How to write a book report
This section will give you some tips on writing a book report. Firstly, before you blindly embark on your report, make sure you have chosen your book wisely. Do not simply pick one you read a long time ago and think you remember the plot of for facility's sake, as your teacher or tutor will probably notice your lack on conviction through your writing. Also, make yourself familiar with the requirements of a book report before you read the book itself as this will help you when it comes to the first draft.
The Structure of your Book Report
- Introduction: This section introduction should introduce the work you are about to write a book report about, stating its title, full name of the author and the year it was published. Also introduce in your first paragraph the reasons for which you chose it and mention the broad themes you will develop in your book report.
- About the characters: many books are character driven rather than plot-driven, which means it's characters constitute the main part of the narrative and dive the action onward. In this light it is important to pay as much attention to the characters and their state of mind as the author does.
- Brief plot summary: Summarize the main action points of your book's plot, but do not go into exhaustive detail, as this section should only be a small part of your whole report. Even if your book is entirely action driven you should concentrate in themes and feelings.
- About the Author: Information regarding the author is a vital part of writing a book report. Who he or she was, where they were born and lived, who were their friends and what issues they held at heart are all important facts that can be mentioned. Their other works can also be referred to, although not described in detail as you do not want to detract attention from the book you have chosen.
- About the Context: The historical, social and economic context in which the book was written or published are equally important when writing a book report, as is the setting in the story itself. In light of what you have learnt about the author through your research, why do you think he chose this specific setting and these particular characters?
- Conclusion: The conclusion should sum-up the themes and issues discussed in your book report. You can also include your own personal opinion. For example, do you think it was well written and the plot was convincing? Could you relate to the characters, did the themes and issues move you? In short, wither or not you enjoyed the book and your reasons why. You can also add wither or not you would recommend the book to a third party.
Advanced Book Report Writing
An advanced book report at university or masters level should include an opinion piece, which has been described above, supported by quotes and references to critics that have written or spoken on the subject. It should equally include a bibliography listing the references for all the book and authors cited. For a comprehensive referencing guide to quotes and footnotes you can refer to the Recommendations for citing and referencing published material by the British Standards Institution, or for an online guide to the major referencing formats used in academia; http://www.usq.edu.au/library/help/ehelp/ref_guides/default.htm. Always however check your university or college guidelines on the subject. Many institutions have their own particular preferences when it comes to referencing, and it is important you follow them.
In advanced book report writing you would be expected to present the book's factual information, which is for example the year it was published and the place the author was born, incorporated in an analysis of the book. For example, when writing a book report on Thomas Hardy's Tess of the D'Urbervilles it is important to mention his references to class strife. While remarking on this, an advanced book report writer would refer to 1891, the year it was first published, and relate that to the tumultuous historical context.
Symbols and themes in the work should also be included in an advanced book report, and elaborated upon using the opinion s and analyses of other scholars and critics. The plot itself should be not simply listed as a blow-by-blow account, but each action analysed in its significance in meaning both for the author and the reader. Finally, it is important that the characters themselves are not presented as on-dimensional but multi-faceted and thoroughly explained rather than carelessly dismissed as 'mean' or 'sad'.
Presentation of your Book Report
On the first page of your book report include the words 'Book Report', as well as the title of your book, who wrote it and the year. Also include underneath this information your name, year and the class or course you are completing it for. The paragraphs should have one point five line spacing or double line spacing if specified by your teacher, tutor or university style sheet. Include at least two inch margins on all sides of your pages. Use 12 font and Times New Roman style. Print your book report on one side only of plain white A4 paper. A neat, concise presentation will help your teacher or tutor mark in your favour, as it will have made his reading experience more enjoyable. Finally, make sure you have your book report proof-read by a friend or family member before handing it in and that you have used spell-check.
Books and websites that could be helpful should you wish to read more on the subject of writing a book report:
- How To Write Your Best Book Report by Elizabeth James
- How To Write Book Reports by Harry Teitelbaum