Gary North on current economic affairs and investment marketsGary North -- Specific Answers
HomeContact MeTell a FriendText SizeSearchMember Area
Gain immediate access to all of our current articles, the question-and-answer forums, dozens of free books, and article archives. Click here for details on how to join.

About This Site
Academic Gaps
Articles
Capitalism and the Bible
Clichés of Protectionism
College Finances
Debt Management
Ellen Brown: Critique
Federal Reserve Charts
Gary North's Free Books
Get Published Here!
Gold Price & My Report
Keynes Project
Price Index (U.S.A.)
Questions for Jim Wallis
Remnant Review
Social Security/Medicare
Sustained Revival
Tea Party Economist
U.S. Debt Clock
Yield Curve
Your YouTube Channel
Gary North's Miscellany
Advertising
Blogging
Budgeting for Wealth
Business Start-Up
Career Advancement
Digital Tools
Education That Works
Evernote: Free Notes
Federal Reserve Policy
Fireproof Your Job
Goal-Setting for Success
Great Default
Inheritance Strategies
Insurance
International Investing
Investment Basics
Job and Calling
Keynesian Economics
Leadership
Marketing Case Studies
Obamanomics
Precious Metals
Real Estate
Retirement
Safe Places
State of the Economy
Stocks and Bonds
Study Habits
Video Channel Profits
War With Iran
Members' Free Manuals
Our Products
Contact Me
Help
Tell a Friend
Text Size
Your Account
My 100% Guarantee
Privacy Policy
Terms of Use


This site powered by MemberGate
home | College for Under $15,000 | Lesson 12: How to Write, Part 1: The . . .
 

Lesson 12: How to Write, Part 1: The Book Review

Gary North, Ph.D.
Printer-Friendly Format

YESTERDAY'S ASSIGNMENT

Did you lecture to the wall concerning cramming? If so, what did you learn?

Lesson 12

HOW TO WRITE

Part 1: Book Review

This, I know something about. I write book reviews all the time. A book review is a book report after you've graduated from college.

A completed book review is a written exercise that shows the teacher the following:

1. You read the book.
2. You understood the book.
3. You handed in the report on time.
4. You can write.

What if #3 is the only thing that is true? You didn't read the book. You read a Cliff's Notes or Monarch Notes version. You have no idea what the book is about. You can't write, and it shows.

But you handed it in on time.

You will probably get at least a C-.

So, don't panic. You won't fail.

If there is a Cliff's Notes version of the book you must read, should you read the book or Cliff's Notes? The correct answer is. . . .

You should read both.

OK, that's the official academic answer. What is the real-world answer?

Read the book. If you have to speed-read it, then do so. Your two-fold goal of school is: (1) learn something; (2) graduate. You can do the second if you just show up and do minimally. So, try to learn something.

The goal of education is to teach you how to think. Reading Cliff's Notes is not going to help you learn how to think. It will only help you cut corners.

It is better to read the book fast and get one good idea than to read Cliff's Notes and get a good grade, but then forget everything. If you don't learn how to think, you are wasting your time in school. School is bad enough. Having to attend school and then not learn anything worth remembering is even worse.

Should you read Cliff's Notes? Yes, but only after you have read the book. This way, you will pick up lots of things you missed. One of them might be important for your book review.

But your review should be your review. What did you think of the book? Did you learn anything? If not, is this your fault or the author's? Prove this in your review.


WHAT A BOOK REVIEW SHOULD ACCOMPLISH

Write the book review to keep in your files for your own future use. If it doesn't do you any good in a year, you wasted your time. Don't waste your time. Write for yourself, so you can recall later on what the book was and why it is worth re-reading or tossing out.

A book review should do the following for you, in order of importance:

1. Accurately summarize the important things in the book.

2. Explain why these things are important.

a. For the book's thesis or point of view
b. For the topic the book deals with
3. Compare the book with some other book or article that is better or worse.

4. Evaluate the book as far as it helped or failed to help you.

Step #1 shows that you read attentively. Step #2 shows that you read intelligently. Step #3 shows that you read widely. Step #4 shows that you can think for yourself.

