Posted in Book Reviews

How To Write A Book Review That Matters

Book reviews are fodder for authors. It’s important for their books. And, as a reader, we can thank the author by leaving a review for their book on your blog, Goodreads, Amazon, or anywhere the book can be bought.

How To Write a Book Review that Matters

Everyone has their own writing style and there are many ways to write a book review. For me, I write about the three parts of a book that is the most important to me. I also add an intro and conclusion, if you will.

First Thoughts

To begin the review I talk about my initial thoughts on the book. Why I decided to read it, where I got it, and what I think about the overall summary and maybe the cover as well.

Plot

I typically summarize the overall plot of the novel and then talk about what I felt worked with it and what I felt didn’t work with it.

Characters

I talk about the main and secondary characters and explain my thoughts on the character development of them all. I also mention which was my favorite and which ones I related to the most and also ones that I didn’t like.

Writing Style

Every author writes differently. Some use more dialogue than description, some write poetically. Some have short chapters, some write in parts. I comment on the author’s style and whether I think it worked or not for the story. This also includes POV.

Overall

To end the review I more or less summarize everything I wrote in the previous parts and mention whether I would recommend the book or not.

In addition to all that, I add a picture of the book’s cover, the title, the author, when and where it was published, the genre, and how I got the book. At the end, I give it a star rating between one and five. I also add links to where you can buy the book.

To add a little personal touch, I also include my favorite quote from the book. The quote is generally a line that stuck out at me for whatever reason, whether it was a nice piece of description, something funny, something heartfelt, something true to life, etc.

I’ve seen other book reviews by people and some of them go much more in depth than mine. Others are short and sweet simply stating why they liked the book or why they didn’t like it. And others still ramble on about general overall thoughts on the book.

Writing a book review isn’t hard and depending on your style, it definitely takes a few minutes out of your day. Still, it’s a great way to thank an author for all their hard work and effort, whether you enjoyed the book or not.

Do you typically write book reviews? What’s your style like? Let me know in the comments below!

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Author:

Born and raised in Massachusetts, Rachel Poli is a writer and blogger. She has an associate’s degree in Early Childhood Education and a bachelor’s degree in English Studies. She enjoys writing young adult novels, middle-grade, and children’s picture books. She is currently working on her first novel.

103 thoughts on “How To Write A Book Review That Matters

  1. As a Book Reviewer with 544 reviews and a Amazon ranking of 2,529 as of the last update; got 546 reviews under my belt as of my writing this comment, I tend to write enough to whet a potential reader’s interest enough so they might actually consider buying a copy of the book I’ve reviewed. Authors love it when I’ve been able to write something which pertains to the reason the story [stories in an anthology] had been written; they also appreciate it when I’ve personalized the review by writing something regarding myself, such as a song the book has caused me to remember, in fact, once a song I’d mentioned in one of my reviews had been not only the inspiration for the author writing her story, but for the book’s title as well. Readers also appreciate a personalization of a reviews as it gives them something to which they can relate as well.

    1. Wow, you’ve certainly gotten around in the book world!
      I think that’s a good idea that you add something personal like that. As a reader, we love it when something in the book relates to us in real life and that’s a clever way of showing that to others and the author. Thanks for your input.

  2. I don’t usually write book reviews, but when I do I focus on how the story is relevant to reality. It takes a lot of effort and hard work to write a book so I always admire authors who get themselves published. I agree, it’s still a great way to thank an author whether you enjoyed the book or not.

  3. Hi Rachel,
    Book reviews are so important to authors. Thanks for the great reminder.
    I found your great post thanks to the great, Mr. Ape. I’ll share your post to reminder others as well. 😊

  4. I write reviews professionally for newspapers, magazines etc, here in New Zealand – not a bad gig as I usually also end up with a free copy of the book (sometimes the publisher releases special ‘review editions’ with a different and very temporary cover). For me the issue is abstraction: keeping a clear picture of the author’s intentions and where their work sits in relation to others – and accepting that even if I don’t like the book, it can still be a valuable, well-written and very successful book that others will like. Too many reviewers simply diss a book because it didn’t appeal to them personally – this happens a lot on Amazon; but the problem is much the same in the field of professionaly ‘literary review writing’ of the sort that the Guardian publish.

    1. That’s actually one thing I left out in this post: There are no bad books. Each and every person has a different opinion on what they like and don’t like. As a reader, we also interpret things differently.
      You have to take each review with a grain of salt and that’s why I try not to read other reviews before I read the book myself. And, if you’re writing a review, you have to be honest, but fair.
      Thanks for your input. 🙂

  5. Really like your methode. I write lots of reviews myself, but I’m not as methodic as you, I’m afraid 😉 For example, I notice know that I seldom write in details about the plot, though I always try to give an hint at what the novel is about.
    Because I love characters, I normally talk about them in my reviews.

    I learned long ago that writing reviews is an art in itslef, and it isn’t intuitive at all. We need to practice before we are able to give useful reviews. Because that’s the purpose in my opinion. Sure, we want to support the author, but reviews are essentials for readers too.

    Thanks so much for sharing this.

