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Assamese Book Review - the Best of Assamese Literature

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Assamese Book Review: Satapatra (an anthology of modern Assamese lyrics selected, arranged, and annotated by late Jajneswar Sarma) First edition: 1937

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Assamese Book Review:Nikolai,Vodka Aiyahont (an autobiographical novel written by Shyamanta Phukan)

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Assamese Book Review : Ekhan Premor Upanyash (An autobiographical novel written by Ajit Barua)

Assamese Book Review : Ekhan Premor Upanyash (An autobiographical novel written by Ajit Barua)

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Assamese Book Review - Lost Luggage

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Introduction to 'Assamese Book Review' - the Best of Assamese Literature

Introduction to 'Assamese Book Review' - the Best of Assamese Literature

book review meaning in assamese

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book review in Hindi हिन्दी

  • किताब की समीक्षा ⇄ book review

book review in Marathi मराठी

  • ग्रंथ समीक्षा ⇄ book review

book review in English

  • book review ⇄ book review an article about a book, especially a new one, discussing its merits and faults.

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'The Assamese' book review: An insider's insight

Tea gardens in Assam used for representative purpose only.

Communities are people. They are not abstractions. They are not rhetoric. They are human beings,” begins the first chapter of The Assamese: A Portrait of a Community. And, what could be more apt? Because, here are about 450 pages to understand a culture, which is representative of ‘Bharat’ in the east. Authored by Delhi-based writer Sangeeta Barooah Pisharoty, the book is a blueprint to understanding the Assamese people.

Over the last decade, conversations and discussions on Northeast India have begun gaining attention. Many senior leaders of the ruling BJP have been making frequent trips to the region announcing and delivering on many commitments, piquing the interest of the mainland about the diverse cultures and ways of life of those living in the erstwhile overlooked region of the country. The Assamese is Sangeeta’s attempt to delve deeper and offer an insider's insight into Assam, and she does a remarkable job putting together a comprehensive study of its people. Her writing style is a mix of reportage and storytelling. She adds her own expansive research, along with the words of many giants who have documented or written on the state.

As advocated by the title, the book is an important lesson in the lifestyle, customs, food, culture, habits, practices, language and faith of the Assamese people. But it is also has more than a few lessons on writing engagingly, particularly when it is non-fiction. The Assamese is a smooth read. The information comes at you with ease. The author ensures that you are not overwhelmed with details, without compromising on the facts. It is interesting to note how the author makes it a point to coyly slide in Joi Aai Axom (Glory to Mother Assam) whenever required, strategically.

The Assamese is Sangeeta’s attempt to delve deeper and offer an insider's insight into Assam, and she does a remarkable job putting together a comprehensive study of its people.

The book also touches upon many contemporary issues, but a detailed analysis of the ongoing projects in the state, since Prime Minister Narendra Modi came to power in 2014, is missing. There are, of course, glimpses of it, but a little more focus on the infrastructure initiatives, the complexities of religion and language that are deeply engrained in the minds of the people and how the PM has been attempting to understand it tactfully would have been an insightful addition.

Read Sangeeta’s compelling work to get a glimpse of Assam and its people. Read it also to experience how you can find similarities and differences with fellow Indians, wherever you come from in the country, language barriers notwithstanding. Sangeetha shows how it is the connections that bind is together; a sentiment that has been captured evocatively in the words of Assamese poet-hero Rupkonwar Jyoti Prasad Agarwal: ‘Of so many hills and plains/ Of the waters of a hundred streams/ I flow, taking all in my path/ To be one with the Brahmaputra’.

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Book Review | Diverse shades of Assamese Identity through its history, cuisine and culture

With a mix of journalistic and academic approaches, the author creates a readable and enjoyable work that goes beyond the well-known facets of Assam, presenting a nuanced and inclusive portrayal of the Assamese people

Book Review | Diverse shades of Assamese Identity through its history, cuisine and culture

In Sangeeta Barooah Pisharoty’s second book The Assamese: A Portrait of a Community , she explores the many aspects of Assamese identity, from how we look to our history, language, culture, and politics. Starting with the fundamental question, ‘Aami kun? Who are we?’ The author takes us on a journey, helping us to understand what makes someone’s Assamese identity, ranging from physical appearance and historical roots to language, cultural practices, and contemporary politics.

In the book, Pisharoty emphasizes the uniqueness of the Assamese community, not only in its composition of tribal and non-tribal sub-groups but also in the binding force of cultural practices rather than linguistic unity. This observation sheds light on the historical language wars in Assam and challenges policymakers’ lack of understanding of the region’s peculiarities. The author also traces the origins of the Assamese people, exploring the physiognomy of an Assamese and the impact of migration on the community’s formation.

Author Sangeeta Barooah Pisharoty writes in the book ‘ Biological taxonomy compartmentalizes the world population into three basic races: Caucasian (white), Mongoloid (Asian), and Negroid (black), aside from the later addition, Australoid. Who do the Assamese—located at a junction of Indian and East Asian civilisations—find their physical affinity with? Where lies their kinship? Well, it is here that the story of the Assamese community becomes complex and layered, like a bloom which has a set of petals that are of not the same shape and size, colour and texture.

Take my immediate family. My eyes are narrow and small, the cheekbones are high; so are my mother’s. My sister and my brother’s eyes are relatively bigger, cheekbones high. My nose, like my father’s, is thin and sharp. Akin to my mother, my sister’s nose is broad and thick. ‘You look like your father and your sister, like your mother,’ I have grown up hearing that remark from friends and neighbours, relatives. We, as a family, are owners of skin colours that stretch from  boga   (fair) to   mitha-boronia   (wheatish). In my neighbourhood itself, if I walk a few doors away from ours, there is a friend’s family evenly divided in skin tones, from   dhok dhok ke boga   (very fair) to   ketur kola   (dark as night). Are they an anomaly? Their hair too differs, from Maggie curls to wavy. Are these differences a clue to the distinctiveness of my community? Incorporating all these variations, have we not become   Axomiya _, the Assamese, an amalgam of people under one broad umbrella?_

The fact that there was an admixture of groups of people from diverse racial stocks settling down side by side in the Brahmaputra Valley over centuries and in course of time most of them metamorphosed into a formulation only reaffirms to me that there is no typical Assamese look. There cannot be. There are no archetypical Assamese eyes, like the Bengali eyes; there is no stock hair type in Assamese women like that of the crimped, wavy variety that most Malayali women flaunt. There is no set notion about what an Assamese man looks like as there is about a Punjabi man—strapping, well-built. From eyes—big to the tiniest; nose—sharpest to the most levelled, thinnest to the broadest; from  dhok dhok ke boga   to   ketur kola   skin tones; from curly hair to the glossiest silky head; from thin to the broadest lips; from high cheekbones to rounded cheeks; from thick, stocky bodies to lanky, tall beings, there are Assamese of every form. Sharp physical variations are found even within a single family. How exactly do we define one’s lineage?’

The narrative spans from the ancient history of Assam, revealing the Aryanization process and the adoption of Hinduism by a diverse community with various religious practices. The book precisely highlights the historical challenge of immigration, a significant factor in Assam’s politics. Pisharoty offers insights into lesser-known aspects, such as traditional war weaves and diverse forms of folk music like “jikir.” The book “The Assamese” goes beyond politics and history, providing a comprehensive exploration of Assam’s rich tradition in literature, music, dance, cinema, crafts, and cuisine.

A sole chapter in the book is dedicated to Assamese cuisine, challenging the stereotype that associates Eastern food habits solely with Bengali cuisine. Pisharoty introduces readers to unique culinary elements such as khaar, tenga, titta , and the affinity for fermented foods. The author tells us her anecdotes and conversations in this exploration, making it both informative and relatable.  The book offers a valuable perspective on Assam’s cultural richness and the delicate balance between tradition and modernity.

A celebrated journalist and author Sangeeta Baruah Pisharoty’s introspection, driven by questions of identity and belonging, adds a layer of authenticity to the narrative. The author successfully balances academic research with lived experiences, creating a strong narrative that resonates with readers, particularly those who share similar reflections on identity.