Follow the instructions: length, spacing, margins.

After you have read the book, spend at least two hours reading other reviews of the book. See if other authors have spotted things you missed.

Go to the library. See if there are other reviews of the book. Look it up in the Book Review Digest, a very useful tool.

Search the Web. If it's a new book, there will be reviews on the web. Search for the title of the book and "review."

Maybe there are reviews on Amazon. Amazon.com sometimes includes reviews. Read the one from the library journal, if there is one.

You do this to see if you missed something important, which is easy to do. This is the division of intellectual labor in action. You don't do this to get someone else to do your thinking for you.


BUY THE BOOK

If you really want to write a good review, make notes in the book's margins as you read it the second time. (The first reading of every chapter must be high-speed skimming.)

If you own the book, treat it as if it were a tool. Tools are for using, not for sitting on a shelf. After you have read a book, it should look as if you mastered it: notes everywhere.

To buy a book cheap, buy it used on Amazon. Don't pay retail. You can save 50% by buying it used.

To buy on-line, you need a debit card. You have a debit card, right?

If not, it's time. I keep saying this, but it's true. Get a debit card.


WRITING YOUR REVIEW

Don't use a detailed outline. Jot down notes of things you think you should cover.

Have the four sections of your review in mind.

Start writing. I hope you have a word processor. You will need to erase.

Tell a story. You are summarizing this book to your blind cousin. Pretend that you are trying to persuade your cousin either to get the braille version and read it or not to waste time reading it. Prove your case.

Write the way you would talk to your grandmother or someone in authority who has not read the book. You must write this from the heart by way of your brain. You must have an opinion. If you don't have an opinion, what good was reading the book? It made no impact on your thinking.

Now go back and clean it up. Insert any ideas you forgot. Clean up the grammar. Make sure it reads clearly. Here are the crucial two rules of writing:

1. Get it accurate.
2. Make it clear.

Anything else is extra credit. At the top of the list of extra credit is:

3. Don't be boring.

Write it. Then let it sit for a day. Re-read it. See if it needs revision. (It will need revision.)

Usually book reviews read like this. "The author said this. Then he said that. Then he said something else. The end." Teachers read reports like this all day long: C, C+, C, C-, B-.

Your review should be more like this. "The author says this. Then he says that. The problem is, the two arguments don't make sense. They're contradictory. The author ignores this over here. I can't imagine why anyone would believe this book." This will amaze the reader. You'll probably get a B just for not being boring.

There is a book on how to read a book. It has a great title: How to Read a Book. It's by Mortimer Adler, who read a lot of books. He shows how much work it takes to read a book well. He says that most books are not worth this much work, but classics are.

I recommend this book for beginning writers. It's a great introduction on how to write a good book. It's also a great introduction on how to think.

If you read just one book carefully before you graduate, read How to Read a Book. Expect to take a week next summer. If you learn how to read a book Adler's way, you will be able to get a good education on your own with nothing except the World Wide Web, a printer, some toner and ink . . . plus a lot of time, a pen, and some note cards.


SUMMARY

A book review is an exercise. By itself, it shows whether you did a minimal amount of work. As part of a series, it teaches you how to write.

You must start now because you will probably have to do book reports in college.

Write the review from your heart.

Write several drafts. Revise to include things that you left out.

Don't get tied to a detailed outline. Outlines inhibit feeling. A general outline is a good idea, but not a detailed outline.


ASSIGNMENT

Go to the public library and look for the Book Review Digest. Look through a few copies to see how it works. You will need it later in your college career.

Don't forget to lecture to the wall: one page, one book.


PREVIEW OF TOMORROW'S LESSON: Blogging

If you want to make more money, keep more of your money, and enjoy your money more, subscribe to my free Tip of the Week. The subscription box is here: www.garynorth.com.



