Skip to Main Content

PSY132: Psychology and Culture

A research guide specifically designed for students enrolled in PSY132 with links to databases, books, APA citation, and other helpful resources.

Book Club Google Slide

General Reading Club Discussion Questions

Specific Reader's Guides and Book Discussion Questions

These links suggest common book discussion questions. Use them to get started in your small group discussions.

Book Review Writing Tips

What is a Book Review?

A book review encapsulates the content, theme, and overall success of a book and does so in a brief and engaging manner. It provides enough detail to inform and interest a reader without divulging plot twists or endings. A good book review is not just a plot summary. It places the book in a context for a potential reader. A book review is a brief, critical evaluation comprised of three main elements:

  1. Concise Content Summary

Start with a concise plot/content summary. What happened? To whom? When? You don’t want to re-tell the entire book, but in a few well-chosen sentences, summarize the main events and/or overarching journey of the book, with no spoilers. In addition to the plot summary what were the main themes or motifs of the book?

  1. Critical Commentary

Critical commentary relies upon analysis. The book reviewer moves from what happened to how effective was the book?  It evaluates the quality, significance, and merit of the book. It asks what the book contributes to the field it addresses. Look at the considerations below for specific examples of elements you might use in a critical analysis. 

  1. Recommendation for Reading

To whom would you recommend this book? How would you qualify your recommendation?

Elements for Critical Anaylsis

Consider the Audience

  • For whom was this book written? Is it geared for a general audience, self-help seekers, parents of children facing adversity, teenagers, or experts in the field? 
  • In your opinion did the writer effectively reach the audience?
  • Does the intended audience limit readership?
  • Consider what type of audience member you are and explore the effect that it might have on other readers.

Format & Genre

  • How does the style of the book contribute to it success or failure?
  • Was the book a straightforward narrative? If not, how did the book function in terms of the way it was presented? A graphic novel should be considered in terms of both narrative and art form. A short story collection might be considered story by story or as a whole.
  • If your book is a genre title (mystery, science fiction, etc.) how does the genre contribute to the overall impact of the book? Please note that Young Adult is an audience not a genre. Within Young Adult publishing, several genres exist.


  • Why do you believe the author wrote this book? What was the intended purpose or outcome?
  • Did the author succeed?


  • Who is telling the story of the book? The narrator’s role influences the telling. Consider how the parent of a chronically ill child will likely have a different perspective from that of a medical professional. A teenage son and an alcoholic mother writing about the same divorce would likely tell two entirely different stories. Would you have preferred the book from a different point of view?
  •  Is the narrator: detached, introspective, academic, personal, angry, encouraging? How would you label this voice in two adjectives?
  • Does the voice draw the reader or push the reader out?


  • Did you understand the writer? If not, how often did you find yourself confused?
  • Is the writer intentionally vague? For example, is the writer slowly revealing a mystery?
  • Did the writer succeed in his/her intended purpose?
  • Did a lack of clarity harm the author’s intended goal?
  • When you finished, did you have more questions? This isn’t a bad thing, necessarily. Did the writer inspire you to find out more, and is your desire to know more born from frustration or enthusiasm?
  • Are the “characers” in the book (either fiction or nonfiction) clear to you? Do you feel as though you know them?


  • Is this book believable? Did you ever doubt the author? Did you trust the author’s findings?
  • What counter arguments would you make to the author’s conclusions?

Example Book Reviews

Click on the links below to read examples of book reviews. Enter your MEID and password to access if off campus.


Creative Commons Attribution, Non-Commercial, Share-Alike License Tag

All guides are available under the CC-BY-NC-SA license.