Biology (and other Life Sciences)
FORMATTING REQUIREMENTS FOR BOOK REVIEWS
• 3-5 double-spaced pages with 1-inch margins and in a standard 12-point font.
• List only your name and a simple title (e.g.,“Book Review: “A Troublesome Inheritance” at the top of the first page. This should take up 2 lines, maximum.
• Include your Works Cited/Bibliography at the end. This will not contribute to your total page count. See Guidelines for References later in this document for preferred formatting.
• Quotes may be useful in writing a book review, but keep them to brief, especially relevant passages that strongly support a specific point you aim to make. Use quotes sparingly, or, even better, avoid them altogether.
BOOK REVIEW GUIDELINES
For your book reviews, you should aim to provide a critical analysis of each book. This could be an analysis of a book as a whole, or you may choose to focus on just a section of the book. This is not a simple summary of a book, but rather a critical assessment of the author’s goals, whether or not they achieved them, and the overall effectiveness of the book (or the section on which your review focuses).
An excellent guide for writing a successful book review can be found here:
Critique v. Summary: Please keep in mind that, although a good review will include a summary, it should be minimal. In the book review writing guide listed at the link above you will find this quote: “There is, of course, no set formula, but a general rule of thumb is that the first one-half to two-thirds of the review should summarize the author’s main ideas and at least one-third should evaluate the book.
Check with your instructor.” As your instructor, I am telling you to flip that advice: only one-third of a review should involve summary, while two-thirds should focus on critical evaluation of the book.
Outside Sources: You also need to do a bit of outside research for the reviews you write. Each of your book reviews for this course should include 3 peer-reviewed sources.
Examples: Selected examples of book reviews will be made available.(I’ll uploaded right after) In the meantime, visit the following link (and scroll down to the section “Book Reviews”) to read free, open-access reviews of a controversial book entitled A Troublesome Inheritance, by Nicholas Wade:
These may be particularly useful, since they are academic book reviews and published in a peer-reviewed journal (Human Biology). Notice how the authors of these reviews use outside sources to back up their critiques. The book reviews you write for this course will not be as long or as detailed as most of these examples, but they should follow their overall form. Importantly, as you will be writing academic book reviews, you should focus on the science and information conveyed in each book and not its entertainment value
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