Book Review Structure

A book review outline usually follows a structured format with an introduction, main body, and conclusion.


This section introduces the book, mentioning its title, author, genre, and publication details. It gives a brief overview of the book's premise and main themes to provide context for the reader.

The main body offers a detailed analysis and critique of the book. It's divided into paragraphs focusing on specific aspects such as plot, characters, and writing style. Each paragraph provides evidence from the book to support the reviewer's analysis.

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The conclusion summarizes the reviewer's overall thoughts and impressions of the book, restating key points and the main argument. It often includes a recommendation for potential readers and may provide final reflections or insights about the book's significance.

Book Review Template

Here's a basic structure you can follow every time you’re tasked with such an assignment:

Section Description
Title [Book Title]
Author [Author's Name]
Genre [Genre of the Book]
Publication [Publication Date/Year]
Introduction - Briefly introduce the book, including its title, author, genre, and publication information.
Summary - Provide a concise overview of the book's premise and main themes.
- Summarize the main plot points, characters, and setting.
- Highlight key events and any significant themes or motifs.
Analysis - Evaluate the book's strengths and weaknesses.
- Discuss the writing style, character development, and pacing.
- Analyze how effectively the book conveys its themes and ideas.
Critique - Offer a critical assessment of the book.
- Discuss what you liked and disliked about the book.
- Compare the book to similar works in its genre.
Conclusion - Summarize your overall thoughts and impressions of the book.
- Restate your thesis statement or main argument.
- Recommend the book to potential readers or suggest its target audience.
- Provide any final reflections or insights.

Extra Tips for Writing Better Book Reviews

Here are 11 extra tips for writing better book reviews:

  • Look for essay topics that are interesting personally for you.
  • Consider your audience and what they might want to know about the book.
  • Be mindful not to give away major plot twists or endings that could ruin the reading experience for others.
  • Use quotes or examples from the book to support your analysis and critique.
  • Express your opinions openly, but respect the author and their work.
  • Think about the book's historical, cultural, or social context when evaluating its themes and messages.
  • Paint a vivid picture of the book's qualities using descriptive language to engage your readers.
  • Acknowledge the book's strengths and weaknesses to provide a balanced review.
  • Aim to be concise and to the point, focusing on the most important aspects of the book.
  • Let your enthusiasm for the book shine through in your review to captivate your readers.
  • Gain insights from reading other reviews to see different perspectives and approaches to reviewing books.

Book Review Example

As promised at the beginning of the article, we’d like to share a good example of a book review as it should be done by students either in school or college:

Final Thoughts

Book reviews empower students to become active participants in the literary conversation. They learn to contribute their unique perspectives and interpretations to the broader discourse. With a custom term paper writing service , learners can become true educational powerhouses who never miss deadlines.

Through critical engagement with literary sources, students develop a deeper understanding of complex themes and issues, honing their ability to think analytically and empathetically. At the end of the day, aren’t these two skills that every educated individual should possess? 

Need To Write a Book Review But DON’T HAVE THE TIME

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How To Write A Book Review?

What to include in a book review, what is a book review.

Adam Jason

is an expert in nursing and healthcare, with a strong background in history, law, and literature. Holding advanced degrees in nursing and public health, his analytical approach and comprehensive knowledge help students navigate complex topics. On EssayPro blog, Adam provides insightful articles on everything from historical analysis to the intricacies of healthcare policies. In his downtime, he enjoys historical documentaries and volunteering at local clinics.

how to prepare book review

  • Added new infographics.
  • Updated writing tips.
  • Added new example.
  • How to write a book review | BookTrust. (n.d.-b).
  • Book Reviews – The Writing Center • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. (2024, May 14). The Writing Center • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
  • Research Guides: Organizing Your Social Sciences Research Assignments: Writing a Book Review. (n.d.).  

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The Only Book Review Templates You'll Ever Need

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The only book review templates you'll ever need.

The Only Book Review Templates You'll Ever Need

Whether you’re trying to become a book reviewer , writing a book report for school, or analyzing a book, it’s nice to follow a book review template to make sure that your thoughts are clearly presented. 

A quality template provides guidance to keep your mind sharp and your thoughts organized so that you can write the best book review possible. On Reedsy Discovery , we read and share a lot of book reviews, which helps us develop quite a clear idea what makes up a good one. With that in mind, we’ve put together some trustworthy book review templates that you can download, along with a quick run-through of all the parts that make up an outstanding review — all in this post! 

Pro-tip : But wait! How are you sure if you should become a book reviewer in the first place? If you're on the fence, or curious about your match with a book reviewing career, take our quick quiz:

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Book review templates for every type of review

With the rapid growth of the book community on Instagram, Youtube, and even TikTok, the world of book commentary has evolved far beyond your classic review. There are now many ways you can structure a book review. Some popular formats include:

  • Book reports — often done for school assignments; 
  • Commentary articles — think in-depth reviews in magazines and newspapers; 
  • Book blog reviews — short personal essays about the book; and
  • Instagram reviews — one or two-paragraph reviews captioned under a nice photo. 

But while the text in all these review styles can be organized in different ways, there are certain boxes that all good book reviews tick. So, instead of giving you various templates to use for different occasions, we’ve condensed it down to just two book review templates (one for fiction and one for nonfiction) that can guide your thoughts and help you nail just about any review. 

how to prepare book review

⭐ Download our free fiction book review template  

⭐ Download our free nonfiction book review template  

All you need to do is answer the questions in the template regarding the book you’re reading and you’ve got the content of your review covered. Once that’s done, you can easily put this content into its appropriate format. 

Now, if you’re curious about what constitutes a good book review template, we’ll explain it in the following section! 

Elements of a book review template

Say you want to build your own book review template, or you want to customize our templates — here are the elements you’ll want to consider. 

We’ve divided our breakdown of the elements into two categories: the essentials and the fun additions that’ll add some color to your book reviews.

What are the three main parts of a book review?

We covered this in detail (with the help of some stellar examples) in our post on how to write a book review , but basically, these are the three crucial elements you should know: 

The summary covers the premise of the book and its main theme, so readers are able to understand what you’re referring to in the rest of your review. This means that, if a person hasn’t read the book, they can go through the summary to get a quick idea of what it’s about. (As such, there should be no spoilers!) 

