Reading books is pleasurable and entertaining; writing about those books isn’t. However, learning how to write a book report is something that is commonly required in university. Fortunately, it isn’t as difficult as you might think.
The key is:
When writing any and all types of book reports you absolutely must be organized! You have to start at the beginning and have a plan for getting your ideas on paper in a way that will wow your professor. But first, you might be wondering why you even need to know how to write a good book review. Let’s find out!
Reasons for writing a book review
When it comes down to it, you need to learn how to write a summary of a book because it helps you develop your analytical skills, skills that will be necessary throughout your life. Your instructor will also want to see that you have a good grasp on what you have read and that you can evaluate it critically, summarizing the book, providing an assessment, and giving a recommendation as to whether or not to read it.
With this in mind, these are the various types of book reports you might be asked to write:
- Analysis of a novel: This requires you to consider and provide a critical analysis of various elements of the book, such as the plot, main characters, and central themes.
- Analysis of a specific theme: You might be required to analyze a single theme in the book.
- Comparison of two novels: Sometimes, a professor will ask that you compare and contrast two different novels, which is perhaps the most challenging type of book report to write.
Now that you have a solid idea of why you are required to learn how to write a book review and the types of book reviews there are, you need to understand some of the basic rules for writing a novel summary.
Basic rules for writing a book report
Here are some basic rules and tips that you should follow when learning how to write a book report.
- Write the book review in the third-person, present tense.
- Ensure each paragraph is well-developed and that they flow well from one to the next.
- When writing about the author, discuss their judgments, writing ability, and the primary achievements in their writing.
- Always support your opinions with solid evidence and arguments taken from the book.
- Be sure to discuss the main characters and the primary problems they face in the book.
- Summarize the book briefly; do not go into a detailed retelling of it.
- Be sure to provide a detailed analysis of the author’s intended message and how this message is delivered.
- Remember that book report essays must remain objective in their analysis of the content and structure of the book.
With these initial tips under your belt, it is time to move on to the actual report. But you’re not ready to start writing just yet. Here are some tips you need to know to get you started.
Tips on how to get started
When learning how to write a college book review, you need to consider your first steps. Remember the primary purpose of writing the report is to capture the reader’s attention and help them decide whether the novel is worth reading.
With this in mind, here are somevital pieces of information your book report essay must include:
- Background information: This is generally about the author, with a focus on information that will help define why the author wrote the novel.
- Classification: This is where you classify the novel in terms of history, psychology, philosophy, or another relevant field. You can present your analysis regarding this classification.
- Summary of the content: This is where you summarize the primary ideas of the novel.
- Critical comments: Present your analysis on whether or not the author was able to convey the main idea of the story effectively and whether they took their intended audience into consideration.
There are three ways to write your book report, depending on the focus requested by your professor:
A plot summary provides the reader with your general impression of the book and its significance. General guidelines when writing a plot summary include:
- Avoid retelling the plot and share your feelings instead.
- Provide an explanation of your overall opinion and impression of the book, keeping a positive slant on the writing.
- Make sure you support all your arguments and opinions with evidence from the book.
It is here where you will explore the traits (both personality and physical) of the various characters and discuss how their actions affect the book’s plot and outcome. General guidelines when writing a character analysis include:
- Explain the impression a character leaves behind. Does this character fit into the era in which the book is set? Is the character typical of the period? Remember that in books written after the 19th century a character cannot be considered as purely positive or negative.
- Discuss each character’s gestures, mannerisms, way of speaking, style of dress, and the general description provided by the author.
- Indicate whether or not there is a “fatal flaw” that causes a character to get into trouble on a regular basis.
- Make sure you support all your arguments and opinions with evidence from the book.
A theme is a method of focusing your research on a specific point in a book that you aspire to explore, which is a great way to deal with bigger works of literature. General guidelines when writing about book report themes include:
- Explain the theme, including how and when it is depicted in the book.
- Provide examples and quotations from the text to support your analysis and be sure to explain each example and quotation carefully.
- Discuss how the theme has impacted you and your enjoyment when reading the book.
Some things to consider about the book you are reviewing:
- Your most advantageous chance at writing a great book report is to select a book you like and generate book report ideas from it, although you might be assigned a book. Regardless, read it through twice if you are able.
- Flag significant parts of the book and make notes as you read it.
- While you are reading, consider the main point the author was trying to get across to the reader, your overall impression of the book, and the theme on which you will focus in your report.
- Outline your analysis of the plot, the main characters, the setting, and the period.
Queens University and Australian National University provide great information for getting started when learning how to write a good book report. Once you have done the above preparation work, you are ready to start writing.
How exciting is that?
Let’s take a look at how this is done.
How to write a book report
First, you will need to create a book report outline that follows the standard book report format. That standard college book report outline includes the following steps to writing a book report:
It is at this point that you hook the reader and draw them in. In a very intriguing manner, the introduction must:
- Be powerful and enlightening, without being lengthy
- Provide the rudimentary information about the book
- Define the message presented in the book, includingits organization, the main arguments made by the author, and the evidence used to back up those arguments
- Present your opinion and let the reader know what you are planning to analyze
You will portray a summary of the key arguments in your report, which should take into account the thesis of the book, as well as its organization, the main arguments made by the author, and the evidence used to back up those arguments.
