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Tips on Writing a Book Essay

If you are writing a book essay, you should combine a book summary and your interpretation in it. Of course, much will depend on the book you will write about, your opinion about the book, and your assignment.  While writing a book essay about a novel or a play, you will need to reflect about the characters, the setting and the plot. However, you will not be able to write about characters or plot for some non-fiction book, such as textbook. Therefore, we prepared different guidelines for writing a book essay on fiction and non-fiction books, which you are welcome to read. Moreover, a book essay can be categorized as a book report, a book review or a reflective essay on some books. Hence, you will want to know the differences between these most common types of book essays.



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Quick Navigation through the Book Essay Page

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Book Review

Types of Book Essays

The following are the three basic types of a book essay:

Book Essay Book report: it contains the gist of the subject matter of the book along with the author’s personal insight. While writing a book report, you should aim to illustrate that you went through the book and caught the author’s point of view.

Book review: it offers argument. Book review not just a plot summary or a book report but a commentary.  The review is an observation of the style, content, strength and limitation of a book. It would help you converse with the author as well as with other audience over the book.

Reflective essay on book – this category lets you share your experiences as well as what you have discovered in the book. While writing a reflective essay, please mention why you picked up the book and why you have considered it noteworthy. To demonstrate the wallop of the book on your thoughts – start the essay by depicting your expectations or feelings before going through the book, then how the feelings/expectations came into the reality or changed after.


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What to Write in a Book Essay on Non-Fiction Book

Try to address the following questions, while writing a book essay on non-fiction book:

Book Essay (click to enlarge)

Book Essay

  • What is the idea or main proposal placed by the book?
  • What is the subject matter or theme of the book? Does the writer address all parts of the subject matter in an objective style?


  • How does the writer move towards the subject (analytical, chronological, topical or descriptive)?


  • How does the argument of the book take form? Is the argument logical? Does it convince you?


  • What proof does the author show to support the main points? Do you think the proof convincing enough?


  • Demonstrate that the conclusion drawn (if any) in the book is deduced from the proof


  • Describe whether or not the author follows formal style. Assess the worth of the writing mode by applying some of these yardsticks: originality, clarity, coherence, dynamism, appropriate use of technical words, completeness of development, conciseness etc. Is the style suitable to the proposed audience?


  • While finishing the book review essay, would you like to suggest the book to readers?



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What a Fiction Book Review Should Be About

Writing a book report or a book review on a fictional book you would need to reflect on characters, plot, setting, theme and style of the book. The following questions might help you to do this properly:


    In your fiction

book review essay

    , first portray the characters of the book. Does character development take place? Is character depiction indirect or direct?


  1. How does the writer handle the different components of plot (opening, climax, suspense and end)?
  2. Elucidate the connection of storyline to character depiction.
  3. If there is any sub-plot, how is it linked to the master plot?


  1. Illustrate the settings and whether it possesses a vital role in play.
  2. Describe whether the settings exert significant influence on the storyline/ characters


  1. Portray the main theme(s): psychological, didactic, entertaining, social, escapist and so on.
  2. How the theme is disclosed and evolved?
  3. Is the theme unique and innovative, or familiar and traditional?


  1. Describe the “emotional qualities” of the writing (e.g. wit, satire, humour)
  2. Describe the “intellectual qualities” of the writing (e.g. precision, simplicity)
  3. Describe the “aesthetic qualities” of the writing (e.g. rhythm, synchronization)
  4. Describe the stylistic tools that have been used (e.g. motifs, symbolism, fable, parody)


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