A book review should address three issues:
- Contents, or what is said in the book.
- Style, or how it is said.
- Assessment, or analysis of how true and significant the book is.
The most essential preparation for review writing is of course a complete, thoughtful reading of the book. After reading, the reviewer should have a sound, integrated idea of the book contents, and begin to develop attitudes toward style, purpose, and value.
As the reviewer forms ideas for the review, certain influences and motives should be considered:
- The interests, general or special, of the readers: Are they looking to the review for an elementary, informational report? A more advanced, technical, scholarly address?
- The reviewer's own particular interests and purposes: Does the reviewer want to remain primarily a fact-finding reporter? Or are there more specialized ideas and principles of art and ideology the reviewer wants to advance?
- Contemporary social, economic, political, and aesthetic issues: Do one or more of these affect the aim or emphasis of the book review? How does the incorporation and interpretation of these issues in the book review further discussion of the book's contents and style?
- Required treatment and length requirements: What requirements for the review, emphasis and length, have been set by the instructor or editor?