The appendix, featuring voices of intellectuals, journalists, filmmakers, lawyers, and others, provides a diverse and polyphonic perspective on what it means to be Assamese. This inclusive approach reflects the true essence of a community that harmoniously coexists with its diversity. The book also presents a balanced and inclusive portrait, showcasing the diversity within the Assamese community.

With a mix of journalistic and academic approaches, the author creates a readable and enjoyable work that goes beyond the well-known facets of Assam, presenting a nuanced and inclusive portrayal of the Assamese people. In The Assamese: A Portrait of a Community , Sangeeta Barooah Pisharoty accomplishes the ambitious task of condensing a comprehensive understanding of Assamese identity into a single book. This book serves as a valuable resource for both non-Assamese readers seeking insights into Assam’s culture and those within the community wanting to reconnect with their roots.

Book: The Assamese: A Portrait of a Community by Sangeeta Barooah Pisharoty Publisher:   Aleph Book Company Price **:** Rs 999

The author is a Bengaluru-based management professional, literary critic, and curator. He can be reached at [email protected] . Views expressed in the above piece are personal and solely that of the author. They do not necessarily reflect Firstpost_’s views_.

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'Makam', The lost Assamese China-town (Book review and review essay)

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2012, Asian Ethnicity

'Makam', Rita Chowdhary's acclaimed novel about Indian citizens of Chinese origin who were forcefully exiled out of Northeast India's Assam, incarcerated in detention camps in western India and then deported en masse during the 1962 India-China war, was published nearly a decade ago. I wrote one of the first book reviews of the Assamese novel in the Asian Ethnicity Journal before it was translated into English in 2014. This book review was followed by a review essay (2013) that attempted to historicize the novel in the context of colonial tea plantation frontiers markets in Assam and labor migration between India and China using secondary sources. This review essay was originally written in Mandarin Chinese for a Taiwanese book. It is attached to the review here in its English translation. Although I have not followed up with more research on this incredible history of migration since 2013, a fantastic array of new academic and historical work has since been published on the subject, the latest of which is a new book called 'The Deoliwallahs' by Dilip D'Souza and Joy Ma published in 2019.

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Rupkatha Journal on Interdisciplinary Studies in Humanities

In this age of metamorphosis of cultural transition and assimilation, in this age where everyone in one sense or the other is a migrant, the issue of identity can never be resolved. Iain Chambers (1994) holds that migrancy “calls for a dwelling in language, in histories, in identities that are constantly subject to mutation” (p. 5). ‘Home’ sometimes becomes a provisional location as it fails to provide assurance and security; and hence, in many instances, one witnesses an individual’s desire to break free, to migrate. Memory and narratives can be seen as symbolic ways of making homes, of negotiating different and competing allegiances. Jahnavi Barua’s novel, Undertow, Arupa Patangia Kalita’s novellas and stories like ‘Face in the Mirror’, ‘The Half-burnt Bus at Midnight’, stories from the Barak Valley of Assam like Moloy Kanti Dey’s ‘Ashraf Ali’s Homeland’, Amitabha Dev Choudhury’s ‘Wake Up Call’, Arijit Choudhury’s ‘Fire’, among others, provide multiple perspectives on the question...

book review meaning in assamese

Asian Ethnology

Ambika Aiyadurai

In northeast India, there are several indigenous peoples who reside along the Sino-Indian border about whom there is very little academic research. Some communities are present on either side of the border, making research very diicult. The Mishmi is one such indigenous group living in the northeast region of India bordering southern Tibet. Out of four Mishmi clans, three reside on the Indian side and one on the Chinese side of the international border. After the Sino-Indian War, movement of Mishmi people across the border was restricted, impacting social ties and trade-related activities. We discuss relations between the Mishmi and the British, followed by their interactions with the Indian administration. We document how people used the borders before the war and how development on the border has impacted

Gaurav Rajkhowa

nandana dutta

Jayati Bhattacharya

Book Review of J.Bhattacharya & C. Kripalani ed. Indian and Chinese Communities: Comparative Perspectives (London, New York, Delhi: Anthem-ISEAS, 2015) in China Report 52, 4 (2016): 324–353

asiatic.iium.edu.my

Nishi Pulugurtha

In: Wade, Geoff and Chin, James K., (eds.), China and Southeast Asia: Historical Interactions. Abingdon, Oxford: CRC Press (Routledge Studies in the Modern History of Asia]

Michael W Charney

As Prasenjit Duara has explained, in his analysis of the first half of the twentieth century in Chinese history, there is a tension between local, regional, and state-centred historical narratives that should be identified and kept in mind when one studies a country's history (Duara 1995). There has not been, however, a significant effort in this direction in the prevailing historiography on Burma and of the sub-national Chinese migrant groups and their histories in Burma remain largely ignored. This is starting to change, specifically for the Burma's postwar history, but to a far lesser extent for the many centuries of migration from China into Burma prior to the Second World War. Hokkien, Gwangdong, Hakka, Teochew, and other migrants from China (especially the Southeastern maritime provinces) in Burma have been viewed in the secondary literature as Chinese nationals, rather than as different ethnic or sub-ethnic groups. This inability to separate people and their history from the nation-state paradigm continues (Charney 1999).

Zak Leonard

Departing from narratives that privilege the rise of static, territorially-bounded nation-states, this course examines modern South Asian history (roughly 1800 to 1950) through the lens of migration and transregional circulation. We will determine which political rights Indian migrants claimed as British imperial subjects and which governmental mechanisms were designed to perpetuate their marginalization. Early readings detail the experiences of indentured laborers who journeyed to the sugar colonies of Mauritius and British Guiana. Subsequent texts explore the colonial regime's efforts to regulate itinerancy, border crossings within India, and religious pilgrimages. Shifting our attention to the metropole and settler colonies, we will then examine the social history of Indian groups in Britain and interrogate the immigration laws that obstructed Indian entry into South Africa and Canada in the early twentieth century. We will also chart the influence of migration (both historical and contemporary) on Indian nationalist thought and engage with fictional representations of the traumatic Partition of India. Featuring moral reform literature, ethnographical accounts, petitions, family histories, and anti-colonial tracts, this course will equip students with the skills to interrogate a range of primary sources and familiarize them with recent trends in global and colonial history.

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Dictionary English - Assamese

Translations from dictionary english - assamese, definitions, grammar.

In Glosbe you will find translations from English into Assamese coming from various sources. The translations are sorted from the most common to the less popular. We make every effort to ensure that each expression has definitions or information about the inflection.

In context translations English - Assamese, translated sentences

Glosbe dictionaries are unique. In Glosbe you can check not only English or Assamese translations. We also offer usage examples showing dozens of translated sentences. You can see not only the translation of the phrase you are searching for, but also how it is translated depending on the context.

Translation memory for English - Assamese languages

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Organizing Your Social Sciences Research Assignments

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A book review is a thorough description, critical analysis, and/or evaluation of the quality, meaning, and significance of a book, often written in relation to prior research on the topic. Reviews generally range from 500-2000 words, but may be longer or shorter depends on several factors: the length and complexity of the book being reviewed, the overall purpose of the review, and whether the review examines two or more books that focus on the same topic. Professors assign book reviews as practice in carefully analyzing complex scholarly texts and to assess your ability to effectively synthesize research so that you reach an informed perspective about the topic being covered.

There are two general approaches to reviewing a book:

  • Descriptive review: Presents the content and structure of a book as objectively as possible, describing essential information about a book's purpose and authority. This is done by stating the perceived aims and purposes of the study, often incorporating passages quoted from the text that highlight key elements of the work. Additionally, there may be some indication of the reading level and anticipated audience.
  • Critical review: Describes and evaluates the book in relation to accepted literary and historical standards and supports this evaluation with evidence from the text and, in most cases, in contrast to and in comparison with the research of others. It should include a statement about what the author has tried to do, evaluates how well you believe the author has succeeded in meeting the objectives of the study, and presents evidence to support this assessment. For most course assignments, your professor will want you to write this type of review.

