In a custom book report the author has to examine the contents of the book and its structure. The style has to be objective, no comparisons are usually used. Not only the contents should be summarized, but also the structure analysis is needed. The main idea of this work is to form the opinion of a potential reader about whether the book in question is interesting and worth reading.
As for a book review, this is a more descriptive work admitting evaluating estimates of its writer. In this case contents summary and structure analysis are also indispensable, but the major point is to assess the book’s value and recommend/not recommend it for reading.
Both book reviews and reports usually focus on one book only. They can have some references to other critical articles and comments concerning the author and specific circumstances that influenced creating of the book. Both types of work are not supposed to be research papers. Research papers require a much deeper analysis based on a wider range of sources.
Below we give some must-have points to be covered in both book reviews and book reports to make them comprehensive.
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1. Bibliographical data.
This is the basic information about the book in question: full title (and subtitles, if any), the name of its author(s), the publisher’s name. the publication date, edition, the number of pages. This data should be placed below the title of your report/review in a usual bibliographical form.
2. Common information.
The writer should supply some information concerning the author, some facts relevant to writing of the book and factors that could influence the author’s standpoint. Try to give some interesting information regarding this book and its author.
3. Determining of the genre of the book.
Determine the genre of the book. Then specify it according to the covered topic: autobiography, psychology, travel, philosophy, history, arts, biology, technics etc. To do it use information available in the title/subtitle, summary, author’s or editor’s preface, introduction and so on.
4. Determining of the target group of the book.
Try to determine who the primary audience of the book in question is. Does the author apply to a broad audience or a specific one – students, specialists, or common people? Is the subject of the book general, professional, or focused on some special group of readers? Relevant information also could be find in the summary, author’s or editor’s preface, introduction and so on. Sometimes the author states his intentions explicitly on the first pages of his work. Terminology used in the book can be helpful as well.
5. The subject and topic of the book.
It is important to determine the major subject of the book. What is this book about? First, describe the main idea in whole. Then try to explain your readers the author’s attitude to this subject, why he examines it and what are his conclusions. To describe it you can use the author’s words – quotes, parts of the text, terms etc. If not, you will need to explain everything in your own words, thus you have to compress the main idea of the book and to put it in a couple of sentences (it should be a brief paragraph).
6. Analysis of the structure.
Once the major idea is specified, analyze whether minor ideas are present as well. If you can find them out, examine their relationships with one another and with the main subject of the book. Just reading titles of sections and chapters can be helpful here. But it is not enough. A deeper insight in contents will help to reveal and draw up the scheme of all the subjects described in the book, with relationships and hierarchy of their parts. If you have difficulties, ask help in book report service. Try to make this scheme brief but clear for your readers: major idea, secondary subjects, how they are divided into chapters and the main ideas of each chapter.
7. A summary of contents.
To conclude with, you should give a summary of contents. Try to draw it up according to your impression of the book. Follow the order determined by the author, mention only leading ideas needed to retell the author’s point of view. This section can be presented separately or combined with previously mentioned parts.