The analysis is where, if it’s a fiction book, you talk more about the book, its plot, theme, and characters. If it’s nonfiction, you have to consider whether the book effectively achieves what it set out to do. 

The recommendation is where your personal opinion comes in the strongest, and you give a verdict as to who you think might enjoy this book. 

You can choose to be brief or detailed, depending on the kind of review you’re writing, but you should always aim to cover these three points. If you’re needing some inspiration, check out these 17 book review examples as seen in magazines, blogs, and review communities like Reedsy Discovery for a little variation. 

Which review community should you join?

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Which additional details can you include?

Once you’ve nailed down the basics, you can jazz things up a little and add some personal flavor to your book review by considering some of these elements:

  • A star-rating (the default is five stars but you can create your own scales); 
  • A bullet-point pros and cons list; 
  • Your favorite quotation from the book; 
  • Commentary on the format you read (i.e., ebook, print, or audiobook);
  • Fun facts about the book or author; 
  • Other titles you think are similar.

This is where you can really be creative and tailor your review to suit your purpose and audience. A formal review written for a magazine, for instance, will likely benefit from contextual information about the author and the book, along with some comment on how that might have affected the reading (or even writing) process.

Meanwhile, if you’re reviewing a book on social media, you might find bullet points more effective at capturing the fleeting attention of Internet users. You can also make videos, take creative pictures, or even add your own illustrations for more personal touches. The floor is yours at this point, so go ahead and take the spotlight! 

That said, we hope that our templates can provide you with a strong foundation for even your most adventurous reviews. And if you’re interested in writing editorial reviews for up-and-coming indie titles, register as a reviewer on Reedsy Discovery !

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Writing a book review: how to do it (+ 5 mistakes to avoid).

Well-written book reviews are essential for building an audience for a book blog. Here are 5 steps that cover how to write a good book review.

Published on Dec 18, 2022

By Dave Rogenmoser

how to prepare book review

Book reviews are reflections on a book that ultimately make an argument. The argument should persuade a potential reader to pick up the book or leave it behind, based on the reviewer’s opinions. 

Book reviews typically aren’t longer than 1000 words, but some can be much longer or shorter in certain situations. For example, the New York Times features book reviews of over 2,000 words, while book reviews in your local newspaper might be limited to under 500 words.

In this article, we’ll show you how to write a book review that grabs readers’ attention, while providing useful information. We’ll also share some common mistakes to avoid while writing book reviews and some A+ book reviews worth emulating.

Why book reviews are important for writers and readers

Book reviews are valuable for writers:

  • To develop a better understanding of what they learned
  • To hone their own writing skills
  • To develop a critical eye in literature

Book reviews are also valuable for readers:

  • To learn about potential reading material
  • To gain an understanding of what the material covers
  • To decide whether or not to purchase or read something

The best way to think about writing a review is imagining you’re writing for one person. You’ll have to answer the most important questions they have and help them decide whether to take the book home or not. 

5 essential steps to writing a great book review

To make the most out of your book review, follow these 5 simple steps.

1. Share the most important details

Set the stage for the rest of your review by starting with the most important details of the book. Make sure to include:

  • Genre/type of book
  • Main character description
  • Context of the setting

This is also a good spot to mention any content warnings readers may appreciate. These warnings mention any potential triggering or sensitive topics discussed in the book or your book review. Providing content warnings can help readers choose safe and healthy books for their own needs.

For non-fiction reviews, describe the book’s main theme. Academic journals can include short book reviews that include what special topic the book covers, what questions it answers, or how it approaches the topic. Finally, be sure to mention the author’s name and what relevant expertise they have.

2. Summarize the plot in a few sentences

After explaining the most important details, give readers a brief synopsis . Your summary or synopsis should provide a general idea of what happens in the book . 

Ideally, mention the premise, the inciting event, and the protagonist’s dilemma. Summarizing is important, but don’t go overboard — you don’t want your review to include spoilers or reveal the ending ! The typical rule for summarizing in book review writing is not to mention things in the plot past the midpoint.

3. Write your praise

A book review differs from a book report in that your review should mainly focus on your evaluation of the book itself . This includes both praise and critiques. There should also be a balance of your subjective and objective opinions.

Your evaluation should answer these questions:

  • What did you enjoy about the book?
  • Did the characters and setting feel real to you?
  • Did the story grip you and hold your attention where it should?
  • What were the main themes in the book?
  • Does the writing style fit the storyline?
  • What did you like about the writing style?
  • Did the writer use any unique formats? For example, was it a novel-in-verse or written in epistolary format?

An evaluation of a non-fiction book should focus on whether the author was able to convincingly share their perspective. Did you learn anything new? Were the arguments clear and concise? Did you feel persuaded by the conclusion? Share it with readers in concise sentences.

4. Write your critiques

Critiques are easy for some and difficult for others to write. Regardless of how you feel, it’s important to express your discontent constructively , instead of simply ranting about what you didn’t like. 

Some reviewers make a pros and cons list to simplify their points and then justify their list of cons with detailed explanations or quotes highlighting problematic sections of the book.  

It’s also vital to be specific about what did not work for you . “It just didn’t work for me” or “I just couldn’t relate to the main character” may be valid, but unhelpful for your readers. Remember, many critiques are entirely subjective, and what one reader dislikes could be the thing that makes the same book another reader’s favorite. So, if you want to write a good book review, mention why exactly you did not relate to the main character or why the story didn’t work for you.

One of the best ways to remember what you like or don’t like about a book is to take notes as you read . Save your thoughts online in a Google Doc or another writer’s tool you like. You can then transform those notes into thoughtful sentences later as you write your review.

5. Offer your recommendation and star rating

The last part of a book review is your recommendation. Think about the key takeaways for potential readers from your review. Would you recommend this book to a friend? Share who you think would like the book but also who might NOT like the book. Readers will appreciate this information if they fall into one of the two categories. 

Lastly, how many stars out of 5 or 10 would you give it? Don’t forget to offer your logic behind this star rating as well. Having a book rating system may be useful, so you don’t waste too much time deciding. Many readers include the following metrics in their ratings:

  • Overall enjoyment
  • Writing quality
  • Characterization
  • Plot development
  • Ending satisfaction

Some readers now decline to offer a star rating — and that’s fine too. The key thing is to tell readers your verdict at the end .

