The Purpose of Book Review

A book review serves the purpose of helping others to decide if they should or want to read a particular book or not. This is done by reading and evaluating a given book, and summing it up in terms of how well it has been written and/or how well the author has handled the subject matter. A review can explore the positive or negative elements (or both) of a book.

How Long Should a Book Review Be?

A book review can be as long or short as the writer feels appropriate. Some reviews are no more than a paragraph or two while others span numerous pages. Generally, it depends on the targeted audience. If a tutor is the intended reader, check the length with them.

Content and Style

A book review’s content and style can vary too according to the intended audience. Who will be reading your review? If, for instance, a book is a factual one about deafness and how this affects learning in children, the content and style should be different for different readers. Where, say, you are addressing parents who are new to dealing with deafness in a child, it may seem appropriate to explain the condition and related issues in detail. If, on the other hand, you are targeting those who teach children affected by deafness, you might decide not to include so much detail on the assumption that teachers already understand the topic reasonably well.  

Content varies according to the type of book i.e. whether it is fact-based or fictional. If, for instance, you are reviewing a fictional work, you may well choose to analyze the theme, characters, setting, and plot of the book. In the case of a non-fictional book, you should probably cover the book’s content from the perspective of its accuracy, usefulness, and presentation.

Formatting a Book Review

You should format a book review as you would any paper or essay. This implies writing in essay-style with an introductory paragraph, some body paragraphs, and a concluding paragraph.

An introduction usually contains:

  • The central idea in the case of a factual work or the book’s theme in the case of a fictional work;
  • The author’s name, the book title, and the publisher’s name. Some tutors require this information to be placed at the top of the page in a specific citation style, e.g., APA, Chicago, MLA, etc.
  • Information about the background of the author (if desired or necessary);
  • Thesis statement i.e. your view on whether or why others would benefit by reading a particular book;

An essay’s body usually contains:

  • A summary of a book’s key points;
  • The writer’s personal evaluation i.e. explain why you think readers should or should not read a particular book;

An essay’s conclusion usually contains:

  • A reiteration of the thesis statement;
  • A recapping of all key points.

Book Review Template Writing Hints

Useful Advice on Writing an Attention Grabbing Book Review

Ask yourself, what is the purpose of a book review? Usually the main objective of a book review is to analyze some written work. Book review provides a short description of major text pints as well as analyzes strengths and weaknesses of the discussed book. You may find book review template online.

Oftentimes, readers can confuse boor reports with book reviews despite the fact that they are not identical. Most often, book reports are meant to describe the events discussed in a book. They focus on describing the plot, major idea and characters. In case you need to write a book report or a backpage review, there are plenty of credible sources online that can help you to understand how to do it. 

As for the book reviews, they are often assigned at colleges. However, you can find them in a number of professional written works, such as newspapers, magazines and journals. Typically, they can range from 500 to 750 words and even longer. Readers get a sneak peek about the selected book when they read a book review. It helps them understand whether they can enjoy it and whether they should buy it. All you can books review, make sure it is logical.

Prior to Reading

  • Prior to reading, take into account the aspects that should be incorporated in the giver book review. The following list of items may help you to find out how to start a book review:
  • Details about the Author: Who is the book author? Has he/she written anything else? Does the author have any rewards? What is the author’s writing style?
  • Genre of the Book: what sort of book is it: nonfiction or fiction, poetry, romance, historic, etc.? What is its targeted audience? What is the main aim of the book?  
  • Book Title: What is the title of a book? How can it be used in the book? Does it have a message? Is the title interesting? 
  • Book Preface, Introduction and Table of Contents: is there any revealing details provided in the book preface or introduction? Is the introduction provided by the “guest author”? Do the author or “guest author” provide any preconceptions or judgments? What is the book structure?   
  • Jacket of the Book; Its Cover and Printing: Jackets of the book are considered to be a mini review of any story book. Is there an interesting detail provided in the book jacket? Does it spark readers’ interest? Can you find any maps, pictures or graphs? Do the page cut, binding or typescript make a contribution to book interest?

When You Read

  • When you read a book, you need to determine the way of summary or background structuring. Start taking short notes on the main points of the selected book.   
  • Book Characters: Does the book have any characters? Who are the main characters? How they influence the main story? Do you have any associations with them?  
  • Book Themes, Style and Motifs: what motif or theme stands out in the book? In what way they contribute to the book? Are they useful? How can you characterize author’s writing style? Is it comprehensive to all readers or to particular audience?
  • Book Argument: How is the book argument presented? How does the author support his/her argument? Does the book support the main argument? 
  • Major Ideas: what is the major idea of the selected book? Does it make it a good book? Does it make a book different?  
  • Quotes from the Book: Do some quotes stand out? Can you show the talent of an author through the quotes? Can you demonstrate the book feel using a particular quote?

