What is a book review?

Book review writing is a task that can be applied to an extremely wide range of literature, from fiction to serious academic writing. In its essence, a book review is a gist of the book, which is presented to the reader on whether or not a certain piece of literature is worth reading. If a book review contains a positive appraisal, it can also ‘advertise’ the book to the reader.

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Why are book reviews needed?

Book reviews are needed for a number of reasons. First, because they contain a short summary of the book, it can tell the reader what the focus of that particular book is. This saves the reader a considerable amount of time, since he/she no longer needs to read the book. With a book review at hand, the reader will simply have to skim through the book or read its index. If the book looks right, further reading/research can be done. The need for a book review writing differs depending on what kind of book it is. While the purpose of writing a book review on a fiction book is clear, reviewing an academic book might have a different implication. 

Reviewing Scholarly Literature

Professor Wendy Laura Belcher says that reviewing academic literature is the shortest way to get published. Besides, it’s a great way to further develop one’s analytical, critical and writing skills.  Another reason to do academic book reviews is to recommend them to the reader (for example, some libraries won’t accept books without written book reviews). Some editors might even ask other writers to do book reviews for them. Writing reviews of academic literature will advance you in the field and will look good on your CV. Of course, it’s extremely important to select a book to review. The person who is going to write the review should know the field and should be able to see things like: is the book contributing to the body of knowledge in this sphere, what are its strengths and weaknesses, whether it’s well written or not, whether it benefits the reader, would you recommend it etc. 

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Volume and Structure of a Book Review

Most typically, book reviews range around 1200 words. However, some of book reviews can also range from 600 to 2000 words. It’s always a good idea to draft a plan before starting to write review itself. Typically the structure of a book review should mention the following: 
 
• Full bibliographic citation (title, author, year, publishing house, edition, pages), price and ISBN. 
• One paragraph stating the main thesis of the book
• One paragraph describing the strengths of the book
• One paragraph describing the weaknesses of the book
• Summarize your impressions and provide your feedback
• Rate the book (e.g. 7 stars out of 10) 
• Check whether your book review has reached your initial aim 
 
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