1.Definition.A book review is defined as “a critical description, evaluation, or analysis of a book, especially one published in a newspaper or magazine”.
2.Explanation.Primarily book review is an evaluation of the write-up of the book and amounts of deep analysis of its contents, their overall impact, quality and significance of ideas presented in the book as perceived by the reviewer.It should focus on the purpose and authority of the book rather than retelling the contents of the book.It is written in the form of an essay whose length may vary from a single paragraph of 50 words to several paragraphs containing 1500 words.It broadly covers the salient information about the book (author, genre, and theme), noteworthy characters (fiction) or important concepts (non-fiction), writer’s style, reviewer’s reaction and conclusion on readability of the book.
3.Differences from Book Report or Summary.A book report discusses the contents of a book, while book summary describes main points contained in a non-fiction book or plot summary for fiction books.In contrast to both these forms, a book review presents a critical analysis of the contents and also has a qualitative judgement about the book.Generally, readers would consult a book review to find out about the reviewer’s opinion regarding the information or ideas in the book.Similarly, book review would also investigate the author’s intent, thematic elements, and symbolism2.
Components of Book Review
4.A book review is a highly personalized piece of writing and no established standard exists for various components to be included in a review.However, components generally included in a book review by the majority of reviewers are discussed in subsequent paragraphs:-
5.Introduction.In an introduction, the reviewer introduces the book under review and provides the readers with bibliographic information ie title, author, publisher, place of publication, date of publication, number of pages, edition (where relevant) and number of volumes (where relevant) about the book.The review normally starts with a strong and interesting opening line to guide the reader about the contents of rest of the review and to create momentum for further reading.It is important that the reviewer does not include extensive background about the writer or the subject matter.
6.Purpose of the Book.This section describes an assessment of writer’s intent along with the type and genre of the book.In this section the reviewer analyses the idea, concept or theology that the book tries to convey, promote or demote.The reviewer touches upon the subject or topic of the book and explains the point that the author is trying to prove in the book.How far the writer could achieve his purpose is also examined in this section.The reviewer discusses the comparison and contrast with other similar works and usually includes a subjective perception of the material.
7.Content Description.This section covers a brief summary of the contents and may vary in detail depending on the overall length of the review.The reviewer presents details of characters, setting and plot for fiction work or explanation of main points for non-fiction work.For poetry and literary pieces, a comment on style, language and theme are also included.The reviewer also indicates the writer’s authority on the subject matter and also states the intended audience for the book.Overall look and feel of the book including its format, layout binding, and cover page etc may also be briefly touched upon.
8.Evaluation.This is the most important section of a book review and is aimed at conveying an objective assessment of the book.The reviewer specifically elaborates on how successful the author has been with respect to the purpose of the book.Presentation of logical and convincing arguments is analysed for non-fiction work, while the interesting and cohesive plot and character development in case of fiction are evaluated in this section.The reviewer also opines on quality of the book and whether it serves the needs of the intended audience.Moreover, the reviewer also presents a comparison or contrast in both form and content with other similar items.
9.Conclusion and Recommendation.In the end, the reviewer summarizes his thoughts in a concise manner reiterating his main points and gives a recommendation on the type of readers that the book would best serve.
10.Book reviews are useful for multiple audiences like library selectors, publishers, authors, students, and scholars.A reviewer, therefore, has to have solid academic background coupled with deep interest and insight in the material under examination.A well-written book review offers comprehensive analysis and impartial critique on the material along with a suitable recommendation for the potential reader.