I. The purpose of a book review is to set up and apply criteria for the content and quality of the book.
Summary and evaluation: Besides giving the reader information about the contents of a book, you will need to establish the value of the book. Evaluations are based on criteria or standards by which you judge the book. Some suggestions for criteria are given below.
II. Before you begin writing the book review, you should do the following:
A. Read the book thoroughly with attention to detail. Read any secondary sources which you think are helpful or which have been suggested or required by the teacher or the librarian.
B. Decide what criteria are appropriate for the type of book you're chosen. To establish criteria, think through the response you had while reading the book. What were you expecting? Were you surprised or disappointed? What was the criterion involved? Then write about why the book either meets or fails to meet the criterion. Be sure to cite examples from the book to support each of your evaluations. If you need more criteria, ask yourself these questions:
1. Is the author adequately experienced and prepared? (See Who's Who in America, International Who's Who, Directory of American Scholars, and so on.)
2. Does the book fulfill its stated purpose? Is the purpose necessary and worthwhile?
3. Are the arguments logical? Are they well-supported?
4. Is the book appropriate for its intended audience? Would it be of interest to other audiences?
5. Is its style (the way it is written) helpful or distracting?
6. Are the assumptions the author starts from warranted?
7. How does the book compare to others in its field?
III. Your book review may be required to contain the following elements:
A. First paragraph:
Usually names the author and title (and, if so requested, the place of publication, publisher, and date). States the subject matter of the book, its intended audience, and its general purpose.
B. Second paragraph:
Gives the thesis or main point the author is trying to prove. Then gives a brief summary of the contents, perhaps by listing the main themes or arguments the author uses to support the thesis. This paragraph should not be more than one-fifth of your review. You will be able to give more information in your evaluative paragraphs.
C. Following paragraphs:
Each paragraph makes separate evaluations based on one of the criteria which you have established.
D. Concluding paragraph:
Briefly gives your overall impression. How do the pros and cons balance out?
IV. Your book review may be evaluated on some or all of the following points.
A. Appropriateness of your criteria.
B. Adequacy of the support you give to the evaluation.
C. Accuracy of your summary.
A. Devoting a significant portion of the paper to telling what happened in the book. This is merely a summary; it does not evaluate the book's quality or analyze the effect of the book.
B. Evaluating the book on the basis of inappropriate criteria. (For example, a fantasy should not be criticized for a lack of reality or a medical dictionary should not be criticized for its specialized content.)