5 common mistakes people make when book reviewing

There are a few common mistakes people make while writing book reviews. Double-check your review for any of these mistakes before publishing or submitting them.

1. Over-the-top claims 

Going too far in one direction or another can make your review sound biased. To maintain a professional tone, avoid superlative claims (for example, “this is the best book of all time”). Before you publish, go over your book review or report and ensure you’ve rationalized your claims and that they are appropriate .

2. Repetitiveness

Once you’ve made a point and argued it, there’s no need to keep repeating it throughout the piece. Maybe you liked or didn’t like something, but after reading something once or twice, the reader already gets the point. Driving your argument home so hard only takes away valuable space for more critical points in the review. Make your point once and leave it at that.

3. Making it about you

A book review should let readers see your personal opinion but hear objective points as well. Don’t flatter yourself with references that only you would understand as you’ll turn off readers who want a review that focuses on the book at hand. Remember that the review should serve readers, not you . 

Also, while you should share a few personal criticisms, don’t turn it into “I would do it better” because if you could, then you’d be writing your book instead of a review.

4. Sharing the whole plot

Avoid giving the entire story away. While you should mention the story’s focus — such as whether it’s a romance or a murder mystery — beware of sharing spoilers . Spoilers are any important plot developments meant to keep suspense or not mentioned in the publisher’s summary. Besides, if you spend too much of the review on the summary, you won’t get around to reviewing the characters, language, structure, or cultural context.

5. Writing too much

A review shouldn’t be an accompanying novel. And while a review is meant to share a little more than a testimonial, the key here is the word “little.” You can’t share every single thought you had while reading — that isn’t helpful for readers deciding if they’re going to read it themselves or not. So, limit your book review to the main points you want to make in about 500-1000 words. 

5 good book review examples from around the internet

If you’re still not sure how to write a helpful book review, you might want to check out these examples that we’ve pulled from some popular book review sites. 

Goodreads and Kirkus are some of the most common places for people to write and share book reviews. If you’re looking for inspiration for how to write a book review, these two sites are a good place to start. 

1. Kirkus’s review of Genesis Begins Again by Alicia D. Williams  

Kirkus’s review of Genesis Begins Again

This short, but telling book review certainly gives readers a clear sense of the main character’s world. But the reasons this book review is especially helpful are the star ratings, the verdict shared, and the age recommendation found at the end of the review. 

2. Roxane Gay’s Goodreads review of The Mothers by Brit Bennett

Roxane Gay’s Goodreads review of The Mothers by Brit Bennett

Roxane Gay’s review immediately mentions the main characters and the theme of The Mothers , followed by her evaluation of what she did and didn't like about the novel . Her criticism is followed by her understanding and reasoning and ends with a positive recommendation . Notice how concisely Gay fits in all aspects of a good review into limited sentences that get her points across quickly.

3. Book of Cinz’s Goodreads review of No Land to Light on by Yara Zgheib  

Book of Cinz’s Goodreads review of No Land to Light on by Yara Zgheib

This review shares a powerful initial reaction in bold — offering enticing expectations and pulling readers in. The summary followed by the emotional impact the novel will make on readers gives a clear sense of what to expect from No Land to Light On. It also mentions the perspective the story is told in , so readers know what to expect.

4. TheBibliophile’s review of The Four Winds by Kristin Hannah

TheBibliophile’s review of The Four Winds by Kristin Hannah

This review is unique because it is a bit longer, but it’s also conveniently broken up into sections that readers can click on from the top of the page. The personal review can be found between the plot summary and the recommendation where the reviewer describes her experience reading the book . What’s valuable for some is that she compares the book with the author’s previous survival-focused novel , so potential readers can choose between them.

5. Reading Middle Grade’s review of No Place Like Here

Reading Middle Grade’s review of No Place Like Here

Reading Middle Grade’s review of No Place Like Here conveniently separates sections of the review so readers can quickly find what they’re looking for. It begins with the most important aspects — the main character and plotline and follows with positive feedback and negative feedback under their subheaders. The final section also mentions content that potential readers should be aware of , like parental mental illness and incarceration, and concludes with a recommendation as a summer read. 

How Jasper Can Help Write Book Reviews

Ready to write your book review? If you want a guiding hand, consider letting Jasper help you write a review that converts. 

Jasper is an AI copywriting tool that has been trained to write several kinds of copy and content. With over 50+ templates , it caters to all your writing needs, including outlining ( Blog Post Outline template), blog post writing ( Long Form Assistant template), and headline-crafting ( Perfect Headline template).

Because it’s been trained by real expert copywriters and has learned up to 10% of the internet, Jasper knows how to write sentences and paragraphs that flow seamlessly while connecting with your intended audience.

We asked Jasper to help us review Yaa Gyasi’s best-selling novel, Homegoing . Here’s some of what the Long-Form Assistant template generated.

jarvis book review

Ever considered starting your own book review blog? Now you can with the help of AI marketing platform, Jasper.  Sign up for Jasper now and start publishing book reviews instantly.


Meet The Author:

Dave Rogenmoser

Dave Rogenmoser

Dave is the Co-Founder Jasper , a Y Combinator-backed tech company based in Austin, Texas. He is also a husband and father of 3 boys.

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25+ Book Review Templates and Ideas to Organize Your Thoughts

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Danika Ellis

Danika spends most of her time talking about queer women books at the Lesbrary. Blog: The Lesbrary Twitter: @DanikaEllis

View All posts by Danika Ellis

When I was a kid I loved reading, but I hated book reports. It felt impossible to boil a book down to a few lines or even a page of writing. Besides, by the time I had to write the report, I had already forgotten a lot. It never ceases to be painful to try to pull my thoughts and opinions out of my head and put them on the page, especially in a coherent way.

As an adult, I continue to usually find writing book reviews painful . And yet, I maintain a book blog with reviews of all the (bi and lesbian) books I read. Why? For one thing, I want to raise the visibility of these books — or, in the case of a book I loathed, warn other readers of what to expect. It helps me to build community with other book lovers. It’s also a great way to force myself pay attention to how I’m feeling while I’m reading a book and what my thoughts are afterwards. I have learned to take notes as I go, so I have something to refer to by the time I write a review, and it has me notice what a book is doing well (and what it isn’t). The review at the end helps me to organize my thoughts. I also find that I remember more once I’ve written a review.

