Book Review Structure
The essence of a review is to express the reviewer’s attitude towards the book being studied. The difference between the book reviews and other literary genres is primarily that the subject of the review is not the immediate facts of reality on which essays, correspondence, sketches, reports, etc. are based, but information phenomena – books, brochures, plays, movies, television programs …
The book review, as a rule, considers one or two books and gives them an appropriate grade, without setting other, more complex writing tasks. On the other hand, when a journalist, based on an in-depth analysis of a book, wants to write, and actualize some socially significant problems, his output will not be a review, but a literary-critical article or art study.
The question of what needs to be reviewed is of the utmost importance to the reviewer. The reviewer is simply not able to cover all the phenomena of cultural or scientific life with his attention, and that is impossible due to the limited possibilities of the media.
Therefore, as a rule, the most prominent plays, books, films, including “scandalous” works, are reviewed, which have attracted unusually wide attention of the audience. The review should, of course, pursue a practical goal – to tell the audience about what really deserves his attention and is not worth his attention, to help them better understand the issues of the sphere concerning the peer-reviewed book.
The book review format should be clear in content and form, accessible to the category of consumers to whom it is addressed. To do so, the reviewer must study the book being reviewed in-depth, considering the principles and rules that guided the writers, scientists, or artists, be able to use methods of analysis, and be fluent in the language of the book review written.
What Can Be an Argument in a Review?
An argument is the knowledge, experience, life observations of a student or anyone else who would like to write book reviews. The list can also refer to the content of the book being reviewed, derived from it and its form; attitude towards this book of others; logical consequences of publishing the book, and more.
Thus, the primary element of the review is the thesis revealed in the publication. It is also called the main thesis if the explanation has a rather complex form and includes some additional (secondary) theses.
The content of the abstracts is the result of research conducted by the reviewer. They simultaneously reflect the reviewer’s standpoint and his awareness of this issue, his understanding. Not all theses are usually expanded, filled with new meaning, not all can be understood as theses because the text contains the key thesis on the weight of which everyone else is working.
The matter is further complicated when the reviewer sets the task of comparing the literary source with a film adaptation or a theatrical performance. It is very difficult to agree on all three or even four format levels – the primary source, the play based on it, the director’s interpretation of the play embodied in the performance, and the reviewing performance.
What Is an Appraisal and What Is a Book Review?
An appraisal is a shorter form of the subjective point of view of the person who is writing a book review. This kind of literary criticism allows one to express own assessment of the literary work without analytical explanations and comments. Still, this unique form of thesis statement lookalike must be based on real facts instead of fiction.
The appraisal presupposes an analysis through reading the literature while making one’s own judgment about the book. This means that the critical appraisal must be assembled in a targeted manner, and its constituent parts (introduction – elaboration – conclusion) represent a personal opinion of individual problems. In such words, the writer notices and sometimes compares without an extensive and detailed retelling of the content of the book.
In the last few years, with the establishment of literature reviews clubs, a new culture of writing critical appraisals and exchanging opinions, writing tips, and book reports. Members recommend the book to each other and sometimes are reviewing it in their own way.
A book review looks like academic writing thanks to critical judgment from the person writing book reviews. The opinion that reviews book must be impartial and must state the exact facts, while the segment with critical judgment is subjective or personal.
The Book Review Structure
The form of a book review is not defined by any scientific standard or convention, but it is considered best practice for the review to follow the following categories, in the following order:
The title or subtitle of the review should contain bibliographic data that identify the book by stating the book title, place of publication, name of the publisher, and the number of pages. We present this information at the beginning in the header or on a page before the text itself, for better clarity and focus.
In the introduction to the review, we point out in a few sentences:
- the purpose for which the author wrote the book,
- why he chose a certain topic, and
- what is the basic thematic area that the book covers
It is useful to find and give basic information about the writer of the book, depending on how well he is known to the general readership. It is desirable, but not obligatory, to insert some short historical detail or examples that will explain the context of the book, before getting acquainted with the content. Again, reviews are not academic journals, so feel free to follow the guide below.
Contents of the Book
We must acquaint the audience with the short content of the book and its organization – without going into details since we do not intend to simply retell the book. Here we prepare them for the form of the critical considerations that follow.
