Dealing with a book report
A book report is the most simple form of the three mentioned. It does not require in-depth analysis of the text and focuses on factual information, on objective description of the book read. Hence, to write a report the student has to be familiar with the book content and with biographical information of the author. The report usually starts with the basic details of the author’s roots and background that might clarify some aspects of his oeuvre. The following part of the report contains the summary of the book: description of its plot, setting, climax, main characters. A few pertinent quotes will not be excessive. Generally, that is all that has to be included in the report. Knowing the basics of preparing a report a student will not have troubles understanding how to write a review of a book.
The art of writing a book review
When writing a book review a student has to keep in mind that, in a contrary to the report, the review is not a content summary and there is no point in retelling the story. Although all the elements of a simple report can be included in the review in a brief form, the main part of the work must be dedicated to the analysis of the book: symbols used, tone and objectivity of the author, the book’s relevance to the historical setting, significance and lasting value of the book, etc. – all these aspects should be discussed in the review. The core of any review is a personal opinion, new ideas and angles of perception: a good book review contains a strong thesis based on innovative and fresh vision and individual preferences.
The structure showing how to write a book review is rather simple:
- Introduction establishes the context of a book, contains a general idea of the work and points out the overall impression;
- Basic details paragraph introduces the title, author, and other factual information from a report;
- Summary paragraph deals with a description of the book organization and the content of each part and is written in rather an evaluative language;
- Evaluation/Critique part is the main one when it comes to the review. It is based on a concise and strong thesis, personal opinion that is to be proved: there are no neutral reviews. It can also discuss positive and negative aspects of the book, contrast and compare it with the other pieces of art, draw analogies, suggest improvements, etc.
- The conclusion is, obviously, a summary of the impression. It outlines the contribution made by the book, indicates its potential readers, rate the book. A suitable quote will only boost the effect of the review.
This simple algorithm not only facilitates writing book reviews but also gives students a hint on how to write a book critique.
How to write a book critique
Often the terms “book review” and “book critique” are used interchangeably as they convey similar idea – critical and opinionated examination of the book content and form. However, they differ in their ultimate aim: the review is supposed to explain a student’s perception of the book, whether the book was worth the time spent and whether a student recommends it; meanwhile, the critique should answer the question if the book is well-written. The critique is similar to the review in terms of structure; hence, the one who knows how to write a review on a book knows how to prepare a critique. The latter is more applicable to non-fiction books, focuses on the discussion of the author’s statements, evaluates the devices used (grammar, language, structure, sources of information, methods of analysis, techniques and style), and suggests the way how the book should have been written.
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