Guidelines for a Book Critique
I. Book Critique:
A book critique is a to-the-point summary/evaluation of the book involved.
The length of the book critique will be no less than 5 pages and no more than 7 pages, typed and double-spaced. This is a formal paper. Please write in the third person.
Documentation: When you refer to any of the author’s points in either the Content Summary or Evaluation, paraphrase, but do not quote. Then, document by putting the page number of the comment to which you are referring (p. 70, for example).
II. The book critique is to include (a) the biographical entry, (b) author information, (c) content summary, and (d) an evaluation.
A. Bibliographical Entry
Sandy, D. Brent, and Ronald L. Giese. Cracking Old Testament Codes. Nashville: Broadman & Holman, 1995.
B. Author Information
The purpose of this section is to identify the author (translator or editor) of the book. If available, present the author’s background, academic training, and practical experience. You can help a reader understand a book by describing the author. Contemporary Authors or other biographical sources may provide author information.
C. Content Summary
This section should be no more than two pages in length. The first sentence should be as comprehensive and inclusive as possible. Summarize the book in one sentence. The remainder of the summary will then be an elaboration of this sentence, sharing your understanding of what the book is.
Be sure the summary covers the entire book. Do not be so detailed about the first part of the book that you do not adequately deal with the subsequent sections. To avoid this problem, organize the summary carefully and logically. Also, do not get bogged down in specifics. The task is to summarize the entire book, not to focus on selected details.
The evaluation is the most crucial part of the critique. This is not a summary of the book’s content but a critical evaluation of what the author has to say. React to the book both positively and negatively. Because books, like people, are different, one cannot impose predetermined critical questions on the book.
You have already stated in your Content Summary the author’s major theme or thesis and his purpose for writing the book. The following questions are guidelines to help you develop this section of the book critique:
- Does the author achieve his intended purpose?
- Is the main theme convincing?
- What presuppositions (i.e. with what ideas does he approach the subject) or basic assumptions does the author reveal in the work? Are they legitimate and valid?
- Are his arguments logical, well supported, or convincing?
- What evidence does the author provide to sustain his main theme?
- What are his conclusions?
- What is unique, significant, or interesting about the book?
- Does it contain unusual historical, theological, or literary traits?
- What biases (theological, philosophical, denominational, etc.) are evident?
10. What does the book/author teach us?
11. What is good about the book?
12. What is bad about the book?
13. Who should read the book?
14. How can a person implement these concepts in ministry (teaching, etc.)?
15. How does this book contribute to your understanding of the subject covered?
Avoid generalities such as “Every person (minister, teacher, etc.) should read this book;” or “this is a (good, bad) book.” Do not assume anything. Write as though the reader knows nothing about the author, the author’s point of view, or the book’s contents. Explain and critique the book to the best of your ability from your perspective.
III. The following is an outlined example of the cover page, and the headings for a book critique in the paper. Note the centering of the headings. Students will need to fill in the information as needed:
Sample Title Page: (change words to fit your topic and course)
Our Generation Training Center
The Rise of Islam
Submitted to Bill Billingham
In Partial Fulfillment
Of the Requirements for the Course
15 August 2011
The body of your paper is to use the following headings, and include the information
Hesselgrave, David J. Planting Churches Cross Culturally: North America and Beyond (2nd edition). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 2000.