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Writing a Book Review

Book review is a form of literary criticism through which one is expected to submit a critical discussion of the book. The particular book is analyzed based on content, style and merit. A good book review therefore should describe what is on the page, analyzes whether or not the book achieved its purpose and express the various emotions and arguments from the reader’s perspective. Book reviews therefore vary in length and from a single paragraph to a substantial essay.

The following are the steps one is expected to follow while writing a book review.

The following are the steps to Writing a Book Review

STEP 1: Reading the book while taking down notes

This is the most important step before you begin writing your book review. Ensure you have read the book multiple times so that you are able to view the aspects, setting and characters of the book in a new and/or in a different way.

While reading through the book, take notes of impressions you get from the book. The book may obviously bring about different emotions, all which you should take notes about. The notes do not have to be perfectly jolted down, as it is only a brief draft before you begin writing the book review. It also at this point that you figure out the major themes brought out in the book. Ensure you pay keen to the preface, quotes and the references as these influence theme determination and view point.

STEP 2: Writing the Heading

Most book review begin with a heading. In most cases, the book review headings include the bibliographic information about the particular book. However, the standard format of the heading includes: the title, the author’s name, the place of publication: the publisher, date of publication and number of pages of the book. Therefore unless you have been given instructions on the format to you use, consider the standard format for your heading.

Below is an example of a Heading of a Book Review of the book Behind Closed Doors.

Ngaire Thomas, privately published, 2 Alaska Court, Palmerstone North, New Zealand,, 2004. 294pp. ISBN 0646499106. NZ$34.

STEP 3: Writing the Introduction

It is at this point that you grab the reader’s attention so that they are interested in reading your book review. One is expected to highlight what the book is about therefore ensure that your introduction contains relevant details such as the authors background. It is also at this point that you highlight the main themes you are to present about the particular book and also your view on the book. This helps a great deal to situate the reader in being interested in your view. Your opening could begin with an anecdote or quote used in the book. You opening sentences should be brief but to the point. However, ensure that your opening is relevant to the themes and views you bring out in the book review.

Below is the introduction for the Book Review of the book Behind Closed Doors.

The book Behind Closed focuses on what goes on behind the doors od Exclusive Brethren. The book is a perfect answer of how life as a member of a select Christian group is. Especially those that choose to maintain a life that is perfectly pure. Ngaire Thomas who is the author of the book had a Christian upbringing like mst African families but later left the church. Around the same time that Thomas left church, Bryan Wilson died. He was a publisher during the definitive study of exclusive brethren in the 1960s and was also an expert witness in their cases. Today, after outbreaks of violence in other religions have repeatedly demonstrated that ex-members accounts are often more accurate than academic ones, we may be more welcoming of their insights. 

“What is freedom of expression? Without the freedom to offend, it ceases to exist” Salman Rushdie. This quote sums up the debate about freedom of speech and hate speech.

STEP 4: Writing the Summary of the book

Having established the heading and introduction of your book review, you can then move on to writing a summary of the book. To avoid plagiarism, ensure that you cite appropriately all quotes and if possible, paraphrase them. Keep your summary short while focusing on giving a description of the books setting, the narrative voice used and also the plot used within a critical analysis. Make sure you do not reveal how the book ends as it is too early to give this information. Therefore, any information past the middle of the book to the end should not be included in the summary bit of the book review.

Below is the Summary for the Book Review of the book Behind Closed Doors.

The book begns by defining and describing Ngaires childhood experiences and how different they were from her friends’. She would be forced to wear long dresses and had a very strict upbringing. The only place whereshe could be herself was school which she really loved. When she was not at school, she was at home where worldly things were forbidden and life revolved around the Bible. Even when she invited her friends over to her home, her mother preached to them about Revelations and the end of the world. Other Christians are also deemed suspect, and Ngaire recalls getting the strap when caught secretly attending Bible in School classes. A Salem-like undercurrent of holy surveillance pervades the scenes, and this undercurrent surfaces in Chapter 10, when Ngaire is pressured into falsely admitting that she has “committed fornication” with her cousin. Her case is taken to the Auckland assembly, and after a hearing in which she is found guilty, she is forced to confess, sobbing, before 500-600 solemn faces.

STEP 5: Evaluating the book

It is at this point that you shift to your critical analysis of the book. This the heart of your book review and you are therefore allowed to be as clear as possible. The answers you jolted down in your preparation come in handy as they help you address whether or not the author achieved the book’s purpose. You are allowed to even include specific point that did not convince you or had lacked actual development. You could also include how the book relates to other books regarding the particular theme you are discussing in your review.

Below is the book Evaluation for the Book Review of the book Behind Closed Doors

Ngaire Thomas’ book is non-judgmental as she clearly shows the exclusive brethren’s right to follow a religious path to which they feel at home and find meaning. The adjustment in her family is massive such that the do not have an idea of how to act in a normal society. Her two elder brothers actually loved prison such that even when their jail term ended, they chose to remain in prison. Readers that are familiar with Fowler’s stages of faith will find it interesting following Ngaire’s faith shifts as she finds the kingdom of heaven within.

STEP 6: Wrapping up the Review

It is at this point that you conclude the book review. If you have successfully achieved your critical position, then your conclusion should also flow naturally. You can conclude through a conclusion paragraph or just simply several sentences that sum up your critical analysis of the book. You could examine the books strengths and/ or weaknesses while discussing if you would recommend that someone read the book.

While wrapping up, you could give the book some overall rating or score. Ensure that you do not introduce anything new in this paragraph that you had not featured in the introduction or the body paragraphs.

Below is how to wrap up a Book Review of the book Behind Closed Doors.

Ngaire’s unpretentious forgiving style is unpretentious. Although there are some weaknesses in the book, its efforts in helping us understand the lives of the Exclusive brethren are fruitful. Some would consider the structure as unpolished because some of the sections would rather appear as appendices and there is also some printing error on the inside cover. Nevertheless, the book provides a valuable and absorbing window into a religion that is for most of us inaccessible. Ngaire’s book Behind Closed Doors exhibits a lot of courage from a woman who wants to speak out about her life story, with or without flaws.

Below is how body paragraphs are structured in a research paper.

STEP 7: Including Reference page

A book review is considered valid if it is accompanied by references from which the reader may extract the evidence you gave in the essay. A reference page also recognizes the works done by previous authors regarding the subject. The references are however included as end notes.

Below are the References for a Book Review of the book Behind Closed Doors.


Bryan Wilson, “The Exclusive Brethren: A Case Study in the Evolution of a Sectarian Ideology,” in Patterns of Sectarianism: Organization and Ideology in Social and Religious Movements, ed. B. Wilson (London: Heinemann, 1967) 287; Bryan Wilson, The Social Dimensions of Sectarianism, Sects and New Religious Movements in Contemporary Society. (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1990) 19; Bryan Wilson, Letter to the Editor, Evangelical Times (23 Sept 1999). D-420.topic [Accessed 18 December 2004].

STEP 9: Proofreading the Book Review

This step is important before submitting your book review as it is the last chance you have to modify your already written draft. You could add points or views that you had forgotten to include, or you could also adjust by doing away with views that were not so well developed.

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The moment; and yet I feel that I never was a greater artist than now. When, while the lovely valley teems with vapour around me, and the meridian sun strikes the upper surface of the impenetrable foliage.


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