Book reviews are meant to help people who have not yet read the book to get a glimpse of the story in a summarized form. It may be used as a guide for readers to consider and weigh whether they should buy and read the book or not. For students, book reviews are done as a form of a test, to see how much of the story they have grasped and understood. Writing an engaging book review on non-fictions such as science books, biographies and other academic books is more challenging because some books might not be in a story telling format. The key is to provide the readers an idea of the highlights of the book, and of the value that the reader will get. Here are some useful pointers in writing a book review for non-fiction works.
- You cannot share your insights and ideas about a book if you have not read it. First, you need to read the book in its entirety. Fast reading may not work because you might miss some important points. It is best to take notes while reading so it will be easier for you to write a book review later on. Note down the pages where you got a certain idea so you can get back to it later on, especially if you need to write down names, dates and places. Use markers if you own the book. You can write on the page margins, or use stick ons to mark pages.
- Write down the plot of the story, the main characters and what their roles and objectives in the story are. If it is not in a story form, like a science book, and then write about the major topics of the book and a summary of each topic.
- For non-fiction story books, do not include the story’s climax and ending. It is best to introduce the main characters – the hero and the villain – and what they are fighting for. This is for book reviews that do not include spoilers. Most of these are used to entice readers to go and buy the book to find out what happens next.
- There are book reviews that lay out the entire story including the conclusion. These are usually given out after a certain book has been launched after a few weeks or months. It may have provided the main points, but it should be written in a way that the reader would still want to buy the book because the details are much too exciting to read as well.
- Include other information about the book like if it includes an appendix, index and illustrations. Also describe the way the book is written – whether it is formal, academic, or informal. This will give the reader an idea whether he will appreciate the book more.
- You may provide your personal insight and opinion on the non-fiction book but minimize the criticism. Focus on the good points and provide reasons why people should read the book.