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A Book Report or a Book Review: How to Write

Student Over Book

I bet you have not managed to sneak away from book report/book review assignments. Like any other typical student, you had to commit yourself to the grueling task of writing both of them. However, very often students would feel confused trying to distinguish between a book report and a book review. If you are one of them, this is going to be a useful writing guide for you.

Here listed some major differences between a book report and a book review. Hopefully, it will allow you to successfully manage your writing assignment and get an A!

The Depth of Analysis

I decided to start by discussing the key difference between the two assignments. It is the depth of the novel analysis you have to perform.

A book report does not require the same depth as a book review. It is mostly a school assignment whereas a review is something students have to write in college. Therefore, when creating a review, you need to focus more on analyzing the book rather than retelling the plot. At the same time, the book report’s reasoning could be rather superficial and centered more on the summary.

The Intricacy of Structure

Because the book report is your typical middle/high school assignment, it has a linear structure of introduction, three body paragraphs and conclusion. The book review’s architecture is less obvious.

In both of them the introduction paragraph mentions the essentials such as the author’s name, the title’s meaning, the date of publishing, the publishing house and the number of pages. Moreover, both need to have a convincing thesis statement. However, the book review’s one has to be more complex, as it needs to take into account a broader historical context of the novel as well as the pertinent information about the author. A book report’s can just include the overarching idea and the moral lesson in its statement.

In the report the initial paragraph accentuates the basics of the book such as the setting, the paramount characters, and the key conflicts. It provides background against which a further analysis is possible. In the review there is no need for this preparatory stage. You can plunge right into the principal arguments, at the same time finding evidence to bolster them.

In the 2nd body paragraph of the report you need to deliberate on major issues and the characters’ actions to tackle them. Here you can start with your analysis and express your attitude towards the protagonist or antagonist’s choices. In the book review you would also begin to outline your attitude towards the personages’ and the book’s themes. However, more solid evidence from the book or from the book’s context is required.

After the evaluation paragraph of the book review, you can jump right to the conclusion. In the book report, however, the magic number is three, so you would need to conduct one more body paragraph before summarizing. Usually, you would talk about the book’s ending and your attitude towards it. Here it is important to go into detail. You want your teacher to know that you actually digested the book.

Both conclusions, of course, have a similar purpose. In both it is recommended to underline your stance towards the book and consider the intended audience. In the report, it makes sense to note the moral lesson while in review you might want to take a broader perspective on the novel by contemplating its significance for the today’s world, how it could be improved and whether it would have relevance in the future.

The Level of Subjectivity

Both the report and the review introduce your individual opinion on the book as well as recommendations. However, the level of subjectivity is much higher in the review, as its main purpose is to analyze the novel.

However, do not be confused by the word “subjective”. It is imperative to contribute the sufficient amount of evidence to underpin your argumentation. If you are just going to share your thoughts without motivating them with precedents from the book, you are not going to score high.

As I underlined before, very often the goal of a report is to convince you teacher that you read the book. Therefore, it is essential that you mention as many details as possible. This strategy, of course, precludes from exploring the themes and symbols of the book as extensively, as it is possible in the review. This is a reason why a report may often come off as dry and less engaging than a book review.

The Essence of the Plot

One of the most striking differences between a report and a review is the range of plot revelation. In the report, you are not only allowed to expose many plot twists – you also have a right to disclose the ending! This would be unacceptable in the book review.

The crux is in the purpose of a book report versus a book review. A book report is written to prove that the reader remembered and understood the plot and the main ideas or lessons of the book. A book review is written to show the book from a new perspective, as well as help the reader in deciding whether to read that book at all.

Therefore, be careful not to give away too many book secrets in the review, at the same time, try to be as detail-oriented as possible in the report.

The Figure of the Writer

The figure of the writer is more foregrounded in the book review. In the book report you would, of course, mention the meaningful facts from the writer’s past, but you do not have to analyze those facts in the book’s context.

In the book review, however, you need to consider the author’s biography through the book’s themes, symbols and an overall tone. You would need to surmise how that period of writer’s life influenced them to write in that kind of style. The review often strives to uncover the author’s intent and hidden motives.

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