How to Write an Analytical Book Report

An analytical book report takes an in-depth look at the arguments presented by the author.

An analytical book report is not the same as a summary-type report. Instead of a synopsis of the plot or comment on the book, an analytical report looks at the issues involved in the book being reported and places those issues in different lights based on the perspective of the author of the paper, the author of the book, and numerous other viewpoints. The purpose of the analytical book report is to take the author's stated intention, or thesis, and surmise how the evidence presented by the author backs up her theory. Analytical book reports are most often used in literature reviews in theses and dissertations.

Define the perspective of the author. Identify the author’s intended audience and point out the historical framework, if any, from which the author is working. Make the purpose of the book, according to the author, clear.

Research the author’s position. Gather research that both support and refute the author’s statement. For academic papers, gather research from scholarly journals and university websites.

State the author’s thesis and explain what the thesis means, in plain language. Because this is an analytical perspective on the author’s thesis where you will introduce other opinions, state that the thesis is the author’s opinion and introduce any differing opinions briefly.

Evaluate the data and sources used by the author and write about the quality of the data. For example, if your author gets data from weak Internet sources, state that and discuss why the weak data may call into question the validity of the author’s argument.

Discuss how the author uses the data to support his thesis. For example, determine if the author uses the data to provide direct correlations between the thesis and his supporting arguments. If the author does, state how he makes those correlations. If the author does not, discuss the weakness in his argument.

State whether or not the author introduces differing viewpoints from her own. If there are differing viewpoints, discuss the impact they have on the author’s thesis and how these viewpoints are shown to be either weak or strong by the author. If there are not any differing viewpoints, discuss the ones you found in your own research and how they add or take away from the discussion.

State your own opinion on the work, based on the factors discussed in the previous paragraphs. This is your opportunity to give your thoughts on the manner in which the author presented his argument and the effectiveness of the data presented.

Based in the Pacific Northwest, Arin Bodden started writing professionally in 2003. Her writing has been featured in "Northwest Boulevard" and "Mermaids." She received the Huston Medal in English in 2005. Bodden has a Master of Arts in English from Eastern Washington University. She currently teaches English composition and technical writing at the university level.