Once you’ve decided it’s worthwhile to write a review, though, how do you get started? It can be a daunting task. The good news is, book reviews can adapt to whatever you want them to be. A book review can be a tweet with a thumbs up or thumbs down emoji, maybe with a sentence or two of your thoughts; it can also be an in-depth essay on the themes of the book and its influence on literature. Most are going to fall somewhere between those two! Let go of the idea of trying to create the One True Book Review. Everyone is looking for something different, and there is space for GIF-filled squee fests about a book and thoughtful, meditative explorations of a work.

This post offers a variety of book reviews elements that you can mix and match to create a book review template that works for you. Before you get started, though, there are some questions worth addressing.

black pencil on top of ruled paper

Questions to Ask Before Choosing a Book Review Template

Where will you be posting your book reviews.

An Instagram book review will likely look different from a blog book review. Consider which platform you will be using for your book review. You can adapt it for different platforms, or link to your original review, but it’s a good starting point. Instagram reviews tend to be a lot shorter than blog reviews, for instance.

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Will you be using the same template every time?

Some book reviewers have a go-to book review template. Others have a different one for each genre, while another group doesn’t use a template at all and just reacts to whatever each book brings up.

Heading or no headings?

When choosing which book review elements to mix and match, you can also decide whether to include a header for each section (like Plot, Characterization, Writing, etc). Headers make reviews easier to browse, but they may not have the professional, essay-style look that you’re going for.

Why are you writing a review?

When selecting which elements to include in your review, consider what the purpose is. Do you want to better remember the plot by writing about it? You probably want to include a plot summary, then. Do you want to help readers decide whether they should read this book? A pros and cons list might be helpful. Are you trying to track something about your reading, like an attempt to read more books in translation or more books by authors of color? Are you trying to buy fewer books and read off your TBR shelf instead? These are all things you can note in a review, usually in a point-form basic information block at the beginning.

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Book Review Templates and Formats


This is a multi-paragraph review, usually with no headers. It’s the same format most newspapers and academics use for book reviews. Many essay-style reviews use informal categories in their writing, often discussing setting, writing, characters, and plot in their own paragraphs. They usually also discuss the big themes/messages of a story. Here are some questions to consider when writing an essay-style review:

What is the author trying to do? Don’t evaluate a romance novel based on a mystery novel’s criteria. First try to think about what the book was attempting to do, then try to evaluate if they achieved it. You can still note if you didn’t like it, but it’s good to know what it was aiming for first.

What are some of the themes of the story? What big message should the reader take away? Did you agree with what the book seemed to be saying? Why or why not?

How is this story relevant to the world? What is it saying about the time it was written in? About human nature? About society or current issues? Depending on the book, there may be more or less to dig into here.

What did this book make you think about? It may be that the themes in the book were just a launching off point. How did they inspire your own thinking? How did this book change you?

A Classic Book Review

This is probably the most common kind of book review template. It uses a few criteria, usually including Setting, Writing, Characters, and Plot (for a novel). The review then goes into some detail about each element, describing what the book did well, and where it fell short.

The advantage of this format is that it’s very straightforward and applies to almost any fiction read. It can also be adapted–you will likely have more to say about the plot in a mystery/thriller than a character study of a novel. A drawback, though, is that it can feel limiting. You might have thoughts that don’t neatly fit into these categories, or you could feel like you don’t have enough to say about some of the categories.

Pros and Cons

A common format for a Goodreads review is some variation of pros and cons. This might be “What I Liked/What I Didn’t Like” or “Reasons to Bump This Up Your TBR/Reasons to Bump This Down On Your TBR.” This is a very flexible system that can accommodate anything from a few bullet points each to paragraphs each. It gives a good at-a-glance impression of your thoughts (more cons than pros is a pretty good indication you didn’t like it). It also is broad enough that almost all your thoughts can likely be organized into those headings.

This is also a format that is easily mix and matched with the elements listed below. A brief review might give the title, author, genre, some brief selling points of the novel, and then a pros and cons list. Some reviews also include a “verdict” at the end. An example of this format:

how to prepare book review

The Tea Dragon Society by Katie O’Neill

🌟 Fantasy All-Ages Comic 💫 Adorable pet dragons ✨ A diverse cast

Pros: This book has beautiful artwork. It is a soothing read, and all the character are supportive of each other. This is a story about friendship and kindness.

Cons: Don’t expect a fast-moving plot or a lot of conflict. This is a very gentle read.

Another approach to the review is not, strictly speaking, a book review template at all. Instead, it’s something like “5 Reasons to Read TITLE by Author” or “The # Most Shocking Plot Twists in X Series.” An advantage of this format is that it can be very to-the-point: if you want to convince people to read a book, it makes sense to just write a list of reasons they should read the book. It may also be more likely to get clicked on–traditional book reviews often get less views than more general posts.

On the other hand, listicles can come off as gimmicky or click-bait. You’ll have to decide for yourself if the book matches this format, and whether you are writing this out of genuine enthusiasm or are just trying to bend a review to be more clickable.

Your Own Original Rating System

Lots of reviewers decide to make their own review format based on what matters to them. This is often accompanied by a ratings system. For instance, the BookTube channel Book Roast uses the CAWPILE system:

CAWPILE is an acronym for the criteria she rates: Characters, Atmosphere, Writing, Plot, Intrigue, Logic, Enjoyment. Each of those are rated 1–10, and the average given is the overall rating. By making your own ratings/review system, you can prioritize what matters to you.

My favorite rating system is Njeri’s from Onyx Pages , because it shows exactly what she’s looking for from books, and it helps her to think about and speak about the things she values:

A “Live Tweet” or Chronological Review

Another format possibility is live tweeting (or updating as you go on Goodreads, or whatever your platform of choice is). This has you document your initial thoughts as you read, and it’s usually informal and often silly. You can add what you’re loving, what you’re hating, and what questions you have as you go.

This is a fun format for when you’re reading a popular book for the first time. That way, other people can cackle at how unprepared you are as you read it. This requires you to remember to always have your phone on you as you read, to get your authentic thoughts as they happen, but it saves on having to write a more in-depth review. Alternately, some people include both a “first impressions” section and a more in-depth analysis section in their final review.