When You Feel Ready to Write Any Book Review in English

Start from a brief summary of the book. Do not provide too many details. A number of book reviews are limited to couple of book chapters or simply lead the audience to the main book action. When you review a nonfiction book, you need to provide the main idea avoiding too many details. Provide only necessary parts of a book review.

In the end of your book review, you should provide your personal opinion regarding the reviewed book. So, you need to take into account the following aspects, when you feel ready to start writing your book review:

  1. You need to Establish the Background and Think about the Target Audience: Mind the fact that the audience has not read the reviewed book. That is why it is necessary to introduce book chapters as well as principles in a careful manner. Think about the summary of major book points as well as protagonists that will catch readers’ attention. Does the text of the author reach the potential readers? Will all readers be willing to understand the content?   
  2. Main characters and principles:  It is recommended to pay attention to the most pressing points provided in the book. Remember that covering all ideas and characters is impossible. Do you agree or disagree with some characters and book principles? Have the book author researched or considered some other things? 
  3. Organize: The main objective of every book review is to provide critical evaluation of the chosen text. You need to leave enough space for evaluation by providing a short and concise summary. It is vital to keep balance between evaluation and summary. In case your task is to write a book review for your class, consult with your tutor. Oftentimes, the ratio between evaluation and summary is 50/50.   
  4. Evaluation: select one or a couple of points that will help you to discuss the book. What helped you? How can you compare this book with other works of the same author or with other works of the same genre and style? What are the main motifs, themes or terms introduced in the book? Are they introduced successfully? Did you like the book on an emotional level? 
  5. Book Publisher and Its Price: It is recommended to mention the book publisher as well as the book price in your review. It is also possible to provide the ISBN and year of publication. 

Revision

  1. Do not underestimate the importance of book review. When you came to the stage of final touches, make sure to verify the following aspects:
  2. Check the correct spelling of the name of the author, names of the characters, terminology and of course book publisher.
  3. Try to read your review from the point of view of the targeted audience. Is the summary sufficient? Does the main argument about the book make sense to you?
  4. Do you feel that quotes from the book should be included in your review? Will they help to support your own argument? Make sure that direct quotes are accurate.

 

Book Review Template to Read (You Just Don’t Understand by Deborah Tannen)

Human nature is something that does not change in the course of time. Even today, when science is the main authority for human mind, people still believe in fairy tales and myths. One of those myths is equality. For some reason society has expectations to attain equal rights for everybody. The issues of social equality, equality before the law, equal opportunities, racial equality, and gender equality are constantly and widely discussed. The truth is equality is just an illusion for there are no identical conditions, no equal opportunities, and all people are different. There are no two identical human beings on Earth. Even twins are different. So maybe it is time for humankind to reject the notion of equality and accept the differences. It is especially true if it helps to improve our relationships with the opposite sex. This is one of the main ideas reflected in You Just Don’t Understand by Deborah Tannen.

In fact, this book made Tannen popular with a wide audience. Before writing this bestseller, Deborah Tannen studied English literature and linguistics. She was known in academic circles for her scientific publications and professors’ career. The idea to write the book came to her after she published another book entitled That's Not What I Meant! It was then when Deborah Tannen started receiving requests for interviews, articles, and lectures on male-female differences. To some extent, it was a revelation to her. Such a strong demand for knowledge about gender and conversational styles had to be met. That was the exact reason for a specific book to appear, and so it happened.

In her book You Just Don’t Understand, the author develops the idea of differences between men and women. Being an expert in linguistics, discourse analysis, and interpersonal communication, Deborah Tannen concentrates on the questions of linguistic specifics, conversational style, and mutual understanding between men and women. She believes men and women are separate cultures that live in separate worlds. Despite all their differences, they try to maintain the intercultural dialogue, and that is not always crowned with success. Readers just have to realize that two genders cannot follow one conversational style, thus people have to learn to understand each other. Understanding seems to be the goal for Tannen, and it appears that she has dedicated all her life to helping other people communicate. For that, the professor explains everything starting with the first chapter.

At the beginning of her book, Tannen introduces the key terminology and notions of her further research. The key notions are intimacy and independence, and they determine the worlds of women and men respectively. According to the book, men perceive the world as a hostile place where everybody competes with each other for a status. Women have different worldview. For them, it is a complex system, and all its members are concerned about each other and ready to help. This basic difference explains different behavior of men and women when making decisions, suggesting and accepting help. As men highly value independence, they prefer not to consult anyone when making decisions. They do not want to be dependent on anyone’s opinion. Meanwhile, women love to discuss everything with their partners, be it a new haircut or the next weekend plans. For them, it is a sign of involvement and deeper connection between partners.

Metamessages of the Actual Speech

These are hidden messages that each of the partners puts into the words. And they are the cause of most of the troubles. They prevent people from being understood properly and make them “lost in translation”. Thus, the author raises one of the most important questions of this book. Where do women and men learn different ways of speaking and hearing? And here the most pleasant innovation of the book comes. Deborah Tannen tracks the roots of the problem into the childhood. Almost in every chapter she explores the reasons of men’s and women’s behavior. For that, she usually refers to credible sources. She tells the readers about different studies of sociologists, anthropologists, psychologists, linguists, and communication researchers. The findings of researches show that society puts different expectations toward boys and girls. While the former are encouraged to be openly competitive, the latter are inclined to be openly cooperative. Tannen gives the examples of children because they vivid demonstrate gender differences.

