How to write a college level book report?

Discussion in 'Community Discussion' started by seven7seven, Aug 27, 2009.

  1. seven7seven macrumors regular

    May 5, 2009
    I need to write an essay that discusses the book I read. In the essay I must analyze the author's use of language, rhetoric, diction, voice, and style as it relates to the book's content.

    Should I include a summary along with this info or only discuss that?

    I just don't know where to begin haha.
  2. CorvusCamenarum macrumors 65816


    Dec 16, 2004
    Birmingham, AL
    1. Start with a high school level book report.
    2. Do it over, but do a good job this time.

    In all seriousness, have you spoken with your professor? That's usually a good place to start, as they'll be best equipped to tell you what they want to see.
  3. seven7seven thread starter macrumors regular

    May 5, 2009
    It is a summer assignment for a AP Highschool class so no I haven't spoken to my teacher. :(
  4. yojitani macrumors 68000


    Apr 28, 2005
    An octopus's garden
    Maybe I don't understand what 'book report' means to you. At the college level, you don't do book reports and it doesn't sound like that's what you're being asked to do. You are being asked instead, it sounds to me, to do what is called a 'close reading.' Look it up, there are plenty of resources on the web to help you. And to answer your question, no, don't 'include' (which I am reading as 'append') a summary.
  5. Zombie Acorn macrumors 65816

    Zombie Acorn

    Feb 2, 2009
    Toronto, Ontario
    Never had to do a book report in college. High school only.

    Case studies can be a bitch though. I have a 60 pager due at the end of the semester :(
  6. airjuggernaut macrumors 6502a

    Oct 16, 2007
    Honestly, it depends on how your school works.

    In Canada (Ontario, specifically), we don't have AP classes, but we do have "University" level high school courses.

    In my University English class, the format we used was the "Point, Proof, Analysis" for all of our literary essay's.

    You also might have heard it being called P.E.E (Point, example, explanation)

    So the way you would write the essay is as follows:

    - Have a good hook to your topic
    -A brief overview of the book
    -Briefly talk about the points you are going to discuss in the essay
    -THEN at the end, put a compelling or non-obvious thesis statement (The thesis should be short and no longer than a sentence, it should include the authors name, and the name of the book).

    Point 1: Have an intro to your point, and then make your point.
    e.g "Diction helps a reader understand a lot about the context of a book. J.D Salinger's diction in "The Catcher In The Rye" helps explain.... "

    Proof 1: Find TEXTUAL proof from your book to prove your point and cite it using whatever citation format your school uses (I'll use MLA in my example).
    "All morons hate it when you call them a moron." (Salinger 20).

    Analysis 1: Then explain the context of the quote, and how it relates to your point. You CAN write a brief summary to help explain the context, just make sure it isn't too lengthy. You really want to focus on ensuring that your proof and analysis make a REALLY strong connection with your point.

    OPTIONAL: To further prove your point you can tack on 1 or 2 more Proofs, and analysis'.

    Then after you are done proving your point, write a short conclusion that sums up the point and that will transition well into the next paragraph.

    REPEAT the Point, Proof, Analysis method for the the remaining points you have. Keep in mind, a good PPA essay will have atleast 3 major points, so try your best.

    Conclusion: Write your conclusion! Make sure your briefly go over the 3 (or more) points you made in the essay, in a new engaging way, and then briefly restate your thesis and conclude in an interesting way.

    So to sum up, your essay might look like this:


    Point 1: Diction

    Point 2: Rhetoric

    Point 3: Style



    My final tip is to make sure you follow the guidelines your teacher gave you (Read over the Rubrik if you got one from her), don't unnecessarily use big words, make sure the writing is formal (no personal pronouns, "I", "We", etc), do not use conjunctions (Can't = Conjunction, Cannot= Not a conjunction) and do not write in cliches ("Throughout history...", "In today's society", "Don't count your chickens before they hatch", etc)!

    I'm sorry if this guide is confusing, but I tried to write this while I was really sleepy.

    and I'm sorry if this was not at all what you were looking for, this is just the way we did it. Your school might be completely different. :p
  7. Capt Crunch macrumors 6502

    Aug 26, 2001
    Cleveland, OH
    This did not work for me in spectacular fashion. I used to get As on my HS book reports, and my first book report in college was a D-.

    You can say just about anything in a HS report. Often the majority of a HS report is a summary of the book, which is easy and says essentially nothing. That doesn't fly in college apparently. You're going to actually have to think about something to say.

    The best way to do it is to take whatever topic they ask for seriously and try to write something about it in an authoritative way. I had to bust my ass to get back from that D-.

    <--- Hates UVA for its soft-science requirements.
  8. morgothaod macrumors regular

    Aug 26, 2009
    Don't just say what the book is about, try and interpret deeper meanings. Then back that up with real life examples and cite your sources.
  9. ddiogyn macrumors member

    Aug 4, 2009
    Your intro should provide a conceptual framework for the analysis/discussion about to follow, ie explain the approach you will be adopting and why you feel it valid.

    Your conclusion should include a commentary of your analysis. Essentially a critical reflection of how useful you felt your originally described approach to be in context, the limitations of your analysis etc...

    It's difficult to offer more specific advice as your remit seems unreasonably broad. Is this primarily a linguistic or literary assignment?
  10. dukebound85 macrumors P6


    Jul 17, 2005
    5045 feet above sea level
    AP is not college level;)

    Yea, never had to do one either in college

    OP: Just ask your teacher what they expect
  11. Tomorrow macrumors 604


    Mar 2, 2008
    Always a day away
    It's the end of August, and this is a summer assignment. :eek: Procrastinate much?

    Don't spend much time writing a summary of the book's plot - there's a good chance your teacher is already familiar with the work, and it sounds like the assignment is more about analyzing style and presentation, and not plot.

    Look for several good examples of the things your teacher wants you to evaluate. Write them down, along with the page numbers of the book where you found them. Pick the ones that are the most compelling, and write about them.

    The important thing to remember when writing any kind of paper, including a book report, is this: say everything that needs to be said, and say nothing that does not need to be said.

    +1. In a college-level paper, you should be able to turn it in, then be able to present about a 1-hour or so oral defense of what you wrote; you need to be that familiar with the subject. If you try to write a paper without really being familiar with it, it will be obvious to the professor. And you'll get a D-. ;) (kidding)

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