Printer-Friendly Format
 Tip of the Week
Sign up for my free
Tip of the Week
Verification Characters:    Type     Z  N  7  M  N     here   


Tip of the week archives
On what this icon
means, and how it
can help you,
click here
 Q & A Forums
General Q&A Forum
Advertising and Resumés
Affiliates
American History Topics
Backyard Food Gardening
Banking and Politics
Blog Sites and Web Sites
Books Worth Reading
Bumper Sticker Slogans
Business Forum
Buying Smart
Christian Service Forum
College -- The Cheap Way
Copywriting
Education Alternatives
Food Storage
For Women Only
Fukushima
GNC Benefits
GNC Testimonials
Gold and Silver
Great Default Forum
Health and Diet
Health Insurance
Homeschooling
Investments Forum
Iran War
Job, Calling, and Career
Leadership Development
Legacy Building
Less Dependent Living
Local Political Action
Non-Retirement Forum
One Good Idea
Police State
Privacy
Public Speaking
Real Estate Forum
Remnant Review Forum
Safe Places Forum
Taxation Policy
Typographical Errors
Video Production Basics

 Archives
Reality Check
 Discussion Forum
Search Discussion


Recent Forum Posts
• Kotlikoff says SIPC insurance is a fraud
• How to Evaluate A Country's Economic Condition
• Eugene Fama's Dimension Funds
• Financial Management Sites
• Don't Touch Principle Follow Up
• FOREX (I use OANDA.com) - trading ideas -
• Funding Retirement vs. Paying Off Mortgage
• Timing Canadian dollar purchase
• Investing in specific stocks
• Investing in Christian Businesses
• Asset seizure risk
• 403B Sidelines
• Ammo hoarding
• Abandon Ship?
• The "Ultimate" Simple Portfolio?
• I inherited a house in SF CA, rent it or sell it?
• Any advice on how to deal with city council
• RE investment dinner and seminar
• Goodbye California, Hello Texas
• Would you consider selling using an auction?
• First debt free rental done
• Plaster wall repair and paint
• No-recourse loan in an IRA
• Buying duplex for my 72 yo sis to run from afar
• Depreciation versus maintenance expenses
• lease to own
• Real Estate Wholesaling - Direct Marketing
• Selling a house without a real estate agent
• Inspection before listing house
• Berkshire Hathaway, Inc.
• No City for Old People
• Will you die getting to your bug out location?
• teaching English overseas - some questions
• The state with the most Liberty
• Switzerland and Firearms
• On "Zip Code Searching On The Web"
• Crash Course in becoming an Expat
• Anyone tried Puerto Rico?
• Chattanooga, Tennessee
• Middle Class squeezed out of Chicago
• An Article on Chile
• 5 Amazing, Cheap Places to Live as an Expat
• Oil Field Job Security
• Moving to TriCities Area
• PJ ORourke on the Baby Boom
• advice on how do I interact with my older parents?
• Do You Sincerely Want to Be Rich? Why?
• Req. For No 401(k)/Other Pensions via Relocatio
• Cashing out 401K to pay student debt?
• SS @ 62 and still working
• Desolation or Prosperity?
• I take it Retirement Armageddon is not available
• Post Retirement Career
• Social Security - when to start collecting
• 401K Risk
• Detroit Retirees Fight 83% Health Care Cut
• Lump Sum Early DROP
• Underfunded pensions
• 401k strategy
• Can I Avoid Medicare Entirely?
• Ebola Pandemic
• The recovery that isn't happening
• The Glory and the Dream
• On Intelligence and AI
• Observations of Primative AI
• Luke 12:48
• Soma for everyone. Put it in the drinking water?
• SciCast: World’s Largest Crowdsourced Science and
• The Dying Russians
• Beta-Test your offers
• SEO for local search
• Stephen Leacock "Bartender" story found!
• President's Speech
• The MOOC Revolution That Wasn’t
• Maximizing ones internet service
• Entrepreneuring in a socialist nation
• Undoing the Walmart model?
• Quickbooks Alternatives for Small Family Business
• Make a few bucks selling books
• Retail vs Online - a personal experience
• freeman workbook on entrepreneurism
• Selling ad space in my newsletter
• Angel's Game
• aweber list and marketing
• Paid counseling web site
• Wife's small business - Spanish Immersion 4 chldr
• Alternative to Quicken 2014 needed
• wds2014 in Portland, Oregon
• Max cash flow ideas with a spare $100k
• Getting Your First Client