Guidelines for Book Reviews


Step 1: Read the book in its entirety

  • Including the following: foreword, preface, acknowledgements, references, index, etc.
  • Take notes in your own
    • Paying specific attention to the following:
      • What is the central question or issue that book addresses?
      • What is the main argument or thesis of the book?
      • How does the book examine and support the thesis?
      • How are the book chapters ordered? Chronologically or thematically?

Step 2: Evaluate the Book 

  • Conduct a critical evaluation of the book. The following prompts may aid in your critical evaluation of the book content
    • How and what does this work help us to understand the issue of interest?
    • What types of evidence does the author draw on to support their argument?
    • Does the book do what the author claims it will do? How so?
    • Are there other types of evidence that the author fails to acknowledge or ignores? o What theoretical perspective does the author work from? What are some strengths and limitations of utilizing that specific theoretical perspective to address the issue of interest?
    • How is the book similar or different from other books on the topic? Why are they similar or different?
    • Are you convinced by the book? Why or why not?

Step 3: Write the Review


Open with a general description of the topic/problem addressed in the work.


  • Identify the book and author under review with any background
  • Time period, region? Question or topic addressed?
  • About the author(s)
    • Basic biographical info about editors of the book
    • Who are the authors? What are they known for? What are their qualifications and expertise in the subject?


  • Write a succinct, clear evaluation of the book, which is the thesis of your book review
    • What is the main argument of the book?
    • Evaluation of the book including its strengths, contributions, and shortcomings

Summary of Primary Arguments

  • Identify the key arguments and briefly summarize them
  • What evidence is provided to support the presented arguments?
    • if applicable, what research methods were utilized to gather evidence for the arguments?


  • This section should be the bulk of the book review
  • Explanation and develop the evaluation made in your thesis for the book review
    • Use examples, quotations, and specific evidence from the book to support your assessment of the book
    • Give examples of areas where the book did well and areas where it could be improved


  • Concluding section summarizing the review of the book
  • Explicitly identify a range of audiences that may appreciate or benefit from the book
  • How does the work contribute to the filed?
  • Avenues for future research
  • Implications for practice

Things to Avoid in a Book Review

  • Do not simply summarize the work.
  • Avoid writing a research paper rather than a book review. Remember the goal is to review how the author(s)/editor(s) of a book interpreted an event/topic rather than presenting a research report on the topic yourself.
  • Make sure to thoroughly read the book before writing your review. If you have not, it will come across in your writing.
  • Lack of organization; like any academic paper, make sure your book review is logically structured and easy for the reader to follow.
  • Rather than relying on personal opinions, use reasoned judgements to inform your arguments.