Writing a book review seems like a rather easy task to do. It’s almost as if one needs to know in general what a book is about, throw in some fancy words and voila! You’ve got yourself a book review. Anyhow, it’s much more than that. Here’s how you can make sure your book review is exactly what it must be!
Know the book well enough
Even before one can know a book well, it is important to know and be confident about writing a review for a particular book. People have different tastes and even for most avid readers or readers of all genres, they have their strong and weak points in different genres. It helps if the book to be reviewed is some work that the writer of the review likes or has mastery or a lot of experience in. It need not be very specific but one should be well aware of what they’re getting into before they decide to write a review on it.
Each book is unique and different in its own way. Not just can books differ by genre but also by authorship, language, etc. It is imperative that the author should read the book that they’re writing a review on as without truly knowing and understanding the details, themes, underlined messages, plots, characters and other intricacies of the book and only reading the synopsis of it or analysis of the characters will result in an error of judgement about the book. It is actually a huge responsibility that requires effort and meticulous work. A useful tip is to make notes throughout the book and in a separate notepad, do reverse engineering of the book so as to be able to keep track of the progress of the book along with the chapters and each point and argument made. This not only tracks a pattern of emphasis or reiteration of certain ideas or points but also helps understand the overall motive of the book.
It’s all in the details!
This is still just the first step to writing a book review. After prepping with the notes and knowing in detail what the book is about, we go onto the next step that is knowing the details of the publishers of the book, how many pages the book has, how many languages it was published in apart from the original if it were nominated for any awards or how and why that book is significant. An example of that would be that a book review on ‘Feminine Mystique’ has to include the fact that the book set the second wave of feminism into motion. It was a revolutionary book that radically gave the women a chance to come together and form solidarity over the trauma that they all individually faced and cause a systemic revolution. This is quite a relevant rule in writing a book review because more often than not, it becomes a selling point and people would want to buy and read the book because of all the buzz it has created. Similarly, the price of the book is also a way to create an eagerness among people about buying or knowing more about the book. Mentioning the price and that it could perhaps be available elsewhere for a lesser price becomes a motivator to get people to try buying the book as sometimes one isn’t in the mood for spending too much but wanting to just have a good read.
Format it like you want to sell it
Once you’re done with noting down all the important details of the book and making notes and reverse engineering of the book, writing a rough format would be the following step so that one has clarity about what they want to cover and in how many paragraphs. The first paragraph must include the details mentioned above which is basically just the facts like when the book was published, what it’s priced at and how many languages it is published in if it is in demand globally or just the country or the region where it was written and published. The second paragraph can include some details about the author. This paragraph can be really short but if the author has published other books or works that are in line with the book being reviewed, it must be mentioned so that readers have an idea of what to expect or understand that it’s the author’s forte perhaps. The next paragraph is about the book and in a short paragraph, attempts must be made to give a general or overall idea of what the book entails and what the chapters are like. This has to be crisp and not monotonous. Then, seven to eight paragraphs can be made describing different parts or pointers about the book that the reviewer might want to emphasise on. It is substantial to understand that people do not want to read essays and long paragraphs which basically are the synopsis of the book. People look for reasons as to why must they read the book or invest their time and money in it and the review should just do that. While writing book reviews a mistake that people often make is assume it to be the synopsis of the book which it most definitely is not.
Book Review: Start typing!
Once you have the format ready after a lot of redesigning and restructuring and you know how many paragraphs are required and what each paragraph entails, start typing it out. The language used should be lucid yet sophisticated. Knowing your audience and their ability to understand the language is also of key importance. Flowery language and sentences would be nice but only to a certain extent and that too not for every book review. If exceptionally high sounding words are used in a review for which the reader is constantly reaching for the dictionary, they might get so fed up that they wouldn’t want to read the book at all. That’s why, writing reviews is a huge, huge responsibility on which the sale of the book also depends heavily. A book review’s readers would be the same as those of the book to a large extent so if it is a book that anyway deals with English literature and texts and theory, using terms specific to that would make sense but if a book is about business investments or a self-help kind of book, then using ornamental language would actually be wrong or harmful as it may drive the readers away and we don’t want that.
Book Review: Editing and finishing
If all the above steps are followed, one will have a good book review ready by now. All that’s needed at this step is to read and check every word, detail and minor things like spellings and all. Mentioning the date of when the review was written is also very necessary as people could be looking for something more specific or closer to the current date or probably something that was written when the book was newly launched. Getting someone else to read your review before getting it sent for publishing can also be very helpful as their perspective would be a totally different one. If anything sounds too dragged or monotonous, make it a point to change it as that can be detrimental for the review. If everything’s set in place, at the end, write your name and designation if you want to add that. Check it once before you finalise it too for any left out loopholes and viola! You’ve got yourself a good book review.