Book Review Structure

Just saw this post from Terry Wright about his proposed structure for future book reviews. I’ve received questions in the past about how I write my reviews so I’ll outline my basic structure.

  • Introduction 
    • This can contain brief information about the authors/editors; the series the book is in if it’s in a series; the purpose of the book; an anecdote about the book’s subject; etc.
  • Summary
    • This can be as general or specific as you’d like it to be. My general rule of thumb is that the more I plan to critique is the more I’ll be specific in summarizing.
  • Praise/Critique
    • This is generally the penultimate section where I explain what I thought the author got right and what I thought he got wrong. I try, as much as possible, to always say something positive before saying something negative.
  • Conclusion/Recommendation
    • These are simply concluding remarks on the usefulness of the book; who I’d recommend it to if I’d recommend it to anyone at all; and sometimes a word about the back matter of the book that doesn’t really fit anywhere else.

At times I deviate from this, e.g., in my review of Early Jewish and Christian Monotheism I mingled my praise/critique in with my summary, but for the most part I stick with this structure. I’d be interested in hearing about the way that others structure their reviews, or their reasons for not structuring them if they don’t.



One thought on “Book Review Structure

  1. I like your idea that “My general rule of thumb is that the more I plan to critique is the more I’ll be specific in summarizing.” Some reviewers, in the structure, do not include “praise”, only “critique”, covering both. I also think that some context is needed.

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