Get Creative

There are plenty of book review templates to choose from and elements to mix-and-match, but you can also respond in a completely original way. You could create a work of art in response to the book! Here are some options:

  • Writing a song , a short story, or a poem
  • Writing a letter to the author or the main character (you don’t have to send it to the author!)
  • Writing an “interview” of a character from the book, talk show style
  • Making a visual response, like a collage or painting
  • Making a book diorama, like your elementary school days!

Mix-and-Match Elements of a Book Review

Most book reviews are made up of a few different parts, which can be combined in lots of different ways. Here is a selection to choose from! These might also give you ideas for your own elements. Don’t take on too much, though! It can easily become an overwhelming amount of information for readers.


Usually a book review starts with some basic information about the book. What you consider basic information, though, is up for interpretation! Consider what you and your audience will think is important. Here are some ideas:

  • The title and author (pretty important)
  • The book’s cover
  • Format (audiobook, comic, poetry, etc)
  • Genre (this can be broad, like SFF, or narrow, like Silkpunk or Dark Academia)
  • Content warnings
  • Source (where did you get the book? Was is borrowed from the library, bought, or were you sent an ARC?)
  • Synopsis/plot summary (your own or the publisher’s)
  • What kind of representation there is in the novel (including race, disability, LGBTQ characters, etc)
  • Anything you’re tracking in your reading, including: authors of color, authors’ country, if a book is in translation, etc

Review Elements

Once you’ve established your basic information, you’re into the review itself! Some of these are small additions to a review, while others are a little more time-intensive.

Bullet point elements:

  • Rating (star rating, thumbs up/down, recommend/wouldn’t recommend, or your own scale)
  • Who would like it/Who wouldn’t like it
  • Read-alikes (or movies and TV shows like the book)
  • Describe the book using an emoji or emojis
  • Describe the book using a gif or gifs
  • Favorite line(s) from the book
  • New vocabulary/the most beautiful words in the novel
  • How it made you feel (in a sentence or two)
  • One word or one sentence review
  • Bullet points listing the selling points of a book
  • BooksandLala’s Scary, Unsettling, and Intrigue ratings, for horror
  • World-building, for fantasy and science fiction titles
  • Art, for comics
  • Narration, for audiobooks
  • Romance, for…romance
  • Heat level, for erotica

Visual elements:

  • Design a graphic (usually incorporating the cover, your star rating, and some other basic info)
  • Take a selfie of yourself holding the book, with your expression as the review
  • Make a mood board
  • Design your own book cover
  • Make fan art

Elements to incorporate into a review:

  • Quick/initial thoughts (often while reading or immediately after reading), then a more in-depth review (common on Goodreads)
  • A list of facts about the book or a character from the book
  • Book club questions about the book
  • Spoiler/non-spoiler sections
  • Research: look up interviews with the author and critique of the book, incorporate it (cited!) into your review
  • Links to other resources, such as interviews or other reviews — especially #OwnVoices reviews
  • A story of your own, whether it’s your experience reading the book, or something it reminded you of

This is not a complete list! There are so many ways to write a book review, and it should reflect your own relationship with books, as well as your audience. If you’re looking for more ways to keep track of your reading, you’ll also like 50+ Beautiful Bujo Spread Ideas to Track Your Reading .

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What is 'Hillbilly Elegy' about? All about JD Vance's book amid VP pick.

Capitol Hill is rarely the only career venture for politicians. Before taking office, many elected officials have already made a name for themselves in business, economics, advocacy work or tech. 

Such is the case for J.D. Vance, Donald Trump’s recently announced vice-presidential running mate . The Ohio Republican was first elected to the Senate in 2022 after defeating Democratic Rep. Tim Ryan. But before his time in Congress, he was most well-known as an author . 

Here’s everything you need to know about Vance’s 2016 bestseller and its 2020 film adaptation.

JD Vance’s book: What is ‘Hillbilly Elegy’ about?

Vance has written one book – his memoir “Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis” was published in 2016 by HarperCollins Publisher. He was under contract to write a second book, "A Relevant Faith: Searching for a Meaningful American Christianity," but the project fell through, the Associated Press reported in 2022. He also wrote a foreword to Microsoft Chief Technology Officer Kevin Scott's "Reprogramming the American Dream: From Rural America to Silicon Valley – Making AI Serve Us All."

“Hillbilly Elegy” tells the story of a childhood plagued by abuse, alcoholism and poverty. It follows Vance’s white, working-class family from his grandparents in Kentucky’s Appalachia region to his coming-of-age in Middletown, Ohio. Vance also chronicles his time in the Marines and higher education, touching on “generational upward mobility” and carrying “the demons of his chaotic family history.”

"I think of so much of politics through the eyes of my Mamaw and Papaw...they grew up very poor and they moved to southern Ohio because that was the land of opportunity," told a crowd in Delaware during his 2022 Senate bid. "That was the place where a guy could work hard and play by the rules and raise a family on a single middle-class income."

Pundits began using his memoir to explain Trump’s popularity with white, rural voters in the 2016 election. The New York Times called it “a tough love analysis of the poor who back Trump.” Vance, however, openly criticized Trump in 2016, even suggesting he could be “America’s Hitler.” He switched his messaging while gearing up for his 2022 Senate run, securing a Trump endorsement in the GOP primary.

Vance had the name recognition of “Hillbilly Elegy” on his side by the time he ran against Rep. Ryan. Many saw him as a politician able to identify with everyday Americans. But not all Appalachians felt themselves represented in its telling of white, middle-class families.

One review in The Atlantic criticizes the film and book for framing poverty as a “moral failing of individuals” rather than a larger system at work: “Hillbilly Elegy has to simplify the people and problems of Appalachia, because it has decided to tell the same old pull-yourself-up-by-your-bootstraps narrative that so many of us reject.”

‘Hillbilly Elegy’ movie cast: Who played JD Vance in the film adaptation?

Ron Howard directed an adaptation of Vance’s memoir, which was released in select theaters and on Netflix in November 2020. “Hillbilly Elegy” stars Amy Adams as his mother, Bev Vance, and Glenn Close as his grandmother, Mamaw. Gabriel Basso plays J.D. Vance and Owen Asztalos plays a younger version of him. 

