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Book Reports and Book Reviews

Book Reports and Book Reviews


Presents the content and structure of a book as objectively as possible, without comparison.  It provides not only a summary of content but also an analysis of structure.  The purpose of the report is to give enough information about a book to help decide whether it will be of use or interest to the reader.


A descriptive and critical/evaluative account of a book.  Like the report, it provides a summary of content and an analysis of structure, but it will also assess the value of a book and recommend (or not) the book to other readers.

Reports and reviews are mainly concerned with the one book presented, relying upon only a few standard reference works for brief and relevant comments on the author, or on any special circumstances about the writing of the book.  Book reports and book reviews are not research papers.  The research paper is based on material from as many sources as are needed to support its topic and scope.


Give the author's name; full title of book including subtitle; editor, if any; place, publisher and date of publication; edition, if necessary; and the number of pages - all this in bibliographical form under the title of the report.


Supply any information about the author which shows their credentials for writing in this field or which reveals any influences which may have affected their point of view.  Note any significant circumstances that led to the creation of the book.


If the book is non-fiction, classify it further according to its subject area, such as history, philosophy, travel, biography, psychology, etc.  Clues for this classification may be found in the title, subtitle, table of contents, author's preface or introduction.


Is the material written for specialists, students, or the general public?  Is it limited to a narrow area or is it a survey of the subject?  Clues include appendices, bibliographies, the index; prefaces and introductions often address the author's intent; the content and style of expression will be a good indication of the intended audience.


What is the book about?  Tell your reader not only the main subject of the book in its entirety but also the author's particular point of view (thesis statement). 


The thesis statement will clearly indicate the major idea of the book, but you must also point out the organization of subsidiary ideas and how they relate to the thesis statement and to one another.  The chapter headings and sectional divisions will reveal the book's outline; however, on reading the book, you may see another plan with somewhat different divisions.  If so, make your own plan, showing clearly the order and relation of the parts. Whether your own or the author's, it should include the thesis statement, major parts, their division into sections and a summary of content of each section.


The summary is based on your reading notes, follows the author's order, and is drastically reduced to the chief ideas which advance the author's argument. It may be presented with the analysis of structure or discussed separately.


Although the book report is mainly concerned with the content and structure, it may contain some critical comment or your opinion about the book.  Check with your professor whether such comments are required.

Critical comments should form the bulk of the book review. State whether or not you think the author's treatment of the subject matter is appropriate for the intended audience.  Ask yourself:

Has the purpose of the book been achieved?

What contribution does the book make to the field?

Is the treatment of the subject matter objective?

Are there facts and evidence that have been omitted?

What kinds of data, if any, are used to support the author's thesis statement?

Can the same data be interpreted to alternative ends?

Is the writing style clear and effective?

(For book reviews only) Does the book raise issues or topics for discussion?

Support your evaluation with evidence from the text.  In conclusion, you may want to state whether you liked or disliked the book.

 Source:  Concordia University Libraries

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Page Brannon
301e Consortium Library

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