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Many students find the assignment of writing a book review confusing because they can’t tell a clear difference between a summary and a review. However, these two types of academic writing have very little in common and should be practiced separately. If you need to write a book or chapter review and don’t know where to start, here are the key points.
Before you start writing a book review, you need to understand what exactly is expected from you. Unlike a summary, a review goes beyond a simple retelling of what you’ve read. It should be based on your critical thinking and reflect what exactly you’ve got from reading. You need to be able to analyze both writing style and the content of the book, see what techniques the author applies and what result he or she wants to achieve. Finally, your own opinion is highly appreciated in a review.
Now you know what you need to write in a review so you can plan your work. Start off with a very short summary of the text. Remember to keep this part as concise as possible since the reader of your review probably already knows what the book is about. Focus on the analysis of the book in the body part of the review. Consider the style, language techniques, intentions and professionalism of the author. Finally, conclude with your personal opinions on the matter discussed in the book and whether the author achieved the desired result.
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It might be challenging to organize your paper and keep everything in a logical order. Follow this list of questions you need to answer and your review will have a clear flow.
- What is the theme discussed in the book?
- What is author’s main argument?
- How does the author support the argument? Does he/she use logical evidence or try to manipulate the readers by appealing to emotions?
- Do you find the evidence persuasive and do they make you believe the argument more?
- What’s the role of the background information?
You can change the order a bit but answering these questions will already provide you with an almost complete book review.
Following the previous tips, some students might be puzzled by the fact that they may need to judge the masterpieces of literature and seek flaws in them. The analysis of the author’s technique is not the key point of your review. Include that information but dedicate most attention to your personal reflections. Say what you liked about the book and what you’d change, what lessons it teaches and who you’d recommend it to. Don’t try to play a critic, just share your genuine impressions from what you’ve read.
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As you can see, a review is very different from a simple summary. Focus on your own impressions, share your opinions and highlight the author’s techniques. Avoid unnecessary criticism because you’re just a student and not a literary critic.