Writing is one of the most lucrative skills these days. The growth of the content marketing industry has given rise to writing jobs all over the world. In the book industry, book reviews are a great way to grow the audience for the works produced by a publishing house. Readers love to go through book reviews before picking a book, as it helps them know more about a book and select the right books. If you want a book review example, then you can check out our The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath review article.
How To Write A Good Book Review?
Academic book reviews, it doesn’t matter if you are in high school or college, are also a great way to explore your writing and literary skills. Writing such reviews helps you to understand the book better and experience the characters closely. It’s been more than three years since I started reviewing books. Over time, I have managed to work on my book-reviewing skills to polish them. So, if you are looking for some tips on how to write a book review, then I am sure you will find this helpful.
1. Bring Out Your Personality
First things first, book reviews are incredibly personal. Unlike literary essays, book reviews are all about what you feel about the book and how it touched you. It’s a highly opinionated form of writing. Hence, you must bring out your personality while writing a book review. Adding your character also helps the reader to connect with the review. Talk to your reader like they are your friend. Be witty, funny, humorous, blunt, straightforward, or whatever you want to be. The bottom line is, just be yourself and let the magic happen.
2. Make It Personal
How did you come across this book that you are reviewing? Did someone recommend it to you? Or were you window shopping books online, and one thing led to another, and in no time, you ended up ordering a bunch of books? Share your story! Establish a relationship with the reader through your account and personal anecdotes. If the book helped you get through a significant life crisis, then make sure that you mention that. People want to know what a book is capable of doing to a person. When you create a picture of your relationship trajectory with the book in your review, people find it easy to connect with both you and the book. Try it out and allow your reflection to brighten up your book review.
3. Summarize The Plot Of The Book
I find summarizing a book rather tricky. It’s a thin line, and you wouldn’t want to blur it. Often, people end up writing the entire story of the book and call it a summary. As a writer, you cannot afford to fill up your whole article with the book’s plot because that’s up to the reader to find out when they read the book. You wouldn’t want to spoil the book for them with too much information.
Summarizing is less about what to include and more about what to exclude. So, figure out what elements of the plot you need to omit. If you are writing a spoiler-filled review, make sure you provide a spoiler alert right at the beginning of your article. However, providing a spoiler is not an excuse to write down the entire story. Include only those spoilers necessary to amp up your review that the reader will appreciate.
4. Let The Characters Do The Talking
Characters are an essential part of a fiction book. A poorly written book may end up performing great if it has fantastic characters. And I think we have seen many such examples in the book industry in the past few years. People connect with stories through characters. Talk about the quirks of the characters. Explore the relationships between those characters and share your commentary on the same. Don’t just write what’s already there in the book. Add your perspective too. As I said in the previous point, make it personal. Write about how you resonated with a particular character. Did you find any similarity between you and that character’s quirks?
What is it about that character that made you fall in love with them? Writing about the characters in detail helps the reader understand what to expect from the book. If a reader is looking forward to reading a book with a specific kind of character, such as possessive, sensitive, or reserved, your detailed review will help them pick better. Give as much information and value as possible. By the end of your review, a reader should have a proper and vivid outline of the book. They should also connect with your writing to come back and share their views with you after finishing the book. You would want to create that space and leave it open for the reader.
5. Insert Quotations
Who doesn’t like quotations? I am a massive fan of quotations, and I love collecting them too. And isn’t it the same case for every book lover? Quotations quickly transport you to specific moments in the story, and it’s mesmerizing. Inserting quotations in your review helps the readers get a quick glimpse of the book. From a quote, you can also figure out the writing style of the author. As a reader, I have picked many books by reading a couple of quotations from those books. A quotation gives you an idea about the whole vibe of the book.
If the quote is relatable and people can resonate with it, then they would be more likely to continue to read your review and may as well order the book. Especially with non-fiction self-help books, you must insert some quotations from the text. You can even start your review with a quote from the book and then follow up with your commentary on the same. Try to share your personal story of how the quotation helped you or touched you. This will make your book review more intimate and authentic for the reader, and they will easily connect with it.
6. Make Use Of Your Annotations
This is very basic, but I still want to cover it here. Making annotations while reading is essential when you are supposed to write a book review. Adding notes in your books will help you later when you sit down to write the article. Putting sticky tabs on essential parts, highlighting quotations, and using paper prompts to write down your thought on characters or scenarios will help you to make use of them in your review at the right place. It’s your unique observation that will make your review stand out and shine bright amongst a sea of reviews. A lot of readers look up for reviews after finishing the book to know what others think. They would love to know your thoughts and observation on little things.
