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How to Write a Quick & Easy Book Review

Quick and easy tips for writing an ethical and thoughtful review of the latest book you read—whether you liked it or not.

Writing book reviews can feel daunting, but it’s much simpler than most realize, and there is a quick and easy formula to follow that helps speed up the process. 

Readers don’t always read a book cover to cover before reviewing it, but reviews are arguably considered ethical if the reader finished at least the first few chapters and is forthcoming about not having completed the book or story yet. It’s common in this scenario for readers to add that they will be back with a “follow-up” after completing the book to verify whether it lived up to expectations, though that’s not required.

Whether reading a book cover to cover or a portion large enough to feel confident enough to speak to the content and/or expectations…

1. Start by summarizing.

In 1-3 lines, give a brief overview of what the book is about (no spoilers without warning). No need to overthink it. Keep it simple.

  • What is the setting/location/period of the story?
  • What compels the protagonist?
  • What challenges do they face?

If the book is part of a series, this would be a good time to mention that—and if readers need to have read other books in the series to understand and/or enjoy this one.

Nonfiction summary tips: Provide context. What issue or problem is the book addressing? It’s also helpful to touch on the author’s credentials and/or credibility pertaining to writing on this topic.

2. Give your evaluation and start with something positive.

  • Who was your favorite character?
  • What was your favorite part of the book?
  • Did you especially enjoy the theme, plot, dialogue, character development, action, world-building, sensory details, etc.?

If possible, share a supporting quote from the work to enhance your comments.

3. What didn’t work? (never begin a review with this)

  • Did the ending have issues?
  • Did you struggle to connect with or care about the main character?
  • Was anything off-putting or might be for other readers?

Dislikes in literature are very subjective, so it’s good to keep it simple.

This can often be summed up in 1–3 sentences.

4. Make your recommendation:

  • Would you recommend this book to others?
  • If not, why not?
  • If so, what kind of readers would enjoy this book?
  • And does it bring to mind any other books those readers might recognize?

Nonfiction recommendation tip: Just like with fiction, state whether you enjoyed the book or not, but also if you found it helpful or not. Specifically, did it meet your expectations? (I.e., if the book was about planting an organic garden, do you feel more prepared to do so?) If not, be sure to state why.

Again, 1-3 sentences can suffice.

Ultimately, readers are going to decide for themselves no matter what reviews say, so there is no need to write a Ph.D.-level dissertation. However you decide to handle it, please remember that all books—good and bad—are written with proverbial blood, sweat, and tears, and no matter how much you did or didn’t enjoy the book, the time invested by the author should always be respected.


  1. say you received a book in exchange for a review. (Reviews are not “required” and can be canceled at any time by our site users without penalty.)
  2. obsess over typos (unless egregious). Everyone thinks they’re a grammarian but most aren’t.
  3. leave a vague, one-or-two-sentence review.
  4. copy other reviews.
  5. copy the synopsis in the book listing.
  6. include any infringement, impersonation, or plagiarism (this includes copying and pasting the book’s summary provided by the publisher).
  7. complain about issues you had downloading the file. (That has nothing to do with the quality of the writing or even the author.)
  8. include personal information—yours or the author’s.
  9. argue with (or insult) other reviewers.
  10. include any threats, profanity, harassment, Libel, defamation, or inflammatory content.
  11. include any racism, sexism, or hate speech of any kind.
  12. include any sexual content.
  13. add any external links.
  14. include any solicitations or illegal activities.
  15. leave a low-star review for a book you didn’t read in its entirety

These can all get you banned from review sites, including ours.

Happy Hunting!

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