Amanda Sturgill | Baylor University
As a way to integrate writing across the curriculum and to introduce students to the idea of continuing their education themselves, I have editing students read and review a book on editing or a journalism book that touches on editing in some way. The best few that I get are posted on our department website in a section that the alumni look at. Here are the directions I give them.
Writing a book review
Your book review will be a 2-3 page paper both describing and evaluating a book dealing with the subject of editing in some way. I must approve the book before you review it. The review should cover the reason for the book, its effectiveness and its utility of the book for a working journalist.
Think about the following
Why did the author write the book?
Does the author write formally or casually? Is the style effective?
Are descriptions and explanations clear? Does the book leave you with major questions?
Is the book accurate?
Is the book’s layout both attractive and effective? Are any illustrations or graphics useful?
What specific examples can you give of places where the book is or is not effective?
Consult additional sources
Try to find out more about the author. Is he or she qualified to write on this topic? Use the Internet, but also use periodicals and other books as necessary. Do not use web sites as your only sources.
Writing the paper itself
Bibliographic citation. This includes full title, edition, author, place, publisher, date of publication, number of pages, price and ISBN.
An introduction. State your main point for the review.
Elaborate on this main point. Use description, quotation and evaluation to illustrate your main points. Use page numbers to cite any quotations. Remember that it is ok to have an opinion here, although overusing “I” would be a mistake.
Final judgment. In a conclusion, state whether you recommend the book for a) journalism students, b) working professionals.
Bibliography. Give a consistently formatted list of outside sources, including web sites.
Keep in mind
Neatness counts. Your paper must be word processed and printed darkly in black ink. I’ll leave typeface and margin selections to you, but keep in mind that if you have to futz with things too much to achieve the desired length, your paper probably has bigger problems than length. Spelling, grammar, style, mechanics, etc. are all important.