Notes on writing book reviews

Choose one of the books from the auxiliary reading list or suggest your own title, but get the approval of the instructors first. Note: Do not review a course text (B&K, Battersby, Sagan).

First - read the entire book carefully taking notes as you go. Reread parts of particular interest. You can't write a good review until you have gotten a good grasp of the content and intent of the book.

When you write the review, assume that the audience would be someone who might be interested in reading a book on that subject. Don't just summarize the book. Describe the general level of the material, the nature of the book (skeptical or credulous), and how well the material is covered and presented. Some concluding comments about the book are in order.

Write so that someone who might be interested in the book can read your review and make an intelligent decision whether to obtain the book and read it, or skip it because it is not what they are interested in.

Look at the reviews on and in the New York Times to become familiar with the genre, BUT DO NOT PLAGIARIZE! You can submit your review at for participation points, and with a free account you can rate their books.


  • Submit your assignment using this website: Please follow the instructions on the website. The assignment is "BR1" or "BR2", depending on whether this is the first or second of the two book reviews you are submitting.
  • If you have ANY problems using the web page to submit the assignment, DO NOT PANIC! It's very important that you tell us what problem(s) you have. To do this, please cut-and-paste the error message(s) you get and email them to Attach to that email your assignment, so we can process it and give you credit.

Formatting: double-spaced, 12-point type, Times New Roman (nonbold) font, 1-inch margins.