Looking for tips on how to write a review of a non-fiction book that gets your book review noticed? Come along. Let's read, write, and share our favorite books.
Non-fiction books are full of information. These sources of how to do most anything, self-help for all occasions, and true-life adventures fill bookstore shelves. How do we know if a book is worth reading? The best way is to ask a few friends or to read a few book reviews.
Every book is unique and each book reviewer has a different view. This makes for a diversity of opinions and myriad approaches to writing a review of a non-fiction book. The challenge for you, as a book reviewer, is to find your special touch that brings readers to you when they want to add to their reading list.
Make your book reviews stand out from the crowd by asking yourself a few questions while you read.
What does my audience want to know about this book?
A book review for a non-fiction book is a critique, a constructive evaluation of the book. As the writer of a book review, your job is to give readers a quick glimpse inside the cover. Here are few things your readers may want to know:
- The main point of the book.
- Why you decided to read the book.
- What they will learn by reading the book.
- The book's strong points and weak points.
- Why they should read the book.
What is my first impression of this book?
The saying, Don't judge a book by its cover, does not apply to book reviews. Publishers work hard to design book covers that attract attention and to write cover copy that genuinely describes the book.
As you explore the book cover and the introduction pages, evaluate these items:
- The author's background and qualifications to write about the subject.
- How well the title describes the book.
- The information revealed in the author's introduction and the table of contents.
- The description of the book on the book cover.
What points stand out as I read this book?
As you read, keep a notebook by your side to take notes. These notes will help structure your book review and help you remember important points and lessons you learned from the book.
Here are a few note-worthy points:
- Is the writing style easy to understand? How well does the author get the point across? Does the author stay on topic?
- Did you learn something new? Does the book deliver on its promise? How helpful or informative was the book?
- Is the book innovative? Does it contain new and updated information? Does it make you think about the topic differently?
How should I organize and format the book review?
Your audience is your priority when writing a book review. What do they need to know about the book to make a decision? What parts of the book will your audience find useful and informative? What parts of the book will be less than helpful? Organize your book review around your audience's needs.
Here are some general guidelines on how to organize a book review:
- Start with a brief summary of the book and its benefits, new discoveries, and timely advice. Keep your summary to 1 or 2 short paragraphs.
- Offer suggestions on how the book may be useful to readers. Does it solve a particular problem? Does it accomplish a specific task?
- Provide your critique and evaluation. Describe the parts that you found most interesting or helpful. And, tell your reader what you didn't like about the book.
- Close your book review by giving your honest opinion. Be brief and keep your personal input to 2 or 3 sentences.
What are some good examples of book reviews?
You'll find book reviews all over the Internet. Every bookstore, publisher, and blogger has book reviews of every genre and price range. My favorite place to find inspiration and new ideas is the New York Times Sunday Book Review.
What is the difference between a good book review and a bad book review? The Writing Center at University of North Carolina provides an example. The Book Reviews handout shows what it takes to write an expert book review. You'll also find more helpful tips that will help you get your book reviews noticed.
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