Book Reviews

Planning and Writing

A book review should meet the requirements of any good composition. Clarity, correctness, readability, and interest are very important. A review should give its readers not only an understanding of the reviewer's intellectual response to a book but also an awareness of the basis for this response, through example and analysis. Specific passages from the book are used to exemplify the reviewer's points regarding elements of style, form, and technique.

There is no strict pattern for writing book reviews. Guiding the book reviewer's writing process, however, are the three essential objectives of relating what is said in the book, how it is said, and how true and significant it is. As with the planning of a composition, make a list of possible material to use in the review-ideas, responses, information, examples. Study this material to decide what to include in the book review and what proves extraneous. Put the items to include in a suitable order-for instance, from greater to lesser importance. Once the material is organized, a controlling idea for the review emerges; this controlling idea may form the topic sentence of the review, and provides guidance for achieving coherence and focus throughout. Use the topic sentence, in varied forms, in the beginning and end of the review.

Once the book reviewer has chosen the proper and adequate material, organized this material effectively, and decided on the main idea and focus to be developed, it is time to write the review.

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