The film didn’t fair well among critics – receiving only 25% on Rotten Tomatoes – but Close scored a nomination for Best Supporting Actress at the 2020 Oscars for her role. 

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What to Know About ‘Hillbilly Elegy,’ Based on the J.D. Vance Memoir

The 2020 film generally follows the book about the Republican vice presidential nominee’s formative years. But there are significant differences.

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In a movie scene, the J.D. Vance character, in a suit, sits between the casually dressed Haley Bennett and Amy Adams in a row of chairs lined up against a wall.

By Christopher Kuo

Before J.D. Vance became the Republican vice-presidential nominee or even ventured into politics, he was best known as the author of “Hillbilly Elegy,” a memoir about growing up in the Rust Belt and Appalachia. Published in 2016, the book became a surprise best seller, offering one kind of answer to those searching for an explanation for Donald Trump’s presidential victory and trying to understand the experience of impoverished white Americans.

The success of Vance’s book led to a movie adaptation with Imagine Entertainment winning the film rights in 2017. Netflix eventually spent a reported $45 million to finance the movie, which had a limited theatrical release in November 2020 before moving to streaming soon after. Unlike the book, the film received scathing reviews from critics.

Here’s what to know about the movie:

Who made “Hillbilly Elegy”? Who stars in it?

Directed by Ron Howard with Vance getting an executive producer credit, the film stars Gabriel Basso as Vance. Glenn Close plays his grandmother, Mamaw, a loud, gruff but caring matriarch, and Amy Adams is his mother, Bev, who grapples with mental health issues and substance abuse. The cast includes Freida Pinto as Vance’s wife, Usha.

Parts of the film were shot in Middletown, Ohio, where Vance grew up, as well as in Georgia, because of the state’s generous tax incentives.

What is “Hillbilly Elegy” about?

The film mostly follows Vance’s memoir. It begins with a younger Vance (played by Owen Asztalos) biking along a dirt path, while an older Vance narrates his love for the hill country of Jackson, Ky. Alternating between past and present, the film toggles between Vance’s unstable childhood growing up with Mamaw and a mother struggling with addiction and his adult years as a student at Yale Law School. While competing for a prestigious summer internship, Vance receives a call from his sister, Lindsay (Haley Bennett), who asks him to return home to care for his mother, who has been hospitalized after overdosing on heroin.

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A novel co-written by Keanu Reeves is actually great (and just waiting to be adapted into his next flick)

Keanu Reeves at a table with a Comic-Con banner behind him

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Book Review

The Book of Elsewhere

By Keanu Reeves and China Miéville Del Rey Books: 352 pages, $30 If you buy books linked on our site, The Times may earn a commission from , whose fees support independent bookstores.

Not to brag, but when I was a tween, I scored a personalized signed photograph of Keanu Reeves in “The Matrix Reloaded.” Although I’ve long outgrown my enthusiasm for celebrity autographs, I’m hardly alone in still being a fan — of the actor’s films, yes, but also of his dating an age-appropriate artist (the bar really is that low for men in Hollywood), founding a small press with her specializing in artists’ books and being a generally nice guy . So when I heard a few months ago that Reeves had paired up with China Miéville on a novel, “The Book of Elsewhere,” I was delighted.

Cover of "The Book of Elsewhere"

The idea of them working together was pleasing: Like Reeves, the acclaimed author of “Perdido Street Station,” “Embassytown,” “The City & The City” and many others has a sort of could-beat-you-up mien that is belied by his soft-spoken demeanor. And as a longtime fan of Miéville’s books, I couldn’t see him working on a project that merely stroked celebrity vanity, and so was genuinely looking forward to his first novel in more than a decade, regardless of its co-author. While I had reservations when I first started the book — its prologue is written in a jerky, staccato style that reads rather like scene descriptions in screenplays — I was soon won over by Miéville’s otherwise lush prose and his and Reeves’ melancholy romp of a narrative.

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“ The Book of Elsewhere” follows Unute, a man who cannot die. Born from lightning and his mother’s prayers, Unute has been alive for roughly 80,000 years, and over the course of his many millennia has seen civilizations, species, technologies, mythologies and religions rise and fall. He has died over and over again — not that he’s easy to kill — only to be reborn each time within a human-size egg sac. He’s been worshiped as a god and feared as a demon, although he doesn’t believe he is either. And he is, in the 21st century, in the rather mundane position of being involved with the U.S. Army’s Special Forces, who’ve decided that his berserks — the frenzied states in which he commits horrific violence against anyone in his path — are useful.

So far, so tropey, and for good reason. “The Book of Elsewhere” works completely as a stand-alone novel, but it’s technically a tie-in to the existing IP of Reeves’ 12-issue comics series, “ BRZRKR ,” which was funded via an extremely successful Kickstarter. He is also producing and starring in a film adaptation for Netflix (Unute’s physical characteristics were clearly modeled after the actor’s, presumably for this very reason). In other words, the new novel’s source material knows what it is — action-packed, ultraviolent and morally ambiguous — and Miéville clearly took that to heart when agreeing to work with Reeves. As he told Wired : “If you come in wanting horrible violence and a helicopter chase, you’re going to get it, because it would be cheating to not give you that.”

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There aren’t any helicopter chases, per se, in the novel, but Miéville’s point stands: “The Book of Elsewhere” includes plenty of lovingly described moments of brutality, when Unute loses himself to his berserks: “he, in the rising riastrid glory, fists, the gun, that wet burrow of bullets into his self, and rip bite shoot gouge, and stay back, comrades, stay back, investigators of and companions to this immortal flesh, because here he was on a mission and bang cut slice.”

I don’t know how the co-authors divided the book’s labor, but from the few interviews I found, it sounds like the pair came up with an outline together and the words are largely Miéville’s. This tracks, because once I pushed through the awkward opening pages, I discovered a profoundly stylish and beautiful approach to the trials and tribulations of the ancient warrior who cannot die.

The novel’s main plotline follows a series of strange events such as the brief reanimation of a soldier in Unute’s unit, the arrival of an immortal babirusa (a kind of pig) and the recent emergence of a self-help group in town. Unute and his handlers suspect these are all connected, although it’s not clear until late in the book what factions are involved and who is loyal to whom. It’s an enjoyable action-mystery cut through with moments of existential melancholy as Unute tries to reckon with what he is. Even after all these eons of undeath, he still doesn’t really know.

