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How To: Write a Book Review

Before you order something off Amazon, you’ll probably sift through the reviews first. I mean, you want to make sure the product is as good as it looks, right?

The same goes for books: you don’t know how you’ll like the book until you actually read it, but you can certainly gauge if it’s within your realm of interests by other people’s reviews.

It's great if you want to write a book review, too. Check out these simple and important steps to putting together the most analytical and informative book review yet.

Before Writing

Before you write your book review, you need to think about some questions to help organize the article.


  • Who wrote it?

  • Do they have other works?

  • How does it compare?


  • Is there a moral to the story or a theme that is presented?

  • What has the book accomplished, if anything?


  • Who narrated the story?

  • Was the narrator reliable?


  • Did the setting or time influence the story?


  • What was the genre, and how does it compare to other books in the same?


  • Can you summarize the plot without giving away any key points or spoilers?

While Writing

There are some key points in the book review structure that you might want to consider.

A Hook

The average person's attention span is eight seconds, so your hook really has to reign them in.

A great example of a hook is to lead with a question, a quote, an anecdote, or a statistic.

Grammarly has great examples on how to phrase your hook:

Margaret Atwood’s subversive brilliance shines in new and unexpected ways with this masterpiece.
Ever wondered what the lovechild of Twilight and The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy would look like?

Essential Book Information

Though you’re probably itching to state your thoughts, this isn’t the time to do it — not yet, anyway.

This is where pretty much all of your answers from the previous section will come in: Who narrated it? Where and when does it take place? Who is it by, and how does it compare to other works?

You'll also want to provide a basic plot summary without compromising any key points or spoilers from the book. You don’t want to rewrite the book jacket word-for-word, but instead, summarize it in your own words as objectively as possible.

(Or don't. Be subjective if you want!)

Your Praise and Critique

Simply stating “It was good!” or “It was bad!” won’t be enough for a colorful book review -- but you already know this. It's fifth-grade stuff!

So you know that you need to tell us why it was good and why it was bad. A helpful tip is to sandwich your critique with praise, as such:

The setting was so aptly described that I truly felt like I was in the hot summer of Louisiana — but the story skipped over much of the narrator’s childhood during that summer, which was often referenced. Still, I loved the narrator's voice and storytelling techniques.

Of course, you can format your praise and critique any way you’d like, but be specific and provide some examples if possible.

Your Recommendation

So, do you recommend this book? Why or why not? Who is it targeted to? Who do you think would enjoy this? Who would absolutely loathe it?

Classic literature lovers and Greek myth historians might go nuts over The Odyssey. Politically-involved people might love To Kill a Mockingbird. Those who enjoy a good mystery would sail through any of James Patterson’s books.

And if you can’t recommend this book, tell us why. Would it not appeal to anybody? Was it poorly written? Will other readers be sorely disappointed by the ending?

Basically, was the book worth the journey?

Your Rating

How you want to rate this is entirely up to you, but be sure to inform the audience on how your rating system works.

Most websites use a star-rating system while others use letters or numbers. Some even use inanimate objects, like Rotten Tomatoes.

After Writing

When you’ve finished writing your book review, always proofread your work twice, three times, even four times. The last thing you want to do is hit “Share” and find yourself scrambling to fix some grammatical errors.

You also want to be sure that you’re not being downright mean in your review. Remember that constructive criticism does not equate to being rude.

Think of it this way: another person wrote this book and spent a lot of time and effort doing so — so as the age-old saying goes, treat others how you would want to be treated. Ask yourself: What kind of constructive criticism would help you?

Try to link any photos or purchasing links at the beginning and end of your review. If you are able to, tag and categorize the review with the book title, the author’s name, and maybe even the genre.

Have you written any book reviews lately? Link us any book reviews you’ve written and we’d love to showcase them on our social media pages!

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