How Write a Good Book Review

How to Write a Good Book Review

So you want to know how to write a good book review. Awesome! But let’s clear it up from the start: this post is talking about the quality of your book review and not whether you liked the book or thought it was good. You can hate a book and still write a good review.

How Write a Good Book Review
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What Makes a Book Review Good?

A good book review is one that is thoughtfully written and thought-provoking. It clearly expresses your opinion of the book and why you felt the way you did. Unless you’re writing critical book reviews that goes into detail on the technicalities of the writing and the author’s skill, your book review is your opinion of the book. And it may not necessarily reflect the way other people think or feel about the book.

Just think about it for a second, I’m sure you’ve heard people raving about books that you read and thought were less than stellar. At the same time, you may have loved books that other people disliked or downright hated.  

And you may have read some of the reviews and disagreed with them. If the person had written a good review, then you would know why they disliked the book. You may agree with them on some points. Or, you may completely disagree. In either case, you should at least know why the person felt the way they did about the book.

A good book review is one that clearly expresses your opinion of the book and why you felt the way you did.

Tips for Writing a Compelling Book Review

Communicate. A great book review is about how you express yourself. You’re letting potential readers—and the author—know what you thought about the book. You want to make sure your voice is clear and your reasoning easy to follow.

Take notes as you read. Highlight, add notes or jot down your observations as you’re going through the book. This will allow you to be able to get a quick overview of the book once you’ve finished reading. You can also make notes of your favorite scenes (fiction) or quotes (nonfiction) which can easily be shared in your review.

Think about your rating system. Most review sites ask you to include a rating. So you’ll need to decide upfront how you’re going to rate a book. What is it that takes a book from being a good read to being awesome?

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Include some of your reactions. What were you really excited to learn? Was there something the author said that resonated with you? Did the female character remind you of your best friend? What was it about the book’s theme that made you cry?

But what about the things you didn’t like…how do you write about those?

How to Write About What You Didn’t Like in a Book

A good way of writing about the things you didn’t like in a book, is to use the sandwich method. It’s rare (I’m not even sure it’s possible) to find a book that’s all bad. My suggestion is that you set the book aside for a few minutes or hours before you decide to write the review. This will give you time to mull over the book and get any major venting out of the way. Ideally, don’t start reading a new book before you’ve written a review as that will just muddle you up.

I find that when I don’t like a book, it helps me to talk about all that I hated to get it out of my system. This clears up my brain so I can remember the good things in the book or what the author did well. I also try not to write a completely negative review because I know it represents hours or years of a person’s life. So, I use what is called the sandwich method (I don’t know who called it that. I heard the term from another author who also writes book reviews.)

Steps in the Sandwich Book Review Process

1. Start with some of the positive things that you found in the book.

2. Write about what you disliked. Be sure to include specific things you disliked.

Example of a bad review:

I did not like this book. The author cannot write.

Example of a good review:

I thought the female character was poorly developed. Her reactions were not practical. When her friend insulted her, all she did was stare blankly. There was no internal dialogue or verbal response which was strange because the author detailed her every reaction to pretty nail polish.

Okay, so I made that one up, but you get the point.

3. End on a positive note. Your book review is just one person’s opinion so you don’t want to leave a bad taste (so to speak) in a potential reader’s mouth. It may not have been a good fit for you, but do not rob someone of the opportunity to read a book that they may enjoy or that may give them the answer to a problem they’re struggling with. 

And that’s how you make a book review sandwich: good things, bad things, good things.

Doing that allows the reader of your review to realize that the book wasn’t all bad. It also gives them an opportunity to decide for themselves if the book is one they’d be interested in reading.

Other Things to Consider When Writing a Book Review

Re-read and proofread. Make sure that things flow well and are spelled correctly. One of the worst things you can do is complain about an author’s spelling or grammar, only to have multiple errors in your review. This automatically diminishes the value of your review in the reader’s eyes.

Consider contacting the author directly. If there were multiple things wrong with the book or you found errors in the book, contact the author directly. Most authors include their contact information in books or have a website where they can be reached. Instead of lambasting the author on the internet, try one-on-one contact. Who knows, maybe she will be so ecstatic about the errors you caught, she’ll invite you to be one of her beta-readers…and who wouldn’t love more free books?

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I hope that you now have a pretty good idea about how to write a great book review. If you’ve read any of my books, I’d love it if you’d leave a review on Amazon or write a review on your blog (see what I did there?) If you enjoyed this content, consider subscribing to my newsletter to get updates as I post stuff or check out my faith-based content on Hebrews12Endurance.com.

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