Book Reviews. Writing Center. University of New Hampshire; Book Reviews: How to Write a Book Review. Writing and Style Guides. Libraries. Dalhousie University; Kindle, Peter A. "Teaching Students to Write Book Reviews." Contemporary Rural Social Work 7 (2015): 135-141; Erwin, R. W. “Reviewing Books for Scholarly Journals.” In Writing and Publishing for Academic Authors . Joseph M. Moxley and Todd Taylor. 2 nd edition. (Lanham, MD: Rowan and Littlefield, 1997), pp. 83-90.

How to Approach Writing Your Review

NOTE:   Since most course assignments require that you write a critical rather than descriptive book review, the following information about preparing to write and developing the structure and style of reviews focuses on this approach.

I.  Common Features

While book reviews vary in tone, subject, and style, they share some common features. These include:

  • A review gives the reader a concise summary of the content . This includes a description of the research topic and scope of analysis as well as an overview of the book's overall perspective, argument, and purpose.
  • A review offers a critical assessment of the content in relation to other studies on the same topic . This involves documenting your reactions to the work under review--what strikes you as noteworthy or important, whether or not the arguments made by the author(s) were effective or persuasive, and how the work enhanced your understanding of the research problem under investigation.
  • In addition to analyzing a book's strengths and weaknesses, a scholarly review often recommends whether or not readers would value the work for its authenticity and overall quality . This measure of quality includes both the author's ideas and arguments and covers practical issues, such as, readability and language, organization and layout, indexing, and, if needed, the use of non-textual elements .

To maintain your focus, always keep in mind that most assignments ask you to discuss a book's treatment of its topic, not the topic itself . Your key sentences should say, "This book shows...,” "The study demonstrates...," or “The author argues...," rather than "This happened...” or “This is the case....”

II.  Developing a Critical Assessment Strategy

There is no definitive methodological approach to writing a book review in the social sciences, although it is necessary that you think critically about the research problem under investigation before you begin to write. Therefore, writing a book review is a three-step process: 1) carefully taking notes as you read the text; 2) developing an argument about the value of the work under consideration; and, 3) clearly articulating that argument as you write an organized and well-supported assessment of the work.

A useful strategy in preparing to write a review is to list a set of questions that should be answered as you read the book [remember to note the page numbers so you can refer back to the text!]. The specific questions to ask yourself will depend upon the type of book you are reviewing. For example, a book that is presenting original research about a topic may require a different set of questions to ask yourself than a work where the author is offering a personal critique of an existing policy or issue.

Here are some sample questions that can help you think critically about the book:

  • Thesis or Argument . What is the central thesis—or main argument—of the book? If the author wanted you to get one main idea from the book, what would it be? How does it compare or contrast to the world that you know or have experienced? What has the book accomplished? Is the argument clearly stated and does the research support this?
  • Topic . What exactly is the subject or topic of the book? Is it clearly articulated? Does the author cover the subject adequately? Does the author cover all aspects of the subject in a balanced fashion? Can you detect any biases? What type of approach has the author adopted to explore the research problem [e.g., topical, analytical, chronological, descriptive]?
  • Evidence . How does the author support their argument? What evidence does the author use to prove their point? Is the evidence based on an appropriate application of the method chosen to gather information? Do you find that evidence convincing? Why or why not? Does any of the author's information [or conclusions] conflict with other books you've read, courses you've taken, or just previous assumptions you had about the research problem?
  • Structure . How does the author structure their argument? Does it follow a logical order of analysis? What are the parts that make up the whole? Does the argument make sense to you? Does it persuade you? Why or why not?
  • Take-aways . How has this book helped you understand the research problem? Would you recommend the book to others? Why or why not?

Beyond the content of the book, you may also consider some information about the author and the general presentation of information. Question to ask may include:

  • The Author: Who is the author? The nationality, political persuasion, education, intellectual interests, personal history, and historical context may provide crucial details about how a work takes shape. Does it matter, for example, that the author is affiliated with a particular organization? What difference would it make if the author participated in the events they wrote about? What other topics has the author written about? Does this work build on prior research or does it represent a new or unique area of research?
  • The Presentation: What is the book's genre? Out of what discipline does it emerge? Does it conform to or depart from the conventions of its genre? These questions can provide a historical or other contextual standard upon which to base your evaluations. If you are reviewing the first book ever written on the subject, it will be important for your readers to know this. Keep in mind, though, that declarative statements about being the “first,” the "best," or the "only" book of its kind can be a risky unless you're absolutely certain because your professor [presumably] has a much better understanding of the overall research literature.

NOTE: Most critical book reviews examine a topic in relation to prior research. A good strategy for identifying this prior research is to examine sources the author(s) cited in the chapters introducing the research problem and, of course, any review of the literature. However, you should not assume that the author's references to prior research is authoritative or complete. If any works related to the topic have been excluded, your assessment of the book should note this . Be sure to consult with a librarian to ensure that any additional studies are located beyond what has been cited by the author(s).

Book Reviews. Writing@CSU. Colorado State University; Book Reviews. The Writing Center. University of North Carolina; Hartley, James. "Reading and Writing Book Reviews Across the Disciplines." Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology 57 (July 2006): 1194–1207;   Motta-Roth, D. “Discourse Analysis and Academic Book Reviews: A Study of Text and Disciplinary Cultures.”  In Genre Studies in English for Academic Purposes . Fortanet Gómez, Inmaculada  et  al., editors. (Castellò de la Plana: Publicacions de la Universitat Jaume I, 1998), pp. 29-45. Writing a Book Review. The Writing Lab and The OWL. Purdue University; Writing Book Reviews. Writing Tutorial Services, Center for Innovative Teaching and Learning. Indiana University; Suárez, Lorena and Ana I. Moreno. “The Rhetorical Structure of Academic Journal Book Reviews: A Cross-linguistic and Cross-disciplinary Approach .” In Asociación Europea de Lenguas para Fines Específicos, María del Carmen Pérez Llantada Auría, Ramón Plo Alastrué, and Claus Peter Neumann. Actas del V Congreso Internacional AELFE/Proceedings of the 5th International AELFE Conference . Zaragoza: Universidad de Zaragoza, 2006.

Structure and Writing Style

I.  Bibliographic Information

Bibliographic information refers to the essential elements of a work if you were to cite it in a paper [i.e., author, title, date of publication, etc.]. Provide the essential information about the book using the writing style [e.g., APA, MLA, Chicago] preferred by your professor or used by the discipline of your major . Depending on how your professor wants you to organize your review, the bibliographic information represents the heading of your review. In general, it would look like this:

[Complete title of book. Author or authors. Place of publication. Publisher. Date of publication. Number of pages before first chapter, often in Roman numerals. Total number of pages]. The Whites of Their Eyes: The Tea Party's Revolution and the Battle over American History . By Jill Lepore. (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2010. xii, 207 pp.)

Reviewed by [your full name].

II.  Scope/Purpose/Content

Begin your review by telling the reader not only the overarching concern of the book in its entirety [the subject area] but also what the author's particular point of view is on that subject [the thesis statement]. If you cannot find an adequate statement in the author's own words or if you find that the thesis statement is not well-developed, then you will have to compose your own introductory thesis statement that does cover all the material. This statement should be no more than one paragraph and must be succinctly stated, accurate, and unbiased.

If you find it difficult to discern the overall aims and objectives of the book [and, be sure to point this out in your review if you determine that this is a deficiency], you may arrive at an understanding of the book's overall purpose by assessing the following:

  • Scan the table of contents because it can help you understand how the book was organized and will aid in determining the author's main ideas and how they were developed [e.g., chronologically, topically, historically, etc.].
  • Why did the author write on this subject rather than on some other subject?
  • From what point of view is the work written?
  • Was the author trying to give information, to explain something technical, or to convince the reader of a belief’s validity by dramatizing it in action?
  • What is the general field or genre, and how does the book fit into it? If necessary, review related literature from other books and journal articles to familiarize yourself with the field.
  • Who is the intended audience?
  • What is the author's style? Is it formal or informal? You can evaluate the quality of the writing style by noting some of the following standards: coherence, clarity, originality, forcefulness, accurate use of technical words, conciseness, fullness of development, and fluidity [i.e., quality of the narrative flow].
  • How did the book affect you? Were there any prior assumptions you had about the subject that were changed, abandoned, or reinforced after reading the book? How is the book related to your own personal beliefs or assumptions? What personal experiences have you had related to the subject that affirm or challenge underlying assumptions?
  • How well has the book achieved the goal(s) set forth in the preface, introduction, and/or foreword?
  • Would you recommend this book to others? Why or why not?

