How to Write a Book Report like a Pro

This guide explains the book report structure and offers advice on how to write a cohesive summary of a publication.

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The primary objective of a book report is to provide a synopsis of the context that was discussed in a particular work. In most cases, it is necessary to identify the topics and purpose of the text to accurately identify their contribution to a specific subject. In this paper, the book Rethinking Campus Life is used as an example to illustrate approaches that can be applied when writing a report.

General Guidelines

Scheme 1 presents a visual representation of steps that should be taken when writing a book report. The following actions should be done before writing the paper because they require an ability to refer to specific paragraphs or chapters in the publication. Overall, there are four stages that help prepare and write a book report in a concise and structured manner.

Steps that should be taken when Writing a Book Report
Scheme 1. Preparing a book report (created by the author).
  • Identifying the purpose of the report

This component is necessary because it defines the structure and scope of analysis for the essay. As was previously mentioned, a book report should focus on summarizing the meaning and ideas that the creator of the work aims to convey through his or her text. Thus, it is helpful to locate information regarding the author, his or her origins and background information regarding the actual work in question. This data will serve two primary purposes; firstly, it will help develop a better knowledge of what is the general idea and factors that influenced the writing process. Secondly, some of this data can be included in the introduction to help a reader understand the origins of the book.

For instance, the book Rethinking Campus Life by editors Ogren and VanOverbeke discusses the history of college students using examples of various communities. It can be argued that the general idea of the book is that students shape the development of educational institutions; therefore, the book report would use this statement as a thesis for the paper. The book focuses on the history of the US colleges and campus life, therefore, this will be the primary emphasis of the report.

  • Develop an argument

It will serve as a thesis statement for the book report. As with any other essays, book reports have to provide valuable input for a reader by presenting the author’s opinion. Thus, it is necessary to understand that such assignments are not created to summarize the context, but instead they should encourage students to apply analytical skills. This will help locate the primary ideas that should be included in the report and avoid using unnecessary information. When working on a thesis, it is crucial to have a clear understanding of the context because it will help structure the work. Thus, the thesis statement of a book report should reflect the paragraphs of the essay.

  • Highlighting essential aspects such as quotes and paragraphs within the book

This component will help develop the main body of a book report. It is possible to include several quotes that would demonstrate the point of view that the author of the original work has. This approach is better than paraphrasing because it illuminates bias by providing a reader with the actual sentence from the book. The primary aim is to identify the characters, events, and mood of the story. In addition, one can provide information regarding protagonists, if the reviewed book is fiction.

It should be pointed out that it is necessary to present a summary of the text which includes main events. The book Rethinking Campus Life dedicates a specific chapter to exploring various communities in colleges. Thus, it can be helpful to provide a concise explanation of the particular contributions that each population has made to the college life and used those in the paper. The general mood of this work can be described with the following quote – college students are “unquestionably the most creative and imaginative force in the shaping of American college and university” (11). Following this statement, one may expand on various factors that impact college students and their lives that were described by the authors.

  • Creating questions in regards to the context

This component will help guide the writing process by encouraging to locate specific answers and provide an explanation within the book report. It can be done when reading the publication as in most cases several aspects will require additional explanation when reading a text. Using this one can create a cohesive and exciting essay due to the fact that the writing process will be more engaging because it will involve an exploration of topics that are of interest to a student working on the report.

How to Structure a Book Report

In general, book reports are not lengthy due to the fact that their purpose is to offer a concise overview and an argument regarding a particular work. A book report can focus on either fiction or non-fiction books, which affects the structure and objectives of the paper. The first type focuses on the narrative and characters while describing the overall mood of the text. The second one intends to identify the audience and specific arguments that the author explains in his work.

  1. Introduction

The first paragraph of any book report should include background information, assessed in Step 1. There are several ways to present this, depending on a particular citation style that was chosen for the work. In general, this would include the name of authors or editors and the title of the publication. It is possible to add the date of paper if it helps to understand the context better. Additionally, one should not forget to cite the work in the reference list in accordance with the appropriate style. The following represents a citation for the book used as an example in this paper in MLA:

Ogren, Christine and Marc VanOverbeke, editors. Rethinking Campus Life: New Perspectives on the History of College Students in the United States. Palgrave McMillian, 2018.

In addition, it is necessary to present the information that would introduce a person reading the report of a book in question. This paragraph will include the knowledge from Step 2 because it is necessary to state the viewpoint of the author and explained the argument that will be explored in other sections. The concluding sentence of this paragraph is the thesis statement that reflects the structure of the report.

  1. Plot Summary

The structure of this paragraph depends on the genre of the book under report. For instance, fiction books are more focused on their characters and specific events. Therefore, it is necessary to name each individual whose story is significant to the context and explain their behaviors. Additionally, it is possible to mention the narrator as it is a vital component. For such texts, one may describe the setting in which the events occur. However, the primary emphasis should be on the circumstances and their outcomes.

For nonfiction books, the body of the book report provides the reader with the findings from the publication and a specific viewpoint on the topic. Therefore, the word count for these paragraphs should be the most significant when compared to another part of the essay. It is helpful to discuss the arguments and thesis as well as the audience for the book, as these components guided the development of the work.

In the case of Rethinking Campus Life, a book report should emphasize the importance of student communities and whether the author accomplished the purpose of explaining their meaning in the context of university development. The book is targeted at students and professors as they are a part of the community in question and can benefit from reading it. The primary arguments discussed in work are the components that shaped the US campus life

  1. Conclusion

The final paragraph should summarize the general idea of the book report. It is possible to rewrite the thesis statement and present a brief explanation of the main events or argument that summarize the book. New information or thoughts that were not mentioned in the body of the text should not be included to avoid confusion. The primary objective is to present a concise report and clearly state the argument that was explored.


Overall, writing a book report requires a thorough understanding of the text and background information about the publication and its author. In addition, it is necessary to determine the primary objective that guided the development of the work and provide the content, and explain the mood or primary purpose of the text. Additionally, the paper should describe the main topics or events, depending on the type of report. Finally, the essential section of a book report is the conclusion, which restates the primary ideas and thesis.

Work Cited

Ogren, Christine and Marc VanOverbeke, editors. Rethinking Campus Life: New Perspectives on the History of College Students in the United States. Palgrave McMillian, 2018.

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