Academic Book Review Format

Before even approaching your paper and beginning to write your academic book review, it is crucial that you have a proper format laid out ahead of time. Taking the little extra time to prepare, even before you start the book, will significantly improve your overall review, and shorten the time it takes you to write that paper.

Before you read your book

Prior to opening the book, you should have a notebook handy to jot down a few questions. Leave a bit of space between each so you can write as you go. This will help you pick out various points throughout the book that you may have missed in your paper later on. Some questions to have would be:

  • What is the crux, or overall point of the book, that the author is trying to convey?
  • What are some supporting facts and arguments that the author gives to bolster their main point?
  • Are there any points that the author missed or failed to substantially support?
  • How does the author approach the subject?
  • Are the arguments the author makes sensible?
  • Are you persuaded? If so, by what?

Structuring your review

Once you have completed the book, you can now use the information you gathered from the questions above to formulate a compelling review based on your overall analysis of the book. Here we will piece apart the elements of a review and explain what should be in each.

Introduction – This is usually the first paragraph, but may span across two paragraphs. The introduction comprises the basic details of the book, and any relevant information. Additionally, you should end your introduction with your thesis, which will be the main argument that you will support during your review. This will transition you to the next portion of your review and allow for a nice overall flow between the elements in the paper.

Book Summary – Here you will summarize the main point of the author, describe the book, and then move on to the next section. If your audience has not already read the book, then you should devote more attention to the summary.

Content – The middle paragraphs, or pages, will contain all of the supporting points for your main thesis. It is much easier to begin one point, give all the supporting facts, and then continue to the next. Additionally, arrange your points so that the last one is a strong point.

Conclusion – Now you simply need to restate your thesis, summarize your points, and point out that, despite the evidence against your thesis, your argument is justified.