Where “The Book of Elsewhere” really shines, though, is when it departs from its contemporary setting. Alternating chapters give voice to the stories of other characters throughout history encountering Unute. Readers meet a doctor (who it is strongly implied is Sigmund Freud) to whom Unute tells the truth about his immortality, an intersex servant Unute saves from likely gang rape, a woman Unute married and loved deeply only to abruptly leave her without explanation, and others whose lives brushed against his. In other chapters, Unute narrates elements of his internal life using second person perspective: “You long ago identified in yourself, no matter what evidence you amass that the thought is folly, a sense of toldness. That certain things must be, to make the shape of life a story. You have seen such hankering in most of the people you’ve known. It is because you share that dangerous inclination that you hesitate to say you are not human.”

Both sets of chapters add depth to Unute, bringing his predicament — he is an immortal who wishes he weren’t — to emotionally satisfying and morally complex places.

While “The Book of Elsewhere” may include some tropes and contrivances, Miéville’s keen eye, brimful imagination and impeccable style make it a deeply pleasurable read.

Ilana Masad is a books and culture critic and author of “All My Mother’s Lovers.”

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This absorbing debut novel about writing takes its cue from 'Mrs. Dalloway'

Maureen Corrigan

Maureen Corrigan


“Trying to write.” That tell-tale phrase usually indicates that there’s more trying than writing going on. The main character of Rosalind Brown’s debut novel, Practice, is an Oxford undergrad named Annabel who is "trying to write" an essay on Shakespeare’s sonnets. The essay is due the following day and Brown’s novel spans the tense 24 hours before that looming deadline.

Annabel holds herself to a rigid “trying to write” schedule: rise at 6, drink peppermint tea, water and eventually “the glory of coffee." At fixed times she does yoga, meditates and goes for a solitary walk. All throughout the day, Annabel reads, scribbles notes and catches her wandering mind entertaining sexual fantasies. She also dreads writing an essay that, as she puts it, will “fling itself against" the mystery of the sonnets, only to “dissolve like foam.”

An illustration of a person reading a book in the grass.

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Practice is an odd, absorbing little novel about an unusual subject: the act of reading and thinking deeply about literature. It works because it doesn’t try to be a bigger story than it is and because it’s concise — coming in around 200 pages, many of them only a brief paragraph long.

It also works because Brown herself is such a vivid writer. Here, for instance, is Brown’s third-person narrator peering into Annabel’s mind as she thinks about the challenge of saying something fresh about Shakespeare’s sonnets:

For basic sense you can read each of Shakespeare’s Sonnets in a minute or two. For a little more chewiness and analysis, five or six minutes. The trouble is keeping them apart. ... [Shakespeare] wrote them over many years, probably, and here she is trying to rustle up a theory in two days and hook it convincingly on. [Annabel] takes a sip of the hot clear brownish water: tasting grimly of good health. Last year, [her] tutor Sara, a medievalist, advised [all her students] to spend as many hours as they could simply sitting with the text. Don’t keep your pen in your hand, just pick it up when you really need, or else your pen will get ahead of your thoughts. ... [S]o she is spending time with these poems: which are better company than people, they take your shape willingly, but still lightly, like a duvet does.

That long-ish passage gives you an idea of how this novel meanders through Annabel’s day, spent mostly close reading in a room of one’s own. Catch that literary allusion, please. Virginia Woolf — particularly her own day-in-the-life novel, Mrs. Dalloway — is clearly Brown’s model for how to capture fleeting insights, as well as random flotsam and jetsam generated by the brain at work.

Illustration of people reading books in the grass.

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Because Practice is set in the winter of 2009, Annabel isn’t tempted by the many distractions we now have within reach on our laptops. But even without the undeniable lure of dog videos, online shopping and Wordle, Annabel is led astray plenty by what Brown calls “little wisps of resistance”: the excessive heat of the radiator in her room; the jangle of a landline phone and the boyfriend on the other end of it.

For me, Practice offers a refreshing midsummer’s break from the sweeping, socially engaged fiction that understandably dominates our own anxious time. It’s an unapologetically small, inward-looking and, yes, privileged story.

In the novel’s final pages, Annabel, at last, writes her essay’s first sentence, which is excellent. Whether you think that sentence redeems all the self-denial and obsessive behavior that Annabel poured into it will determine whether Practice is the novel for you. 

how to prepare book review

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A high-powered CEO puts her career and family on the line when she begins a torrid affair with her much younger intern. A high-powered CEO puts her career and family on the line when she begins a torrid affair with her much younger intern. A high-powered CEO puts her career and family on the line when she begins a torrid affair with her much younger intern.

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    Be sure to mention the authors of the title and what experience or expertise they bring to the title. Check Stefan Kløvning's review of Creativity Cycling for an example of a summary that establishes the framework of the book within the context of its field. Step 2. Present your evaluation.

  5. How to Write a Book Review

    As you write the review, keep it vague. For example, explain that there is a major plot twist but don't go into the specifics. 7. Be transparent. Always share if you received an incentive to review the book, got an advance copy, or have any connection to the author. Your readers will appreciate your honesty.

  6. How to Write a Book Review in 10 Steps

    In 10 Steps to a Great Book Review. Read the Entire Book. Take Notes of Said Book. Give an Idea of the Book Outline. Don't Forget the Author. Evaluate the Book Thoroughly. Don't Beat Around the Bush. Don't Be Afraid of Adverse Feedback. Support Your Views.

  7. How To Write A Book Review: 6 Steps To Take

    Here are six steps for how to write a book review for school and beyond. 1. Begin with a brief summary of the book. This is probably the best way to introduce any review because it gives context. But make sure to not go into too much detail. Keep it short and sweet since an official summary can be found through a quick google search!

  8. Book Reviews

    I liked how the book showed ale and beer brewing as an economic activity, but the reader gets lost in the details of prices and wages. I was more interested in the private lives of the women brewsters. The book was divided into eight long chapters, and I can't imagine why anyone would ever want to read it.

  9. How to Write a Book Review: The Ultimate Guide

    The real value of crafting a well-written book review for a student does not lie in their ability to impact book sales. Understanding how to produce a well-written book review helps students to: Engage critically with a text. Critically evaluate a text. Respond personally to a range of different writing genres.

