People have started to ask me how I got into writing book reviews. The simple answer is that I just started writing down how books made me feel. Eventually, though, I started to develop a simple book review template that I use to convey the most important information to interested readers.
For years, I’ve annotated my favorite quotes and excerpts in the books I read and then gone back and typed out those excerpts so that I could save them for future reference. This means I have easy access to my favorite quotes from books when I go to review them down the line. One of the additional benefits of doing this is that it frees the physical copy of the book up to be donated or gifted to others, in essence passing along its lessons to those that I come in contact with.
I highly recommend this practice. It’s also a great way to revisit some of the most important lessons from your favorite books and really “drill” those lessons into your subconscious mind. For aspiring book reviewers, I’ve outlined this simple book review template that I invite you to use to review your favorite selections!
If you don’t find this simple book review template useful, don’t worry! I’m not offended. But don’t leave so quickly! I’ve got plenty of other content you might enjoy, including Book Reviews, Writing Tips, and My Books! If you’re looking for a freelance writer to contribute guest blogs or ongoing paid content, please read through my Services and shoot me an email detailing your project!
Here’s where I provide a summary of the book’s major plot line. Readers want to know what they’re getting into and this is an opportunity to do so in more detail than what you’ll typically find on a book’s back cover. The trick is giving readers enough information to make them interested while avoiding giving away any major twists or plot developments that the reader should get to navigate on his or her own.
I like to tease out at least one of the book’s most important themes when I review it. Many of the books I read have multiple important themes. And the importance we place on each will vary based on our unique experiences and interests. The idea of this review section is to give readers an idea of the morals or lessons from the book that resonated most profoundly with you.
The Main Character(s)
For me, the characters in a book are just as important (if not more so) than the book’s plot or conclusion. I am drawn to books that feature characters with which I can resonate; those characters that have real human flaws but the ability to overcome them and change their lives or make a difference in the lives of others. This section gives you a chance to summarize the main character(s) of the book and convey to your readers why those characters are worth investing in.
This is one of my favorite sections to put together. And, if you use the practice I mentioned above of annotating as you go and then typing out those annotations once you finish the book, it’s also a really easy section to write. Typically, I like to include anywhere from 2 to 5 of my favorite quotes from the book. This gives readers an opportunity for a “sneak preview” of the book’s contents and the author’s writing style before they make a purchase decision.
Additionally, I like to use this section to explain WHY these quotes resonate with me so powerfully. I think about how the underlying message can be applied to my life, how my life might change once those lessons are applied, and how the world will change for the better if we just listen to the words of some of our favorite authors.
Final Verdict and/or Your Rating
And this is where you really bring things home. At the end of your review, people want to know how you rate the book. If you like, you can use this section to compare it to others or simply to highlight the major reasons why you recommend this book to others. In general, I actually try to shy away from making comparisons, as I feel that books are, in many ways, like people. Each is unique in its own right and interacting with one can teach you something very different than interacting with another.
If you do decide to recommend the book to others, this is also the perfect place to guide them to an online store or marketplace where they can purchase their own copy of the book. If you’re an affiliate for websites like Amazon or Barnes and Noble, for example, this is a great place to include links to their online bookstores. (see what I did there?)
As an affiliate marketer myself, I do receive a commission on sales that I drive through this site. The money I earn goes directly back into me purchasing new books to review or new training that allow me to share more in-depth writing tips with my audience.
That said, my purpose for creating the content on this site is not to earn money. I truly believe in the lessons contained in the pages of the books I recommend and I believe that, when more people read these books and incorporate those lessons into their lives, the world will continue to become a better and better place.
Will You Use This Simple Book Review Template?
Do you find this template for writing book reviews useful? If you decide to use it for your own book reviews, I’d love to hear from you in the comments below. While I don’t stick to this format for every book I read, it’s an easy method for giving your readers more information about some of your favorite reads. Sometimes, I just decided to go chapter-by-chapter to provide a little more in-depth overview, but information about the plot, themes, characters, quotes, and why you liked it are great inclusions to any book review.
As a published writer who aspires to create more works of fiction, non-fiction, and poetry in the years ahead, I’m constantly in search of new ideas that help me cultivate writing motivation and fine-tune my writing skills. I’m also very interested in the stories of successful authors, as they provide insights into the creative journey and lessons that I would only learn the hard way without reading about them first.
Please leave a comment below if you are inspired, perplexed, saddened, or angered by any of the stories presented above. I welcome any and all comments and will do my best to respond hastily. I’d also encourage you to share this with others if you found it particularly insightful or helpful. Be sure to tag @ballisterwriting on Facebook or Instagram if you do!