Limbo Critical Book Review

            Writing a critical book review is
not always an easy task.  Space is generally
limited to five to six pages, yet the essay must sufficiently address the
necessary issues.  The following
discussion and the included suggestions are offered to facilitate your writing
process and to improve your written communication.  Writing a critical review of a piece of
literature helps one develop or fine-tune critical thinking skills along with
helping develop the ability to critically evaluate a resource.  A book review looks at the quality, meaning
and significance of a book and identifies strengths and weaknesses of the
information.  A book review is not a book
report, although a summary of the content of the book is provided as part of
the review.  A book review evaluates what
the author worked to convey and then presents evidence that supports that.

should go without saying, but in order to write a critical book review, you
need to have read the entire book. 
Reading actively and critically, thinking about what the author is
saying as you are reading, will help prepare you for completing the book review
assignment.  Consider underlining,
highlighting, writing notes in the margin of key ideas that you think will be
useful in your review, as you go along, so they are easy to reference later.

review will be comprised of 4 sections, introduced next in this paper.  You will have an Introduction, Summary,
Critical Evaluation and Conclusion…include section headers for these sections
in APA format.  As you begin your review,
be sure to include a complete reference citation entry of the book being
reviewed at the top of the first page (hint: the reference citation for each
book is located in the course module for the book review.)  Your paper and citation should follow APA
writing guidelines.  Your introduction should
introduce the book and the book’s author, including biographical information
about the author (education, training, experience, etc.) as it demonstrates his
or her competency to write the book.  If
your book is not about dogs, it’s not necessary to include that he or she
rescues retired racing greyhounds, for example (hint: you may find this
information in the book, or you may have to look elsewhere for relevant
information on the author.  Make sure it
is from a reputable source.) You should include any information that you deem
germane to introducing the book.  In most
reviews, you will likely need to limit the introduction to one or two
paragraphs.  The introduction should be
approximately one-half page in length.

purpose of a critical book review is only minimally to provide a summary of the
book.  Your goal is to provide a succinct
summary that (1.) provides evidence that you have read the material and that
(2.) tells the reader what the book is about. At this point, focus on the
outline and major points of the book. 
Illustrate the author’s argument, but do not become side-tracked with
minute details in the summary.  Further,
avoid critique in this section, as you will have the opportunity to address
such matters in the critical evaluation portion of your review.  Stick strictly it factual information about
the book.

the limited about of space in a brief book review, footnotes should not be
utilized.  Quotations or ideas taken
directly from the text should be followed parenthetically by the page number of
the quotation.  The abbreviation for
page(s) (p./pp/) should not be used.  The
following sentences provide examples of proper referencing for this paper:

1.      These
are deep problems, painful problems – problems that quick fix approaches can’t
solve (24).

2.      Covey
suggests that trying to change outward attitudes and behaviors does very little
good in the long run if we fail to examine the basic paradigms from which those
attitudes and behaviors flow (36).

including numerous quotations, as they take away from the briefness of your
review.  This section is equivalent to a
thesis statement in that it includes an overview of the book that both
incorporates an encapsulated summary and a sense of your general judgment. 

            The critical evaluation section is
the most important one of a book review. 
Your primary purpose in this section is to respond both positively and
negatively to the book’s content and the author’s presentation.  This section will generally be three pages in

            Needless to say, this response
should be more in-depth than “This book is a good book that should be
recommended reading for everyone.”  On
the other hand, “This book is a lousy book not worth reading” is also
inadequate.  While all books are
different (and thus require somewhat differing approaches for review), the
following questions should guide your evaluation (hint: I will look for this information in your paper…placing it in the
order it is listed here (in paragraph form) will ensure that you include what
you are supposed to and that I don’t miss it when I am grading the paper):

1.      What
is the author’s purpose, i.e., what does he or she hope to accomplish through
this book?  Does the author accomplish
the purpose?  If so, how does he or she
do it?  If not, why not?

2.      Does
the author approach the subject with any biases, i.e., do the author’s
experiential, philosophical, cultural or social perspectives influence his or
her conclusions?

3.      What
are the strengths of the book, i.e., what contributions does the book
make?  More specifically, why should a
person read this book?

4.      What
are the weaknesses of the book?  Does the
author properly support his or her thesis? 
Does the author adequately consider and refute opposing viewpoints?  Is the book limited in application to
specific types of subjects?  Is the book
relevant to contemporary culture?

5.      How
effectively does the author draw claims from the material being presented?  Are connections between the claims and
evidence made clearly and logically? 
Here you should use examples to support your evaluation.

6.      Does
the author have to resort to suppression of contrary evidence in order to make
the thesis credible (slanting)?  If so,
what additional evidence would weaken the case?

7.      Is
the author’s case proved, or would another thesis have been more appropriately


your critique, be specific in your evaluations and the arguments you make
concerning the work.  In your critique, demonstrate
the validity of your arguments with concrete examples, clear logic and good
reasoning.  Further, be sure to provide
evidence to support your claims.

            In this final section, you need to
offer your overall evaluation of the book. 
It is appropriate to use first person language as you develop this
section.  Here are a few questions you should
consider: To whom would you recommend this book, and why?  What did you learn from this book about
social class issues that exist in society? 
How would you apply the information in the book to your personal life
(leadership roles/supervisory roles/career)? 
Two well-formed paragraphs should suffice in this section.

as my example/instructional paper was roughly six pages, you can expect your
book review paper to be anywhere from five to six pages in length.  Please refer to the critical book review
rubric provided for you in the Critical Book Review module.


to consider as you tidy up your paper:

writing style should be utilized

pt Times New Roman font

inch paper margins


using contractions in formal writing (can’t, don’t, aren’t, etc.)

first-person language sparingly; however, you may use “I” when referring to
your opinion of the book


A reference page should be included at the
end of the report, referencing any outside sources you included in the book

This will be the book itself and any
additional sources that were used to help you with background information

Use ReciteWorks to check your citations (

Use spell check, watch your sentence
structure and proof read for grammatical issues.

This is a senior-level course and you are
expected to write like a senior-level college student with organized and
well-presented ideas.