what is a book review

what is a book review

The Importance of Book Reviews

1. Introduction

The importance of book reviews is undeniable. In today’s society, all you have to do is travel a few blocks with or without transportation and you are bound to run into a bookstore or at least find a library to occupy your time. Book reviews are available in these venues along with the newspaper and the internet. They provide readers with an understanding of the perspective of the reviewer and lead to an overall improved literary experience. Reviews are the consolation and incentive a reader can use in choosing a book worth reading. A well-written review points the reader to an enriching experience with a book. A book review that is well written in conveying the content and essence of the book is the seed to a reader’s curiosity. A good reviewer can recommend a book with the assurance that the reader will walk away with the experience the writer’s words intended, an individual with a sense of self-satisfaction for he has made a good choice in selecting a book worthy of his time. This is great contrast to the reader spending hours in reading the book only to discover that he has wasted his time. This is perhaps the most clear-cut explanation of the importance of reviews. Would it not be an inefficient use of one’s time to read something that is not of interest to the reader or does not provide the reader with a sound intellectual lesson?

2. Benefits of Book Reviews

Peer evaluation is an instrumental component to any scholarly publication, and this book helps to facilitate it within the context of classic and contemporary sociological theory. Cohen alludes to the possible influence of current events on the development of sociological theory, saying that changes in society at large may prompt the consideration of certain theories. This is an important assertion, suggesting that there exists a societal driving force behind the work of theoreticians. However, Cohen fails to develop the idea, providing only a single anecdote of a 1960s race riot stimulating interest in a theory on the deviant behavior of lower class youth. The availability of more complex examples could greatly enhance the level of this explanation. Despite providing a lofty explanation, the author is correct in asserting the inadequacy of much modern sociological theory due to disorganization and breadth of content. Cohen believes that theory students are frequently taught as if the life and times of a theory were synonymous with the nature of theory itself. This approach can lead to a perception of theory as mere didactic teaching of a particular stance on social issues, and indeed much theory is taught in precisely this way. Social Change and Development in fact opens with an excellent example showing the distinction between teaching theory and teaching about a theory. A better understanding of the theory itself is crucial to perspective students of theory, and this book is designed to help facilitate that understanding.

3. How to Write a Book Review

Writing a book review is not the same as writing a book report or a summary. A book report is a critical summary of a book’s contents, including the writer’s assessment and its value. A book report goes beyond the basic factual data of a book, which includes the plot, theme, character, and style. A book report ultimately describes the book contents and how much the reader liked the book. Similarly, a book summary, which often consists of about one page, would normally be one-third to one quarter the length of the entire book. Some very short book summaries do not even include the main character names and generally summarize the main points, covering the following: what the book is about and how the writer’s message and theme gets delivered. A book report can be a summary or it may be comparison-based or on how the reader saw it relevant to the other published book. At all times, a book review should focus and answer the main question of ‘what the reader thought of the book’. Often, a book review will compare the book to others of similar topic and will discuss why it is similar or different in a positive light.

4. Tips for Effective Book Reviews

– Have a clear purpose – decide whether you want to inform, persuade, or advise the potential audience. – Keep the review succinct enough that the reader can read through it all in a matter of seconds and not just the first sentence and last (I’ve been guilty of this most of the time). – Know your audience. If the review is for a website or a magazine aimed at consumers, your post will be different than if you’re writing for a blog aimed at readers of that genre. – Similar to the above point, in an academia or educational setting, knowing the book’s background, its author, and where it stands in the genre of the topic is important to the creation of a knowledge-based review. – Your knowledge of the book based on either your own reading or hypothetical analysis of the book’s content will determine the level of depth of your review. Using examples from the book and secondary sources, it’s important that informative points are not just stated but are proven. For example, “X is a main character with PTSD” should be accompanied by a quote or section from the book supporting this. – When evaluating and comparing the book with others of the same genre and a similar topic, still keep focused on the book in question. A large pitfall in many reviews is getting sidetracked and talking about the genre or only external factors correlating to this particular book.

5. Conclusion

After much consideration and in-depth analysis, it is clear that book reviews are a useful tool in evaluating and critiquing written works. In fact, the brevity of a book review will make more people read it, thus increasing the chance for a potential reader to get a direct impression from the review and then move onto the book itself. Furthermore, the demands of the reader are met in the sense that people searching for a specific genre or book with a particular quality can refer to a book review to assess if the book matches their particular requirements. It is always frustrating to have to read a literary work that doesn’t even come close to the impression the reader had initially before choosing the book. A book review provides a good indicator for the reader and stops them from being disappointed. In retrospect, a book review provides a much-needed service to writers and readers worldwide. It facilitates communication, passes critics’ opinions to the author, and reduces the aforementioned expectation gap problem. Book reviews encourage a higher standard of literacy and a more informative society, nurturing the writer’s skills and ultimately benefiting the reader. Without the aid of book reviews, readers will constantly be having to go through an arduous trial and error process to find something worth reading, and writers will have no gauge as to how their work is being perceived. In essence, book reviews make both reading and writing more rewarding.

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