III.  Note the Method

Support your remarks with specific references to text and quotations that help to illustrate the literary method used to state the research problem, describe the research design, and analyze the findings. In general, authors tend to use the following literary methods, exclusively or in combination.

  • Description : The author depicts scenes and events by giving specific details that appeal to the five senses, or to the reader’s imagination. The description presents background and setting. Its primary purpose is to help the reader realize, through as many details as possible, the way persons, places, and things are situated within the phenomenon being described.
  • Narration : The author tells the story of a series of events, usually thematically or in chronological order. In general, the emphasis in scholarly books is on narration of the events. Narration tells what has happened and, in some cases, using this method to forecast what could happen in the future. Its primary purpose is to draw the reader into a story and create a contextual framework for understanding the research problem.
  • Exposition : The author uses explanation and analysis to present a subject or to clarify an idea. Exposition presents the facts about a subject or an issue clearly and as impartially as possible. Its primary purpose is to describe and explain, to document for the historical record an event or phenomenon.
  • Argument : The author uses techniques of persuasion to establish understanding of a particular truth, often in the form of addressing a research question, or to convince the reader of its falsity. The overall aim is to persuade the reader to believe something and perhaps to act on that belief. Argument takes sides on an issue and aims to convince the reader that the author's position is valid, logical, and/or reasonable.

IV.  Critically Evaluate the Contents

Critical comments should form the bulk of your book review . State whether or not you feel the author's treatment of the subject matter is appropriate for the intended audience. Ask yourself:

  • Has the purpose of the book been achieved?
  • What contributions does the book make to the field?
  • Is the treatment of the subject matter objective or at least balanced in describing all sides of a debate?
  • Are there facts and evidence that have been omitted?
  • What kinds of data, if any, are used to support the author's thesis statement?
  • Can the same data be interpreted to explain alternate outcomes?
  • Is the writing style clear and effective?
  • Does the book raise important or provocative issues or topics for discussion?
  • Does the book bring attention to the need for further research?
  • What has been left out?

Support your evaluation with evidence from the text and, when possible, state the book's quality in relation to other scholarly sources. If relevant, note of the book's format, such as, layout, binding, typography, etc. Are there tables, charts, maps, illustrations, text boxes, photographs, or other non-textual elements? Do they aid in understanding the text? Describing this is particularly important in books that contain a lot of non-textual elements.

NOTE:   It is important to carefully distinguish your views from those of the author so as not to confuse your reader. Be clear when you are describing an author's point of view versus expressing your own.

V.  Examine the Front Matter and Back Matter

Front matter refers to any content before the first chapter of the book. Back matter refers to any information included after the final chapter of the book . Front matter is most often numbered separately from the rest of the text in lower case Roman numerals [i.e. i - xi ]. Critical commentary about front or back matter is generally only necessary if you believe there is something that diminishes the overall quality of the work [e.g., the indexing is poor] or there is something that is particularly helpful in understanding the book's contents [e.g., foreword places the book in an important context].

Front matter that may be considered for evaluation when reviewing its overall quality:

  • Table of contents -- is it clear? Is it detailed or general? Does it reflect the true contents of the book? Does it help in understanding a logical sequence of content?
  • Author biography -- also found as back matter, the biography of author(s) can be useful in determining the authority of the writer and whether the book builds on prior research or represents new research. In scholarly reviews, noting the author's affiliation and prior publications can be a factor in helping the reader determine the overall validity of the work [i.e., are they associated with a research center devoted to studying the problem under investigation].
  • Foreword -- the purpose of a foreword is to introduce the reader to the author and the content of the book, and to help establish credibility for both. A foreword may not contribute any additional information about the book's subject matter, but rather, serves as a means of validating the book's existence. In these cases, the foreword is often written by a leading scholar or expert who endorses the book's contributions to advancing research about the topic. Later editions of a book sometimes have a new foreword prepended [appearing before an older foreword, if there was one], which may be included to explain how the latest edition differs from previous editions. These are most often written by the author.
  • Acknowledgements -- scholarly studies in the social sciences often take many years to write, so authors frequently acknowledge the help and support of others in getting their research published. This can be as innocuous as acknowledging the author's family or the publisher. However, an author may acknowledge prominent scholars or subject experts, staff at key research centers, people who curate important archival collections, or organizations that funded the research. In these particular cases, it may be worth noting these sources of support in your review, particularly if the funding organization is biased or its mission is to promote a particular agenda.
  • Preface -- generally describes the genesis, purpose, limitations, and scope of the book and may include acknowledgments of indebtedness to people who have helped the author complete the study. Is the preface helpful in understanding the study? Does it provide an effective framework for understanding what's to follow?
  • Chronology -- also may be found as back matter, a chronology is generally included to highlight key events related to the subject of the book. Do the entries contribute to the overall work? Is it detailed or very general?
  • List of non-textual elements -- a book that contains numerous charts, photographs, maps, tables, etc. will often list these items after the table of contents in the order that they appear in the text. Is this useful?

Back matter that may be considered for evaluation when reviewing its overall quality:

  • Afterword -- this is a short, reflective piece written by the author that takes the form of a concluding section, final commentary, or closing statement. It is worth mentioning in a review if it contributes information about the purpose of the book, gives a call to action, summarizes key recommendations or next steps, or asks the reader to consider key points made in the book.
  • Appendix -- is the supplementary material in the appendix or appendices well organized? Do they relate to the contents or appear superfluous? Does it contain any essential information that would have been more appropriately integrated into the text?
  • Index -- are there separate indexes for names and subjects or one integrated index. Is the indexing thorough and accurate? Are elements used, such as, bold or italic fonts to help identify specific places in the book? Does the index include "see also" references to direct you to related topics?
  • Glossary of Terms -- are the definitions clearly written? Is the glossary comprehensive or are there key terms missing? Are any terms or concepts mentioned in the text not included that should have been?
  • Endnotes -- examine any endnotes as you read from chapter to chapter. Do they provide important additional information? Do they clarify or extend points made in the body of the text? Should any notes have been better integrated into the text rather than separated? Do the same if the author uses footnotes.
  • Bibliography/References/Further Readings -- review any bibliography, list of references to sources, and/or further readings the author may have included. What kinds of sources appear [e.g., primary or secondary, recent or old, scholarly or popular, etc.]? How does the author make use of them? Be sure to note important omissions of sources that you believe should have been utilized, including important digital resources or archival collections.

VI.  Summarize and Comment

State your general conclusions briefly and succinctly. Pay particular attention to the author's concluding chapter and/or afterword. Is the summary convincing? List the principal topics, and briefly summarize the author’s ideas about these topics, main points, and conclusions. If appropriate and to help clarify your overall evaluation, use specific references to text and quotations to support your statements. If your thesis has been well argued, the conclusion should follow naturally. It can include a final assessment or simply restate your thesis. Do not introduce new information in the conclusion. If you've compared the book to any other works or used other sources in writing the review, be sure to cite them at the end of your book review in the same writing style as your bibliographic heading of the book.

Book Reviews. Writing@CSU. Colorado State University; Book Reviews. The Writing Center. University of North Carolina; Gastel, Barbara. "Special Books Section: A Strategy for Reviewing Books for Journals." BioScience 41 (October 1991): 635-637; Hartley, James. "Reading and Writing Book Reviews Across the Disciplines." Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology 57 (July 2006): 1194–1207; Lee, Alexander D., Bart N. Green, Claire D. Johnson, and Julie Nyquist. "How to Write a Scholarly Book Review for Publication in a Peer-reviewed Journal: A Review of the Literature." Journal of Chiropractic Education 24 (2010): 57-69; Nicolaisen, Jeppe. "The Scholarliness of Published Peer Reviews: A Bibliometric Study of Book Reviews in Selected Social Science Fields." Research Evaluation 11 (2002): 129-140;.Procter, Margaret. The Book Review or Article Critique. The Lab Report. University College Writing Centre. University of Toronto; Reading a Book to Review It. The Writer’s Handbook. Writing Center. University of Wisconsin, Madison; Scarnecchia, David L. "Writing Book Reviews for the Journal Of Range Management and Rangelands." Rangeland Ecology and Management 57 (2004): 418-421; Simon, Linda. "The Pleasures of Book Reviewing." Journal of Scholarly Publishing 27 (1996): 240-241; Writing a Book Review. The Writing Lab and The OWL. Purdue University; Writing Book Reviews. Writing Tutorial Services, Center for Innovative Teaching and Learning. Indiana University.

