Academic Book Review: Guidelines, Template & Structure

How to Write an Academic Book Review
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Reading Time: 9 minutes

When it comes to writing a book review it is important to be extraordinarily perceptive. Book reviews usually share some important insights that goes into the broad system of academic publishing that benefits the people in the academic profession.

Hence, writing an academic book review carries a lot more responsibility and weightage that what it actually seems to have.

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What Is A Book Review?

Talking about book review many people think that it is merely offering their opinion on a specific book. However, reviewing a book has a much wider scope than that. An effective book review involves assessing a book and then giving a descriptive criticism based on it.

In general, book review involves evaluating the content, analyzing the characters, information about the author’s background and summarizing the book in short. While writing you can cover the important ideas and topics given in the book assuming that the readers have not read the book.

While academic book reviews are written by scholars to be read by their fellow scholars. This is the reason it is also called as scholarly reviews. That being said, book reviews are useful for the researchers and readers to decide if they should go for the book or not.

So, when outlining the academic book review structure make sure it serves the relevant purposes. This includes making the fellow scholars familiar with the objective, quality and reasoning represented by the book’s content. Also, make sure to explain how the content is suitable and valuable for the present-day literature.

What Isn’t an Academic Book Review?

Writing an academic book review is definitely not a very easy or quick job, but it surely oils the wheels of the historians and professional book reviewers. So, if you are wondering how to write a good academic book review, it’s important to understand the prominent parts of academic book review.

Sometimes readers confuse it with literature review but there is an evident difference between the two.

Literature review usually focuses on providing a short summary of fellow scholar’s research, blending the present-day content on a particular current topic, and stating the limitations in their research.

Whereas, the academic book review template appears like an entry done in the annotated bibliography. It lays the entire focus on the evaluation and summary of the published material.

Reviewing a book means helping fellow scholars in deciding whether or not to purchase the book. It doesn’t cover any hypothesis as academic book review is not a research paper.

Furthermore, you can’t compare it with a book report even when there might be a few similarities. A book report presents a larger outline of the book contents. The clear-cut goal of an academic book review is to analyze what the author what wanted to convey, how well have they done that, and what are your original thoughts on it (both positive and negative).

How Do You Structure A Book Review?

In order to write a successful review it is important to have an excellent academic book review structure. Generally, there is a fairly easy and simple structure for most book reviews.

  • It starts with a brief introduction to summarizing the individual argument of the author and concluding it with helpful suggestions. Don’t forget to share your fair and impersonal response while writing the review.
  • The right way how to write an academic book review, is to first make sure to perform some critical thinking and brief research. It will help you to write a well-structured and well-supported review in a logical manner.
    In simple words, you can start with an introduction that explains the prominence of the book in relation to the current developments in the field. Understand why is it important to study about the selected topic. That way, you can quickly explain about the main argument of the author and share your insights about the content’s quality.
  • In the middle section you can add summarised paragraphs for different parts of the book. Just like most reviewers you can either do it topic-wise or chapter-wise. While evaluating the author’s individual arguments make sure to analyze them based on your personal thinking and opinion.Just make sure to understand if they appropriately relate to the central ides of the book. Although, most reviewers like to share their opinions in the end of the review. But it is better to introduce your thoughts going with the flow as you analyze each element of the book.
  • Lastly, give a helpful conclusion summing up the review by telling how valuable the book is. Here you need to explain the readers why they should buy and read the book and why they should not. While sharing your final evaluation make sure to be considerate and generous about the originality of the book.


Wondering How To Write A Good Academic Review?

Just go through the easy to follow academic book review guidelines discussed below.

Phase I – Assess, Understand and Plan Before You Write

Sometimes reviewers or writers might not find any creative insight or research behind a published book or article. It deprives them of the motivation and they keep on thinking how to write an academic book review. Well! It is best for the scholar reviewers to take their sweet time to think it through before beginning to write.
They should plan and analyze the other theories within the subject area. Based on it, they should provide critical assessment, evaluation of the author’s methodology and relevance to other published literature.
Some points review writer must have at the back of their head includes:
What was the author’s purpose in writing the book?
Remember that it is really important to highlight the content that shares the author’s objective in writing the book. That way you can provide your opinions of whether the readers or other scholars should give it a try or not.

Understand the main argument of the book
Be thorough while going through the academic book so you can understand the author’s main argument highlighted in the book.

What sources does the author use to support her arguments?
In order to provide an accurate summation of the book’s content, find out the main sources used by author to support the argument. It will help you in understanding whether or not the author was able to provide relevant and accurate summary of the content.

Is the book well written?
Just read and analyse the book thoroughly to decide if it is well-written and concise. Remember the book should be able to provide significant knowledge to the learners.

Intended audience
While doing your research make sure the book connects well with the intended readers.

When was the book written?
A crucial aspect of writing a book review is to find out the timing when it was written. You should know if it is in accordance with progressive ideas or not.

Does the argument persuade you?
Check whether the book was able to convince you with what it was trying to tell.

