How to Write a Book Review: Tips for Students and Avid Readers

How to Write a Book Review for High School

If you’re a college student, chances are book reviews happen more often than not in your busy schedule. Or, perhaps you are a keen reader looking for ways to express your viewpoints on the fiction you read regularly? Whatever the situation, writing a book review may become a real stumbling block when dealing with book reviews. So, how exactly do you craft a fiction or non fiction book review of the finest quality? In this article, we will delve into the art of writing a non or fiction book review that stands out. Without much ado…

What Is a Book Review Essay?

In general, a fiction or non fiction book review is a critical and detailed assessment of the book, which was published recently or centuries ago. As you are reading this or that book review, you have an opportunity to decide which fiction or non fiction book is worth your attention.

Typically, a simple book review is a discussion of a non-fiction or fiction book that comprises from 300 to 750 words. Whether you are writing a book review for college or your blog, you have to include a summary of the book, your evaluation of it, and a recommendation on who should read your discussion of the literature work.

Before we focus on the tips on how to write a book report high school, college, or university level, let us see the difference between a book review and a book report. A book report is the discussion of a non-fiction or fiction book to show that the reader understands the book. As a rule, book reports are part of the elementary or middle school routine. At the same time, a book review is the assignment typically assigned at undergraduate and graduate college levels. The project comprises an original perspective on a book. A professionally written book review essay example can be published on your personal blog, in academic journals, etc. 

How to Start a Book Review Essay?

If you browse the most winning book review examples for high school, college, or university available on the web, you will see that it is crucial to begin your text with a thoughtful and engaging intro. Not only will it set the tone for the whole discussion, but it will also make your writing more attention-grabbing. Here are some time-tested tricks to start a non-fiction or fiction book review:

  • Use a hook. A compelling quote or an impressive stat on the topic will draw your readers in and pique their interest.
  • Set the scene. Give some context on the author of the book or describe the setting. Thus, your readers will get a better idea of the universe you’re going to introduce them to.
  • Share your first impressions. A winning non-fiction or fiction book review includes your initial impressions or feelings on the book. Did you need some time to get into the printed world? Or, perhaps it hooked your attention immediately?
  • Pose a dilemma or a question. Asking a rhetorical question related to the plot of the theme of the book, will 100% encourage your readers to dive into the written story.
  • Provide a place for intrigues. Choose a particularly important aspect of the book under review, like a complex antagonist or a unique writing style, and ensure to mention it when writing an intro.
  • Share your personal expectations.  How to write a book review essay and make it more personal? Share what exactly you anticipated from the book before you even opened it. Were you unsure whether you should read a particular genre? Or, perhaps it was the controversial reputation of the author that attracted you?
  • Relate to a personal experience. It is necessary to use all opportunities to add a human touch to the review, and connecting the book to your personal emotions, experiences, and events will add an important human element to the most soulless assignment.

Keep in mind that the main aim of the intro section in a book review is to grab the attention of your target readers and provide a solid foundation for the review itself. Your task here is to give a sweet taste of what is about to come without giving too many details. Stay engaging, concise, and relevant to the book under review.

How Long Is a Book Review Example?

Now that you know how to start a review essay, let’s see how many words a conventional book review should include to convey your unique idea. Generally, book report examples comprise between 300 or 500 and 750 words. Whether you’re writing a book review for high school, college, or university (or any other purpose), keep your prose concise and concentrate on the big-picture aspects of the book. For instance, you can focus your writing on character development, the way the author employs various literary devices or pacing. It is necessary to sum up the plot and analyze the book. Since writing a book review is more than just sharing your point of view, it is important to ensure that you can convey your message within the word limits mentioned above.

How to Write a Book Review for School, College, or University?

Whether it’s a book review assignment high school, college, or university educator assigned you, it’s not just the other task but an opportunity to engage in your favorite work of literature and share your unique insights on it. The process requires the activation of thoughtful analysis and critical thinking skills. If you’re stuck somewhere in the middle of searching for the answer to the how to write book review essay question, the quick guide below will help you get back on track.

