What is meant by critical?
At university, to be critical does not mean to criticise in a negative manner. Rather it requires you to question the information and opinions in a text and present your evaluation or judgement of the text. To do this well, you should attempt to understand the topic from different perspectives (i.e. read related texts) and in relation to the theories, approaches and frameworks in your course.
What is meant by evaluation or judgement?
Here you decide the strengths and weaknesses of a text. This is usually based on specific criteria. Evaluating requires an understanding of not just the content of the text, but also an understanding of a text’s purpose, the intended audience and why it is structured the way it is.
What is meant by analysis?
Analysing requires separating the content and concepts of a text into their main components and then understanding how these interrelate, connect and possibly influence each other.
Reading the Book
It is best, when writing a book review, to be an active reader of the book. Sit at a desk with pen and paper in hand. As you read, stop frequently to summarize the argument, to note particularly clear statements of the book’s argument or purpose, and to describe your own responses. If you have read in this active way, putting together the book review should be quick and straightforward. Take particular note of the title (does the book deliver what the title suggests it is going to deliver?), the table of contents (does the book cover all the ground you think it should?), the preface (often the richest source of information about the book), and the index (is it accurate, broad, deep?). Some questions to keep in mind as you are reading:
* What is the book’s argument?
* Does the book do what it says it is going to do?
* Is the book a contribution to the field or discipline?
* Does the book relate to a current debate or trend in the field and if so, how?
* What is the theoretical.