How to Describe Books

How to Describe Books

“So many books, so little time.”

Frank Zappa, an American musician, composer, activist and filmmaker

Books are so different: fascinating and useful, remarkable and influential, famous and controversial… They can also turn out to be dull, not worth the paper they are printed on, awful or just too horrible to finish.  No matter how disappointing some books may be, we hope your reading experience is usually positive, and so we’d like to start with a list of words which could help you describe a good, well-written book:

  • heartwarming – causing gladness and tender feelings
  • heartfelt – sincere, not deceitful
  • insightful – exhibiting insight or clear and deep perception
  • thought-provoking – making you think a lot about a subject
  • laugh-out-loud funny – extremely funny, hilarious
  • tear-jerking – having the reader in tears, intended to arouse sympathy (tear-jerker (ˈtɪəˌdʒɜːkə) – noun)
  • three-hanky (inf. handkerchief) boo-hooer (noun) (to boohoo is to cry noisily) – a real tear-jerker
  • moving – arousing deep emotion
  • wise – showing wisdom
  • touching / heart-touching – eliciting or capable of eliciting sympathy or tenderness
  • sentimental – expressive of or appealing to tender emotions
  • delightful – giving great delight, very pleasing, beautiful
  • with a charming story – with a delightful story
  • with a beautifully crafted story – with a beautifully written story
  • excellent – exceptionally good
  • uplifting – acting to raise moral, spiritual, cultural, etc. levels
  • quickly/fast-paced – with a story that unfolds and develops fast
  • suspenseful – causing the reader to experience pleasurable excitement and anticipation regarding an outcome
  • unputdownable – impossible to put down, keeping your attention until the last page
  • page-turner – a very interesting book, having you hooked until the last page is turned
  • a good yarn [jɑːn] – a good entertaining tale

Apparently, all the words above describe books which a reader is likely to devour ( = take in eagerly). If the book you read is not like that, you could say that you are struggling on with the book, that you are really not getting on with the book, or that you are even starting to resent ( = hate) it. Perhaps, you are forced to plough /plaʊ/ through it  ( = to finish reading it with difficulty) to the bitter end. If so, perhaps it’s better to give up on it ( = to abandon it). “Life is too short to read bad books or drink bad wine”, Joy Daniels, an American author.

Read good books!


Now that you know how to describe the quality of a book, we’d like to make sure you know how to describe what parts a book may consist of.

In what part of a book would you look to find quickly what the books is about, or on what page a person, place or event is mentioned? Make sure you know the following words and do the exercise below:

  • acknowledgements – a statement printed at the beginning of a book expressing the author’s or publisher’s gratitude to others
  • contents – a list of the chapters or sections given at the front of a book
  • dedication – the words used at the beginning of a book, thanking someone or saying that book has been written to show respect for them
  • blurb – a short description of a book written for promotional purposes
  • footnote – an additional piece of information printed at the bottom of a page
  • key – a set of answers to exercises or problems
  • chronology – the arrangement of events or dates in the order of their occurrence
  • index – an alphabetical list of names, subjects, etc. with reference to the pages on which they are mentioned
  • glossary – an alphabetical list of words relating to a specific subject, text, or dialect, with explanations
  • appendix – a section or table of subsidiary matter at the end of a book or document
  • bibliography – a list of the books referred to in a scholarly work, typically printed as an appendix

Which part of a book is it? The answers are given at the bottom of the page. 

 Image result for blurb book A
 Image result for footnote  B
 Image result for index book C
 Image result for dedication  book D
 Image result for contents book E

Answer key: a) blurb; b) footnote; c) index; d) dedication; e) contents

3 thoughts on “How to Describe Books

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