Harsh judgments are difficult to prove and can give readers the sense that you were unfair in your assessment. What follows is a series of questions to focus your thinking as you dig into the work at hand: 

• What is the thesis—or main argument—of the book?

 If the author wanted you to get one idea from the book, what would it be? How does it compare or contrast to the world you know? 

What has the book accomplished? 

What exactly is the subject or topic of the book?

 Does the author cover the subject adequately?

Does the author cover all aspects of the subject in a balanced fashion?

What is the approach to the subject (topical, analytical, chronological, descriptive)? • 

How does the author support his argument?

 What evidence does he use to substantiate his point?

 Do you find that evidence convincing? Why or why not? 

Does any of the author’s information (or conclusions) conflict with other books you have read, courses you have taken or just previous assumptions you had of the subject? 

How does the author structure his argument?

What are the parts that make up the whole?

 Does the argument make sense? Does it persuade you?

 Why or why not? •

 How has this book helped you understand the subject? 

Would you recommend the book to your reader?