Academic review of a book is a good assignment to help students learn to generalize and critically evaluate big forms of academic texts. Reading books is a frequent thing students face, so developing the skills of working with them will come in handy in the future academic work.
The volume of your paper is around 1500-2000 words (close to 4 single-spaced pages) what is defined by the big volume of the text to be reviewed. There is usually a deadline to be kept. The aim of the assignment is to develop critical evaluation skills and help students master the skills of working with sources. The work is theoretical. The exact task is to review a certain scientific text (monograph, textbook, book) using some other sources related to the same topic.
A Brief Structure of the Book Review
Here is the following sequence to be followed while reviewing a book.
- A full bibliographical description;
- Actuality of the topic covered by the book;
- Structure of the book with a brief description of what the main chapters are about;
- Critical comments to the structure review;
- Critical comments concerning the whole book;
- Conclusions of the review;
- List of sources used for the review.
The most difficult aspect is formulation of critical comments, because this requires a personal position of the reviewer. To feed your critical thinking, read the reviews on the same book/author by the other writers. You may agree or disagree with them, and find some inspiration and new perspectives to look from. Moreover, having read the reviews of others, you will “catch the wave” of proper stylistics of review writing, and will revise the existing techniques to select the best suitable for you. Getting other sources involved, you make your particular one more efficient and well-supported.
Notes About the Structure
Surely, the structure needs to be analyzed. Nevertheless, your review should not look like a summary starting from the phrases like “the first chapter is about...; the second chapter deals with…” Do not start with the review of every particular chapter, but with the actual problematics you want to cover, and referring to the ideas from this chapter. Do not stick to the structure of the book, but develop your personal structure and organize your book review accordingly. Your personal point of view should be in the basis of the work, and ideas as well as illustrations from the book should play a supplementary role.
Criteria of Evaluation
We are sure that your professor has his/her own criteria of the book review evaluation, but there are certain genre demands which are common for all papers of this type. Following them will help you get the desired grade. The features below characterize an A+ book review:
- The selected book for review has a relation to the course, topic and corresponds to the format, genre and publication date demands;
- Not less than 3 outside relevant sources have been used to support the provided arguments;
- All the sources have been used properly and cited correctly based on the format requirements. Direct quotes have been introduced with the help of inversed commas.
- The reviewer does not just retell the thoughts discovered from the reading, but logically and in a structured manner states his/her own point of view, gives a critical evaluation as well as suggestions for the work of the author of the book.
- The paper of the review is original, the text is well-done and the reviewer states his/her opinions concisely and clearly.
- The book review meets the length requirements and was submitted within the required deadline. It is well-structured and the parts of the text are interlinked. The text corresponds to the purpose and tasks of the assignment and deals with the book reviewed.