Authors background and book genre
Since you need to write limited words while assessing the book make sure to understand the genre and the background of the book.

Phase II – Prepping to Write

The next important phase is to master the skill of writing a successful book review. Before you actually start writing it is very important to do some prepping and thinking fundamental for writing a valuable review. Ponder upon the questions we listed above and then move ahead.

You might even need to understand the book’s connection with similar literature. It will help you develop a personal logic and argument about the work at hand. This way you can come up with an well-organized and supported academic book review.

Feel free to check some other relevant reviews in your subject area. After some thorough research you can collectively sum up your thoughts into a statement describing the objective of your review.

Phase III – Writing

Do you want to know how to write an academic book review? Read on to know the various elements of the book that should be covered.

A. Introduction
Start by choosing a suitable citation style of your field and then mention the book. Also, mention about the current rates of book in the market. Provide a summary of the important arguments made by the author all through their work.

Read the book thoroughly and give an outline of the content organization in the book. Also, look out for the arguments and mention about them with relevant context.

You should be able to allure the readers by providing relevant statements about why the book is suitable for their subject area. Here you can state some main points on author’s thesis and importance of studying it. Let’s not forget to mention about the quality of content and share some general evaluation.

B. Body
When it comes to the body of your academic book review template, you can share the main ideas mentioned in the book. Just start by writing a brief summary since there is a set word count for writing book review.

Based on your convenience you can either write a summary chapter by chapter or topic by topic. After performing a thorough assessment of the book compare it with other literature on the same subject area. Mention how it has contributed to the previous and current literature and research.

Talking about how to write an academic book review, a reviewer should always provide their opinion about the relevance of the book for target readers. This means you should  mention who should read the book and who should not. For example, mention if it will be useful for the college students, fellow scholars, teachers, or researchers.

An important part of academic book review guidelines are anaylzing the research methods of the author.

C. Conclusion
While giving your concluding evaluation just try to be thoughtful with the words. Remember writing an academic book review is incomplete without reliable recommendations and criticism.

Your scholarly views will definitely play a crucial role in helping fellow scholars and readers to decide if they should put their money in getting the book. Make sure to mention suitable reasons about why you recommend the book. This includes covering the benefits and drawbacks of the book.

For instance, you can mention whether or not the book was interesting, concise and well-written. You should explain why readers should spend their valuable time in reading this book.

If you are thinking how to write an academic book review effectively, go through some useful tips discussed below.

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Helpful Writing Tips for Reviewers

Here, take a glance at some important tips for writing a book review that is valuable for the readers.

  • Just avoid being pedantic and focus on picking the major details for a successful review. This includes originality of the content, factual mistakes, relevance for the readers, focusing on each chapter and other crucial elements.
  • While writing an academic book review, keep the language easy to understand, your thoughts clear, and the writing concise.
  • Make sure to be careful with the tone and words that you pick while writing the review. Do not keep your tone peculiarly impersonal.
  • Go through the reviews presented on some prominent studies in the chosen subject area for academic review.
  • Read the academic content thoroughly to figure out the unpredictability in the writer’s argument.
  • Avoid any conflicting ideas and thoughts associated with the writer of the selected academic book.
  •  Be sure to provide a clear and concise summary of the book. Feel free to present your argument about the book while being respectful.
  • Always dig into the references and quotations of the author to understand if the interpretation is unbiased.


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Q. What academic writing is both an evaluation and descriptions of a book?

A. A book review is a piece of academic writing that is both a concise description and evaluation about the major elements of the book. This mainly involves the critical evaluation of the meaning, importance, quality and authenticity of the book’s content. It should clearly highlight the objective and authority of the book’s matter.

Q. How do you write a book review for a PhD?

A. Providing a book review is surely a great option to make your way in the academic profession world. While different people share different perspectives when it comes to writing a book review for a PhD.

You just have to make sure to cover the following points: give a summary of the book’s important aspects written with kindness, provide a detailed summary for each chapter and highlight the important elements you found in the book.

Also, give complete citation and be honest with your thoughts. Don’t forget to meticulously mention about the strengths and weakness of the book.

Q. What are the 4 stages in writing a book review?

A. Writing an academic book review involves giving a critical analysis about prominent parts of a book to the readers. This goes for the material, advantages, layout and the importance of the book. Reviewers valuable inputs help readers to understand the benefits and limitations of the book’s matter.

Just make sure your academic book review structure has these 4 stages: a short introduction, defining its contents, choosing specific themes or chapters and highlighting important parts and finally providing a comprehensive concluding evaluation.

Q. How long should a book review be?

A. Generally, reviews are written in brief. Whether they are published in academic journals or newspapers, reviews are usually 600 -2000 words long.

But it is best to summarize your review in about 1000 words. Keeping your academic book reviews concise and short is the key even when you encounter some broadened commentaries and lengthy assignments. It would be pointless to write a lengthy review since it won’t drag any special attention, instead make it troublesome for the readers to read.


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