    1. Thank you. I’ve read so many reviews in various different ways. Like I said, some are a lot more in depth than mine and others aren’t.
      My reviews used to just be me rambling on about what I liked and didn’t like. It was typically a paragraph or two and that was it. My style has changed and grown a lot since then.
      Thanks for stopping by. 🙂

  6. I guess I am the poetic type. I really don’t focus on technical issues, only on the meaning the author has tried to imbue into his/her story. I always ask myself is there some overriding theme that blends in a moral prerogative. Does the writer believe in the story, if the writer thinks that the story matters, then so will the reader. If the story has heart and soul, no matter if it lacks perfect grammar or perfect sentence structure or perfect punctuation, it will be a story worth reading. What really counts is the writer’s ability to take the reader into the story, because the writer has made the story come to life.

  7. Reblogged this on K. D. Dowdall and commented:
    This post is so worth reading. As writers, readers, authors, and bloggers, we can teach our readers that writing a review, should always just come from the heart, whether a short review or long, whatever a reader writes in a review, it will be important and have meaning for other readers and writers – whether glowing or not.

  8. The best way I can describe the reviews I do are organized stream of conscious. I try to be as detailed as possible and hit all the points without adding disingenuous fluff to the review. 100% how I feel. 100% honest.

    1. That would be cool. They sometimes do ask questions though. Some books I’ve reviewed they asked how complex the characters are, how fast the pacing was, etc.

  9. I’m looking to expand on my own blog – small though it is – by introducing a few other mediums to it. Book reviews would be one. Being an avid reader, though, I find simply detailing the book word for word a little off kilter of what I’d like as the end product, the review’s verdict. Like. reading it critically rather than just reading it (I’m a sucker for that). What would you say would be the best way to go about that, in a way that interweaves exactly what you have above, and then that which each of those categories sort of represent, in regards to the book itself?

    1. Hm… Well, if you break up your reviews in categories like I do, then you could just add a new category anywhere in there where you can get really in depth of the book.
      This isn’t going to be a great answer, but when I started doing book reviews, the way I wrote reviews was completely different than how I do it now. This format is the fourth format I’ve used. I originally started writing reviews being like, “I like this because of that… I didn’t like this because of… etc.” Now that I know what I’m doing (and I’m sure you do too), you just kind of have to play around with it. Eventually, you’ll find a certain format that works best for your writing style and your blog. You’ll be able to weave that information in depending on how you go about the overall review.
      I hope that made sense/helped. 🙂

  10. My bookish bestie and I just started our own WordPress blog and we are loving it! Reviewing books is so much fun! This article was helpful thank you! I tend to love book reviews that are short and to the point so that’s how I write them. Thank you! Hope to get a follow from you too 😎

  11. I was thinking of dabbing into book reviews. Your post has helped me think about how to organise my ideas. Thanks 🙂

  12. For my money, one has to have a unique perspective on or insight into a work to add value to the conversation. I try to write something I feel hasn’t been said before about the books or movies I review. I also strive to produce the highest quality writing of which I’m capable. For example, the movie American Honey is “about” a bunch of young people traveling the country, finding themselves, etc. but what does it say about social mobility or the circumstance of the working and underclasses in America now? You can read literally a thousand reviews that recount the plot of a given piece and reflect the author’s taste or preferences, so why be number 1001?

  13. Such a great post! I was just about to write a ‘How to Write a Book Review’ post, but after reading yours I think I’ll keep mine in the drafts 😂

    I love that you add a little quote at the end, I’ll have to incorporate that into my reviews too

    xoxo, Rawan M from RMAI

    1. Aw, thank you! You should still post yours though. Everyone has different ideas and styles on how to do things. 🙂
      I appreciate the comment, thanks for stopping by!

  14. Thank you so much for this. I’ve read many articles on reviewing books. Yours was by far was the most simplistic. I mean that in the most positive way. It was direct and to the point.

  15. Your post will be really helpful. Thanks for the insight on how to do a book review. You really know how to write a review in the simplest and most uncomplicated way. You really broke it down for me. Thanks again for your hard work and dedication to your posts! 🙂

  16. . I was just about to write a ‘How to write a Book Review’ spot, but after indication yours I intclosing I’ll proceed mine in the drafts 😂
    I beloved that you appclosing a little quote at the closing, I’ll cause to comprise that into my reviews too
    xoxo, Rawan M from RMAI

  17. I rarely write where I got the book from or why I decided to read it. I usually start with my own summary about the novel and the main characters and I interject a few of my thoughts into that. Then, I go into the review proper. That’s usually the long part. Please do check my blog http://www.stuffedshelvesite.wordpress.com and tell me if I’m doing anything wrong. Thank you.

    1. That’s a good way to write a review. There is no “wrong” way of doing it. Everyone has their own style and their own thought process. This is just how I write my own reviews. And it wasn’t always like that. 🙂

  18. Thanks for this. I’ve been trying to right reviews on some of the books I read but have always found it difficult to know where to begin. This has really helped me and I hope it will make my reviews more analytic.

      1. I don’t really read non-fiction other than memoirs. Even then I keep my format the same, with just a disclaimer saying that it’ll be slightly different because it’s true to life and not fictionalized. Still, I explain how the characters were portrayed through the book and such. If that makes sense, lol.
        Good luck with your reviews!

    1. Yes, I have a section just for the characters and follow the standard five-star eating. Though I’ve seen some people do it differently.
      Thanks for stopping by and commenting. 🙂

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