The Issue of Different Expectations Forms a Great Part of the Book

The typical situation where different expectations are involved is responding to complaints. This is probably something familiar to the majority of the readers. So, when a woman complains about something to a men, the results are as follows. The woman expects to be listened and understood. All she seeks is men’s understanding. The man in turn thinks that the woman expects him to solve her problems (when she does not). He starts giving her some pieces of advice as, from his point of view, it is the most appropriate reaction. Both women and men are often frustrated by each other’s way of responding to their expression of troubles. As a rule, this typical situation leads to the predictable outcome – they start arguing. Meanwhile, they could have avoided this if they had known about the gender differences. To support her view, the author gives multiple examples from her own life and from the experience of her friends. Every person she meets is a possible source of information for this book. Their dialogues and the fiction excerpts serve as an additional basis for the author’s arguments.

One of the benefits of the book is that the author is not afraid to challenge the public opinion. While people tend to think that women talk more than men, Tannen proves the opposite. According to her research (and recent studies), men talk more in public, but women speak more in private. It appears then that men are the source of the stereotype that women talk a lot. Men think so because women talk in situations in which men do not. Tannen notices that peculiarity just in time. The author strives to go against prejudices and stereotypes. She encourages women and men not to stick to social norms and to what is expected from each gender. Rules can be changed. Furthermore, Deborah Tannen challenges the view that only women must change. As far as men and women must search for the compromise, they share the responsibity to the equal extent. Thus, both sides are welcomed to change.

Another good side of the book is that it is well-organized and all parts are equally reasoned and developed. That makes the work readable and interesting for the wide audience. It can be useful for both younger and older generation. All people want to be heard and understood. Without that understanding they are doomed to blame others or themselves. Therefore, Tannen’s book You Just Don’t Understand! encourages people to examine their choices and their effects. It is important to understand each other’s conversational style. With that in mind, readers will realize the real reasons of their conflicts and will be able to find a common language. The increased understanding would become the guarantee of decrease of complaint “You just don’t understand”, as it had already happened to the millions of Tannen’s readers around the world.

This book was also very useful for me. For as long as I can remember myself, I have always been interested in the psychological literature. After my first relationship failed, I became even more concerned about interpersonal communication and gender differences. I was fervently looking for all available literature. Thus, before reading this book I was already familiar with such books like Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus by John Gray, Why Men Don't Listen and Women Can't Read Maps by Allan Pease, and Why Men Marry Bitches: The Nice Woman's Guide to Getting and Keeping a Man's Heart by Sherry Argov. Nevertheless, I have learned a lot from Deborah Tannen’s work. Other books never gave me the answer why men and women are different. Many books could well expound the main differences, but the only explanation was “men and women are different by their nature.”

This explanation was never enough for me. Thus, in Tannen’s book I finally found out the answers. I realized that everything depends on one’s surrounding and upbringing. Everybody is talking in ways he or she learned as a child. It became obvious that neither men nor women can behave another way. The author of the book is able to track all connections and explain all reasons. It was important for me to learn what gossip means to women. I have never thought of this before. I just knew women are more talkative and they have a need to speak more. Now I understand the analogy between telling secrets in childhood and gossips in adult life. Earlier I also thought that gossip is a completely negative phenomenon and tried to avoid it. The comparison between women’s gossip and men’s news reading was quite interesting. It appeared that both men and women are interested in lives of other people. The difference is only in the fact that women admit it while men do not.

The distinction between rapport-talk and report-talk was a kind of personal revelation to me. I understood why my girl friends can talk about their problems endlessly – they just need interaction. I find useful another word pair as well. It is one-up and one-down. Quite unexpectedly I realized it is so true-to-life… Men always compete and they cannot do anything about that. This competence and severe hierarchy determines the way they think, feel, and behave. They can only relax in the company of their beloved ones. That is why, as I know from my experience, men are so vulnerable beside their women. And it is so true that women want to be liked and men want to be respected. This idea I saw first in books of Shaunti Feldhahn, For Women Only and For Men Only. Many times in my life I got added evidence that it is true (and I realize the power of compliment). Additionally, it is important to learn to acquire one another’s skills in listening and talking. I believe that despite everything habits can be broken.

You Just Don’t Understand motivated me to think about further questions. Now I will be looking for the answer to the lecturing issue. I was intrigued to know that many male professors choose their profession due to the freedom they receive there. Besides, men are inclined to talk to get attention since their childhood while women do not. Society expects women to keep silent, but still they often choose academic career and speaking in public. How can it be possible? Now I wonder who are better teachers - men or  women?  

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