Writing Tip

Always Read the Foreword and/or the Preface

If they are included in the front matter, a good place for understanding a book's overall purpose, organization, contributions to further understanding of the research problem, and relationship to other studies is to read the preface and the foreword. The foreword may be written by someone other than the author or editor and can be a person who is famous or who has name recognition within the discipline. A foreword is often included to add credibility to the work.

The preface is usually an introductory essay written by the author or editor. It is intended to describe the book's overall purpose, arrangement, scope, and overall contributions to the literature. When reviewing the book, it can be useful to critically evaluate whether the goals set forth in the foreword and/or preface were actually achieved. At the very least, they can establish a foundation for understanding a study's scope and purpose as well as its significance in contributing new knowledge.

Distinguishing between a Foreword, a Preface, and an Introduction . Book Creation Learning Center. Greenleaf Book Group, 2019.

Locating Book Reviews

There are several databases the USC Libraries subscribes to that include the full-text or citations to book reviews. Short, descriptive reviews can also be found at book-related online sites such as Amazon , although it's not always obvious who has written them and may actually be created by the publisher. The following databases provide comprehensive access to scholarly, full-text book reviews:

  • ProQuest [1983-present]
  • Book Review Digest Retrospective [1905-1982]

Some Language for Evaluating Texts

It can be challenging to find the proper vocabulary from which to discuss and evaluate a book. Here is a list of some active verbs for referring to texts and ideas that you might find useful:

  • account for
  • demonstrate
  • distinguish
  • investigate

Examples of usage

  • "The evidence indicates that..."
  • "This work assesses the effect of..."
  • "The author identifies three key reasons for..."
  • "This book questions the view that..."
  • "This work challenges assumptions about...."

Paquot, Magali. Academic Keyword List. Centre for English Corpus Linguistics. Université Catholique de Louvain.

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The Write Practice

How to Write a Book Review: The Complete Guide

by Sue Weems | 23 comments

If you've ever loved (or hated) a book, you may have been tempted to review it. Here's a complete guide to how to write a book review, so you can share your literary adventures with other readers more often! 

How to Write a Book Review: The Complete Guide

You finally reach the last page of a book that kept you up all night and close it with the afterglow of satisfaction and a tinge of regret that it’s over. If you enjoyed the book enough to stay up reading it way past your bedtime, consider writing a review. It is one of the best gifts you can give an author.

Regardless of how much you know about how to write a book review, the author will appreciate hearing how their words touched you.

But as you face the five shaded stars and empty box, a blank mind strikes. What do I say? I mean, is this a book really deserving of five stars? How did it compare to Dostoevsky or Angelou or Dickens?

Maybe there’s an easier way to write a book review.

Want to learn how to write a book from start to finish? Check out How to Write a Book: The Complete Guide .

The Fallacy of Book Reviews

Once you’ve decided to give a review, you are faced with the task of deciding how many stars to give a book.

When I first started writing book reviews, I made the mistake of trying to compare a book to ALL BOOKS OF ALL TIME. (Sorry for the all caps, but that’s how it felt, like a James Earl Jones voice was asking me where to put this book in the queue of all books.)

Other readers find themselves comparing new titles to their favorite books. It's a natural comparison. But is it fair?

This is honestly why I didn’t give reviews of books for a long time. How can I compare a modern romance or historical fiction war novel with Dostoevsky? I can’t, and I shouldn’t.

I realized my mistake one day as I was watching (of all things) a dog show. In the final round, they trotted out dogs of all shapes, colors, and sizes. I thought, “How can a Yorkshire Terrier compete with a Basset Hound?” As if he'd read my mind, the announcer explained that each is judged by the standards for its breed.

This was my “Aha!” moment. I have to take a book on its own terms. The question is not, “How does this book compare to all books I’ve read?” but “How well did this book deliver what it promised for the intended audience?”

A review is going to reflect my personal experience with the book, but I can help potential readers by taking a minute to consider what the author intended. Let me explain what I mean. 

How to Write a Book Review: Consider a Book’s Promise

A book makes a promise with its cover, blurb, and first pages. It begins to set expectations the minute a reader views the thumbnail or cover. Those things indicate the genre, tone, and likely the major themes.

If a book cover includes a lip-locked couple in flowing linen on a beach, and I open to the first page to read about a pimpled vampire in a trench coat speaking like Mr. Knightly about his plan for revenge on the entire human race, there’s been a breach of contract before I even get to page two. These are the books we put down immediately (unless a mixed-message beachy cover combined with an Austen vampire story is your thing).

But what if the cover, blurb, and first pages are cohesive and perk our interest enough to keep reading? Then we have to think about what the book has promised us, which revolves around one key idea: What is the core story question and how well is it resolved?

Sometimes genre expectations help us answer this question: a romance will end with a couple who finds their way, a murder mystery ends with a solved case, a thriller’s protagonist beats the clock and saves the country or planet.

The stories we love most do those expected things in a fresh or surprising way with characters we root for from the first page. Even (and especially!) when a book doesn’t fit neatly in a genre category, we need to consider what the book promises on those first pages and decide how well it succeeds on the terms it sets for itself.

When I Don’t Know What to Write

About a month ago, I realized I was overthinking how to write a book review. Here at the Write Practice we have a longstanding tradition of giving critiques using the Oreo method : point out something that was a strength, then something we wondered about or that confused us, followed by another positive.

We can use this same structure to write a simple review when we finish books. Consider this book review format: 

[Book Title] by [book author] is about ___[plot summary in a sentence—no spoilers!]___. I chose this book based on ________. I really enjoyed ________. I wondered how ___________. Anyone who likes ____ will love this book.

Following this basic template can help you write an honest review about most any book, and it will give the author or publisher good information about what worked (and possibly what didn’t). You might write about the characters, the conflict, the setting, or anything else that captured you and kept you reading.

As an added bonus, you will be a stronger reader when you are able to express why you enjoyed parts of a book (just like when you critique!). After you complete a few, you’ll find it gets easier, and you won’t need the template anymore.

What if I Didn’t Like It?

Like professional book reviewers, you will have to make the call about when to leave a negative review. If I can’t give a book at least three stars, I usually don’t review it. Why? If I don’t like a book after a couple chapters, I put it down. I don’t review anything that I haven’t read the entire book.

Also, it may be that I’m not the target audience. The book might be well-written and well-reviewed with a great cover, and it just doesn’t capture me. Or maybe it's a book that just isn't hitting me right now for reasons that have nothing to do with the book and everything to do with my own reading life and needs. Every book is not meant for every reader.

If a book kept me reading all the way to the end and I didn’t like the ending? I would probably still review it, since there had to be enough good things going on to keep me reading to the end. I might mention in my review that the ending was less satisfying than I hoped, but I would still end with a positive.

How to Write a Book Review: Your Turn

As writers, we know how difficult it is to put down the words day after day. We are typically voracious readers. Let’s send some love back out to our fellow writers this week and review the most recent title we enjoyed.

What was the last book you read or reviewed? Do you ever find it hard to review a book? Share in the comments .

Now it's your turn. Think of the last book you read. Then, take fifteen minutes to write a review of it based on the template above. When you're done, share your review in the Pro Practice Workshop . For bonus points, post it on the book's page on Amazon and Goodreads, too!

Don't forget to leave feedback for your fellow writers! What new reads will you discover in the comments?

How to Write Like Louise Penny

Sue Weems is a writer, teacher, and traveler with an advanced degree in (mostly fictional) revenge. When she’s not rationalizing her love for parentheses (and dramatic asides), she follows a sailor around the globe with their four children, two dogs, and an impossibly tall stack of books to read. You can read more of her writing tips on her website .

title on chalk board

23 Comments

Azure Darkness Yugi

The Ice Dragon by George R.R. Martin is about a girl that shows no emotion befriending a ice dragon.