7. Be Honest (Unbiased) About The Flaws
Honesty truly is the best policy. But what if you never intended to be dishonest and ended up hiding your honest thoughts? When I just started reviewing books, I always thought I should write good things about them. I was not getting paid by the publishing house or the author to write only good things; instead, it was something from within that stopped me from exposing a book’s flaws. Especially with those books that I enjoyed reading a lot, I could never reveal their flaws. But soon, I realized my mistake and corrected it.
Writing a book review encompasses everything about that book. And just like humans, books aren’t perfect either because humans write them. Hence, it’s okay to write about the flaws as honestly as you can manage. Being honest also means keeping aside your prejudice. Honesty can very quickly come across as arrogance and rudeness. I am sure you wouldn’t want to give that vibe. No matter how much you hate a book or some elements in it, try to be gracefully eloquent. Your criticism shouldn’t come across as bashing. Stick to constructive criticism, and you will be good to go.
8. Don’t Ignore The Writing Style
This is imperative. Make sure you leave significant room in your review to mention your thoughts on the writing style. Every author has a distinct type of telling a story and presenting their characters. This is where your annotations will come bearing utility. While reading, keep making notes about the writing style. A lot of times, authors switch between different styles. Make sure you mention all these aspects of the book. Beginners would want to know if the book is beginner-friendly or not. Thus, make sure you provide enough information on that. If a book is specifically tricky, for example – Infinite Jest, mention that in the article.
9. Discuss Important Literary Devices
Authors use various literary devices for smooth storytelling. Using literary devices helps the author to make their story more vibrant and unique. It equips them to kill monotony and make the writing intriguing. Therefore, covering these literary devices will make your review wholesome and exciting. I love covering imagery in my reviews. I love visually descriptive writing, and when I find such imageries in a book, I make sure I mention them in my reviews. You can follow some of these literary devices while writing your book review: Personification, Metaphor, Symbolism, Foreshadowing, Allegory, Colloquialism, Euphemism, Juxtaposition, etc.
10. Try To Add Photographs
Photographs are a great way to communicate with your audience. Especially when reviewing a book, if you add its pictures, the audience will appreciate it a lot as it helps them figure out the size and thickness of the book. They also get a closer look at the book’s cover. A lot of people consider a book’s cover when buying a book. You can click simple flat-lay pictures of the book and some side shots to reveal the spine and thickness of the book.
If you want to make it even more interesting, try adding some additional props such as candles, pens, highlighters, coffee mugs, chocolate, cupcakes, pearls, feathers, torn pages, etc. There are endless ways to make your pictures beautiful and aesthetic. You can also click themed images. So, if you are reviewing a horror book, you can add props that give horror vibes, for example, a skull toy. If you want to add a personal touch to your pictures, then you can click your images while holding the book.
You can pose with the book on different backgrounds. Set a timer in your camera and play around with the book. Editing is also essential as it makes the pictures more vibrant and fun. Themes such as orange and teal, grey and orange, rose gold, and muted green are trending. Therefore, you can play around with these editing styles and let the photographs do the talking!
11. The Conclusion Is The Highlight
Just like a book’s climax, the conclusion of a book review is essential. You can share your final thoughts here. But make sure you write it very briefly. Just a sentence or two that represents your complete opinion of the book. You can also choose to rate the book in this part. If you are using a WordPress.org blog, we recommend Rank Math SEO plugin ⭐ to add ratings for your reviews.
We are using it for our blog right now. If you are not sure about giving an overall rating following the book’s complexity, you can break down the book into different elements and rate them respectively. You can also mention the book’s difficulty level here if you have not talked about that earlier. Often, people directly skip to the conclusion to catch on to the final thoughts and the rating. So, that’s why you must give extra attention to your book review’s conclusion.
Alright, so these were some essential tips I had regarding a book review. We recommend using Grammarly (Free!) 🔍 for proofreading your reviews before you submit them to your client or publish them on your blog. It’s important to know that there is no substitute for practice. So, the more you will practice writing book reviews, the better you will get at them. You can also read other book reviews to get the hang of it. Let us know in the comments if these tips helped you to get started. We are excited to hear from you!
Sneha Banerjee has been writing for half a decade now. She is also a professional copywriter and has worked for many businesses. She is a voracious reader, and her ultimate dream is to turn everyone into a reader.