Book Report and Book Review: Breaking It Down

Book Report Vs. Book Review (Differences and Similarities)

Many of us become accustomed to writing book reports at a very young age. Elementary classrooms are often decorated with templates for this paper: author, title, characters, setting, problem/conflict, main events, conclusion, etc. These common stepping stones are in place to prepare students for years of formal book reporting. The good news is that they actually do represent the necessary components. If this is what a book report entails, what sort of things the review will offer?

A book review is an analysis or critical review of a story that evaluates how well it achieves its purpose. Ultimately, did the author accomplish what they set out to do?

  • Did they efficiently convey their argument to the reader?
  • Were you convinced by their evidence and support statements?
  • Was their writing organized?
  • How well did they compare to similar pieces in the same category?

In this article, we will look at the key elements of and the difference between a book report and book review and how to avoid confusing the two. We will also provide a guide to writing a paper that will fit all the needed criteria.

Book Report: Main Characteristics

A book report is primarily a factual account of the contents of a story. Your main goal would be to accurately summarize the information in the piece. You would need to provide the reader with the author's name, title, the number of pages, publication date, author's thesis, main events or main ideas, the organization of the book, and setting and characters (if you can apply it).

The book report should also give the reader a full picture of the story by including an equal summary of each section. Lastly, you are allowed to, and should, insert some of your final thoughts and the opinions of the piece. Your opinion should be small in comparison to your summary but may highlight your recommendations or any particular things that you liked or disliked. You may want to indicate your preferences of a particular genre or writing style. Do you normally prefer fiction books over non-fiction ones? If this is a non-fiction piece, did that aspect influence your opinion about it at all?

Book reports are easy to prepare and straight to the point. Keeping your summary substantial and your final thoughts minimal should ensure you've prepared a suitable paper.

The Tricky Part: Book Review

A book review can be seen as a more sophisticated approach to understanding and relaying the same information presented in a report. It can be described as "sophisticated" in that the work requires a greater level of effort, thoughtfulness, and is an analysis as compared to a book report. As students grow, so does their ability to think critically. The graduation from a report to a review enables an individual to take the information obtained in a report and apply it to higher order thought processes: analyzing, criticizing, persuading, and evaluating.

At times, the greatest challenge for students is establishing solid points of analysis and identifying what aspects of the book are worth exploring. Before attempting to probe any area of the story, students should have:

  1. a precise understanding of the author's main argument (that requires you to read the book);
  2. a preliminary list of issues addressed with appropriate evidence;
  3. a clear position on whether to recommend the novel to others and why.

This is the information about the piece that your review will include. When explaining your position, you can argue about many issues in favor or disfavor of the plot. Examples include the author's voice and writing style. Was it clear? Did you enjoy the style of writing? What changes would you like to see and why?

After reading and identifying these key points, you will hopefully be more prepared to provide a critical assessment. Keep in mind that your end goal is to persuade the audience and provide clear arguments.

Evaluation Areas to Consider

Look for some key points found in an evaluation rubric for a writing assessment.

  • audience/purpose
  • organization
  • elaboration (support details)
  • use of language

Think of it as "checking" the author's work and reviewing it as you would be a peer or, in some respects, as a teacher would for a student. Though you should not be as much concerned about the technical setup as you should be about how well of a job the author did when writing a book conveying the message and achieving the purpose of their writing.

Additionally, note any significant flaws in the author's general writing ability and highlight their strengths. A strength would be an area in which the author did an exceptional job exhibiting their point to the reader.

Sample Book Review Setup

  1. Introduction/Background.
    This section of your review is self-explanatory and should contain the title, publication information, author's name and background, category of writing they present, a bit of history, the purpose of the writing, and your main thesis statement.
  2. Short Summary.
    In this brief section, you will replicate what is done by simply summarizing the piece. Keep it concise. Try to only highlight the main events and noteworthy aspects.
  3. Analysis/Assessment.
    This is the meat of your paper and the main reason for writing. As stated earlier, your purpose is to analyze and evaluate. Here, you should provide a critical assessment of the story's central argument, evidence to support it, organizational structure, and how well it fulfills its objective.
  4. Conclusion.
    Sum up what you have been suggesting throughout your review. Restate your opinion in a concise sentence or two and provide a final statement. Would you recommend it or not? How does it fit in on a larger scale as it relates to its impact and contribution to its genre and literature?

Avoiding Confusion

A lot of the confusion usually lies with the book review. It's not difficult for many people to write a report because it is primarily a summary. If asked to write a review, the student may extend the summary section a bit too far and include details that do not support their argument (to persuade the reader one way or the other). Likewise, when doing a report, the writer should be cautious of not inserting too much opinion and losing the focus which is to relay factual information.

Maintaining the needed balance between fact and opinion is one of the best ways to successfully write both book reports and reviews.

When you are faced with such an assignment, it can be hard to wrap your head around the concepts and the way you're supposed to proceed with preparing your paper. If the pressure is too much, there is an option you can use to ease your burden. Ask for custom writing help!

All of our writers are proficient in report and review writing and can guarantee you the highest grade imaginable. They will prepare a detailed analysis completed with appropriate critical comments. With our company, you get low prices, absolutely high quality, and total confidentiality.

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