Text: Usha Menon’s (2013) Women, Wellbeing, and the Ethics of Domesticity in an Odia Hindu Temple Town. FollowThe Chicago Style 17thEdition (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.in terms of style and formatting.
Generally, a critical review briefly describes the content of the book and more importantly, provides in-depth analysis and evaluation of its ideas and purpose.
To write the critical book review, you must know two things:
The book under review: This demands attempting to understand the author’s purpose and how the component parts of the work contribute to that purpose. It also requires knowledge of the author: his/her nationality, time period, other works etc.
What the requirements are, of the book review as a genre: This means understanding the form of a critical book review and how it functions.
When you read the book:
Read it with care.
Highlight quotable passages, make careful notes.
Note your impressions and thoughts as you read. Make connections with other readings.
Allow time to assimilate what you read so that the book can be seen in perspective.
Here is a series of questions to focus your thinking as you read and prepare your review. Don’t feel obligated to address each of the questions; some will be more relevant than others to the book in question.
What is the thesis—or main argument—of the book? If the author wanted you to get one idea from the book, what would it be? How does it compare or contrast to the world you know?
What exactly is the subject or topic of the book? Does the author cover the subject adequately? Does the author cover all aspects of the subject in a balanced fashion? What is the approach to the subject (topical, analytical, chronological, descriptive)?
How does the author support her argument? What evidence does she use to prove her point? 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 of the subject?
How does the author structure her argument? What are the parts that make up the whole? Does the argument make sense? Does it persuade you? Why or why not?
How has this book helped you understand the subject? Would you recommend the book to your reader?
You may also consider some information about the author and the circumstances of the text’s production:
Who is the author? Nationality, political persuasion, training, intellectual interests, personal history, and historical context may provide crucial details about how a work takes shape.
What is the book’s genre? Out of what field does it emerge? Does it conform to or depart from the conventions of its genre?
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