The steps to write a book report efficiently

Sep 26, 2020

Book reports may seem simple to write, but they can be tricky if you have never prepared one. Of course, and this should go without saying, the first thing to do is … reading the book. It seems silly to say it,but there are many, many students thinking they can getaway with writing a book report without reading the book first. Letus just say that a PhD candidate, or a professor,would be able to do it: experience, the ability to quick read and select relevant passages and even knowing some tricks to scout out useful sources are all things they possess. But when it comes to undergraduates and Master students, well…sorry kids, but you need to read that book first!

Book reports can be of different kind, depending on what they focus on more precisely, but there area series of things you should always include:

  • the type of report you are about to write (more on this in asec)
  • the title of the book, its author and its temporal and geographical settings
  • the names and a brief description of the main characters
  • quotes from the book itself, used to support specific points you make or exemplify them.

Now, we were saying that there can be different types of book reports: indeed, you may be required to write a plot summary, a character analysis or an exploration of the themes.

The Plot Summary

A plot summary means you must, of course, tell the reader of your report what happens in the book but, most important of all, you need to state what you think of the plot, supporting your view with relevant passages or aspects of the narrative itself.

The Character Analysis

In this type of book report, you focus on some of the characters playing within the narrative and discuss their physical and psychological characteristics, with the aim of identifying their role for the development of the novel. You will need to find both positive and negative characteristics and support every step of your analysis with passages from the text. At the end of your character analysis, you should explain how all the characteristics you discussed act within the narrative to lead it to its dénouement.

The Thematic Analysis

In this type of book report, you can pick a specific theme characterising the book and focus on discussing and analysing it. This is, often, an easier way to write a report, because you are given the opportunity to focus on a theme that is interesting to you and, thus easier to write about. Once you choose your theme, you need to identify how and where it appears in the novel (here again, quotes and passages from the book are essential), and it develops through it. Then, you can move on to the discussion of the theme itself and how it affects the content, development and reception of the book itself. Even book reports are easier than they seem, if you follow a bunch of simple rules!

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