The majority of students are required to write book reports at some point in their careers. However, this task is not always an easy one. The best approach is to allow yourself to enjoy reading the book without thinking about writing your report until you are done reading. When you have finished, spend a little time thinking about and absorbing what you have just read. Take a break for a while, perhaps a walk, and then reseat yourself and begin writing.
What to Do Before Starting to Write
- Understand what the assignment requires.
Ask yourself a few questions until you completely understand your task. For instance, are you free to read a book of your own choosing? Have you been assigned a book? Is there a required length of book? Should the book be about a particular subject or belong to a particular genre? Are you just required to summarize what you have read or do you need to offer your own opinion as well?
Work out what it is your tutor wants or expects to see in your report. How long should the report be i.e. what word count? When is it due for submission?
If it is the case you have not selected a book, ask your friends if they can recommend anything. It can help to look online for a brief summary to be sure a book is the right type or is your type.
Make sure you adhere to any specified instructions or limitations.
- Read your chosen book and make notes while you read
Keep some paper and a pen to hand while you are reading and write down any key points along with the page number they appear on. Make copious notes, mark out important sections, and underline the most compelling lines/quotes (if permitted). Do your best to appreciate the text you are reading. Provided you have an open mind to learning, you will almost certainly learn something new. The following are a few points to bear in mind while you read:
- Look for main themes and ideas: Can you see the book’s main point or idea? What occurs within the pages? Did you learn anything you did not previously know?
- Consider the characters: Is there one main character or more? Are these characters bad or good? Do they have both bad and good elements? Is there anything special that happens to any of them? How realistic or true to life do they seem or do they appear to be fictional?
- Pay attention to quotes: Were there any parts you especially liked? Can you quote any of the book’s parts to help make your book report more interesting?
Make note of the book’s main and secondary ideas
Make a note of all the main ideas while the book’s content is still freshly imprinted on your mind. You should find this helpful for organizing your thoughts and setting them out in your upcoming report.
Think about the book’s key characters. Who were they? What did these characters do and why did they do it? Did any of the characters change as the plot or story progressed and, if so, how? Was there anything that made you like or not like the characters?
Did the story have any important turning point(s)? Were there any important or momentous events in this particular story? How was the story or any conflict within it resolved? Was the ending satisfactory?
Deciding the Format for Your Book Report
- Begin with a clearly-written introduction
It is important your introductory paragraph is clear. In this opening paragraph, you should mention the book’s title and the name of its author. Sometimes, a tutor may additionally ask you to include the name of the publisher, the publication year, number of pages, and the genre of book.
As well as this basic information, you will be required to provide a brief summary of what is covered in the book. Here, you should mention the basic points of the plot and any themes the author has employed.
- Write your report’s body parts
While writing the body paragraphs you should keep referring to the instruction sheet provided by your tutor. This will help you decide what points to expand or elaborate on to create the flesh for your book report.
Think about providing your opinion on the book’s content. Did you enjoy it? How good was it? What aspects made it bad, good, tedious, powerful, and so on? How well does this book compare to other books by this author or to other works of its type? It is permissible to take quotes and examples from the text to support any assertions you make. In fact, you should do this.
Dig as deep as you can. Does the book introduce any important themes, terms, or motifs, and are these effective? Did you find the book appealing in a logical or emotional sense? Is this a book you would recommend to other people? What advice would you give them before they began reading it? What might you discuss after reading it?
Do not attempt to sum-up every chapter or every single angle the writer has taken. Select only those that you find most interesting and/or significant.
If the book is a non-fictional work, give a broad overview of the topic as well as any key points and/or argument(s). Is there a thesis and, if so, what is it? Did the author arrive at any significant conclusion? How qualified is the author to write about this particular subject? To what extent are you in agreement with the arguments and/or conclusions put forward by the author? What overall reaction do you have to the book? For example, did you think it was moving, interesting, or boring?
- Wrap everything up in a concluding paragraph
When writing your concluding paragraph, reiterate your main points, ideas, or thesis. Review all main points and, where appropriate, offer your personal opinion.
Draw your thoughts and opinions together. Let readers know what impression the book left you with. If you enjoyed the book, make your readers feel as if they should read that book themselves.
Check the Final Version of Your Report
- At the end, re-read your work and, where necessary, reorganize it. The introductory paragraph, body paragraphs, and conclusion should be clear. Check that the body paragraphs properly support the introductory paragraph, particularly if it has a thesis or an expressed opinion.
Check that all points, sentences, and paragraphs transition logically from one to another and that everything flows logically and smoothly.
Look back at the instruction sheet your tutor provided. Have all requirements been met? Is your paper formatted correctly?
- Proofread your paper
While spell-checkers are useful, they also miss a lot of typos and misspelled words. The best policy is to take a break before proofreading and ask another person to read through your work. Often, different eyes can spot mistakes you missed.
As well as asking that other person to check the punctuation, spelling and grammar, ask them to check your content. Does it all flow well and read sensibly? Do they find it interesting?