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How to Write a Book Review


A book review is a critical summary of a book. It is an open forum where one analyses and forms an opinion of the writers work. This critical evaluation is not only a useful source of information for the reader, but for those who intend to read the book. The essential step for writing a book review is to read it thoroughly and understand the contents of the book. One has to understand that it is simply not a summary but a critique. The three important steps in writing a book review are: Step 1: Introduction Start by mentioning the essentials like the title of the book, authors name and relevant publishing information. You should also specify what type of literature it. For example it could be a sociological analysis, a historical book, a purely academic one or a lighter piece of work. Normally, the background about the writer is not required but one should not omit it if its of special relevance - for example a refugee writing on refugees. This helps to put the text in a specific context. Step 2: Main Section Description and Summary The main section ideally consists of two sections the description and the summary. The description can have excerpts from the book that give valuable insight into the work. However, while reviewing the storyline one has to make sure that the suspense of the story is not given away. Step 3: The Critical Analysis In this section, one has to remember not to critically analyze the entire book but take out those points which are intriguing. For example, if the book is on the urban poor, one can perhaps focus on their politics and culture. Your opinion on the book is crucial here as it shapes your analysis. It helps to provide an insight into the attributes of the book - Is it worth reading, is it interesting and so on. This section should also talk about ones learnings from the book and whether it holds an important or interesting message that caught your attention.

Points to ponder as you read the entire book:

http://www.writing-world.com/freelance/asenjo.shtml 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. What's the general field or genre? Does the book fit? From what point of view is the book written? Do you agree or disagree with the author's point of view? Make notes as you read, passages to quote in your review. Can you follow the author's thesis, "common thread"? What is the author's style? Formal? Informal? Suitable for the intended audience? Are concepts well defined? Is the language clear and convincing? Are the ideas developed? What areas are covered, not covered?How accurate is the information? 8. Is the author's concluding chapter, the summary, convincing? 9. If there are footnotes, do they provide important information? Do they clarify or extend points made in the text? 10. If relevant, make note of the book's format - layout, binding, etc. Are there maps, illustrations? Are they helpful? 11. Is the index accurate? What sources did the author use -- primary, secondary? Make note of important omissions. 12. What did the book accomplish? Is more work needed? Compare the book to others by this author, or books in this field by other authors. (Use the books listed in the bibliography.) Writing the Review: 1. Include title, author, place, publisher, publication date, edition, pages, special features (maps, etc.), price, ISBN. 2. Hook the reader with your opening sentence. Set the tone of the review. Be familiar with the guidelines -- some editors want plot summaries; others don't. Some want you to say outright if you recommend a book, but not others. 3. Review the book you read -- not the book you wish the author had written. 4. If this is the best book you have ever read, say so -- and why. If it's merely another nice book, say so. 5. Include information about the author-- reputation, qualifications, etc. -- anything relevant to the book and the author's authority. 6. Think about the person reading your review. Is this a librarian buying books for a collection? A parent who wants a good read-aloud? Is the review for readers looking for information about a particular topic, or for readers searching for a good read? 7. Your conclusion should summarize, perhaps include a final assessment. Do not introduce new material at this point. 8. To gain perspective, allow time before revising.

Things to Bear in Mind: Don't be intimidated by famous authors -- many have written mediocre books. Don't review books by people you know, love, or hate. Do you want to be a book reviewer? Start by doing. Write book reviews for local newspapers. If they don't have a book review section, start one. If you have a specialty -- romance, mystery, dark fantasy -- cultivate it, become an expert.

Book review by Shalini Bahadur

A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything -Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner Freakonomics delves into the study of economics with gusto, making it more of a creative science than a study of dry facts. Steven Levitt describes economics as a science of measurement, comprising of tools that evaluate information to forecast effects, trends, spending, living standards and lifestyles and just about everything else. Levitt argues that Morality represents the way people would like the world to work-whereas economics represents how it actually does work. What is Freakonomics all about? Freakonomics is based on certain principles: 1.Incentives are the cornerstone of modern life Understanding incentives or what makes certain things work the way they do is the key. 2.Conventional wisdom is often wrong It is often the most quoted answer but that does not necessarily mean it is correct. 3.Dramatic effects often have distant, even subtle, causes Roe vs. Wade has had more effect on lowering crime than better policing and gun control, although no one had connected the dots between the two. 4.Experts use their informational advantage to server their own agenda With the wider reach of the Internet, this advantage is reducing, especially for items like insurance policies and coffins. 5.Knowing what to measure and how to measure it makes a complicated world much less so An economist has to be able to look at the data the right way to recognize the signs, make connections and solve problems. Steven Levitt uses patterns to recognize and interpret problems. By picking up the undercurrent of society, Levitt asks questions and comes up with some very surprising answers. He correlates events and items that seem to have absolutely nothing in common,

