Book Reviews: What To Include

When writing book reviews, do you know what kinds of information your readers are expecting?  If you don’t fill a review with actual content, you’re not likely to engage your readers for any amount of time (regardless of how impeccable your English grammar software helped you turn out the work).

Most people read book reviews for one of two reasons:

1. To decide whether they should read the book.
2. To compare other people’s opinions against their own.

Every book review must look to fulfill both of those two requirements, giving prospective readers a clear idea of whether they should give the book a shot as well as offering readers who have formed their own opinions a canvas with which to compare notes with.

To give prospective readers an idea of what the book is about, make sure to always add a brief summary in your review.  For nonfiction titles, provide an overview of the book’s main thesis as well as its supporting points.  For works of fiction, write a brief summary of the story line, taking care not to give away the good parts.

The meat of the actual book review consists of your reactions to the book.   In this part, you generally do one or more (preferably all) of these things:

  • Give a description of the work
  • Provide your own comments about the author’s views and opinions.
  • Explore issues the book raises, regardless if you find them of merit or not.
  • Support your own reactions by quoting and paraphrasing from other authorities in the field.
  • Relate the book to the larger context of things.