Read the Book from A to Z

Before you let yourself immerse into the process of writing, it’s necessary to read the book or any other published piece attentively. Don’t rush through the pages! Instead, find a nice spot where you can isolate from the noisy world and dive into the narrative. Focus on the details like character acts, how the plot develops, what themes the author uses, the writing style, as well as what the writer is trying to tell.

What’s the Author’s Intent?

You’re just a college student writing a high school book report or a book review for college, and you can’t know what the writer living in the 12th century could possibly think of. However, if you make sure to read attentively, you will certainly find out if the person standing behind the printed text seeks to provoke thoughts, inform, educate, entertain, or inspire change in the reader like you. Once you understand their intent, you will have a solid context for a book review assignment. 

Sum up the Book Briefly

If you wonder book review essay start, ensure to do that by summing up the story you’re engaged in. Stay objective and keep it brief. Just like the summary you can find on the jacket of the book, it will provide your target readers with an idea of what the book is about. Besides, they will find it easier to understand your point throughout the book review.

Are you dealing with a non-fiction book? In that case, you should include the central questions the book under review examines. Plus, it is important to mention the ways the author answers all of them, as well as include any relevant details that stand behind the credentials of the writer.

Is it a novel? Provide info on the main character, the genre, as well as the events that help the protagonist enter the plot. At the same time, ensure the student book review you compose doesn’t turn into the so-called spoiler for those who haven’t read it yet. Whatever happens after the story midpoint should be covered with darkness.

Analyze the Characters

What’s the core of any story? That’s right – the characters! If you take a look at any book report example high school, college, or university level, you will see that proper and concise analysis of characters is half the battle. Assess how complex they are, what drives them to develop throughout the story, and how relatable they are. Focus on their actions, motivation, and the way both protagonist and antagonist tend to contribute to the overall narrative. If there’s a character that, you know, transforms or grows, mention them.    

Evaluate the Plot & Structure

When it’s time to work on the book review template, provide some room for the part where you discuss the structure of the plot, its pacing, and coherence. Do you think the story flows smoothly, or perhaps it shifts abruptly when you least expect it? Does the author maintain readers’ interest from the very first page to the last? Are you, as a reader, engaged in the process of reading? Or, perhaps you start daydreaming and mind-traveling after the third page?

Include Quotes

Whatever claims you make when writing a book report high school or college level, the most solid evidence to back up your words are the quotes taken directly from the book. When calling someone the “bad guy,” let your readers know it’s not just your subjective point of view but something that can be illustrated by the author’s quotes.

What’s the Book’s Impact?

Now that you have an idea of how to write a book review, focus on the impact the reading material had on you or can potentially have on anyone else. Did it make you feel certain emotions? Did it challenge you to question your beliefs? Or maybe the book under review has become a source of new insights? Ponder over how the text may resonate with its target audiences. 

Rate It

Platforms like The StoryGraph, GoodReads, or Booksloth provide readers with a chance to star-rate every book. Why not invent your own rating system? For instance, you can rate the book under review on a scale of 1-12, 1-100, or use the A, B, C rating.

Do You Recommend?

Any book report format high school or college level requires a section where you provide your own recommendations on the book. After all, that’s the main reason you craft your book review – to recommend the printed material…or not. Ensure to take your time to fully understand what target readers may benefit from reading the book and who should better skip it. Are there any other good books of the same genre or topic that you could recommend? Include them in the section.

Conclude Soundly

Knowing how to write a book report is not enough. You have to conclude it to provide your readers with a sense of closure. Sum up the key points and give the final assessment of the book under review. Re-read your book to refresh your memory on the main aspects included in the text. End with a closing thought to leave the so-called lasting impression on the potential readers.

Edit & Proofread for the Final Polish

Before you submit your book review, stop for a moment. Take a walk or have a cup of pumpkin latte. Spend some time off the text and get back to it with a fresh pair of eyes. Review it to eliminate all the mistakes in punctuation, grammar, or spelling. Remember that a quality book review is not just about the content that includes unbeatable arguments. It’s about the absence of errors that can spoil the most professionally written piece.

About Terry Qin

Terry Qin is a 27-year-old R&D engineer from Shenzhen currently living in the US. He is interested in programming, new trends and blogging.