Writing a book review sounds like a relatively easy task. Surely all you need to do is read the book in question, and then write a paragraph or two on what the book was about and whether or not you thought the book was any good. Humm, if only life were that simply! In reality it is really quite difficult to write a successful book review. Yes of course you can simply précis the book and add a final comment about whether you found it to be an enjoyable read or not, but this is unlikely to leave you with a book review that readers are keen to read… and so in turn unfortunately the book you are reviewing is unlikely to gain all that much interest off of the back of your review either. No, if you want to write a successful book review then you need to keep a few top tips in mind at all times.
1. Choose the book you are going to review carefully. For a book review to appeal, the book that you are reviewing needs to lend itself to the creation of a book review that is informative, entertaining and readable. The book itself also needs to appeal to a wide audience.
2. Ensure that you have read one or two books or pieces of writing by the author of the book that you have chosen to review. You need to understand where the author has come from, a little of their writing history, before you can comment on a new release.
3. Comparison is important in book reviews. Read other, similar books by contemporaries so that you can offer some form of comparison in your own analysis of the book’s worth in today’s literary field.
4. Consider how far the author has succeeded in avoiding the pitfalls of the genre that they have written in. Are there clichés? Have they introduced a new form of language or use of language when dealing with a specific genre? Is the plot line all too obvious?
5. Look at the recognised successes of the author in light of this particular book that you are reviewing. Has the author won any awards? Have they been nominated for any? Have they received published praise anywhere?
6. If you are reviewing a non-fiction book, be sure to check that any facts or figures quoted within the book are accurate. Whilst an author’s reputation will be damaged by the inclusion of inaccurate information, so too with the reputation of a reviewer who fails to spot these mistakes.
7. Be sure to cover the main elements of the plot line in your review of fictional pieces, but don’t give away the ending – the reader of your review needs a reason to go on and read the book after all!
8. Find a way to extract the theme or message from the storyline, and inform your readers of this theme. It is important that reviewers look at both the obvious story and the underlying message when reviewing fictional works.
9. Think about the style of the book – is there anything unusual or revolutionary about the way the book has been written? If so, this needs to be highlighted in your review.
10. Finally, as with all types of writing, don’t forget how important it is to check through your book review. Ensure that it flows well, that it is logical, clear and concise in message, and that it is squeaky clean in terms of spelling, punctuation and grammar.