Book Review

last modified 2014-08-01T10:35:38-04:00

Critical Book Review (Whitfield, Fall 2010)

Note: This guide focuses on library resources for your CHR 250 book review assignment, including required format and locating biographical information. Additional course-specific resources are available on the Christianity Subject Librarian page.

I. Write your own critical book review

By September 28 (with a rough draft due by September 14), you will write a review of The Art of Pilgrimage by Phil Cousineau. A critical book review provides a summary of the author's main ideas, includes your evaluation of whether/how the author met his stated goals, and alerts potential readers of relevant perspectives should they decide to read the book. This is all clearly and concisely communicated in a 5 to 7 page paper.

Consult Appendix B and C of your syllabus (pages 14-19) to ensure that your review includes all the required components which are briefly outlined below:

1. include a title page and bibliographical citation according to Turabian format

2. introduce the book and the author

  • tie the author to the purpose of the book in one paragraph

3. provide a synopsis (summary) of the book

  • avoid a chapter-by-chapter evaluation
  • focus on key ideas/thoughts rather than chapters
  • include few quotations
  • this accounts for roughly 50% (2-3 pages) of your review

4. evaluate the book, including strengths and weaknesses

  • tie the author back to the book
  • answer questions such as did the author meet the stated purpose, how could the book be better?, etc
  • this accounts for roughly the other 50% (2-3 pages) of your review

5. conclude with your own words

  • based on all you have read about the author and the book, wrap it up in one concluding paragraph

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Tips, Tricks, Ideas

1. read the entire book at least once

  • focus on reading not reading to review before you draft your first review
  • making notes of specific questions/thoughts/ideas may help in writing the first draft

2. read the entire book

  • forward, introduction, and "about the author" sections often include the author's reason(s) for writing the book and can hold other clues as well

3. consider reading other reviews of the book

  • only after you have drafted your own review
  • may be helpful to confirm your own thoughts/ideas
  • may reinforce what you have identified
  • let Theresa know if you need help finding these reviews

II. Find Biographical Information

Once the review is drafted, you can look for additional biographical information on Phil Cousineau.

1. remember what you have already read about the author when you read the book

  • the forward/introduction/"about the author" sections often include information about the author

2. search library databases for information

3. check Google for additional information

  • use the advanced search (bottom of the page) to limit to .edu sites to eliminate most of the links to sites that sell rather than review books
  • make sure you get the right person!
  • verify dates of entry and/or last modified date to determine reliability/authority of entries

4. consult print biographical source

  • Contemporary Authors REF Z 1224 .C6 v. 146

5. explore new communication options

  • consult his web page
  • send a "tweet" or follow him on Twitter
  • "friend" him on Facebook
  • leave a comment on a blog

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Tips, Tricks, Ideas

1. be selective:

  • you don't need to include every item you read
  • focus on what is pertinent, relevant, and points you back to how this influences the book

2. read articles/books by the author to reveal information about the author

3. look at author biographies on the dust jackets of books

  • Tarver doesn’t normally keep these
  • check at local bookstores


Need more help?

Theresa Rhodes, Subject Librarian for Christianity, is available to assist you with your assignment.  Her contact information and links to request a research consultation are above.