I chose this book based on the cover that had a little girl riding a ice dragon, and wondered what is about.

I really enjoyed the interaction the little girl had with the dragon.

I wondered how how the girl’s bond with the dragon.

Anyone who likes a coming of age story set in a fantasy will love this book.

Sue

Thanks for sharing your practice, Azure!

You’re welcome.

Christine

A interesting, at times perplexing, subject! And one on my mind lately,as I’ve agreed to do a few. I do enjoy giving reviews and am delighted when I can say, “This was a great book!” Or even, “I enjoyed this book.” It gets perplexing when I agree to review a book — and simply don’t like it. Then what to say? I hate to disappoint the writer but I’ve promised to give my honest opinion.

I’ve found some books mediocre and yet I see a dozen other reviewers saying “A great story!” Tastes do vary. But when there are obvious flaws I tend to skip all the best-friend-and-cousin reviewers and find the first person who says, “This writer has a problem with…” Usually there’ll be a number of reviewers who spot the same problems I do.

I like upbeat main characters, but not aggressive, belligerent, and/or self-centered ones. I like to meet in a story the kind of people I’d like to meet in real life— not people I’d avoid if possible. I recently read a book where the main character came across as insipid and the story only mildly interesting. Other reviewers said it was great and I know for this specific audience — readers who want a certain slant to a story — it was quite suitable. So I tried to cut the book some slack. Everyone has their limit as to how much blood and gore, smooching and snuggling, they are willing to read about.

Once I agreed to review a book and would have tossed it after the first chapter — for several reasons. A lot of “writer inserting facts for reader’s benefit”; teach/preach paragraphs; excess of description; attitudes of MCs. Once it’s live on seller’s sites like Amazon, what can you say? The one thing good it had going for it was the story line or theme. With a pro editor’s help it could have been a great story.

As for a review, one book I read lately was “A Clue for the Puzzle Lady” by Parnell Hall. It’s one of those “Stayed up half the night to finish it” books; I think anyone who likes a compelling cozy mystery would probably like it. Downside: I didn’t care for the “Puzzle Lady.” She’s a lush, hangs out at the bar getting sloshed. The upside: her sensible niece has a starring role —trying to keep her aunt on the straight-and-narrow and the mystery keeps you guessing until the end.

Christine, Thanks for sharing your insight! It sounds like you are approached often to review new books. It does make it tricky if it’s a request, especially outside your own preferences. Thanks for chiming in about your process, as I’m sure others will appreciate the perspective too. I’ll have to take a look at the Puzzle Lady– I do enjoy cozy mysteries. Sue

Here’s another cozy mystery book review in case you’re interested. I’m not approached by writers that often, but there are the Story Cartel, Book Bub and Goodreads, all sites where authors ask for review volunteers.

Reel Estate Ripoff by Renee Pawlish

The detective Reed Ferguson is a fan of Humphry Bogart, movie memorabilia of that era, and fancies himself a bit of a Sam Slade. Though not your super-sleuth, rather inept at times, he’s a likeable character. Told in first person, the story has a Philip Marlowe tone to it, but much tamer. Dialogue and story line are well done, the story well plotted and believable. I’d gladly read more stories about this particular gumshoe.

Beth Schmelzer

If you like cozy mystery books, I’ll send you a list later, Sue. Love them too and I’ve met many authors who write in this genre. Back on topic– you inspire me again to add some reviews to my Blog. I have been reading and writing many middle grade mysteries for a project! My latest favorite: “The World’s Greatest Detective” by Caroline Carson (who I hope to meet tomorrow in Arlington, VA!) My 12 year old grandson borrowed it and finished it before I could. “It’s the best mystery I ever read, Grandma! You’ ll never guess the ending with unpredictable twists!” What better review could we read. The target audience and I both highly recommend this 2017 mystery.

Adding it to my stack, Beth. Thanks!

Kelly Hansen

Not wanting to sound life an idiot, but willing to risk it here among friends: What exactly is a cozy mystery?

Glad you asked! It’s a subgenre of mystery. The best examples of cozy mysteries are those by Agatha Christie. They usually avoid profanity, excessive gore/ violence, and sex. They focus more on the puzzle, sleuth, and their smaller world. Hope that helps!

Thanks, Sue.

Daniel McDonald

Wonderful article. The first I have read by you. It especially gets those of us who don’t feel we have the formula down for review writing to be introduced to a form we can build upon with experience. You’ve kept it simple but you have given us the main ingredients needed for a good review. I printed this one off to look at the next few times I write reviews. Thank you.

Glad you found it helpful. Thanks for reading and commenting!

Dave Diss

I haven’t gone into all this. It’s a matter of time, Joe. I gad about all over the place, not knowing where I am or where I’m going. Within weeks, I’ll be 87. I’ve books of my own that I’d like to see reviewed. Even sorting them out, however, even finding where any of them are, would be a time burden. You see the fix?

Hi Dave, You aren’t alone in feeling the press of time for getting your stories out into the world. May I gently offer this: start with finding and sorting one. If you can’t find it, write it anew. You’ve probably grown in time and perspective since you wrote the first draft, which will make for a stronger story. Good luck. I’m cheering you on!

TerriblyTerrific

This is an article for me, because I am happy to receive a rating. I haven’t sold many books. But, at least some thinks that it was worth the time to read. That was refreshing. And, I think I wrote two reviews, so far. It was on Amazon.com. Thank you.

You’re welcome!

John Grumps Hamshare

Hi, Sue. Thanks for the helpful advice. I did a review on Amazon for the first of a 7-part thriller titled ‘Mosh Pit (The Rose Garden Incident)’ by Michael Hiebert. [Here it is.]

“5.0 out of 5 stars Advance copy review. By A fellow author on September 18, 2016 Format: Kindle Edition I Recommend This Book Strongly

I enjoyed reading this first part of the thriller. The author’s opening chapter/prologue was fast paced, and set me in the middle of the inciting incident along with two of the main characters. After that thrilling opening, I felt the ensuing chapters moved at a more leisurely pace, and was about to grade them as less praiseworthy when I watched a lecture by Brandon Sanderson on YouTube about building three dimensional characters and realised Michael Hiebert had done exactly that by introducing the reader to the minutiae of other characters who had parts to play in the development of the story. So, instead of cardboard cutouts of bland stock characters, the author shows us real people with real concerns that the reader can relate to.and actually care about. I look forward to reading the rest of this intriguing thriller, and highly recommend it to all lovers of well-written, and well-crafted thrillers.”

I also reviewed Part 2 of the series, but that review is too long to post here.

Footnote: The author, Michael Hiebert, was so pleased with my reviews, he recently asked me to beta-read a short story collection he plans to publish in November.

Great review, John! I like how you shared a bit of your process as a reader too, in recognizing what the writer was doing with their characterization. Thanks!

John Hamshare

Thank you, Sue.

Five out of five stars When I picked up a copy of “The Girl with All the Gifts,” by M R Carey, at the used book store, I somehow had it in my head that it was a YA dystopian novel along the lines of “Divergent” or “The Hunger Games.” While I would definitely say that I was not right about that, I wouldn’t say that I was completely wrong. I was, however, completely unprepared for a zombie novel–which is a good thing, cause I wouldn’t have read it, and I’m glad I did. Think “The Walking Dead” meets (why do I want to say ‘The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night”?) “Peter Pan.” I really enjoyed seeing things from, the main character, Melanie’s point of view. Her limited knowledge of her own situation was intriguing, to say the least (and probably why I thought of “The Curious Incident”). I was a bit disappointed when the POV changed to another character’s, but, as the novel progressed, I found myself sympathizing with nearly all the characters–with one exception, and I’ll leave that for you to ponder when you read it. I wondered how much of the science was real, but not enough for me to research it myself. Although, based on other reviews, I guess most of the science about the fungus is real. I also wondered about the fate of the remaining ‘lost boys’ of the cities. If you liked…. well, I don’t know. I’m not typically a fan of things zombie, so I don’t have a comparison, but the book was somewhat similar to “Divergent” and “The Hunger Games” in that the main character goes through a hellluva time and comes out the other side with a plan for her future.