Here you provide your full analysis of the book, including detailed supporting evidence for your book report thesis. Here are some general guidelines:
- Include a minimum of three paragraphs and provide one main idea for each.
- For each paragraph, provide a topic sentence, proof for your arguments, and a concluding sentence.
- Make sure you stick to your outline and find a good balance between the general and the specific.
- Afford transition words and sentences that ensure the reader can move smoothly from one paragraph to the next.
Here you concisely summarize your report. General guidelines include:
- Write one to two paragraphs that cover the arguments you made and the substantiating evidence. You can also discuss the book’s contributions to its field and provide recommendations for the reader and a conceivable direction for further research.
- End with a one-sentence summary that asserts your overall opinion.
But that’s not all!
Writing a report on a fictional book is not the only way it can be done…
Extraordinary types of book reviews
There are a couple of distinct types of book reports. These include reports on non-fiction books and creative book reviews. Here is some information on each type.
Non-Fiction book review
On occasion, you may be able to write a report on a non-fiction book, such as a biography, history book, or a factual book on a subject that interests you. When writing a report on a non-fiction book, include the following:
- A preliminary statement on the book’s general subject
- A summary of how the author presented the subject
- Your considerations and sentiments about the book
- Information on the main idea/ideas presented in the book
For more information on writing a report on a non-fiction book check out Butte College.
Creative book review
If you are given some autonomy in how to present your book report, then you might want to consider getting a little more imaginative than simply turning in a written report. A creative book report will give you the opportunity to show the breadth of what you can do.
To write creative book reports, you need ideas and creativity. So, precisely how do you get creative with your book reports? There are so many ideas that there is bound to be at least one that sounds interesting to you. Here are some ideas to get you thinking:
- Choose some intriguing details about the book that could be conveyed as rumor or gossip and write a letter about them that you would send to your friends or family.
- Create a list of the characters you would invite to your birthday party and use their individual qualities to demonstrate why.
- Pretend you are a journalist who is interviewing the author of the book. Determine a series of questions you will ask and make up answers you think the author would give. You can present this interview to the class.
- Hold an awards ceremony as a way to present your book report. Select the main character, another character, or the book itself as the winner, but give a solid description of each of the nominees.
- With a little research, you can construct a life-sized model of the main character, taking into account the fashion of the era in which the story is set.
- Consider the story if you were also a character in it. How would you have behaved in the story? Would the outcome of the story been different with your involvement? How?
- Create an abstract painting or drawing of a character from the book and how that character would fit into today’s society. Consider that character’s values and goals when creating the art.
- Conduct an interview with the main character and come up with intriguing questions based on the book.
- Write a diary as if you were the main character.
- Put together an oral report of the book. It only has to be 5-7 minutes long and you can use this to discuss the most interesting parts of the book, such as character details.
- Select a scene from the book and act it out as a play.
- Choose your favorite part of the book, memorize it, and present it to your class.
- Create a sales pitch for the book, trying to convince your audience to buy it and read it.
- Illustrate a few select scenes from the book.
- Dress up as your main character and present a characterization in front of the class.
- Determine how you would make the book into a movie and write out your plans as if you were presenting them to the author.
- Write a professional book review like the one you would read in a newspaper.
- Create a collage or poster representing the book, carefully selecting images that represent the characters and scenes in the book.
- Create a comic of a part of or the entire book.
- Be a storyteller and retell the story in a way that you think is better and more captivating.
- Compose a letter to the main character in which you ask questions or express your admiration.
- Draw a map that depicts a city or other geographical location described in the book.
- If you are working with a historical book, create a family tree of the main character.
- Write an alternate ending for the book, one that you prefer, but make sure the plot lines jive with it.
- If working with a historical book, generate a timeline with descriptions and drawings that highlight special events that happened in that era.
- If the class is familiar with the book, pantomime one part from the book and have everyone guess which part it is.
- Create a multiple-choice quiz based on the book.
- Detail background information that might clarify why the author chose the theme or topic.
- Choose your favorite character and describe what you think would be the perfect date with him or her.
- Write a sequel that allows you to compose a new storyline for the main character.
- Retell the story from your point of view if you were the main character.
- Summarize an imaginary memoir the author writes about the book.
Wow! What a lot of creative choices! And the National Council of Teachers of English offers up many more ideas.
Now you have a concrete map to follow when writing your book report. But what about a book review example to drive it home? The University of Arizona, Massey University, and Indiana University Bloomington provide phenomenal book critique examples.
You can also get more general information for writing reports and essays,and if you need additional guidance for how to write a good summary of a book, this video will seal the deal in terms of clarity.
If after all this you still experience uncertainty about how to write a book report, then by all means, pursue the help of a custom writing service to assist you in authoring a report that will guarantee you a respectable mark. You’ll be glad you did!