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Jun 23rd 2017

5 Easy Steps to Write a Book Review

It's understandable if some students dread writing a book review. It's a form of literary criticism, a skill that English major students can master in a year or less. But not everyone aspires to be a critic. Most (students) prefer to do something else during their free time. (They must have a social life or else.) Analyzing a book can be a daunting prospect, and discussing its content, style, and merit might lead to sleepless nights. Have no fear.

There's an easy way to write a book review, and it has nothing to do with the outline. It has more to do with the preparation (on how you'll write your review). Reading can take lots of time, and reading a book and jotting down notes might leave you little time for other things. You may hit a bump while studying the author's background, the book's genre, and the major themes of the book. Looking for gaps can be a time-consuming affair, such that you may miss the deadline. It's important to address these things while illustrating it with selected titles from the all-time favorites.

How to Prepare Your Book Review

There's only one way to read a book during the hectic term. You must be able to devote your free time to reading. You're required to do it, so there won't be lame excuses for not doing so. You must set your priorities early on. (It's fine if you pass up a party. There will be a next time.) Some universities have a Reading Week in the curriculum, which gives students the opportunity to focus on the reading list (and nothing else). Consider yourself fortunate if you have one, as you don't have to think of other things. The number of pages hardly changes this rule at all. (If "Don Quixote" is your assignment, then read several chapters each day. It's up to you if you want to look through it in one sitting.)

Taking down notes isn't confusing and exhausting if you know what you're looking for. Memorable quotes are fine, but there's no need to jot down anything you fancy after the first reading. Your notepad must be filled with your first impressions about the characters and storyline. Literary criticism may appear objective, but it's really a critic's perspective. It's likely that you'll forget it after reading for an hour or two, so it's better to write it down immediately. ("Moby Dick" is a meditative book, so pick a quote from each chapter. You can focus on Captain Ahab and Ishmael, both main characters of the novel. It won't take you long to form an opinion on them.)

It won't take an hour to write about the author and the book's genre. Keep in mind that a book reflects the author, so look for life experience that alludes to the story. As for the genre, it will be difficult to categorize it in one. You can argue about it, but it may be easier to cite two or three genres. ("Dracula" covers several genres, namely Horror, Gothic, and invasion literature. Don't forget vampire literature, which would be first and foremost.)

Two or three themes will be enough, but there's no limit in here. You'll be writing a book review for a limited time, and there's a possibility of losing sleep when the deadline looms near. Two or three main themes will be sufficient, as the other ones may be related to it. (E.B. White discussed friendship and self-esteem in "Charlotte's Web", which young readers can understand right away. Death is another thing, though. As a matter of fact, the last few chapters of the novel would be devoted to it. An unlikely theme of a children's book, which you can't pass up in favor of child-friendly topics.)

You pass the test if you can figure out the gaps. Do you agree with how the author's views in the book? You may be required to provide additional information, which can be found in other books. It can be history, if not religion. Popular culture can also be a source. This must be your opinion, not anyone else's. ("The Chronicles of Narnia", a popular series for children, can be seen as a fantastic version of Biblical events. There may not be a book review if you agree to it. A comparison to related works can intrigue your professor. "His Dark Materials" can be one of those options.)

How to Write a Draft of Your Book Review

You're about to judge a book on its merits. In this regard, you must provide the author's background and the important happenings during his/her lifetime. You can also ask a question especially if the book provokes the reader's sensibilities. A literary quote is no less good than the other two, but it will be better to follow it up with the novel's background.

A summary can be a paragraph long. You only need to describe a novel (in a few sentences), where you must include the storyline. Novelists tend to pen several subplots. If you can't determine which one, then look at the main characters. Their story should be the storyline.

The evaluation of a book must have the author's views and your own. Whether you agree to the author's or not, you should come up with a new perspective. If you can't think of one, then make a guess. It shouldn't be less than a few paragraphs, as you only have to cover the major points.

You can write the title first or do it last. The latter might be a better way, as this one can drag you for some time. A wise student will start with the easy tasks. (You're writing on a limited time.)

Keep on reading your draft until you're satisfied with it. You must submit your best work, so find someone to read your review. Feedback is important, as you might be missing or overlooking something.

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