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A Simple Book Review Template

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!

Brief Overview/Summary

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.

Important Themes

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.

Favorite Quotes

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!

Happy Reviewing!

Tucker Ballister

tucker@ballisterwriting.com

18 thoughts on “A Simple Book Review Template”

  1. Hi Tucker, 

    I really enjoyed reading your article. I enjoy reading books and highlighting or saving those quotes in my notes on my iPhone. I’ve noticed that when I’m going through my notes and I encounter my saved quotes it reminds me to the specific moment of when I wrote it down and why I liked that quote. So I see why you said that it is important to save the quotes you encounter to use in your books. However, on the template you have recommend I think that the brief overview/summary is very important. I like to know what exactly I’m about to read because that’ll let me know if I’ll be interested in such. Thank you for this post. I reading enjoyed reading it because you have a very well written post.

    Reply
    • Thank you for the thoughtful comment! I experience the same thing when I go back and read my favorite quotes. It is almost like time travel in that it transports you back to that moment when you read the quote for the first time. It’s a great practice and I think all readers should use it! 

      Reply
  2. Hi Tucker  – this is a great post! I mean, who doesn’t like a good template.  I am alao a writer and even though I don’t write book reviews as such I find that this sort of thing is most helpful for any type of writing that you are doing.  Whether it be a blog post, an essay, a review or a sales promotion, a simple plan such as this will always keep you on the right track.

    And interestingly enough, overiews, themes, characters and quotes are a standard for pretty much anything you are wiritng and I have listed above.  I even followed that for my academic studies.  I was wondering if you have different templates for different writing types or if it is this one that you use for all.

    Thanks 

    Paul

    Reply
    • Now that you mention it, most of my posts follow a very similar template. The backpack reviews I write on my other outdoor site (thebackpackguide.com), for example, always start with an overview of the pack, then discuss features, best uses, and then user reviews of how the pack has performed in different settings. It’s slightly different, but only by a minor degree of separation. I suppose that the template I use depends on how many subheadings I’m going to include. For example, if I’m going to write an article about 10 Creative Writing Prompts, for example, I’m going to utilize a bit different template than if I’m writing a book review. 

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  3. Great suggestions! Having a template for book reviewing makes life easier. I think your template is quite simple and sufficient enough to make a decent book review, something that I wish I had found before I made my cookbook review. Oh well, I’ll just have to refer to this post from now on. Thank you for helping us bloggers out there!

    Reply
    • You are most welcome! The good news about blog content is that we can always write an updated post or simply revise an old one. I look forward to hearing about how this template helps you create new content in the future! 

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  4. Great post about book review templates.  I have just started college and majoring in Literature and loving it! Well loving everything except writing book reviews. I love the books, the writing, the concepts, the characters and the plot twists.  What I don’t like and what I am unable to do is write down my thoughts in a linear straight line that makes sense, I am always jumping all over the place and not really finishing my train of thought. I am always getting low grades because of this.  So I decided to Google “How to write a great book review” and found your site.

     I really like your book review template and how simply you set it up. I will just break it down into the categories you have mentioned and just stick to that topic. (Love the part about favorite quotes)  I think this will keep my thoughts organized and allow people to understand what I am thinking about each book. Thank you so much for this very helpful post, you are a lifesaver!

    Reply
    • It is precisely for replies like this that I have this website and continue to use my time to create new resources. I’m happy to know that you’re going to be utilizing this template and I’m looking forward to hearing how those grades improve as a result! Best of luck with your studies! 

      Reply
  5. Although I do not write book reviews I can see how this template would be useful in reviewing technology products that I’m interested in. As you stated making a fair comparison without revealing too many details but still enough to understand my perspective. However, with echnology reviews I’ve often found when writers try to unbiasedly review a product that they themselves don’t have like or use it does not reveal enough for me to make a decision based on their recommendations. For example as a power user I find myself taking reviews made by fellow power users like Marques Brownlee more seriously than others. 

    Reply
    • I do agree that the format I use in this template could certainly come in handy when writing technology reviews! I can relate to what you said about trying to write unbiased reviews, and I think it’s really hard to do. In my case, it ends up being more helpful to my readers when I’m honest about my experience and let them know why I liked a book or what is left to be desired. Fortunately, when it comes to books I generally don’t choose selections that I don’t enjoy! 

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  6. Thanks for these tips on writing a book review. I have often wondered if writing book reviews can be profitable for the effort it takes to read and then write the review. This is something I would like to do but have wondered if it would actually be worth it. It would definitely be worth it on a personal note, but financial-not so sure. But please enlighten me. By the way, I just clicked your link to sign up for Kindle Unlimited. I didn’t even know this existed! This makes books a lot more affordable. There are so many book I want to read, but often I don’t because if I bought every book I was ever interested in I would be seriously running down my funds quickly. Kindle Unlimited helps solve this problem. However, I do wonder how this affects the authors. How do authors make money these days? Congrats on finding your way in this competitive area. 

    Reply
    • Thanks for the thorough and thoughtful comment! The main method I earn income by writing reviews at present is through affiliate sales, as you might imagine. I dream of one day becoming a renowned reviewer that is paid handsomely for reading and reviewing others’ work, but we must all start somewhere. I’m glad you found Kindle Unlimited through my site. You are very right that it’s an excellent way to get more books without breaking the bank. Personally, my reading list grows exponentially faster than I can check books off of it, but I do dream of having a large personal library on my retreat center property one day! 

      Reply
  7. I think it’s a novel and pro-active idea you had from the get-go to take the time to write down your favourite exerpts and quotes in all the books you’ve read.  This has saved you a lot of time and you don’t have to reinvent the wheel again so to speak.  That’s what they call working smarter not harder :-)Your statement of every book is unique, I totally agree with you there.  One cannot really compare books because each one was written in a moment of time and relates to numerous and varied genres.  Each one needs to be treated as a separate entity.By the way, you’ve chosen a eye-catching phrase, may I ask, what drove you to choose ‘ballister writing’?Looking forward to your intriuging reply.

    Reply
    • Thank you for the compliment! I just realized that so many of the great quotes and ideas I was reading might be forgotten if I didn’t note them and write them down, so that’s where that habit came from. As far as the title Ballister Writing goes, this site was my original website for my freelance writing venture. I chose my last name (Ballister) and paired it with writing because it clearly communicated my core service. I still work with a number of clients as a freelance writer but have since adapted this site to house my own book reviews and writing tips. Thanks for asking! 

      Reply
  8. Hi Tucker, I have done reviews before and I have used some of these elements. Your post is helpful because it is a good idea to have a template so I can be sure to include all that is necessary, instead of thinking it out every time. My biggest takeaways are the recording of excerpts and quotes, and the identification  of themes. In addition to all that you have mentioned, I also give an idea of the reader who might find the book enjoyable. Thanks for this template.

    Reply
    • I absolutely agree that a comment on the type of reader who is most likely to enjoy the book would also be a great addition to the template. Thanks for that suggestion! 

      Reply
  9. Thank you for your article on your book review template. I have been looking for something like this online for a while now. I’m glad I stumbled across your site and found what I was looking for. You have laid out the heading and what to write about in each one. Super simple that anyone looking to write reviews of books can follow. Thank you.

    Reply

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