How to write a book review ?

by Mrignayni Pandey
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A form of literary criticism, a book review, is a personal written opinion about a particular book that helps potential readers anticipate the kind of experience that the book might offer and validates the worthiness of the book for them. But writing a book review can appear to be a daunting task if you do not know what comprises an appealing book review! Whether you are book reviewing on an online platform (goodreads, librarything, bookriot, amazon, lovereading et al), for magazines and zines (bookforum, glimmertrain, publisher’s weekly, Hindu’s Friday review et al) or for your personal blog, this article is your answer on how to write a book review!

examples of  ' how to write a book review '
On how to write a book review

The 10 steps to answer how to write a book review!

Given below is a 10 step hack ‘ how to write a good book review !’

Each step is illustrated with two examples. Since even tepid readers have had their nose into the Harry Potter series one time or the other, I have substantiated all the steps with reviews of this book along with an added excerpt from a different book review example(from books which you may or may not have read) that I find suitable! There is a link below each excerpt which you can use to read the entire review!

steps of how to write a book review
Steps on how to write a book review

So, without much ado let’s dive straight into the process!

Find your genre of books!

Step 1 of answering how to write a book review-

Book reviews are the barometer that gauges the quality of a particular book for its potential audience. A book review is also your bridge to fellow bookworms. So it is very important that you find your reading taste and establish yourself in a few selected genres for the readers. Avid readers prefer to follow certain book reviewers who share similar reading appetites. Remember, not every reader will read every kind of book, so you have to make your readers aware of the kind of books you review and the audience that that book is meant for!

If you get inspired by real world myth and folklore and like supernatural and magical elements in plot-settings, then fantasy fiction might interest you! If love as an emotion captures your imagination, then you would want to look for romance novels! Topics like ethics, integrity, reason or art in imagination might engage a philosophical fiction reader and so on!

mrignayni's take on step1 of answering how to write a book review
Mrignayni on how to write a book review

Visit Mrignayni’s Quora account!

Select a book from your genre and read it!

Step 2 of answering how to write a book review-

select a book from your genre and read it
On how to write a book review

Select a book from your genre and read it!Once you have decided the genre of your books, select a book which you would like to review. Consider the preface, title and table of contents to choose a book and then read it thoroughly. You might consider making notes and marking the sections that you admire or find unlikeable while reading. Mentioning excerpts and dialogues while reviewing a book is also very much in vogue.  

If your genre of books is fantasy fiction, then R.R. Martin’s Game of Thrones, J.R.R. Tolkein’s The Lord of Rings, Brandon Sanderson’s The Way of Kings, Patrick Rothfuss’s The Name of the Winds or J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter Series (which we would discuss) might interest you!

mrignayni's take on step2 of answering how to write a book review
On how to write a book review

I really like the prologue of Sara Gruen’s ‘Water for Elephants’! Do give it a read!

Form an opinion and rate the book!

Step 3 of answering how to write a book review-

form an opinion and rate the book
On how to write a book review

Book reviews offer an insight into what the readers are about to invest their time and money into. Therefore, it is of prime importance that you are clear on your stance before taking the plunge to write the review. You certainly do not want to dither your opinions somewhere in the middle and annoy your readers!

If the platform on which you are reviewing does not offer you to rate the book, you might consider devising a rating system to let your readers instinctively know your reading experience from the book, but make sure you clearly explain the parameters on which you have rated and how your rating metric works, well in advance!

example of step3 of writing a book review
mrignayni's take on writing a book review

Read the full book review of ‘The Arsonist’!

Begin with a catchy line to hook your readers!

Step 4 of answering how to write a book review-

begin with a catchy line to hook the readers

Think about what intrigued you to read the book (it’s usually the title!) and use it to draw your readers to your article where you have assessed the extent to which your expectations from it have been fulfilled! Start with something that engages the reader reading that book review. The first line could be lines from the book itself, the emotions the book evoked, something from the plot or the theme, or an interesting comment on the book itself!

example of step4 of writing a book review

Read the full book review of ‘Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban’!

mrignayni's take on step3 of answering how to write a book review

Read the full book review of ‘Ninth House’!

