How to Write an Academic Book Review?

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A book review, in simple words, is an evaluation of a book. The purpose is to tell the readers whether they should read it or not. It explains the subject matter of the book and tells who is its targeted audience. It also indicates the weak and strong points of the book. Basically, it basically evaluates the book and informs the reader whether it is worth spending their time.

Types of a Book Review:

  1. Descriptive Book Review: It describes the purpose of the book and how it serves its purpose by quoting from the book. It is explanatory in nature.
  2. Critical Book Review: It is critical in nature. It attempts to examine the following: whether the purpose of the book is appropriate. Whether the arguments or methods are adequate. How far has it been successful in serving its purpose? If you are writing a book review for academic purposes, it should be critical

The Process:

Writing a book review broadly involves two tasks: reading the book and writing the review. We will illustrate how you should read a book if you are going to review it. Then, we will discuss how to write it.

How to read a book

While reading a book for writing a review, there are a few things that we should keep in our minds. For instance, what author’s area of interest is; what the main theme of the book is, what objectives it aims to fulfill; what issues it deals with; what methods it uses, and what kind of arguments or evidence it proposes. Try to find out the answers to the above questions while reading.

  • First, read in one go with or without taking some notes.
  • While reading a second time, notes taking is compulsory.
  • Highlight the important sentence or paragraph for taking out the quotations.
  • Try to engage with the issues.
  • Be curious and have a doubt while reading.
  • Try to analyze and evaluate how far the author is able to achieve her goal.
  • Re-read once again and see if your earlier understanding was apt.
  • Go through your notes again and again while reading last time.
  • Try to find out a gap. You can always figure out some research gap.

How to Write a Book Review:

Once you feel like you have read the book enough times and understand it clearly, you should write a review. Also, keep in mind that you may need to write and rewrite it again and again.

  • Try to find a structure before writing. Keep all your notes before your eyes and see whether you are able to understand how to organize it.
  • Make an outline about how you want to proceed. It will give you something to start with.
  • Write down your critical observation about the theme, methods, evidence, or arguments.

The Structure

Like a research paper, a good book review also contains an introduction, body, and conclusion. There is no one structure of academic book review. However, the following structure may help you better.

  • Introduce the book you are going to review.
  • Write every minor detail about it like title, author, publishing house, publishing year, place of publication, and cost of the book.
  • Write the theme (s) and purpose of the book.
  • Try to situate it in contemporary debate.
  • Explain the structure of the book.
  • Introduce each chapter briefly by focusing on its key points.
  • Write your observation and critical evaluation (appreciation and criticism).
  • In the last part, write about the relevance and importance of the book in the present time.

Other Tips

  • Writing for academic purposes needs more focus and clarity.
  • Revise and re-write your draft.
  • Find out counter-examples or further counter-examples.
  • The reviewer must clearly distinguish the author’s position from her own position.
  • The reviewer should quote more to avoid confusion.

पुस्तक समीक्षा (अकादमिक) कैसे लिखें? (Book Review) • (

How to Write a Good Academic Essay/Article? (

Writing Academic Book Reviews – Organizing Research for Arts and Humanities Papers and Theses – Research Guides at University of Southern California (

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