Writing a Book Review

Production Issues

Timeline: Book reviews are due within three months of receipt of the book.

Length: Book Review submissions should not exceed 600 words, including author, title, date, publishers, number of pages, cost, ISBN, references cited as well as the reviewer's name and institution. See Submitting the Review for specific format guidelines.

Before writing the review

Make notes as you read since reviews should go well beyond what can be found in the book's table of contents. This process not only makes writing the review much easier it helps you quickly highlight the book's strengths and weakness. As you make notes from your review book, be sure to jot down the page number of any quotation you'd like to use.  Realize that a quotation is defined as 5 or more words taken directly from a publication.

The NACADA book review publishes reviews of books that are either newly published, or that have newly come to the attention of advisors.  In the latter category, the book's topic can make all the difference.  Could it be considered a 'classic' in the area? Are there other books/articles that compare to this book? Make sure that any publication referenced enhances the overall review and that all citation information provided is clear and applicable to the review.

Be sure to cite references to other publications using the guidelines of the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, 6th edition. Improperly citing, or failing to cite, quotations and references is plagiarism and your review will be rejected if this occurs.

Also, be sure to read the Writing Checklist for NACADA publications before you begin writing your review.

Organizing your review

In the beginning: The opening paragraph of a good review not only grabs the reader's attention, it delineates the main theme(s) of the book. Let the book's details emerge in the body of the review.

The body: A book review is not a book report. Do NOT list each chapter with its contents. Instead a good review gives a short overview of the book's contents and then highlights the strengths and weaknesses of the book. The majority of a review should be devoted providing details that illustrate why an aspect of the book is interesting and/or useful.

Be sure to address your audience: What can an advisor learn from this book? What implications does the book have for the practice of the advising role? Is reading this book worth an advisor's valuable time?

In conclusion: End the review with a conclusion. What were the best and worst features of the book? Do you recommend the book to others? (Why or why not?) Would this book become one of your top 10 resources?

Review Examples

Reviewers are encouraged to took at book review examples and previously published reviews that meet the NACADA book review guidelines prior to writing. The following reviews are great examples of what we are looking for:

Review guidelines include:

  • cover the book's content without reverting to following the table of contents
  • tell how the book can be useful in the advising setting
  • draw conclusions

Submitting the review

Submit the review as a Word document to bookrev@ksu.edu.  With submission of the review the author grants NACADA copyright to the content of the review and copy editing begins.   

Editing the review

NACADA uses a single-blind review system for book reviews. NACADA reviewers know the identities of those who write book reviews but the authors of the reviews do not know the identity of those commenting on their write-ups.

Upon submission of the review, authors enter the teamwork phase with the book review editors. A writer can expect to revise the review and refine the focus of the work by addressing specific queries and incorporating directives through the editing stage. In these latter stages, which typically require extensive reworking of specific sentences or passages, the review emerges as a timely and useful publications for advisors. 

Publication of the review

Once copy editing is complete, the review is accepted the and posted on the NACADA book review website. Reviewers are sent the URL for their posted review and asked to supply contact information for an administrator of choice. This administrator receives an e-letter announcing the publication of the review and the reviewer is copied.