RAW

“Tuesdays with Morrie” by Mitch Albom is a true story about how one man found meaning in life when his doctors gave him a death sentence. Morrie was a college professor who passed on his new found wisdom in the last year of his life to a favorite student, the author, who chronicled his professor’s perspectives on death and dying.

I chose this book because of its philosophical topic, and because it is so well written that the words just jump off the page.

Knowing we are all mortal beings, I especially liked the insights, the tidbits of wisdom imparted by the dying man. Death is a subject that few, if any of us, ever talk about seriously with friends and family. The subject of death is verboten. We deny its existence. And, if we are religious, we pretend we will not really die, but we deceive ourselves and think we will live on in some afterlife existence for all eternity. But the professor, Morrie, learns some valuable life lessons from his impending death, and Mitch Albom was gracious enough to capture them in this short but eminently readable book.

I really liked the book because it is timeless. This true story will impart serious life lessons for all future generations, and will help us gain perspectives on our lives and the relationships with those we love the most.

R. Allan Worrell

Cathy Ryan

Sue, I’ve been meaning to come back since this was first posted to tell you thanks for a great article. I seldom review books for alllllll the reasons you listed. This is a perfect tool and I’ll surely use it. Cathy

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How to Write a Book Review: A Comprehensive Tutorial With Examples

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You don’t need to be a literary expert to craft captivating book reviews. With one in every three readers selecting books based on insightful reviews, your opinions can guide fellow bibliophiles toward their next literary adventure.

Learning how to write a book review will not only help you excel at your assigned tasks, but you’ll also contribute valuable insights to the book-loving community and turn your passion into a professional pursuit.

In this comprehensive guide,  PaperPerk  will walk you through a few simple steps to master the art of writing book reviews so you can confidently embark on this rewarding journey.

What is a Book Review?

A book review is a critical evaluation of a book, offering insights into its content, quality, and impact. It helps readers make informed decisions about whether to read the book.

Writing a book review as an assignment benefits students in multiple ways. Firstly, it teaches them how to write a book review by developing their analytical skills as they evaluate the content, themes, and writing style .

Secondly, it enhances their ability to express opinions and provide constructive criticism. Additionally, book review assignments expose students to various publications and genres, broadening their knowledge.

Furthermore, these tasks foster essential skills for academic success, like critical thinking and the ability to synthesize information. By now, we’re sure you want to learn how to write a book review, so let’s look at the book review template first.

Table of Contents

Book Review Template

How to write a book review- a step by step guide.

Check out these 5 straightforward steps for composing the best book review.

Step 1: Planning Your Book Review – The Art of Getting Started

You’ve decided to take the plunge and share your thoughts on a book that has captivated (or perhaps disappointed) you. Before you start book reviewing, let’s take a step back and plan your approach. Since knowing how to write a book review that’s both informative and engaging is an art in itself.

Choosing Your Literature

First things first, pick the book you want to review. This might seem like a no-brainer, but selecting a book that genuinely interests you will make the review process more enjoyable and your insights more authentic.

Crafting the Master Plan

Next, create an  outline  that covers all the essential points you want to discuss in your review. This will serve as the roadmap for your writing journey.

The Devil is in the Details

As you read, note any information that stands out, whether it overwhelms, underwhelms, or simply intrigues you. Pay attention to:

  • The characters and their development
  • The plot and its intricacies
  • Any themes, symbols, or motifs you find noteworthy

Remember to reserve a body paragraph for each point you want to discuss.

The Key Questions to Ponder

When planning your book review, consider the following questions:

  • What’s the plot (if any)? Understanding the driving force behind the book will help you craft a more effective review.
  • Is the plot interesting? Did the book hold your attention and keep you turning the pages?
  • Are the writing techniques effective? Does the author’s style captivate you, making you want to read (or reread) the text?
  • Are the characters or the information believable? Do the characters/plot/information feel real, and can you relate to them?
  • Would you recommend the book to anyone? Consider if the book is worthy of being recommended, whether to impress someone or to support a point in a literature class.
  • What could improve? Always keep an eye out for areas that could be improved. Providing constructive criticism can enhance the quality of literature.

Step 2 – Crafting the Perfect Introduction to Write a Book Review

In this second step of “how to write a book review,” we’re focusing on the art of creating a powerful opening that will hook your audience and set the stage for your analysis.

Identify Your Book and Author

Begin by mentioning the book you’ve chosen, including its  title  and the author’s name. This informs your readers and establishes the subject of your review.

Ponder the Title

Next, discuss the mental images or emotions the book’s title evokes in your mind . This helps your readers understand your initial feelings and expectations before diving into the book.

Judge the Book by Its Cover (Just a Little)

Take a moment to talk about the book’s cover. Did it intrigue you? Did it hint at what to expect from the story or the author’s writing style? Sharing your thoughts on the cover can offer a unique perspective on how the book presents itself to potential readers.

Present Your Thesis

Now it’s time to introduce your thesis. This statement should be a concise and insightful summary of your opinion of the book. For example:

“Normal People” by Sally Rooney is a captivating portrayal of the complexities of human relationships, exploring themes of love, class, and self-discovery with exceptional depth and authenticity.

Ensure that your thesis is relevant to the points or quotes you plan to discuss throughout your review.

Incorporating these elements into your introduction will create a strong foundation for your book review. Your readers will be eager to learn more about your thoughts and insights on the book, setting the stage for a compelling and thought-provoking analysis.

How to Write a Book Review: Step 3 – Building Brilliant Body Paragraphs

You’ve planned your review and written an attention-grabbing introduction. Now it’s time for the main event: crafting the body paragraphs of your book review. In this step of “how to write a book review,” we’ll explore the art of constructing engaging and insightful body paragraphs that will keep your readers hooked.

Summarize Without Spoilers

Begin by summarizing a specific section of the book, not revealing any major plot twists or spoilers. Your goal is to give your readers a taste of the story without ruining surprises.

Support Your Viewpoint with Quotes

Next, choose three quotes from the book that support your viewpoint or opinion. These quotes should be relevant to the section you’re summarizing and help illustrate your thoughts on the book.

Analyze the Quotes

Write a summary of each quote in your own words, explaining how it made you feel or what it led you to think about the book or the author’s writing. This analysis should provide insight into your perspective and demonstrate your understanding of the text.

Structure Your Body Paragraphs

Dedicate one body paragraph to each quote, ensuring your writing is well-connected, coherent, and easy to understand.

For example:

  • In  Jane Eyre , Charlotte Brontë writes, “I am no bird; and no net ensnares me.” This powerful statement highlights Jane’s fierce independence and refusal to be trapped by societal expectations.
  • In  Normal People , Sally Rooney explores the complexities of love and friendship when she writes, “It was culture as class performance, literature fetishized for its ability to take educated people on false emotional journeys.” This quote reveals the author’s astute observations on the role of culture and class in shaping personal relationships.
  • In  Wuthering Heights , Emily Brontë captures the tumultuous nature of love with the quote, “He’s more myself than I am. Whatever our souls are made of, his and mine are the same.” This poignant line emphasizes the deep, unbreakable bond between the story’s central characters.

By following these guidelines, you’ll create body paragraphs that are both captivating and insightful, enhancing your book review and providing your readers with a deeper understanding of the literary work. 

How to Write a Book Review: Step 4 – Crafting a Captivating Conclusion

You’ve navigated through planning, introductions, and body paragraphs with finesse. Now it’s time to wrap up your book review with a  conclusion that leaves a lasting impression . In this final step of “how to write a book review,” we’ll explore the art of writing a memorable and persuasive conclusion.

Summarize Your Analysis

Begin by summarizing the key points you’ve presented in the body paragraphs. This helps to remind your readers of the insights and arguments you’ve shared throughout your review.

Offer Your Final Conclusion

Next, provide a conclusion that reflects your overall feelings about the book. This is your chance to leave a lasting impression and persuade your readers to consider your perspective.

Address the Book’s Appeal

Now, answer the question: Is this book worth reading? Be clear about who would enjoy the book and who might not. Discuss the taste preferences and circumstances that make the book more appealing to some readers than others.

