Though they have much in common, a book review and book report are two different types of assignment. Apart from their contents, they usually have different academic tasks and requirements.
Writing a book report is mostly used as a high-school assignment expected to be about 250-500 words long. As for book reviews, they are primarily used at a college academic level. It is no surprise that writing a book review requires a bit more words (about 500 to 750) to be successful.
Also, often we can find this genre in some professional activities, for example, in form of articles in academic or business magazines, journals, newspapers etc.
Contents of the two papers are different as well. A book report usually describes what is going on in the book in question, reproduces the main points of the plot, presents the major characters and a general concept of the book. A book review, in its turn, helps readers to have a sneak peek at the book under examination. The author is welcome to present his value judgement regarding the work and to recommend/not recommend the book for reading.
Let’s take a glance at major items you should take into consideration writing a book report/review
Your work would start even before you open the book in question. You will need to consider some elements to be reflected in your future assignment.
- Give some information concerning the author of the book: who he/she is, what his other works are, which awards he won, what style he typically uses etc.
- Consider a genre of the book – fiction, poetry, romance, documentation etc. Here are two more connected items: the purpose the author intended to achieve with his work and the target audience of the book.
- Examine the title of the book. Is it attractive? Does it reflect the major purpose and the whole content of the book properly?
- Analyze a preface or introduction, if any. What can you perceive of the book based on its table of contents? Does it reveal the story line? Make judgement about the structure of the text based on the table of contents. Note whether the introduction was written by the author himself or a “guest author”.
- Review the cover of the book. Is it attractive? Does it reveal the genre of the work providing pictures, graphics, or other visual tools? How good does the book look in terms of workmanship quality or artistic finish of its cover/jacket.
Now, you can proceed to reading itself
While reading, do not forget to note down all the details, which will be helpful in your book review writing. Your notes may concern characters, key points of the story etc.
If there are characters in the book, determine which of them are principal or supporting. Which characters have crucial influence on the events or facts described?
Pay attention to the author’s style of relation. Is it easy to read and perceive? Does it correspond to the target audience of the work? It should not be too hard or too simplified. What are the major motifs or themes?
Make notice of the author’s ability to put arguments to support his attitude or thoughts. How consistent is his argumentation?
Consider if a reader can easily perceive the major idea of the work? Is it trivial or groundbreaking?
While reading, note down some outstanding quotes that you could use writing a book review later. These quotes should be characteristic of the work under examination.
Once you have finished with the book, proceed to writing a book report/review.
You should start with a brief summary presenting the background information of the work. Here you can give a concise idea of how the action is going to develop trying to intrigue your reader. If this is not a fiction book, present the major idea of the work without giving detailed information.
The final part of your paper should express your opinion and your recommendations concerning the book in question.
Here are some guidelines, which can be helpful when you write your paper:
- Always keep in mind your audience, remember that you are writing for people who have not read the book as yet. Make sure that you introduce characters and facts consistently, enabling the reader to follow your train of thought. Help the readers to evaluate their potential interest to the book.
- This type of paper does not require a detailed and comprehensive analysis of all the underplots and minor characters. Do not try to cover all of them, it can prove to be impossible within a short paper like a book review/report. However, mention those secondary issues, which you believe to have crucial impact on the main course of events.
- Remember that the review is expected to critically assess the work, not just give the readers some information about it. Make sure that your summary is concise, but provides comprehensive evaluation and clearly expresses your opinion. Your appraisals and impartial summarizing information should have about equal shares, try to keep this balance.
Giving your opinion of the book, do not try to cover all the discussible points. It is much better to focus on one or two points of your choice and evaluate them comprehensively. Examine how the book deals with its main idea as compared to other books of this genre or of the same author. Try to understand if the book appeals to reader’s emotions or logics.
It is common practice to mention the publisher and retail price of the book at the very end of the paper. To give more academic look to your review, you can give a publication date and ISBN.
Once the paper is written, make its revision
Pay attention to the following while proofreading:
– Make sure all the names of characters, places and terms have correct spelling.
– Imagine you are reading from the point of view of your audience. Consider if the information is sufficient and easily acceptable.
– Are direct quotes in the text suitable for the occasion?
– Does the paper express your opinion explicitly?