HOW TO WRITE A BOOK REVIEW

A book review can be defined as the critical analysis of an academic piece in writing. It is written by scholars with the sole aim of placing the academic piece within a scholarly discourse. Hence, a book review is compared to other related book reviews, and its methodology, interpretations, and conclusions are examined as well.

A book review is an important puzzle in the academic field, this is so because it is a common method which academics use to evaluate and ascertain the intellectual contributions of one another regarding a particular academic book. Therefore, it is vital for every academic to be able to construct a well written and structured book review.

Writing a book review might seem like an easy shell to crack, however, the process can be associated with a few unnoticed mistakes. Some of these mistakes includes:

  • Writing a brief summary of the academic book instead of an actual integration and synthesis.
  • Producing a lengthy work without an actual subject matter.
  • Poor formatting or citation skills.
  • The problem of plagiarism.
  • Poor chapter structure and layout.

In order to avoid these little but big problems, one must properly be equipped with the basic knowledge of writing a well structured book review. This article will provide the structure of a book review as well as how to efficiently write each section in a book review.

STRUCTURE OF A BOOK REVIEW

The basic purpose of a book review is to convey and ascertain the following:

  • What the scholarly work is all about
  • The expertise of the author(s).
  • The author’s viewpoint, methodology or perspective regarding a particular subject matter.
  • The intended audience.
  • The arrangement of the book and the ascertainment of the citation style used in the book.
  • The ascertainment of the topic of the book, its subject matter and other related researches.

Hence, a well structure book review consists of the following parts:

  • The introduction.
  • Thesis.
  • Body
  • Conclusion.

THE INTRODUCTION

The introductory part of a book review tells the audience what the academic piece you are writing is all about.It should move from the topic of the book to the specific argument or statement of purpose. Thus, the introductory part of a book review ought to contain the following information.

  • The topic of the academic piece about to be written.
  • A bibliographic citation about the book(ie, the author(s),title, publication information and length of the work. It should be written with a designated citation style such as the MLA, APA or Chicago style depending on the discipline of the writer and the academic piece under review.
  • The purpose of the book, that is, the author’s thesis or major findings regarding a designated subject matter.
  • The thesis of the current piece ie, the purpose of the academic review.

THESIS

In every form of academic piece, the thesis introduces the essence or major arguments in an academic work. Writing a thesis also requires great meticulousness and knowledge because it is the first impression given to any form of audience. The thesis of a book review is no exception. It tends to vary depending on the nature and mode of the question posed regarding a book review. Hence the thesis in a book review can be written from two different approaches:

  • CRITICAL APPROACH: A thesis relating the book review to a specific task(ie.relating the work of the author to specific themes in the designated discipline).
  • DESCRIPTIVE APPROACH: A thesis with the intent of evaluating the book as a whole and its contribution to a specific field.

When writing a thesis from any or both of the aforementioned approaches,it ought to be as well detailed and concise as possible. For example, when asked to evaluate the book as a whole and its contributions to a designated field, the writer can include a well detailed but concise summary of something like:

Sara Jacquette Ray’s the ecological order:Environmental exclusion in the American culture is an important contribution of environmental justice scholarship because it offers a nuanced account of how environmental discourse has positioned people with disabilities, immigrants and native Americans as outsiders. At the same time, it suggests how environmental activists can frame their arguments with greater exclusivity and care” (McLaughlin Library, n.d).

The stated thesis includes and introduces the basic and summarized version of the topic paragraphs which will be expatiated fully in the body of the review.

BODY

The body of a book review describes, analyzes and evaluates the contents of the proposed book under review.When writing a body of a book review, the following key-points are expected:

  • A summary of the major points of the author’s argument regarding a particular subject matter.
  • An ideal identification of the strengths and weaknesses of the academic piece.
  • An ideal identification of the author’s contribution to related fields as well as the arrangements regarding the book from other sources.

The key-points stated above ought to be accompanied with the opinions of the writer of the book review as well as quoted texts from the proposed book under review.

The paragraphs in the body of a book review can be structured Chronologically, Thematically or Evaluatively.

The paragraphs are said to be arranged chronologically when it is structured in accordance with the actual book. In other words, the chapters, sections or paragraphs in the book review will be arranged as it were in the original academic book.The writer of the review ought to use this mode of structure as a means of critically examining and describing the book with different opinions as well as quotes from the original text to back it up.

Similarly, the paragraphs are said to be thematic when it is arranged according to the order of the themes associated with the proposed book. That is to say that each section ,paragraph or chapter will be dedicated to the explanation and evaluation of a particular theme related or revolving around the proposed piece. The evaluative structure arranges the review in order of the weaknesses and strength associated with the book under review.

Hence, this method is a more argumentative rather than informative approach. All forms of structural approaches however, are aimed at the critically explanation of the thesis in the review.

CONCLUSION

Unlike other forms of academic writing which uses the conclusion section as a method of summarizing the written work, the conclusion in a book review is quite different. It includes the final points or ideas of the writer of the review regarding the proposed work. It also ought to include a brief compilation of all the works which the readers ought to refer to for further evaluation regarding the proposed book under review.

The writer should try to make use of words like ‘Ultimately’, ‘In view of’,’Overall’ instead of ‘In Conclusion’. this shows that the writer seeks to talk to the audience from a more analytical rather than objective approach.



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