Book Report or Book Review: Explanation

You just received the grade from a review you did on Great Expectations from your instructor, and to your shock and disappointment the "A" grade that you had worked so hard to achieve only translated into a "D+." You don't understand why, after all the time you spent reading the novel, you earned such a low grade. It is not until you spoke with the instructor that you realize that what you turned in is a book report not a book review. At sometime or another, we have all been asked to write a book review or a book report, and many times what we think is a book review is in fact a book report. Yes, there is a difference between the two. The difference lies in the fact that a custom written book report is much simpler in structure than a book review and a book report does not require any in depth analysis of the text.

When your teacher asks you to write a book report, all she/he is asking you to explain is the topical details about the author and the plot of the story. Most book reports explain biographical information about the author like where and when he/she was born, what schools he/she attended, what degrees he/she earned, and where he/she lived, what his/her marital status was or whether he/she had children or not. This information gives background detail so that whoever is reading the report will have an understanding of the perspective the author is writing from. After he/she gives background material, the academic writer will then summarize the story. The writer may include details like the plot, setting, climax, and main characters so that the book report is well understood by the reader. Some instructors may ask for relevant themes and symbols, but for the most part, the book report summarizes the relevant details of the story - very simple.

On the other hand, a book review is an analysis of the story. Students really have to be careful in not retelling the story because that is not the purpose of the assignment. The purpose of the assignment is to bring new light to the audience reading of the story. Like the book report, the paper may discuss the characters, plot, climax and the biography of the author, but only briefly. The emphasis of the review will, however, cover the author's intent, thematic elements, or symbols within the text. The review will also often discuss the story's relevance to its historical setting, and whether the author's expertise fully covers the subject of the book. The review will discuss the strengths or limitations of the book, in addition to whether the book will have lasting value or not. The book review may additionally address whether the author's tone is sympathetic or biased toward the subject or fair and objective about the material discussed. In all, the book review is an analysis of the book, which is centered on elements of the story and not a summary.

Overall, the book report is a simple explanation of the author's background and a summary of the plot of the story while a book review is an analysis that covers the themes or ideas in the text in a much more in depth and critical manner. While a book report just provides information about the text, the book review is a diagnostic that explores the text's significance and relevance to the time and place in which the story takes place. To avoid confusing the two, just remember that any custom book report rehashes the story while the book review is an examination of its contents.

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