but his diligent research uncovers lots of similarities between amazingly disparate groups of people like, schoolteachers and sumo wrestlers or the Ku Klux Klan and real estate agents. Freakonomics most profound pronouncement was concerning the dropping crime rate in the early 1990s in the US. Crime had been steadily rising in the country, when it suddenly and sharply began to drop. Experts had been so sure of its continued rise that most did not even realize that it was falling until a few years later. Soon it became conventional wisdom as television anchors and analysts said that the reduction in crime was due to stricter gun control, better policing, aging of the population, and the strong economy, but no data or reports were studied to come to this conclusion. What had made the difference had happened over 20 years earlier, an event that no one had correlated. In 1970, a young woman named Norma McCorvey wanted an abortion, but it was illegal to get one. The twenty-one year old had already put up two children for adoption. She was poor, uneducated, unskilled, an alcoholic and a drug addict. Norma was made the lead plaintiff in a class-action lawsuit to legalize abortion under the alias Ms Roe against Henry Wade, the Dallas County District Attorney. The court ruled in her favor in 1973 and abortions were made legal across the US. The effect of Roe vs. Wade was felt one generation later in the drastic reduction of crime rates from the early 1990s. A large chunk of the population suddenly didnt exist, specifically the part of the population that was born to poor, teenaged mothers in the least advantageous circumstances and were more likely than average to become criminals. By connecting invisible dots between seemingly random causes and effects, Steven Levitt makes the study of economics seem fascinating. The book is a must read for all those who are curious about everything from the mundane to the complicated. It is a treasure trove of insights and little known facts on the workings of modern American life.

Five Point Someone - What Not to do at IIT, by Chetan Bhagat

Book review by Dr. Roopa Nishi Viswanathan If you are an IITian, you will probably relate very well to this light-hearted narrative about the life of three average guys at the Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi (And if you are an IITian you would also know what average in IIT means). If you are not an IITian, you will still enjoy this book like I did (I am not even a techie). Five Point Someone: What Not to Do at IIT may be about life in IIT, but the characters are as interesting as in any other book and are very un-IIT like (That says a lot). According to the author, Chetan Bhagat, this book is not about how to get into IIT or what to do once you are in, but what not to do there. The autobiographical account lends itself to fine character development. The book is fast paced and has very funny conversational style plus lingo typical to those who come from the institution. A little eccentric (little may be the understatement of the year), IITians may

be, but they are considered to be one of the most elite groups in the world. Wouldnt say that about the three guys in Five Point Someone who manage to scrape through IIT, not without a few hair-raising incidents here and there. I would definitely give this book more than a five point something on a ten-point scale. My friend and I both read this book and got into a discussion. Here goes. Me: So what do you think, eh? Is the whole thing like typically what happens there? G: Dunno. Havent been there, but have heard a lot of stories from friends. Sounds pretty much like what happens there once in a while, but maybe not all the time. Me: This guy Hari, the main character, he seems like the prototypical intelligent sensitive guy who gets swayed easily by his friends. Seems to have no fixed opinions. Kind of like me. G (smiles): Dont know about that part, but yes, Hari seems very intuitive right from the beginning. But its Ryan Oberoi, who is my favorite. Standing up for his friends on every occasion. Man, I admire his guts. And I liked the raunchy humor in this book, most of it thanks to Ryan. Like that coke bottle thing! (Giggles) Me (after I finish laughing): But I dont get one thing. He has rich parents; he stands 91st in India in the IIT entrance (for those who are not familiar to the system, this means that he is probably in the Einstein category of brainy people) and then what? He screws up everything by loafing around. He is barely a five-pointer in IIT. Sounds strange. G: Maybe the pressure got to him. I have seen guys like that. They stop caring after a certain point. Me: But have you seen guys like Alok who can cry at the drop of a hat? Of course, he comes from a very impoverished background, has a sister to marry off, a sick father and all that, but hey G: Wait. Wait. There are guys like that too. The melodrama could have been cut down. Alok is too sentimental. I can understand Ryan not being able to stand him sometimes. Me: Though he is kinda cute sometimes too. Poor Alok. Who do you think the author is out of the three? G: I would say Hari. Hari is projected in a very neutral manner. I like the way Ryan and Alok get to crib about this in chapters provided exclusively for them to vent their feelings. Me: Yes, thats a creative concept in a book. By the way, what do you think about the whole story? G: Its funny indeed, the things that keep happening to these guys. And the things Ryan comes up with for them to do, like for instance signing with their blood indeed (And you thought Tom Sawyer was gross). As for the longest day in Haris life episode, I found it a little far-fetched. Me: Yeah, plus the ending could have been a little different. Though I cant say that I was left unsatisfied.

G: Overall, a good book according to me. Brings out a lot of issues in the education system in India in general. Of course, IIT is way ahead in terms of competition compared to other institutions. Me: And Ryan says IIT hasnt contributed to Indias development. I think that is not true. G: Yes, There definitely have been many scientific innovations brought out by the institution, but in general, the rule of thumb is that the good guys in IIT go abroad. Me: Nowadays, thats the rule of thumb with every technological institution. Then why blame IITians? G: Anyway, I think some IITians would dread reading this book cause they wouldnt want to be reminded of their harrowing experiences there. Me (Smiling): Harrowing, but rib-tickling too. I am sure most of them have a lot to cherish. G: And this book will take them back. In fact, it took me back to my college days too. Me: Gotta go. Can I take the book with me? Am going to lend this book to my IITian friend, Ranganathan. Lets see what he says about it. G: Why? Are you conducting an opinion poll or something? Me: No, I just want to write a good book review. Bye.

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