Academic Writing

Genres in academic writing: Book reviews

You may be asked to write a book review or a review of a journal article. This may be a simple summary of the discussion in a book or article. However, it is more likely to be evaluative.

For a book review, you will probably include the following stages:

  • What’s the text about? Introduce the book. What is the subject of the text? Who is it written for? What is the purpose of the book?
  • What has been written/published before? Put the text in the wider context.
  • What is the text about? Summarise the book. Describe its general organisation, and the contents of each chapter.
  • Is it any good? Draw attention to parts of the book and comment on them positively and/or negatively – refer to other publications that have done something similar if you can. Look at the purpose of the book, and whether or not it succeeds. Is it appropriate for the audience, for example.
  • What about the design etc? Make any other comments on, for example, price, production, proof-reading, size, colour
  • Is it appropriate? Conclude discussing whether it is appropriateness for audience, and make a recommendation.

A review or commentary on an article would include similar information.

The book review could have the following stages.

Book Review



Give the title of the book, the author, the publisher, the price


The overall text

Describe the subject of the text

Describe the purpose



Describe what has been written/published before?

Evaluate this previously published work.



Summarise the book

Describe its general organisation, contents of each chapter.



Evaluate the text

Compare and contrast with other publications

Present your point of view



Describe and evaluate design, price, production, proof-reading, size, colour etc



Summarise discussion

Conclude discussing whether it is appropriate for audience

Recommend or not.

End matter


See: Writing Functions 1: DescribingWriting Functions 8: ExamplesWriting Functions 12: EvaluatingWriting Functions 2: ReportingWriting Functions 16: ReasonsWriting Functions 18: SupportingWriting: SummaryWriting Functions 13: ComparingWriting Functions 23: ConcludingWriting Functions 14: GeneralisingWriting Citation Introduction