Two websites to check out are Writing a Book Review (Links to an external site.)


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Two websites to check out are
Writing a Book Review (Links to an external site.) (Purdue OWL)
Writing Book Reviews (Links to an external site.) (Indiana University Writing Tutorial Services)
Book reviews are a special form of academic writing. They have well-known structures with familiar components. James Hartley of the School of Psychology, Keele University, UK, consulted with academics about how to write the perfect book review and presents a checklist for book reviewers. Below is a link to Hartley’s article along with a paraphrase of it.
Hartley, J. (2006). Reading and writing book reviews across the disciplines. (Links to an external site.) Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology, 57(9), 1194-1207. doi: 10.1002/asi.20399
Reviewers often use phrases that carry hidden meanings. Consider, “This is a surprising book” or “This is a useful book for the library.” What these phrases really mean are, “This book is better than I expected” and “This book is not worth buying for your personal use.”
When we are familiar with the format and are aware of hidden meanings, we know that we are reading a particular genre – in this case, a book review. Essentially, we can always tell we are reading a book review from the language and the structure that it employs. Writers of book reviews typically progress through four steps, as follows:
They introduce the book by
Outlining the general topic
Indicating who the book is for
Placing the book in its field
Next, they often outline the content of the book by
Giving a general view of its organization
Stating the topic of each chapter/section
Then they highlight the parts of the book by
Selecting particular chapters or themes for evaluation
Critiquing the argument of the book
And finally, they evaluate the book by
Commenting on aspects of the content
Indicating how it meets the readers’ needs
Remarking on its format, price, and value
Making recommendations for purchase or otherwise
When we examine book reviews we find that most, if not all of these components are present, even if they are not given in the order listed. Some reviewers, for example, like to start with items from Stage 4 – evaluation – then move to Stages 1-3, and finally, conclude by justifying their original opening evaluation.
Two stages appear to be needed here. First of all, there is the preliminary reading and thinking about the book. Sometimes this is done before putting pen to paper, but some reviewers start making notes from the outset. At this stage then reviewers are concerned with selecting and thinking about information that will be relevant to the four-stage writing procedure outlined above. Sometimes this will involve a trip to the library or to particular websites to check up on the required information.
Next comes the actual writing of the review. Here writers have different preferences. However, rather than just summarizing a text, the best book reviewers spend more time critiquing it. Whatever the procedures, it is important that a book review contains a number of key features. The checklist that follows might prove useful in this respect.
A checklist for book reviewers
Make sure that your review contains
An early paragraph identifying what the book is about, and putting it in context
Information about the intended audience
A critique of the argument/content of the book
Remarks on the strengths and limitations of the book
A note on the format, length, and price (or value for money)
A note (if appropriate) on how well the text is supported by tables/diagrams/illustrations
If the following details are not supplied for you, please make sure that your review contains
Accurate details of the authors’/editors’ names and initials
Title of the publication
Edition
Date of publication
Publisher and place of publication
ISBN number
Format (hardback, paperback/softcover, eBook)
Number of pages
Price
Try to make your review readable and entertaining. Write it in the first person, as though you are describing the book in a letter to a close friend.
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