The most relevant part of each review is the critical evaluation because here we present our observations and evaluations of the book itself. It’s how we feel the book. Precisely because of this, this is the segment where the most common errors occur.
|How to Evaluate?||Assessing the quality of the arguments presented requires nuanced argumentation. The basic thesis that the writer represents or the argument he defends is identified. It is advisable to try to determine from which perspective the author speaks about a certain topic, to what extent his views are objective or under the pressure of different circumstances or experiences.|
|If the work itself is rich in the author’s values, such as political writings, then we must be ready to subject such free argumentation to scientific analysis, confronting it with scientific argumentation. Writing reviews of such works is one of the most difficult endeavors and requires us to ignore subjective attitudes for the sake of the scientific criterion of objectivity.|
|It is very important to make a comparison with other works, the content of which refers to the same topic. If we are familiar with the original parts and during the reading, we notice shortcomings in the translation, we must also comment on the quality of that translation.|
In the final words section, we reserve a fair amount of space to offer a summary of what was previously discussed. This includes a personal review of points stated earlier. Take care that the audience is not interested in our perception, we only present points that we are ready to offer as objectives. Consider that the conclusion does not represent a “free zone to imagine things”, where we present subjective views without coverage. Remember, his is not an academic essay too.
What Makes an Excellent Review
The main task of the reviewer is to see in the paper which reviews what is imperceptible to the uninitiated. And this is difficult to do without having special knowledge from a certain field of activity (literature, theater life, art). This knowledge cannot replace ordinary life experience or intuition. The more specialized the reviewer has, the more chances he must prepare an expert review. The review is based on analysis, so it is necessary to be comprehensive and objective.
The reviewer must be able to notice in the analyzed book something new that really distinguishes the book in question, which can become the central point of his analysis, thinking, judgment. These will not necessarily be an external sign, based on which the audience has highlighted the peer-reviewed book.
Accordingly, a great review contains several key elements. If your plan is to write a book review, follow these 7 steps:
Identify Who the Review is Intended For
Who are you writing a review for? It is for a school project, a thesis for college graduate students, or a stream of consciousness. You are targeting potential readers who are deciding whether to buy a book, so focus on them and avoid all other types of critics.
Read the Book at Least Once
By this we mean to read it carefully and critically, not to fly over it. You may need to go back and read it a second time, all or at least the key parts. Then you will know how to write a book review.
Mark Sections and Make Notes
People love the Notes and Marks option on their electronic book gadgets, that’s what we have heard. This is because it is possible to keep a diary of what they read. This makes writing a review easier. Sometimes they mark descriptions that hit the wire. A fine example is: “Flowers are boiling with bees”. Bad: “He argued insultingly.”
In any case, it is useful to make a note in case you decide to refer to it in the review. You can also use sticky notes and similar notebooks for printed books. Another reason to take notes is to keep track of inconsistencies in plot, construction, and characters.
Create a Summary
All right, it’s time to pick up a pen or sit down at the keyboard. Where to start? The potential bookworm wants to know if the story will hold his attention. This means giving a concise account rather than retelling the plot, as revealing the plot is undesirable. Offer as much as is enough to whet your appetite.
Among other book review examples, consider this one: “Ana Karenina is a conscientious wife, a loyal sister, and a loving mother. Arriving in Moscow to help solve her wife’s stubborn brother’s marital problems, she was blinded by her passionate love for Vronsky, an enchanting young officer. Ana begs her husband to divorce her. At the end of the 19th century in Russia, high society tolerated infidelity as long as it was discreet but did not accept divorce. “
Identify the Central Topic
Identify the focal topic and tell if you think the author has given strong arguments. Returning to the previous example, you could mention that: “Tolstoy emphasizes the hypocrisy of the patriarchal society in which the adulteress is viewed differently than the adulterer. At the same time, this society is going through profound changes, changes that are too fast for some and too slow for others. “
A positive just like a negative review is useless if it is insincere. Explain why you like something or not. Are there too many descriptions? Not enough? Does the storyline go smoothly, are the characters convincing, can the audience identify with them? And the dialogues – are they convincing? Is there anything that has distracted you from the story experience? This is true for both good and bad things. Write about what you think is good and what you think is bad.
Let the Critique Be Constructive
Be constructive. “I didn’t like this book cover or book title…” is not helpful to the potential readers. If nothing constructive comes to mind, then don’t write a review.
The critical review is important, especially in this age of samizdat format. Many independent reviewers use so-called beta readers and professional editors. Unfortunately, others do not. Often an honest review can be what saves the reader from awful style, non-existent actions, and weak structures.
Finally, a fine review should offer the potential reader two things: the reviewer’s view of the book and his opinion on whether it is written well or not. Using these tips, you will also learn how to write a book of your own.