Book Review: Elements and Structure

The Basic Elements of a Book Review

Whether you’re writing a book review for a newspaper or academic journal, it’s essential to keep certain things in mind. For example, avoid focusing too much on gaps in the research.

Start with bibliographic information (author name, full title of the work including subtitle, editor, place of publication, publisher, date of publication, and edition if known). This is followed by an appraisal of the text’s purpose and argument.

Thesis Statement

A book review’s thesis statement describes the overall purpose of a writing assignment and helps control ideas in the paper. It is usually the first paragraph of a review and includes the author’s name, full title, subtitle, editor, place, publisher, date, number of pages, and bibliographical information such as style, if appropriate.

Generally, you should provide your key observation or evaluation of the subject area in the thesis statement. Then you should state your opinion about the quality and credibility of the research, including how well it supports the argument of the book under review.

Then you should include a summary of the major points in the book, quoting and paraphrasing passages from the text. Finally, you should describe how the main idea of the book relates to your observations and evaluate the writer’s ability to convey a message about this relationship. This section should be relatively brief, since your assessment takes precedence in the rest of the essay.


The book review is a form of critical evaluation that discusses the merits and shortcomings of various texts. It is a common assignment in many disciplines and genres. This handout covers the basic elements of writing a book review, but students should always check with their instructors for specific guidelines.

Introduction: Begin the review with general information about the author and title, including bibliographic details. Also include a brief summary of the text and your initial reaction and appraisal. This is important to set the context for your assessment.

Then explain the book’s main arguments and themes, evaluating their validity. This is the part where you can discuss your own views about the text, but be sure to distinguish these from those of the author. You should also give a sense of the author’s overall purpose in writing the book, such as whether to provide information or persuade readers to change their attitudes and behaviors.


Book reviews differ from book reports in that the reviewer writes an evaluation about the content of a specific work, giving unbiased opinions on its strengths and weaknesses. A well-written book review must start with a brief summary of the overall topic, including information on characters and key themes.

A review should also discuss the author’s general field or genre, identifying how the subject matter of a work relates to its context and intended audience. An overview of the book’s main argument or theme should follow, along with the reviewer’s appraisal of the strength and validity of that argument.

Lastly, a book review should provide a brief assessment of the writing style and tone of a text. Depending on the assignment, it is sometimes acceptable to include your own opinions in a book review. However, expressing personal viewpoints in an academic writing assignment is generally discouraged in most academic disciplines below the Ph.D. level.


Book reviews contain a critical analysis of the contents and principal ideas included in a book. They serve as a learning opportunity for authors and provide readers with an insight that is helpful in deciding whether to read the book or not.

A review typically includes the author, book title and subtitles, and publication date. It also includes information about the book’s genre and purpose. The review also includes a brief overview of the contents and a summary of the author’s main points. It also includes a paragraph or two that describes how the author’s style and presentation of the material appeal to the reader. Finally, the review contains a paragraph that provides an evaluation of the author’s work and offers a final comment. Review paragraphs are usually organized according to a single organizing idea, like comparison and contrast. This allows you to write your comments more concisely and effectively. It also makes it easier to follow your argument.

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