When one is writing a book review, whether in response to an online purchase or in an academic context, it is important to keep in mind that the review will garner the most appreciation if it is both informative and entertaining. Before and while reading the book there are certain considerations that will help the review be successful. Some of these include: writing for the audience; focusing on main characters and themes of the book; and including a critical analysis. The general public, as an audience, will be receptive to a casual style of writing, while a more technical or academic audience will require more specialized language. It is a good idea to avoid subplots and minor characters and focus on detailing the core themes presented by the author. And, of course, while it is pleasant to give a plot synopsis, readers of the review are really looking for a critical analysis backed by detailed reasons and examples.
Jerome Eberle, a writing and editing professional based in Chicago, is a former Publishing Assistant at the American Library Association. He now works at the American Academy of Periodontology and still contributes book reviews to the ALA’s trade publication Booklist Magazine.