How To Write A Book Review

Have you ever finished reading a book and felt suddenly at a lonely loss? The adventure is over, the last page has been turned, the characters have taken off into uncharted territory where you can’t follow.

It’s very easy to mope and flounder about in all your feelings (let’s be real, book-hangovers exist) as you try to process your thoughts for the book.

So why not write a book review?

There are so many benefits for readers when it comes to writing book reviews.

More than that, they’re a useful skill to cultivate, especially if you are in school or work with books. Or just have a lot of passionate feelings you want to record!

How To Write A Book Review

As a book blogger, I enjoy writing books in collaboration with publishers and getting the word out about new releases.

And as an author, I use writing reviews as a way to analyze literature and garner tips to make my own writing better. The benefits of book reviewing never end!

And if you’re worried that writing a book reviews sounds like a long and arduous process, don’t be!

I’m going to hit you with quick tips to make book reviewing engaging for you to write and your audience to read. Read on to find out how to write a book review!

What Is A Book Review?

what is a book review

A book review is a summary, analysis, and reflection on a novel you’ve just read.

There are infinite ways and styles to write reviews, from informal all-caps emotional responses to structured examinations of literary text where you break down the essence of a story and consider the bones of it. There is no “right” or “wrong” style in which to write a book review.

The important thing is to convey your honest opinion about a book.

Why Should I Write A Book Review?

Why Should I Write A Book Review?

I’ve been reviewing books online for nearly 7 years and the benefits keep stacking up.

In high school, I wrote the dreaded “book reports.” But after you pick at the seams of a book that you (probably) didn’t even want to read, it’s easy to lose your taste for the art of analyzing books.

Later, when I started a book blog and choosing my own reads, I discovered I loved talking about the books.

Best yet, I loved finding an online community to share my reviews with and spark discussions. Reviewing turned from a tedious mind-numbing process into an exciting and engaging hobby that I couldn’t be without!

Benefits To Book Reviewing:

  • Writing book reviews can be extremely fun. If you dread writing reviews, chances are you’re not doing it in your own style or voice. Once you start writing the reviews you want to read, you’ll find it an incredible experience to excitedly type out your thoughts about a book.
  • It can help you remember the book better. I read over 200 books every year (find out how I read so many books). That’s quite a lot of plots and characters to hold onto. Writing and organizing reviews is a different way of journaling my year. I can see what I’ve read weeks ago and refresh myself when I need to recommend a book to a friend. Talking about the plot and characters also just reinforces them in my mind before I move onto my next read.
  • Book reviewing makes you think about the book. If I finish up a book and, without pause, reach for the next one, odds are I’m not taking time to properly consider and absorb what I just read. Say hello to book reviewing! It actually forces me to take a breath and think about the story I’ve just finished. Sometimes a nameless feeling will nag at me – did I like that story? Was something off about it? What about that character bothered me? Then, as I write my review, I’m able to better articulate how I felt about a character or theme. 
  • It’s helpful for authors. This is such an important point and not to be underestimated! Books thrive when they’re talked about. Personalized recommendations are so powerful and help news of the book to spread and reach a larger audience. If books sell well, the author gets the opportunity to write more. So if you love an author, writing reviews is crucial for supporting them and letting their publishers know you want more! You can leave reviews on places like Amazon or Goodreads, which are booming communities for book discussions.
  • It creates a connection to other readers. Whether you loved a book or have a salty rant ready to go, reviewing can help get those feelings out in a structured way. You can share and discuss with other bookworms. And for a bonus: reading and discussing books often helps you see outside your own perspective, a terrific thing for helping you grow as a person.
  • Book reviewing improves your writing. I remember tapping out my first book review enthusiastically on my laptop to post on Goodreads… And coming up with about three thin and weak sentences. None of them were very good. Now, after years of reviewing, I am able to succinctly summarise thoughts and have an absolute riot putting my reviews together. Humor? Pithy commentaries? Heartfelt summaries? Gushing about characters? I do it all. My reviews and ability to write have improved monumentally.

5 Steps To Writing The Best Book Review

5 Steps To Writing The Best Book Review

Now you’re ready to craft your first book review! No idea how to start? It doesn’t have to be daunting.

Here are some ways to kickstart your life as a book reviewer extraordinaire.

1. Summarize what the book is about.

Basically what you want is a few sentence pitch. If your friend saw you reading and said, “Hey, what’s that book about?” you want to have a nonspoiler response.

Sure, you can just wave the back of the book in their face so they can read the blurb, but when things are told in your own words and voice, they can be even more engaging than a back-cover-blurb.

The key is here: NO spoilers! You want to summarise the first 5 chapters or the first 50-pages. What is the point of the book? What does the character want? And what kind of world is it set in? What’s making you keep reading?

2. Talk about how you felt.

Book reviews are best when they’re personal and juicy with either controversial or glowing opinions.

Your honest opinion is the important part. Don’t spend too long summarising the book because anyone can read a synopsis: we’re here for YOUR personalized thoughts and opinions.

A book is a piece of art and here to be analyzed in an infinite amount of ways. There are no right or wrong opinions because opinions are perspectives.

3. Talk about Plot, Characters, and Theme.

These are my go-to list when deciding what part of a book to talk about. Characters are the lifeblood of a book for me, so I put the most emphasis on talking about how I felt about them.

Favorite characters. Least favorite actions. Their flaws. Their relatable moments.

I’ll also cover how I felt about the plot. Did it have enough action? Humour? Gut-wrenching moments? Was I engaged?

Lastly, I like to talk about the themes of a book, the soul of it, because when I close a book I like to be able to answer the question: “What was the point of this story?”

A good book leaves you with something, and I always analyze that in my reviews. It might be a critique of society (do I agree with the author’s thoughts?) or a psychological exploration of how people react to things (grief or sickness or war), or the book’s theme might be coming-of-age or about finding love or fighting to be heard.

For me, a book review is about sharing what you feel about a book. Good or bad. And it’s about what you’re taking away from the story.

4. Close with a summary.

Oh the dreaded thesis statement, but don’t panic!

It’s up to you with how formal your review is. What you want is a tl;dr moment: “Thanks for reading my review, everyone! Basically, I loved this part, felt strongly about this aspect, and think the book will appeal to you if you like this and this.” And you’re done! Too easy, right?

5. Finish off by giving it a star rating.

In the book community, we generally rate a book out of 5 stars, five being the best rating and 1 being code for you think the book should be used as a doormat.

Sites like Amazon and Goodreads (where you can post your review after you’ve finished!) ask for ratings, so it’s good to have one in mind. I believe life is too short not to hand out 5star ratings, but some people keep them for only the best and most precious favorites.

It’s up to you! The best part of a star rating is that it’s a “review in a glance” in itself. The second I see a book that’s been given five-stars, I go, “Well, I need to find out more about this.”

About the Author

CG Drews is a YA book blogger with the goal to read every book in existence. She’s aiming for immortality for this. When not reading, she writes novels and blogs at paperfury.com.

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