How to Write a Review of a Biography

A written review should illuminate the positive and negative aspects of a particular book. Because what you write can be considered subjective and open to criticism itself, you should strive to be as thorough and thoughtful as possible when writing reviews of any type of book. Writing a review of a biography can be particularly challenging, because your review can reflect not only on the book but also on the subject of the biography itself.

Writing a Biography Review

Before embarking on your own review, read professional biography reviews such as those published in newspaper book-review sections or in Publishers Weekly magazine (see Resources). Don't read reviews of the book you intend on reviewing, but rather read reviews of other biographies.

Research the biography subject matter, either before or after you read your selected book. Knowing about the subject will be helpful in determining if the author of the book you are reviewing, in your opinion, omitted important facts.

Take notes while reading the biography. Jot down your impressions of the book at the end of each chapter. As you read, note passages that seemed particularly good or bad.

Write about the impression the author gave you of the subject of the biography. Among the points to consider: Did you come away with a deeper understanding of the subject? Was the writing superficial? What interesting and unique facts about the subject did you discover from reading the book?

Keep in mind that you are reviewing the biography and not necessarily the subject of the biographer. For instance, if the biography is of a despicable person, you don't need to condemn that person, but keep your comments focused on how the author illuminated his actions.

Proofread your review. Make sure you stay within the word-count limit, if there is one. After a thorough proofing and editing, submit your review for publication.

When discussing dates and events, make sure your facts are accurate.

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