Writing lyrics: a book review (non-fiction)
Many books are published on all kinds of subjects. Reviews in newspapers, trade magazines and on the Internet allow the reader to make an informed choice from the often large selection. A reviewer has usually read more books on a particular subject and can therefore determine the added value of a particular book. What parts does a review of an informative book contain? How can a review be written yourself? These are questions that a review reader may want to see answered.
The usefulness of book reviews
Every year many new books appear on the market on all kinds of subjects. Thanks to book reviews in newspapers, general magazines, trade magazines and on the Internet, the reader is kept informed about the appearance of new books on a topic that may interest him. Thus, reviews are primarily news stories, which provide information about the author, title, publisher, content, etc. of newly published books.
Book review as an aid in choosing from a wide range
Sometimes many books are published on a particular subject. A review can help the reader to determine his choice from the often large selection of books on a particular subject, because a review contains a reasoned judgment about the quality of the newly published book (does it contain new points of view, unknown or additional information, is it clearly written, and so on). The arguments mentioned by the reviewer must be based on more than just the reviewer’s personal taste. He can add value to his review by placing the newly published book in context, by comparing it with other books on the same subject, or by providing information about the creation of the new book.
Parts of a review
A review of an informative book consists of the following five parts:
The business information is information about the reviewed book. The data is reported in a predetermined order: Author or editor (year of publication) Title. If present Subtitle. Place of publication: publisher. ISBN 90 -… Price: (number of pages). The business information is usually listed above the review.
Here is briefly stated what the content of the book is. The description is not limited to a short content (theme, objective). It also mentions how the book is organized (chapters, different parts, special appendices, etc.).
How did a book come about? Is it a study commissioned by … or a dissertation. Did the author have any reason to write the book? Is the book comparable to other books on the same subject?
Pro and contra
Does the book contain new information? Is the book better or worse than other books on the subject?
Suitability of the book for people interested in a particular topic. What is the target audience of the new book?
The items listed do not necessarily have to be listed in the order listed. Also, depending on the book to be discussed, not every part will be given the same amount of attention.
Writing a book review yourself
You may have to write a review on an informative book yourself. The following (fictional) example of a review will probably get you started. Subheadings are included for clarity. They are missing in a review published in a daily newspaper or trade magazine.
Rémy Limpach (2016). The burning kampongs of General Spoor. Boom Publishers, Amsterdam. ISBN 9789029407107. Price: 39.90 euro, hardcover 49.90 euro, E-book, 29.90 (920 pages).
Pro and contra
Book reviews differ from each other
A tip is to read various reviews about the same book. A review of a book on a publisher’s site is of course never negative. After all, the book must also be sold. Reviews in newspapers are usually objective. A review in a trade magazine indicates that the book is likely suitable for the magazine’s readers (otherwise the editors would not have included it in the magazine). If the journal appeals to you (subject, language use), then the book discussed in the journal is probably also of interest to you. When reading different reviews about the same book, it is not uncommon that reviewers can disagree with each other about the quality and usefulness of a book.