Critical Analysis of a Book
In writing a response, assume the reader has already read the book. Thus, do not summarize the contents of the book at length. Instead, take a critical, analytical approach to the book. There is no right or wrong answer to a book response; however, it is important that you demonstrate an understanding of the reading and clearly explain your support your reactions.
First, mention the title of the book to which you are responding, the author, and the main thesis of the book. Then, try to answer ALL of the questions below.
1. What does the text have to do with you, personally, and with your life (past, present or future)? It is not acceptable to write that the text has NOTHING to do with you, since just about every book has to do in some way with every other human.
2. How much does the book agree or clash with your worldview? What do you agree or disagree with? Use several quotes as examples of how it agrees with and supports what you think about the world and about what you think it is to be human. Use quotes and examples to discuss how the book disagrees with what you think about the world.
3. How did you learn and how much were your views and opinions challenged or changed by this book, if at all? Did the book communicate with you? Why or why not? Give examples of how your views might have changed or been strengthened, or perhaps, of why the book failed to convince you, the way it is. Use quotes to illustrate your points of challenge, or where you were persuaded, or where it left you cold.
4. How well does it address things that you, personally, care about and consider important to the world? Can you identify with the situation(s) in the book? How does it address things that are important to your family, your community, your ethnic group, to people of your economic or social class or background, or your faith tradition? If not, who does or did the book serve? Use quotes to illustrate.
5. What is your overall reaction to the book? How do you feel about what you are reading? How well did you enjoy the book or not?What would be the best way to evaluate the story? Use quotes or examples to illustrate the quality of the book.
FYI: you don’t need to use footnotes. When quoting or citing from the book, simply put author, year published and page numbers in parenthesis, for example (Hensley, 2010: 6). This is a critical essay, not a research paper.