Ultimate Guide on How to Make a Book Review

Book Review

Have you ever wondered how a book review is done? Is there any element that differentiates what is a literary review from what is not, if it follows any fixed structure, or if it can be done freely?

Literary blogs and bookstagrams or Instagram accounts have become fashionable that show books and comments on them, but how to review books correctly? There would be a lot of debate around this topic. We will try to shed some light on it and offer a guide with 10 steps to do a book review.

What is a review?

Structure of a review


10 key steps

  1. Situate the author and the book in the context of his or her work.
  2. Judging the book and placing it in its literary context.
  3. We take apart the best and the least good with reasoned arguments.
  4. Inform, educate and entertain
  5. Retain us in terms of exposing the synopsis and the plot.
  6. Style, meaning and symbolic load
  7. Author’s thought
  8. The reviewer’s thoughts on the subject of the book
  9. “Neither beating nor drooling” 10.
  10. Avoiding advertising adjectives

Key advice

What is a book review?

A book review is a critique of a book by someone who has read it. It is not just an opinion since it tries to offer a summary of the work (which may or may not include the ending) where a judgment is included. Nor is it limited to saying whether the person offering this verdict has liked it; it provides various arguments to justify it.

A literary evaluation is also offered, considering technical aspects to which a personal opinion is added. In short, the review of a book is not a criticism but to convey a personal experience about a particular reading and the result it has generated.

Structure of a book review

Up to five parts can be detected in a book review, although it is possible to do without some of them:

Introduction. In this phase, the book review’s author sets the background for the reader of this opinion. It can be a review of the genre that predominates in the work, the author’s trajectory, etc. It should last only a short time as it can make the reader disconnect.

Technical data. At this point, the review’s author introduces us to the book he/she has read: which publishing house is in charge of publishing it, the number of pages, and other qualities such as the cover design, if illustrations are included or not, format, etc.

Summary of the work. At this point in the review, the next step is to summarize it, that is, to give details of the plot (in the case of a novel or short story), or of the type of verses offered and their subject matter (in the case of a collection of poems).

Personal and technical evaluation. After giving clues about the book, it is time to talk about the reading experience in the review. Has it been entertaining? Is there anything to improve? Can it be criticized for any specific reason, such as excessive spelling mistakes? Can essay writers use it as a source for their works? Are the characters credible?

Conclusion. Would you recommend the book, and is there an audience that might enjoy this work more than others? It is time to tell the audience, through the review, if this reading can change someone’s life, brings something new to the genre, or at the very least is distracting.

Characteristics of a well-written review

Knowing the structure of a book review, anyone can start writing one. But how to make a good one and help promote a work? These are the points you should take into account:

Understandable language. Even if you have to use technical language at some points, you have to ensure that most people can understand it. Unless it is a niche reading, think about the general public.

Keep it short and concise. Don’t beat around the bush, and don’t cut corners. But the truth is that no one likes circumlocutions, and going on for nothing ends up boring. The review must have concreteness, especially when giving technical details about the book. On the other hand, the personal evaluation must be clear instead of embellishing the discourse.

Objective evaluation. Through the review, the criticism of the book must be based on logical reasons and not just a text indicating whether it has been liked or not. If the plot seemed slow or flat, examples should be given to justify it.

Free Person Holding The Pages Of An Open Book Stock Photo

10 steps to create a book review

Let’s start with an introduction where we will mention the title of the book, the author, the genre, the publisher, the date of publication, and it can be useful to do it in the form of a technical data sheet, also adding an image of the book cover. From there, we will continue with the following steps:

1. Situate the author and the book within his or her work.

To begin with, talking about who the author is and his or her literary trajectory can be good. It puts us in a situation as to whether we are dealing with a new writer or someone with more published titles. In the case of someone with a trajectory, we will have to review it, and if we are in front of a book that follows the same line as the previous one or breaks with what had been published so far.

2. Judge the book and place it in its literary context.

It is time to evaluate the book first, synthesizing what it offers and what we have felt from reading it with a sincere opinion. But we must also place the book in its literary context. For example, if it corresponds to a current academic trend, follows the line of some other author, reminds us of a particular period, or is something groundbreaking concerning what is currently on the market.

3. We analyze the best and the least good with reasoned arguments.

After the first impression, we have to describe some ideas about the book, always with reasoned arguments, giving a picture and the reason for that idea. When reviewing a novel, can we talk about the power of its descriptions, the definition of its characters, the narrative rhythm, its authenticity and interest, the intensity of the dialogues, and its capacity to hook if you find something in the tone of the book that is not so good?

4. Inform, educate and entertain.

The review’s reader can be a person with a very diverse profile. We have to try to get him to read it thoroughly, keep him on our blog as long as possible, and create an informative review of the book. Therefore, besides informing them about the book, we have to make the study agile and entertaining so they don’t get bored and leave at the first opportunity. If we add to this the possibility of educating him about the literature we are discussing, it would be the perfect combination.

Interspersing the text with graphic elements such as infographics, book images, subtitles or some outstanding quotes can help the agility.

5. Holding back on exposing the synopsis and the plot.

So far, we have only talked about revealing impressions and opinions about the book, its structure, its writing, its development, or its correction. Still, we must reflect the minimum about the synopsis and plot to avoid revealing it. It is something that the user must discover while reading the book if the review convinces him.

6. Style, meaning, and symbolic load.

Although we have already talked about the style previously, it is interesting to connect it with the symbolic load of the book, if it is congruent, if the author seeks to give a concrete message by taking advantage of the plot, if it has a meaning between the lines or a specific purpose.

7. Author’s thoughts.

Babelia’s Decalogue talks about reflecting what the author thinks about the subject of the book. Logically, talking to the writer and remembering some of his or her thoughts about the book would be a plus. However, to make a more objective review, the ideal is to keep a distance, but we can reflect the writer’s thoughts or possible intention when it comes to shaping this particular book and the subject it deals with.

8. The reviewer’s thoughts on the subject of the book.

The literary critic not only offers his or her vision of the book but can also take the license to offer his or her vision of the subject matter, but always in a reasoned and consistent manner.

9. “No banging, no drooling”.

A literary review should be an objective critique of a book. It should offer an opinion and give reasons for it, but it should neither be an attack on a specific author to vent our anger on nor a set of exaggerated praises to the book’s author. We can be great admirers or haters of an author, but we should not show that in the review, which should focus more on the specific book.

10. Avoid advertising adjectives.

Formulas such as the best book, the most exciting book of the year, an unrepeatable novel, the best thing that has fallen into my hands… be careful with advertising adjectives that should be left for advertising, with literary criticism, we should give reasons why it is good or why it is terrible, but it should be the reader who gives the adjectives.

To conclude about reviewing a book

You may already come close to all these points we have touched on in your reviews or follow a different structure but still do excellent reviews. The method can be very diverse. The essential thing is to assume the thought of a book with sincerity, objectivity, and professionalism without being guided by influences.

In fact, there are blogs of very young people doing things quite well and innovating not only with very careful texts but also with very original scoring and very striking design elements or video reviews on channels such as YouTube, all of which enrich literary criticism.

A book review should be approached with knowledge of the work at hand. In addition, it is essential to provide wit and an educational tone without falling into the error of our blog becoming a simple advertising showcase of praise for every book that falls into our hands.