Book Report Writing
How to Write and Structure a Book Report
If or when you are given a book report to write, you should first determine what particular type of report is required. For example, some book reports analyze themes and/or characters while another type is known as a plot summary. On some occasions, the assignment may comprise of a mixture of all these different types. Professors often ask students to submit book reports when they want to find out if the student can spot the hidden meaning or ideas in a book, and to see how well they are able to analyze the plot or storyline from a number of different angles or perspectives. Before beginning to write your book report, it is a good idea to understand the elements that make a good report.
The most common type of book report has the elements described below:
- Type of book (genre);
- The book’s complete title and name of author;
- Time period or span (the precise time the story is set in);
- The place where the story’s events occur (location);
- List of all main characters and a short description of these;
- Specifically-selected quotations or examples to support all main points or ideas.
Summary of the Plot
If you have been asked by your tutor to primarily focus on summarizing the plot or storyline, this does not mean retelling the plot in your own words. Yet, it is important you give your own opinion and say if you think the plot is interesting, tedious, funny, difficult to understand, and so on. A worthwhile report always includes the writer’s view or opinion of the text they have read. You should also always include examples – direct quotations are preferable – to support any claims you make. If you do not do this, readers may think your opinions are not valid or credible.
You could, for instance, describe a book’s plot as follows:
“Upon reading John Smith’s ‘A Lonely Man in the Desert,’ the reader may feel confused by the sequence of events and the way the plot turns in an amusing way.
Analysis of Characters
If asked to analyze a book’s main characters, the writer will need to concentrate on particular behaviors and traits of individual personalities. Furthermore, it is important to select and describe particular actions that impact the development of the plot.
When analyzing characters, you should:
- Describe the dress of a particular character and how you perceive them.
- List any positive or good features a character has (remember to include clear examples since your reader may have a different opinion).
- Say whether a character shows any negative aspects in their personality.
- Include short excerpts of dialogue and undertake an analysis of the way a characters interacts and speaks to other characters.
- Do your best to explain if or how any characters you have chosen influence the plot’s development through both their specific and general actions.
For example, you could start analyzing a character in the following manner:
“In John Smith’s book ‘A Lonely Man in the Desert,’ Ciara is a pivotal character, whose every action shows her desire to be independent. This is also clear in the way she acts, dresses, and interacts with other characters.”
When reading a book, you should make a note of any themes the author has tried to portray in his or her book. You may focus on any theme you think is most prominent or important. Do your best to give your report a personal “feel” or “touch” i.e. say what you personally feel and mention any ideas that show you understand a particular theme or themes. At the same time, you should try to be quite objective and describe a sequence of occurrences or events as these are presented in the text or book.
- Say clearly, which theme(s) your book report will discuss. In the event you wish to analyze a number of themes, remember to mention these in the opening paragraph i.e. in your introduction.
- You should always establish if word limits or rules concerning the use of quotations apply. Remember if you use too many direct quotations without properly analyzing these, this will not do you or your grade any good.
- When you do use direct quotes, these should clearly relate to the particular discussion you are having at that time. Interpret quotes in respect of outline points or ideas. Page numbers should be included in citations.
- Say what your own understanding of the subject matter is. How enjoyable did you find the book to read? Was the main theme so complex that you needed a break to digest it?
You could consider beginning your report with the sentence below:
“The theme in John Smith’s book ‘A Lonely Man in the Desert’ is one that explores the continuous challenges that isolates the people of today from each other.”
Book Report Sample
Always try to ensure your book reports are concise, interesting, and expressively written, regardless of what genre you are writing about. Whether you are analyzing characters, plots, or themes, it is essential to provide a short summary, relate the plot to your own experiences, and be able to analyze the book from a variety of perspectives.
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