For example:  The Alchemist is a book that can enchant a young teen, but those who are already well-versed in classic literature might find it less engaging.

Be Subtle and Balanced

Avoid simply stating whether you “liked” or “disliked” the book. Instead, use nuanced language to convey your message. Highlight the pros and cons of reading the type of literature you’ve reviewed, offering a balanced perspective.

Bringing It All Together

By following these guidelines, you’ll craft a conclusion that leaves your readers with a clear understanding of your thoughts and opinions on the book. Your review will be a valuable resource for those considering whether to pick up the book, and your witty and insightful analysis will make your review a pleasure to read. So conquer the world of book reviews, one captivating conclusion at a time!

How to Write a Book Review: Step 5 – Rating the Book (Optional)

You’ve masterfully crafted your book review, from the introduction to the conclusion. But wait, there’s one more step you might consider before calling it a day: rating the book. In this optional step of “how to write a book review,” we’ll explore the benefits and methods of assigning a rating to the book you’ve reviewed.

Why Rate the Book?

Sometimes, when writing a professional book review, it may not be appropriate to state whether you liked or disliked the book. In such cases, assigning a rating can be an effective way to get your message across without explicitly sharing your personal opinion.

How to Rate the Book

There are various rating systems you can use to evaluate the book, such as:

  • A star rating (e.g., 1 to 5 stars)
  • A numerical score (e.g., 1 to 10)
  • A letter grade (e.g., A+ to F)

Choose a rating system that best suits your style and the format of your review. Be consistent in your rating criteria, considering writing quality, character development, plot, and overall enjoyment.

Tips for Rating the Book

Here are some tips for rating the book effectively:

  • Be honest: Your rating should reflect your true feelings about the book. Don’t inflate or deflate your rating based on external factors, such as the book’s popularity or the author’s reputation.
  • Be fair:Consider the book’s merits and shortcomings when rating. Even if you didn’t enjoy the book, recognize its strengths and acknowledge them in your rating.
  • Be clear: Explain the rationale behind your rating so your readers understand the factors that influenced your evaluation.

Wrapping Up

By including a rating in your book review, you provide your readers with an additional insight into your thoughts on the book. While this step is optional, it can be a valuable tool for conveying your message subtly yet effectively. So, rate those books confidently, adding a touch of wit and wisdom to your book reviews.

Additional Tips on How to Write a Book Review: A Guide

In this segment, we’ll explore additional tips on how to write a book review. Get ready to captivate your readers and make your review a memorable one!

Hook ’em with an Intriguing Introduction

Keep your introduction precise and to the point. Readers have the attention span of a goldfish these days, so don’t let them swim away in boredom. Start with a bang and keep them hooked!

Embrace the World of Fiction

When learning how to write a book review, remember that reviewing fiction is often more engaging and effective. If your professor hasn’t assigned you a specific book, dive into the realm of fiction and select a novel that piques your interest.

Opinionated with Gusto

Don’t shy away from adding your own opinion to your review. A good book review always features the writer’s viewpoint and constructive criticism. After all, your readers want to know what  you  think!

Express Your Love (or Lack Thereof)

If you adored the book, let your readers know! Use phrases like “I’ll definitely return to this book again” to convey your enthusiasm. Conversely, be honest but respectful even if the book wasn’t your cup of tea.

Templates and Examples and Expert Help: Your Trusty Sidekicks

Feeling lost? You can always get help from formats, book review examples or online  college paper writing service  platforms. These trusty sidekicks will help you navigate the world of book reviews with ease. 

Be a Champion for New Writers and Literature

Remember to uplift new writers and pieces of literature. If you want to suggest improvements, do so kindly and constructively. There’s no need to be mean about anyone’s books – we’re all in this literary adventure together!

Criticize with Clarity, Not Cruelty

When adding criticism to your review, be clear but not mean. Remember, there’s a fine line between constructive criticism and cruelty. Tread lightly and keep your reader’s feelings in mind.

Avoid the Comparison Trap

Resist the urge to compare one writer’s book with another. Every book holds its worth, and comparing them will only confuse your reader. Stick to discussing the book at hand, and let it shine in its own light.

Top 7 Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

Writing a book review can be a delightful and rewarding experience, especially when you balance analysis, wit, and personal insights. However, some common mistakes can kill the brilliance of your review. 

In this section of “how to write a book review,” we’ll explore the top 7 blunders writers commit and how to steer clear of them, with a dash of  modernist literature  examples and tips for students writing book reviews as assignments.

Succumbing to the Lure of Plot Summaries

Mistake: Diving headfirst into a plot summary instead of dissecting the book’s themes, characters, and writing style.

Example: “The Bell Jar chronicles the life of a young woman who experiences a mental breakdown.”

How to Avoid: Delve into the book’s deeper aspects, such as its portrayal of mental health, societal expectations, and the author’s distinctive narrative voice. Offer thoughtful insights and reflections, making your review a treasure trove of analysis.

Unleashing the Spoiler Kraken

Mistake: Spilling major plot twists or the ending without providing a spoiler warning, effectively ruining the reading experience for potential readers.

Example: “In Metamorphosis, the protagonist’s transformation into a monstrous insect leads to…”

How to Avoid: Tread carefully when discussing significant plot developments, and consider using spoiler warnings. Focus on the impact of these plot points on the overall narrative, character growth, or thematic resonance.

Riding the Personal Bias Express

Mistake: Allowing personal bias to hijack the review without providing sufficient evidence or reasoning to support opinions.

Example: “I detest books about existential crises, so The Sun Also Rises was a snoozefest.”

How to Avoid: While personal opinions are valid, it’s crucial to back them up with specific examples from the book. Discuss aspects like writing style, character development, or pacing to support your evaluation and provide a more balanced perspective.

Wielding the Vague Language Saber

Mistake: Resorting to generic, vague language that fails to capture the nuances of the book and can come across as clichéd.

Example: “This book was mind-blowing. It’s a must-read for everyone.”

How to Avoid: Use precise and descriptive language to express your thoughts. Employ specific examples and quotations to highlight memorable scenes, the author’s unique writing style, or the impact of the book’s themes on readers.

Ignoring the Contextualization Compass

Mistake: Neglecting to provide context about the author, genre, or cultural relevance of the book, leaving readers without a proper frame of reference.

Example: “This book is dull and unoriginal.”

How to Avoid: Offer readers a broader understanding by discussing the author’s background, the genre conventions the book adheres to or subverts, and any societal or historical contexts that inform the narrative. This helps readers appreciate the book’s uniqueness and relevance.

Overindulging in Personal Preferences

Mistake: Letting personal preferences overshadow an objective assessment of the book’s merits.

Example: “I don’t like stream-of-consciousness writing, so this book is automatically bad.”

How to Avoid: Acknowledge personal preferences but strive to evaluate the book objectively. Focus on the book’s strengths and weaknesses, considering how well it achieves its goals within its genre or intended audience.

Forgetting the Target Audience Telescope

Mistake: Failing to mention the book’s target audience or who might enjoy it, leading to confusion for potential readers.

Example: “This book is great for everyone.”

How to Avoid: Contemplate the book’s intended audience, genre, and themes. Mention who might particularly enjoy the book based on these factors, whether it’s fans of a specific genre, readers interested in character-driven stories, or those seeking thought-provoking narratives.

By dodging these common pitfalls, writers can craft insightful, balanced, and engaging book reviews that help readers make informed decisions about their reading choices.

These tips are particularly beneficial for students writing book reviews as assignments, as they ensure a well-rounded and thoughtful analysis.!

Many students requested us to cover how to write a book review. This thorough guide is sure to help you. At Paperperk, professionals are dedicated to helping students find their balance. We understand the importance of good grades, so we offer the finest writing service , ensuring students stay ahead of the curve. So seek expert help because only Paperperk is your perfect solution!

What is the difference between a book review and a report?

Who is the target audience for book reviews and book reports, how do book reviews and reports differ in length and content, can i write professional book reviews, what are the key aspects of writing professional book reviews, how can i enhance my book-reviewing skills to write professional reviews, what should be included in a good book review.

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