How to Write a Book Review

September 5, 2016
HandMadeWritings Staff

Book reviews exist as one of the more fun writing assignments you can receive from a teacher, given that you’ll enjoy the book you have to read, of course! While the book reviews you create in elementary, middle, and high schools may have required crayons, glue, and colorful renditions of the story, writing a book review in college is a bit different.

Wondering how to write a book review? Don’t worry—it’s actually quite easy.

Below you’ll find tips and tricks on how to write a book review for any college class.

Writing guide

Book Report Format

A book report format should follow a regular report format. Check any rubrics provided by the teacher. However, the format should have standard guidelines including the following:

  • 1 inch margins all the way around
  • Typed
  • Double-spaced
  • No extra space between paragraphs
  • Times New Roman Font
  • Title Page
  • Your name, the professor’s name, the date and time of the class in the upper corner

This formatting is the easy part! Once you’ve got the paper properly set up, it’s time to review how to write a book review for college. The book review for college should begin with a paragraph providing background regarding the author and any relevant information regarding the book. Research to see if the book or author has won any awards. If the author is known for other works, it would be appropriate to mention this as well. After the background, it’s a good idea to provide a brief paragraph summary of the book. Following the background should be an analysis of the story including important aspects such as plot development, characters, literary devices and other relevant aspects. Finally, when ending how to write a book review it’s a good idea to have a conclusion that reviews the analysis and recommends whether or not the author achieved his or her purpose in writing the book. The conclusion is additionally a good place to recommend whether or not individuals should read the book.

Book Report Outline

Okay. Now you’ve got the basics regarding how to write a book review. So do you really need to write a book report outline? It’s a good idea. A book report outline helps students to organize ideas and see how they best fit together before actually writing out the sentences. A book report outline additionally works to guide notetaking as well to ensure that as you’re critically reading the assigned book, you’re also taking good notes. Never had to create a book report outline before? No problem! Here’s a few aspects you should consider taking notes on in a good book report outline:

  • Key Characters (and their relationships)
  • Important settings
  • Foreshadowing
  • Key Plot Elements (including the story’s climax)
  • Symbols
  • Themes
  • Main Ideas
  • Genre Techniques
  • Other elements the teacher may have assigned

Book Report Example

One of the most helpful aspects of technology is its ability to provide examples for nearly anything you need to learn about! Many colleges and universities have posted helpful examples on how to write a book review online for students at their college or others to benefit from. Here are a few good examples of how to write a book review available for free online:

  • From the University of Arizona
  • From Butte College
  • From the University of Iowa

While the internet exists as a great resource for finding a book report example, so does your current professor. He or she will likely have a few examples of well-written book reviews from previous students that can be reviewed by current students. Don’t be afraid to ask your professor to see an example of a well-written book report. If your professor doesn’t have one, then try your college or university writing center. Most higher education institutions offer Writing Center services free for currently enrolled students; these centers offer one-on-one tutoring assistance. Many even have Skype tutoring available! If you’re unsure how to write a book review, check out what resources your college and university offer students in regard to writing assignments.

Book Review for College

Writing a book review for a college class doesn’t need to be stressful. Remember: avoiding procrastination at all costs is a great way to reduce the stress that often accompanies writing assignments. Don’t wait until the last minute to write a book review for college! You may find that the book is harder than you thought, or you’re not sure about how the author used literary devices throughout and book. And don’t fall into the trap of watching the movie instead of the book! While the main story arc may be the same, it’s likely that some major aspects were changed to get the story onto the screen.

The moment you receive an assignment to write a book review for college, get out a calendar and set some assignment milestones. Remember: writing is a process and shouldn’t occur over just an hour; leave yourself time to not only read the book but also outline, draft, and revise before submitting the final copy by the due date. Check all formatting guidelines against anything the professor hands out to ensure that you have typed a paper according to his or her preferred guidelines.

Want to know how to write a review? A really great book review for college? Read the book at least twice—maybe even three times. Read it once to get the gist of what happens in the story. Read it critically the second time and take notes on how the author creates the story. Read it possibly a third time to really see how everything works together to support the theme and main ideas throughout the text. All authors create fictional stories from scratch; this means that names of characters and towns and events that occur in the text all happen for a specific reason. Take the time to puzzle out the significant details and then write about them in your book review for college: doing so will help you earn a great grade!


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