Academic book reviews.


Any tips to write a book review? One thing I learnt: place the book institutionally. Is this the outcome of a 5 year project that involved several institutions? The result of a long held collaboration between activists and scholars? And so on.


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While there are many reasons to write an academic book review, getting a "publication" is not one of them. Academic book reviews rank somewhere below publishing in a semi-obscure conference proceedings, and somewhere slightly above "vaguely laudatory service to the profession.”


Purpose of a Book Review

Are there any tips out there for inexperienced academic book reviewers?

Quick Tips

• Look at past book reviews they've published about similar books. After you've read the book, look at reviews for the same book from other major sources. Think about who reads the publication and what they most want out of a book review. Read a bunch of book reviews, especially from the journal that's asking you. Then you can get a sense for what is typically included in reviews in general, and in ones that you find helpful. Do not to be overly-effusive with praise. You want to be critical.

• E.g., if it's mostly teaching faculty reading this journal/site, they will want a review to address: can this be used in the classroom? Could students read it?

• There's bound to be something about it you like, so talk about that. Use lots of adjectives. It doesn't have to be lengthy and doesn't spoil the plot.

• Again the point here is not “if you can’t say something nice, don’t say it.” The point is writing this kind of essay requires you engage with the arguments the author presents, and don’t just slam them. An academic book review is not a yelp review.

• Be keen to avoid typos and errata

• Don’t write an academic review of a book that you can't find anything redeemable about.

A book review is an essential evaluation of a written text or an object, and this covers all the aspects of books, literature material, among many other forms that can be intertwined at this level. Things you should know about a book review include:

• A review provides the reader with a concise summary of the entire content. This contains descriptions that are based on the topic and also its general argument and perspective or even purpose.

• A review does offer an essential assessment of the written material. It points out what you, as the reader, you find to be worth noting, whether it is captivating, persuasive, and how it made you feel about the whole issue.

• A review overly suggests at the end of the material at hand can be appreciated by an audience. 

 

Does anyone have tips on how to write a legit academic book review?

1.    First, read the book, and as you are reading, make a few notes about the points you want to get across, and these can be in the form of questions:

• What are the author’s purposes and views regarding this book? - This can clearly be stated in such a few words in the preface of the book or the introduction part.

• What form of evidence does the author use to fortify the points he or she has made? Ask yourself if the evidence is compelling- Do points fully get supported by what the author brings forward as hard evidence?

• How does the book correspond to other books with the same topic relate? - Does this book have some unique aspects? Does it add original and new information, and what group of readers will find this book to provide utility? 

• Has the book been written by a professional writer? Does the author have the skills needed to write readable material?

• Which is an ideal level by which the book can criticize the book? Did the author manage to be successful in relaying his ideas across to the reader and achieve the main purpose of writing the book?

2.    Try to imagine you are telling your friend a story regarding something which may be interesting or not. When you do this, then it becomes much easier since you do not have to follow so many rules, which indeed lead to confusion, and then you’re caught in between the writer’s block since you are afraid of doing the wrong thing. A book review is simple, and you shouldn’t over think it. Just write as if you are telling your friend a book you read last night.

3.    It is indeed imperative as you are telling your friend about the book you read that you do not forget to mention the name of the author. Remember, the story is not yours, and you should give credit where it’s due. It does not take much effort; just a second or two, and you have grasped that point as your professor is grading your paper.

4.    Make specific points regarding what you are planning to write. This makes it a lot easier, and I do it all the time. Make seven points (an example), then per every point, write a paragraph. It’s clear to see that this is the simplest method since you only need to write like 100 words per every point, and you are good to go. That’s an entire paper you’ve just written. Just make sure you list the points before you get to start writing your book review.

5.    Before beginning to write your book review, make sure you have made clear what your theme is since it’s quite disappointing if the reader of your book review reads the entire text, and he or she doesn’t support what you have just reviewed. Make it clear at the beginning what you will be discussing about, and this makes it easier for everyone who is trying to read your book review.

6.    You also have to grade the book as per its genre. Does it have one in the first place? Like, does it fall under drama, action & adventure, horror, satire, or even mystery? If it does, then state its genre. You have some points there from your professor!

7.    Think about the writing style the author has used. Does it appeal to your sense of humor? What do you like most about the narrative writing used, the descriptive or expository style used by the author. Comment on this the best way to like.

8.    Use quotes from the book itself. I mean, quotes from the author. This will give the reader some sense of authority that you indeed have read the book, and even if you are not agreeing or you agree with the author, it’s right to pass authorization to the author. Use parenthesis (and include page numbers), avoid self-citations; do not make your views on the topic since this is not your written work.

On the issue of self-citation:

• It would be reasonable to avoid repeating what is essential in the author’s work, but you would rather try a dialogue with other authors!

• At the early stage of book reviewing, we tend to self-cite to boost overall citations. Avoid this pitfall. You will feel embarrassed at a later stage of career to see your papers filled with self-citations.

 

9.    I have stated this on point number 8, but I want to give you more details regarding the fact that you should not tell readers of your review what the book is about. Those are your views regarding the book, and they are STRICTLY not allowed since it’s not a written invitation to present your opinions regarding the book or the author. Your review should tell the readers if they should read the book, what is good about the book, or why they should not waste time reading the book altogether.

10.    Spend some time and do some light research regarding the author of the book. This information is vital since you will understand more why the author came up with such a book. A book comes from a writer’s mind, and it’s entirely appropriate that when you write a book, it will rotate around your life, your friends, early school life, etc. so a book is just an invitation to the mind of the author, and you have to explore effectively to come up with a well-written book review.

Just a recap:

 

• Read the book and makes notes

• Write a book review just like you’d imagine telling your friend a story

• State the author's name

• Plan your writing by making points

• State the theme of the book review to readers during the early stages

• State the genre of the book

• State your opinion regarding the writing style used

• Quote the author in your text

• Do not write your ideas for the book. 

• Please do a deep dive and research EVERYTHING.



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