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Book Reviews Versus Book Reports: A Brief Primer

The terms ?book review? and ?book report? are often used interchangeably to mean something in-between the two of them. Improper identification of a book review versus a book report in a syllabus can lead to costly grade mistakes.

A book report is just that: a report on the contents of a particular book. Book reports can be written about both fiction and non-fiction books, but they all have certain things in common. In some ways, a book report could be considered a summary, although it’s a bit more extensive than that. Book reports contain not just recounting of plot, characters, and so forth, but also discussions of the primary ideas, themes, and concepts introduced in the text.

A book review, on the other hand, goes into more detail about the reviewer’s opinions about the book. Again, the review can be of a fiction or non-fiction book, but regardless, the reviewer includes more of a critique of the text, more of an analysis of the ideas and concepts introduced by the author. Of course, as always, opinions should be supported. It is not good book review practice to, say, state that the book is stupid, or the author doesn’t know what he is talking about, without showing why this is the case. It is, however, perfectly acceptable to write that the author doesn’t have a leg to stand on if you talk about why this is the case.

In a way, a book review is a more comprehensive book report. The report stops short of discussing the writer’s thoughts and perspectives on the book, whereas the review is incomplete without those things. You could think about a book review as a cross between a literary critique and a book report. No matter how you define it, a book review is an in-depth analysis of a text while a report is little more than a summary.

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