Book Reviews

It’s been a busy week at school. I turned my first writing assignment in this week: a book review. I may post it here in the future, once I find out how well I did. But it was probably the most rewarding thing I’ve done so far this semester. I struggled with it, though. It has been a long time since I had to write anything for a grade. But the struggling was good. Because I actually had to think about the author’s argument and goals and method, well, I got way more out of the book than I would have otherwise. Normally I read something and and say to myself, “I really need to think more about that.” But then I never do. Writing a review makes me wrestle with it.

My teacher gave us a helpful format for doing the book review. It involves asking only three questions:

  1. What is the author’s goal for writing?
  2. How does the author try to achieve that goal?
  3. Does the author succeed in achieving that goal?

That’s it. But that produces some really fruitful thoughts. The first question helps me to keep the big picture in mind as I read. The second question not only helps me to come up with a summary of the material, it also helps me to consider the method the author is using to reach his goal. Is it just laying out information? Or using examples? Is he arguing from experience? How much does he cite other authors? How does he use the Bible in his arguments? Etc., etc. I can’t explain why this is so helpful, but it opened up a new view of reading for me. The final question forces me to do some critical thinking and come to some conclusions. I have to decide if the method was helpful or correct. And I have to decide if the argument was a convincing one.

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