To be able to write a good book review is always a useful skill. It doesn’t matter if you need it for a presentation at school, if you are thinking about creating a blog or if you just want to share your opinion about a book on Amazon to help others to judge it.
No matter whether you liked a book or not, a well-written review helps other readers and listeners to form an impression of it. And there is another advantage: You can deal with a work more intensively and critically afterwards and get more out of it.
Writing a review requires several steps to follow so that it has value to others. You too can write a book review. Practice makes perfect.
Step 1: A (short) summary of the content is important (introduction)
Briefly summarize what the book is about. Usually books have a content description on the back or in a folded cover that you can use. It can also be adapted, expanded or shortened. Three things are important for the summary:
- reveal no important details on the plot, which provide suspense (spoilers), so that the reading fun is not lost. No one wants to know, for example, who the murderer is in a thriller or whether a main character dies in the end.
- they should Arousing interest, so it may well pose riddles ("Will Frodo escape the Dark Lord Sauron’s henchmen, and what power does the one ring…?")
- she should not too long and not too short its. For a lecture, the scope may be larger. For a book review to be read by someone, it must be concise.
Step 2: Write the aspects about the book that are most important to you (main body)
Each book is different. Some things you like better, some things you don’t like at all. Therefore, no review is the same and the structure can also be different, depending on what you put more emphasis on. Nevertheless, everyone can write a book review.
Often this step is divided into several sections. For example, write about
- the Characters in the book. Who are the main characters? What is special about it? Does the author describe her appearance and thoughts sufficiently? Emotions and relationships between characters? Narrative perspective..
- the World building. Where is the story set (real place or fantasy world)? How this world is described (superficially or in detail)? Is there magic? Which peoples? Special features?
- the Storyline and Contents of the book. What is it about? Is it confusing or can you follow it well? Exciting or not? Varied ideas or rather boring? Again, avoid spoilers!
Not every part must always be equally comprehensive. Maybe there is a lot to tell about the characters and the world was rather superficially described resp. not so important. Or you can describe in more detail why the book was so boring to you. So it always depends on how YOU see the book and what is important to YOU. Your opinion is needed, so YOU decide what you absolutely have to tell the readers/listeners and what not.
You can find some good ideas about what to write about in my rating system.
Step 3: Short quotations and examples loosen up your review and support your statements
While you are reading the book, it can be helpful if you write down interesting parts or mark them with a Post-It. Then you don’t forget anything when writing a book review. Good quotations make your presentation more descriptive, but they should be used in the same way not be too long and not too many. The quotes should not be more important than your own thoughts about the book. Don’t forget to mark quotes as such and write where you got them from.
Imagination is more important than knowledge, because knowledge is limited.
Albert Einstein (*1879, physicist)
If a person in the book is particularly funny, a quote with one of these witty statements can clarify this and show the reader what you mean by it.
Step 4: Choose suitable images and graphics
Especially with longer reviews it can be advantageous to loosen up the text with some pictures. Be careful, however, with pictures from the Internet if you don’t have rights to them yourself. The best pictures are the ones you took yourself, because then there are no copyright problems.
In the case of books, the corresponding covers are particularly useful. Publishers usually don’t mind using them, because a review is also free advertising for the book. If you have met the author of the book (for example at a book fair) you can also include a self-made picture of the encounter. What also always works: self-painted pictures.
Pictures prevent your long review from becoming a "lead desert" that no one wants to read.
In a paper, pictures make your presentation more vivid. You can pin them on the board or pass them around the class.
Step 5: Write a short summary/conclusion (conclusion)
Just as with the synopsis, your conclusion should be short and to the point. Summarize the most important points again in short sentences and write your opinion about the book in one or two sentences.
"I really liked/disliked the book overall because …"
"What I found especially good was…"
If you didn’t like the book, you might also write that others might still find it interesting.
"I didn’t like the book because it’s actually a romance novel, which I don’t like that much. However, if you like to read such novels, you might be happy with it."
It is also a good idea to mention similar books that go in the same (or opposite) direction.
"If you liked book XYZ, then you’ll probably like this book, too."
"I didn’t think this book was that good. In contrast, XYZ is much more exciting."
"If you liked the main character in book XYZ, then you’ll probably like the main character in this book too."
Step 6: Evaluate the book according to a rating scheme (e.g. B. 1 to 5 stars)
Many blogs and online stores now feature reviews of products. Often this is done with stars between 1 (bad) and 5 (very good). However, it is not necessary to use stars, it can also be feathers, cherries, smileys, kittens, cars, … Just take what fits to your blog.
People often rate the entire book with stars. However, you can also rate individual aspects separately with stars (plot, characters, cover design, …).
Step 7: Leave the review and then revise it again
If you are not in too much of a hurry with the review, it is best to leave it for at least a day and then revise it again for content. Often you can think of better formulations when reading later on. Also pay attention to
- Correct grammar, punctuation and spelling
- Repeated words and confusing phrases (use shorter sentences)
- Too heavy terms (you should avoid)
- Structure (paragraphs and (sub)headings)
If your book presentation is a paper, it helps if you present it at least once to friends or family to hear that everything fits and to get some more tips.
After the revision and if you are really satisfied with everything, you publish the review on the Internet or on the Internet. Present your book presentation to the class.
And now have fun writing your book review. You will see that the steps will become easier with time and your reviews will also become better and better.