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How To Write A Book Report Book Review English Language Essay

The first thing you should do with such a task is to specify what exactly you are to write. A book report differs from a book review as water differs from ice: both present the same substance in different states. Something of that kind we have with the two genres of writing: though based on the same material, they surely present it in different ways. In the first place, it concerns content and style while structure is nearly the same. So, to write a good book report or a good book review, you are to be well aware of the main difference between them, of the peculiarities of each genre, and of some hints which are useful while working on these tasks.

A book report is a piece of writing which supplies the readers with a short summery of a book and presents some observations based upon the material. Sometimes you may hear that book reports are quite primitive in comparison with book reviews but it's not true. They just have other tasks to accomplish: to familiarize the reader with the plot of the book, to point out some details which are not evident while reading, and to present the wider historico-cultural context that influenced the author and his work.

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A book review is a form of literary criticism which presents a critical analysis of the book and is based on the personal opinion of the person who writes it. Factual material, such as plot of the book, its characters, personality of the author are not of primary importance when writing it, they may be taken into consideration but not developed as independent problems. Your task as of the author of a book review is to analyze facts in order to evaluate the book, its content, style, narration, and to be ready to express your own opinion about it.

To clarify the main differences between the two genres and some of their characteristic features, you may use this table:

A book report

A book review




Presents facts

No value judgements

Thesis statement reflects problems stated by the author and the way of observing material.

Point of view of the author of the book.




Presents interpretation of the facts

Evaluation is welcome

Thesis statement reveals your questions to the material and angle of analysis.

Your own point of view

Structure - alike, filling - aside

It's high time to stress one more time upon the fact that these two pieces of writing differ greatly in their content and the way of presenting material, but follow more or less the same structure. Three main parts of each book report and book review are introduction, body, and conclusion; at the same time, you should be attentive to fill them with the appropriate content. For simple college papers one- or two-page-long essay may be enough while more serious book reports and reviews number up to several pages. Still, consult your teacher about the length of the paper you are supposed to write.

Book report

Book review


Present general information about the book (its title, the name of the author, publishing details: name of publisher, number of pages, literary genre).

Point out the organization of the book (chapters, parts).

State clearly what is the book about, its main idea.

Present briefly general information about the book, its structure and main idea.

Pay attention to the title, the way it reflects (or does not reflect) the content of the book.

State clearly the problem you are going to investigate in this book review and the angle to develop it.


Give a short summary of each part of the book.

Be attentive to include description of the structural elements: plot, characters, setting.

Pay attention to the details beyond the text itself: literary context, historical period etc.

Give a short summary of the plot of the book. Try to pay more attention to the details which are significant for the interpretation of the book.

Analyze peculiarities of the author's style, is it simple to comprehend or rather complicated?

Concentrate upon the problem the author deals with in his book and the way he develops it. Do you find it urgent or out of date? Does he use credible arguments? Does he sound persuasive?


Make an overview of the presented ideas.

You may add some pinch of subjectivity by presenting your own idea about this book but try not to go too far. It's territory of a book review.

Be ready to evaluate the book: What are its strong and weak points? Which ideas you find to be of primary importance and which ones are not enough convincing?

Your own attitude towards the book is up to the point (make sure it is well-reasoned: I like it because… It seems to be a bit inconsistent taking into consideration… I'd recommend it for…).

Useful tips

Never try to write such a paper on a book you've never read or read long ago. Both a book report and a book review need a good idea of the text, active perception, attention to the details, the ability to make a well-organized retelling of the plot and structural elements when writing a report and to analyze them when writing a review.

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For your own sake, don't be seduced by the possibility just to copy parts of other reports and reviews available on the book you've chosen. First of all, your teacher will for sure notice it for a distinctive feature of this genre is a logical way of presenting ideas. When copying from different sources, you'll pull something from here, another couple of paragraphs from there, so that your paper will lack consistency. And secondly, writing a review gives you a unique chance to reveal some intentions of the author not remarked yet and present them in the way you find the most appropriate. Why not to use it?

The very first thing you are to begin with is to read a book. Are you sure you've done it properly? It's not a joke; actually, there is a great difference between reading for reading and reading for writing. The first one is aimed at deriving enjoyment from the book: you are ready to plunge into the story, to live the life with its characters, to empathize with them. The second one is more about taking a detached view in order to be able to collect necessary information. Whether you are going to write a book report or a book review, it's important to treat the book from an outsider's viewpoint and keep in mind the task you are to accomplish.

Are you sure to memorize all the names, characteristics, turns of the story that are important for a proper book report? Won't you forget the emotions you experienced during the first pages when reading the last ones? It's not as easy as it seems to be that's why it's strongly recommended to take notes while reading. Pay attention to the genre of the text, factual information, the way it is presented in order to use it in your book report. If you succeed in finding some details which present the influence of the literary (or non-literary) norms of the period on this author or any kind of counter-influence between the authors, it will be appreciated as well. To write a good book review you are to analyze the organization of the book, the style of the author, the way he/she speaks about sharp questions. Be sure to stress upon both evident statements and hidden ideas; therefore, your analysis of the interaction of the two will be up to the point.

Try to imagine the ideal reader of the book you are working on. What age group should he match? Does he need any specific knowledge to understand the material? Then look through the abstract and find the supposed reader the book is recommended to. Do you agree with this recommendation?

Don't forget about the reader of your own paper. Try to be logical and consistent so that he could easily follow the train of your thoughts. Establish your credibility by giving precise examples from the text and by referring to the cited sources. Be persuasive by using strong arguments on the one hand and appeal to the arguments you are able to prove on the other. Statements like "I don't recommend you to read this book because it is boring" are intolerable; instead, try to gather evidences that the book is not of great interest.

Finally, be careful to respect the unwritten rule of the criticism: concentrate on the positive things; if there is something negative to point out, still begin with the positive idea first and move smoothly to your critical remarks. Each book has for sure something important to praise it for so don't be lazy to skip it. Actually, the word "criticism" shouldn't be associated with negative emotions; it's more about the analyses, the detailed examination of the phenomenon. Your evaluation should not boil down to merciless blowing-up of the book and its author, on the contrary, you are to direct your energies at presenting it in the best possible way, reasonably and friendly.

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