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How to Write a Good Book Critique

Academic writing

183

Books have always been considered a crucial source of information. They entertain, inspire, and let us explore numerous topics. Nevertheless, some books can harm instead of help. That’s why it is important to be able to distinguish a good book from a bad one. For this reason, many students at colleges and universities write book critique assignments to check their ability to think critically and express their opinion on a particular piece of literature.

The assignment to critique a book may seem a quickly achievable goal; however, many students face challenges with this paper type. To ease your writing process, check out our guide on writing a book critique.

What Is a Book Critique?

A book critique is a critical analysis of a book or its part. Your task while writing it is to define the main characteristics of the work, pointing out its weak and strong sides. Also, a literary critique means touching upon the purpose of the book where you have to explain why the author decided to create it.

When you get an assignment to write a book critique, remember it differs from writing a review of a book. While a review means summarizing the book plot, a book critique has other objectives:

  1. You need to present insights you got after reading a book. Your answer should be based on critical thinking and be extensive, involving objective evaluation of the paper.
  2. You need to disclose a hidden meaning behind a visible context or highlight the triviality of the story.
  3. Also, you have to mention stylistic features, like metaphors, epithets, and so on, or their absence, and explain the reason of using them. Maybe the author, on purpose, used alliteration in describing the noise of the sea to convey certain feelings to the reader.

Creating a book critique is a demanding task that requires writing and analytical skills. The instructions below will help you out with this assignment.

How to Write a Critique of a Book

A book criticism involves creating a thesis for a book review, providing a book analysis, and focusing on how the author’s life experience might influence the piece of work. It should also include a well-structured evaluation part and conclusion. Besides, you have to express your opinion about the paper, backing up your claims with appropriate examples. Follow these simple steps to write a professional critique.

1. Choose and Read the Book

To start a book review, choose the book first. As you read the text, highlight the main events and their chronology to make a critique outline. Also, don't forget to make notes about the main and some secondary characters.

Be attentive and follow the text carefully to avoid any misinterpretation if you want to write a book critique that will show your true proficiency in the topic.

2. Make a Research on Author's Background

To write a book critique, you will also need to analyze the author’s background. It can help understand the purpose of the book. For example, to share their experiences and vision of life, writers tend to describe autobiographical moments in their books. In "Martin Eden" by Jack London, there are many similarities between the author and the main hero in the novel: both came from the lower class of society but managed to achieve outstanding success. So, we may say that Jack London was inspired by his own life while writing this novel.

3. Analyze and Evaluate the Book

Analysis and evaluation is the foremost part of writing a book critique. It involves studying all the necessary aspects of the text, for instance, the characters, choice of geographical names, various stylistic devices, plot writing technics, etc., and explaining their importance in the text.

Remember to write down any questions that arise during the reading. There may be plot inconsistencies, or some chapters seem redundant and make no sense for the whole story. Firstly, it will show that you read the book carefully, not just looked through its summary on the Internet. Secondly, these questions will make it easier for you to write a quality analysis.

After you finish the analysis, ask yourself if you liked the book, if you would recommend it, or if you would read it once again.

Also, you can read other people's reviews or additional information about the book if you doubt whether you completely understood it or worry if you missed some vital details. Finding a review from another author or literary critic to support your thesis can also be incredibly useful.

4. Formulate Your Thesis Statement

To critique a story also means formulating a clear thesis statement. You need to explain whether this is a first-class or poor-quality paper and what features exactly prove your opinion. You should always support your thesis statement by giving examples from the text.

5. Draft a Critique Outline

To write a book critique, you need to draw a plan first. Make your critique paper outline as broad as you can. It will prevent you from missing important points.

6. Write Your Critique of a Book

Now you are ready to write a book critique. Follow the plan, remember to use rich vocabulary, and don't forget to correct all grammar or spelling mistakes if you want to make your paper exclusive and professional. The good idea is to reread the paper after some rest or ask your friends or relatives to read it; they can notice errors that you didn’t.

Video Guide on How to Write a Book Critique

Writing a book analysis may be a time-consuming and strenuous task. That’s why we offer you to watch this short video guide on critique writing, which can help you with the assignment.

Book Critique Format

As for the book critique format, the commonly used font is Times New Roman, with the text double-spaced. 

Before writing any paper, you need to have a clear vision of its structure. To write a critique, create a book critique outline first. When you see the main points to mention and know their order, it will be easier for you to compose the text. In general, a critique paper outline contains an introduction, body, summary, evaluation, and conclusion. Also, you may need to include a title page and a list of resources. Let’s discuss each part briefly:

Book Critique Introduction

A literary criticism paper should start by introducing a book in an essay. Here, you should mention the most important points about the book, for example, its author and some prominent facts about their life, the title, the year it was published, its length, and structural elements like the presence of a prologue or epilogue, etc. Also, you may mention your thesis in the last sentence of the intro.

Body of a Book Critique

In this part, you need to describe the book's main idea and decide whether the author managed to cover it wholly. You can, for example, cite a phrase from the book which may reflect its thesis. Besides, you have to define the target audience of the literature piece. The author can mention it in the prologue, for instance. The characters' age or the issues described also can help you in determining the potential group of readers.

Book Critique Summary

The summary should highlight the main issues covered in the book. You have to describe the overall impression the work had on you and write whether you agree or disagree with the author’s main statements. Make sure to briefly focus on all the vital details: plot, characters, location, etc. It is crucial because not everyone who reads your summary is familiar with the book. Of course, a book summary doesn’t mean describing precisely every chapter.

Evaluation

The evaluative criticism part is a key stage of your book critique as it shows your analytical skills. Here you should:

  • describe the book thesis and define whether the author managed to prove it completely.
  • analyze characters. They can be too stereotypical, or the author probably failed to mention enough information about the heroes’ backgrounds. It can make it hard to understand them and the whole book itself.
  • study the author's writing skills, for example, style and vocabulary. The language can be too simple or too sophisticated, as if the writer was trying to show off.
  • explore the uniqueness and flawlessness of the plot. You may notice that another author has the same story, but names and places differ. Also, you may see some details inconsistencies; for example, the cat of the main hero was ginger in the first chapter, but in the second one, it became black.
  • discuss the novel’s usefulness and importance. A good book not only tells a compelling story but also enriches our mind with life philosophy or historical and cultural knowledge. You have to define whether the author coped with writing a meaningful work.

Conclusion

Summing up all the pros and cons you highlighted, you have to say whether this work is worth spending time on. In the final part of your work, you need to explain why you support the authors’ main statements or not. Besides, you can give recommendations to potential readers.

Book Critique Examples

Whether you need to write a book critique for a university/college or want to become a book reviewer yourself, you might be wondering how to create a decent paper. While writing a book critique, a good example is necessary. You may surely find book critique templates online; however, they will only show you what structural parts to include in your critique, but it's not always clear what you need to write in each point. A good book critique sample would be more practical in your work since it can become a source of inspiration and may help you express your opinion more efficiently.

To check some book critique examples, follow this link.

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