How to Write a Book Report
Students often confuse book reports with a book reviews. Book review writing is more complex and requires more intellectual effort than a book report which simply requires bibliographical details, a plot or major point summary, and a brief recollection of theme and style.
A book report is a bit more than just a summary of the plot or argument. You should give enough information about the book so people can decide if the book is relevant to their studies or if it’s simply something they would appreciate. Keep it concise, though! A fiction book report is usually 1-2 pages, so no longer than 600 words. If you’re writing a nonfiction report, it can go up to 1000 words or more, depending on the variety and complexity of concepts discussed.
There is some essential information, aside from the summary, that you have to add to the paper, if you want to get a passing grade.
Book Report Essentials
- State the type of book you’re reporting on. It doesn’t hurt to mention if it’s fiction or nonfiction, although fiction reports are generally more common.
- List the title and author. You should also add other bibliographic information such as the publisher and date of publication.
- Name the location and timeframe; you may also add how the storyline fits into this.
- Describe the main and secondary characters. Use only a brief description.
- Use quotations from the book show you’ve read it thoroughly.
One more thing that’s not part of the writing but is part of the whole process is taking notes while you read. Write down any thoughts you get about the storyline, the characters, or the main ideas the author puts forward.
Report Writing Tips
A book report follows the same steps as a book review, sans the evaluation part, although it’s still a good idea to state your opinion. You can use any review writing advice you’ve already learned or use our guide to make sure you don’t confuse anything.
- It’s easy to start retelling the story, but you should focus on a concise recollection of the events through your personal opinion on the book. Start the summary with something involving a quote from the book. The best introduction is one that can hook readers’ attention.
- Add your first impression of the book, what you thought or felt when you started reading.
- You can add character analysis to your report, along with a simple recollection of main and secondary ones. If it’s a college or university assignment, a report without character analysis won’t get a high mark.
- Does the author mention how the characters dress? Why is it relevant to the story? Does it reflect the time frame?
- What positive or negative characteristics do the characters show?
- How do the characters communicate with each other?
- How do the characters contribute to the plot?
- Define the storyline and the major themes in the book. Are there multiple plots and themes, or does the author remain focused on a single theme? It’s interesting to explore where the author might be heading with their ideas, but if you go in-depth, do it with only one theme. Back up your claims with relevant examples from the book.
- Take notes while you’re reading the book for the first time, so you don’t necessarily have to re-read the whole book, but maybe only some of the passages.
- Leave your opinion of the book for the conclusion. Make it concise; the main purpose of the paper is to introduce the book, not your opinion.
- As for scientific book reports, you’ll be focused on summarizing key concepts. It’s similar with fiction, just swap themes with concepts, and give examples and quotes.
Most of your report should be the summary. You can add your opinion at the end, but it shouldn’t take up a lot of space, mostly how you liked the book and would you recommend it.
Don’t forget to check the final paper, maybe edit some parts, and correct any grammar and punctuation mistakes. Whatever kind of paper you’re writing, never skip this step.
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