Do not spill the beans!

Step 5 of answering how to write a book review-

do not spill the beans
On how to write a book review

Writing a book review is different from writing a book summary! The former evaluates the book and the latter describes what the book is all about! Summaries can be a part of book reviews as well as autonomously stand alone. While giving away the spoilers might seem tempting because of the vehement emotions the book might have evoked in you while reading it, but you certainly do not want to snatch away that sensation from your readers who have to discover that legit emotion in the process of reading it themselves!

example of step5 of writing a book review

Read the full book review of ‘Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows’!

mrignayni's take on step5 of answering how to write a book review

Read the full book review of ‘Severance’!

Briefly introduce the plot-setting!

Step 6 of answering how to write a book review-

briefly introduce the plot-setting
On how to write a book review

You should very briefly touch upon the plot of the book with a few important elements that a reader should be aware of (and that which adds value to your book review) without plummeting into too much of it!

example of step6 of writing a book review

Read the full book review of ‘Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone!’

mrignayni's take on step6 of answering how to write a book review

Read the full book review of ‘Freedom Artist’!

Discuss the pros and cons and write a wholesome review!

Step 7 of answering how to write a book review-

discuss the pros and cons to write a book review
On how to write a book review

It is important to remember that you have to review the book you have read and not the book you think the author must have written. You have to strike the balance between pointing out both the good and the bad elements in the book! Do not give specifics of only the pros or the cons of the book. Give an overview of what you felt about the book in its entirety rather than slant writing of only the appealing or the unsavory sections! It is advisable to discuss the cons before the pros as people generally tend to retain the remarks they have read in the end rather than at the beginning of the review. This way you would be fair to the author and his efforts!

Harry Potter's example 7 of writing a book review

Read the full book review of ‘Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows’!

mrignayni's take on step7 of answering how to write a book review

Read the full book review of ‘Infinite Zest’!

Comment on the style, characterization and the tone of narration!

Step 8 of answering how to write a book review-

comment on the style, charachterization and the tone of narration
On how to write a book review

Could you relate to any of the characters? What is the theme and argument presented in the book? What do you feel about the tone of narration? Was the style of writing conventional in that genre of books? Has the writer done justice to his/her characters?  Answering such questions might be pertinent while writing the book review! Feel free to include a small excerpt, dialogue or any form of a teaser trailer that might make your book review more riveting for your readers!

Harry Potter's example of step7 of writing a book review

Read the full book review of ‘Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone’!

mrignayni's take on step8 of answering how to write a book review!

Read the full book review of ‘Killer Dungeon’!

Conclude through a final assessment of the book!

Step 9 of answering how to write a book review-

Conclude through a final assessment of the book on how to write a book review
On how to write a book review

Do not conclude the book review abruptly or by introducing something new. Compare the book to other works by this author (if you have read any) or to similar books in the genre by other authors. Your conclusion should summarize your reading experience in its entirety and assess the success of the book for the intended audience!

example9 of how to write a book review

Read the full book review of ‘Harry Potter and the Order of Phoenix’!

mrignayni's take on step9 of answering how to write a book review!

Read the full book review of ‘Handmaid’s Tale’!

Read book reviews from your genre and practice writing them!

Step 10 of answering how to write a book review-

find your genre and practice to write book reviews
On how to write a book review

Look for good book reviews in your genre and read them thoroughly. Notice the ones that appeal the most and try to incorporate those praiseworthy elements in your review! Book reviewing is all about incisive analytical reading and presenting a critical personal judgment of the book, so you have to read critics to learn how to critique a book. Book reviews are a kind of clearinghouse of new ideas and readers generally skim the review section of every journal to mark the things they want to read. If your review is not succinct, accurate and comprehensive you might shun away potential readers for the book. And you don’t want to do that! Do you?

I have given two examples of book reviews after every step that you can read and refer to!

Do you still have something to ask? Feel free to ask or tell me anything you want in the comment section below! I would love to hear from you!

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