  10. Step-by-Step Guide: How to Write a Book Review for Beginners

    Steps to Write a Book Review: Read the Book Carefully: Take your time to read the book thoroughly, paying attention to its themes, plot, characters, and writing style. Take Notes and Highlight Key Points: Make note of important ideas, memorable quotes, and significant moments that stand out to you while reading.

  11. How to Write a Book Review: Formats + 7 Examples

    Book Review Example 2 - Comment in Group. This is one that will teach you how to write a book review in a short, concise manner that will answer someone's question in a Facebook group, or even just in a text to friends. Here, someone even suggested I write book reviews because they liked the way it was said.

  12. How to Write a Book Review (Meaning, Tips & Examples)

    How to write a book review. Note down the key points- This is an important step before writing a book review. Jot down your analysis about the characters, themes, plot, and your personal view. Also, note down the book title, author's name, and any relevant information about the book. Start with a strong introduction- Mention the author's ...

  13. 4 Ways to Write a Book Review

    5. Wrap up the review. Write a concluding paragraph or several sentences that sum up your critical analysis of the book. If your critical position has been well argued, the conclusion should follow naturally. Examine the strengths and weaknesses of the book, and discuss whether you would recommend the book to others.

  14. Research Guides: How to Write a Book Review: Introduction

    The review should tell a reader what the book seeks to do and offer an appraisal of how well the author (s) accomplished this goal. That is why this is a "critical" book review. You are analyzing the book, not simply describing it. A review assumes that the readers know the vocabulary of the discipline. For example, a reviewer of a book on the ...

  15. How to Write a Book Review: 3 Main Elements of a Book Review

    How to Write a Book Review: 3 Main Elements of a Book Review. Written by MasterClass. Last updated: Feb 23, 2022 • 2 min read. A book review provides critique and analysis of a book for potential readers. Learn how to write a book review, so you can effectively share your opinion about a text. A book review provides critique and analysis of a ...

  16. Tips for Writing a Book Review

    First, how to make a reader stop scrolling and read your entire review. Second, in cases of positive reviews, how to convince them to pick up the book. Don't wait until the middle of your review to try to catch the reader's attention. Try to hook them from the very first sentence. Think about what made you pick the book up, and use that to ...

  17. How to Write a Book Review (The Definitive Guide)

    Here is a step-by-step guide to on how to write a book review: 1. Read the book thoroughly. When you receive a copy of the book, the first thing you should do is read it thoroughly. Don't rush into writing a book review. You must be as thorough as possible and be familiar with the most subtle aspects of the book.

  18. How to Write a Book Review: 16 Easy Steps

    Step 4: Include Basic Information. Before you go on to the rest of the review, determine if there are any pieces of information the intended audience of the book needs to know. For example, they need to know if the book is part of a series. Let them know if they should read previous books before opening this one.

  19. How to Write a Book Review: Structure, Writing Tips, Template

    Avoid Spoilers: Do not reveal major plot twists or the book's ending. Use Your Own Words: Write the summary in your own language to maintain originality and avoid plagiarism. Provide Context: Include the book's genre, setting, and relevant background information to help readers understand the summary.

  20. The Only Book Review Templates You'll Ever Need

    Blog - Posted on Thursday, Nov 11 The Only Book Review Templates You'll Ever Need Whether you're trying to become a book reviewer, writing a book report for school, or analyzing a book, it's nice to follow a book review template to make sure that your thoughts are clearly presented.. A quality template provides guidance to keep your mind sharp and your thoughts organized so that you can ...

  21. Writing a Book Review: How to Do It (+ 5 Mistakes to Avoid)

    5 essential steps to writing a great book review. To make the most out of your book review, follow these 5 simple steps. 1. Share the most important details. Set the stage for the rest of your review by starting with the most important details of the book. Make sure to include: Genre/type of book; Main character description; Context of the setting

  22. 25 Book Review Templates and Ideas to Organize Your Thoughts

    Design your own book cover. Make fan art. Elements to incorporate into a review: Quick/initial thoughts (often while reading or immediately after reading), then a more in-depth review (common on Goodreads) A list of facts about the book or a character from the book. Book club questions about the book.

  23. Steps and Strategies for Writing a Quality Book Review

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  24. JD Vance's book, explained: What is 'Hillbilly Elegy' about?

    One review in The Atlantic criticizes the film and book for framing poverty as a "moral failing of individuals" rather than a larger system at work: "Hillbilly Elegy has to simplify the ...

  25. What to Know About 'Hillbilly Elegy,' Film Based on JD Vance's Memoir

    The 2020 film generally follows the book about the Republican vice presidential nominee's formative years. But there are significant differences. By Christopher Kuo Before J.D. Vance became the ...

  26. Fly Me to the Moon (2024 film)

    Fly Me to the Moon is a 2024 American romantic comedy drama film directed by Greg Berlanti from a screenplay by Rose Gilroy, based on a story by Bill Kirstein and Keenan Flynn. The film stars Scarlett Johansson and Channing Tatum in the lead roles, also with Jim Rash, Anna Garcia, Donald Elise Watkins, Noah Robbins, Colin Woodell, Christian Zuber, Nick Dillenburg, Ray Romano, and Woody Harrelson.

  27. 'Hillbilly Elegy:' JD Vance's book tops Amazon book and ...

    Eight years after its publication, JD Vance's book has found its way back onto the bestseller lists, thanks to his appointment as Donald Trump's running mate. CNN values your feedback 1.

  28. A novel co-written by Keanu Reeves is actually great (and film fodder

    Book Review. The Book of Elsewhere. By Keanu Reeves and China Miéville Del Rey Books: 352 pages, $30 If you buy books linked on our site, The Times may earn a commission from, whose ...

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    Rosalind Brown's debut novel, Practice, centers on an undergraduate student trying to write an essay on Shakespeare. Along the way, we are treated to the fleeting insights of the the brain at work.

  30. Babygirl (2024)

    Babygirl: Directed by Halina Reijn. With Nicole Kidman, Harris Dickinson, Antonio Banderas, Jean Reno. A high-powered CEO puts her career and family on the line when she begins a torrid affair with her much younger intern.