Books give a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, and life to everythingPlato
A critical book review is a thorough analysis, and implicit and explicit evaluation of the content, meaning, relevance and significance of a book, in relation to prior research on the topic. Reviews generally can range from 500-1000 words, but may be longer or shorter depending on the length and complexity of the book being reviewed, as well as differs from journal to journal. Writing book reviews is a practice in academics to carefully analyze complex scholarly texts and to assess one’s ability to effectively synthesize research so that one can successfully reach an informed perspective about a research problem. The description and evaluation in critical book review is according to accepted literary standards. This can involve four important aspects:
What the author has tried to explain?
Evaluating whether the author has met the objectives of the study.
Presenting evidence to support the entire assessment.
Identifying the relevant audience, who will be benefited by this assessment.
While writing book review on ‘ The Handbook of Entrepreneurship: What we know, what we need to know’ by Alain Fayolle, I followed the following steps which might be useful for other scholars to do the same:
Read and Make Notes
One should read each chapter carefully and make notes on the theme emerging out of it. As many questions as possible emerging from one’s thoughts should be framed and one should diligently try to answer each one of these questions. For instance, few questions can be: ‘What kind of article or chapter is it? Does it have theoretical arguments? Does it have quantitative or qualitative data? What are the issues raised and addressed? What are the limitations? Does the author do justice with addressal? Does one find any contradictions or biased statements? Also how well one can relate to the statements mentioned with one’s experience or with any similar scholarly article.
Once one is ready with set of questions and answers, it’s important to divide the notes into:
It’s vital to summarise one’s notes with specific summary language which can be: Information about the author, How many chapters are there? How many pages, series, volume and publication, tone of the author, claims one , two, three etc. made by the author, arguments put forth by the author, Who are the intended readership for this article or book? Making a precise of all chapters which results in a seamless well connected story appealing for the readers. What are the contributions of the book to the field of knowledge and domain concerned?
The most crucial part of a critical book review is ‘Evaluation’. It should be done by using existing literature to support one’s views as well as one’s knowledge, experience in the field of concern. As a student it’s very difficult to evaluate and not to get biased. It’s important to put forth the arguments of the author regarding a topic and not a critique of the topic developed by oneself. Evaluation can be of two types:
Explicit evaluation involves directly or explicitly, how one intends to evaluate the text with set of specific guidelines or questions.
Implicit evaluation unlike the previous one is less direct.
Conclusion has an entire different language where one describes the contributions of the book ,despite it’s limitations. One need to explain how this book is better than it’s previous volume if applicable, the language can be for instance be this way: this book makes a contribution or is a starting point or useful for policy makers / students/ practitioners/ pedagogy etc
Hope you find this article useful, please share your feedback and views in the comments section’. Also you can find my recently published book review article in the ‘International Journal of Entrepreneurship and Innovation’ below:
If you don’t have time to Read, you don’t have time or tools to Write.Stephen King