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Lesson 9: A Good Read - A Book Report


Source: de.wikipedia.org

This lesson is about really getting your hands dirty with literature. Your task is to read a book in English and then write a report on it.

What you can read

Here is a list of books that you can choose from - all of them are available online for free. You can read them online or download them. There is also a free audio version available of most of them so you can listen to the book - or parts of it - for some more listening comprehension practice.

Louisa May Alcott – Little Women

Text http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/514

Audio https://librivox.org/little-women-by-louisa-may-alcott/


Emily Brontë – Wuthering Heights

Text http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/768

Audio https://librivox.org/wuthering-heights-by-emily-bronte/


James Fenimore Cooper – The Last of the Mohicans

Text http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/940

Audio https://librivox.org/the-last-of-the-mohicans-by-james-fenimore-cooper/


Daniel Defoe – The Life and Adventures of Robinson Crusoe

Text http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/521

Audio https://librivox.org/robinson-crusoe-by-daniel-defoe/


Charles Dickens – The Old Curiosity Shop

Text http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/700

Audio https://librivox.org/the-old-curiosity-shop-by-charles-dickens/


Arthur Conan Doyle – The Hound of the Baskervilles

Text http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/2852

Audio https://librivox.org/the-hound-of-the-baskervilles-version-2-by-sir-arthur-conan-doyle/


Arthur Conan Doyle – The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes

Text http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/1661

Audio https://librivox.org/the-adventures-of-sherlock-holmes/


F. Scott Fitzgerald – This Side of Paradise

Text http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/805

Audio https://librivox.org/this-side-of-paradise-by-f-scott-fitzgerald


Ernest Hemingway – The Old Man and the Sea (as published in full in LIFE magazine, September 1, 1952)

Text http://books.google.fi/books?id=WVYEAAAAMBAJ&pg=PA35&redir_esc=y#v=onepage&q&f=false


Henry James – The Beast in the Jungle

Text http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/1093

Audio https://librivox.org/the-beast-in-the-jungle-by-henry-james/


James Joyce – Dubliners

Text: http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/2814

Audio https://librivox.org/dubliners-by-james-joyce/


Rudyard Kipling – The Jungle Book

Text http://www.gutenberg.org/files/35997/35997-h/35997-h.htm OR

Text http://www.gutenberg.org/files/236/236-h/236-h.htm

Audio https://librivox.org/the-jungle-book-by-rudyard-kipling/


Herman Melville – Moby Dick

Text http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/2701

Audio https://librivox.org/moby-dick-by-herman-melville


L. M. Montgomery – Anne of Green Gables

Text http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/45

Audio https://librivox.org/anne-of-green-gables-by-lucy-maud-montgomery-3/


Robert Louis Stevenson – Treasure Island

Text http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/120

Audio https://librivox.org/treasure-island-by-robert-louis-stevenson/


Mark Twain – Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

Text http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/76

Audio https://librivox.org/the-adventures-of-huckleberry-finn-version-3/


Oscar Wilde – The Importance of Being Earnest

Text http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/844

Audio https://librivox.org/the-importance-of-being-earnest-by-oscar-wilde-2/


Virginia Woolf – Jacob's Room

Text http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/5670

Audio - https://librivox.org/jacobs-room-by-virginia-woolf/


Photo: Flickr / Alan Cleaver (CC BY 2.0)

What you need to write

The book report needs to contain information on the plot and the main characters, a brief introduction of the author (life, other works, style, etc.) as well as some of your own thoughts and opinions about the book.

The report should be about 6-8 pages long (~ 1800-2500 words) not including the bibliography page nor the cover page. It should have an introduction, a contents page, a conclusion and a bibliography. The form of the paper should be that of academic papers:

General layout:

  • Use double spacing and a font of 12 pt., preferably Times New Roman

  • Leave margins of 2.50 cm. at the top, bottom, and both sides of each page

The front page will have

  • the name of the book and the author in the middle of the page

  • your own name, the date and the name of your teacher in the right-hand corner of the page

  • no page number

The contents page includes

  • the word Contents/CONTENTS on top

  • the page numbers of the titles/chapters in your paper

  • no page number

1. Introduction

  • On this page you should explain
    • why you chose this particular author and book

    • what your expectations for the book were before you started reading it

    • what you will discuss in this book report (write this in the future tense).

  • Is written on a page of its own, so never start chapter no. 2 on the same page.

  • This page is page number 1 (the number isn't always printed on this page).

2. - (for example) 4. The actual pages of your own text

These pages can also be divided into several chapters, so this just an example :

  • Chapter 2 could deal with the author of the book

  • Chapter 3 could be about the plot of the book and

  • Chapter 4 could include your own opinions and thoughts about the book

  • Chapter 2 starts on page 2 (if the introduction is only one page long)

  • the page number can be placed in different places but never on the left-hand side of the page

NB. Give the credit to whom the credit belongs! You can quote but must not commit plagiarism.

When you are quoting someone directly you, have to indicate that with quotation marks:

  • A direct quotation should be marked either on the same page where the quotation is or on a separate page with only quotations on it.

  • This marking is called a footnote and thus, in case you want to mark them on a separate page, your report needs to include a page called Footnotes.

  • If the footnote is written on the same page as the quotation, it should be placed at the bottom of the page below a short line which separates the actual text from the footnotes.

  • A footnote contains the following information:

    • the author and name of the book
    • the publisher
    • the place of publication
    • the year of publication
    • the page number of the quotation
    • when you refer to the same book again, all you need in the footnote is the name of the author and the page number of the quotation
    • for example,
      • the first quotation from the given book: Foster, Thomas C., How to Read Literature Like a Professor: A Lively and Entertaining Guide to Reading Between the Lines. New York: Harper, 2003, p.3.

      • the second quotation from the same book: Foster, Thomas C., p.5.

  • If you quote a phrase or a few lines from the book on which you are writing the report and if the page numbers can be seen, this is a sufficient way to indicate the page, for example:

    • (p. 25)

    • (pp. 25–26) – pp. means "page to page"

5. Conclusion

  • In the conclusion you should account for the things you referred to in the introduction.

    • what you covered in the body of the report (very briefly)

    • was the book what you expected

    • was the author what you expected


  • Contains all the literature both printed and collected from the Internet, i.e. all the sources you used for the report.

  • In case of printed books you need to mention the author and name of the book, publisher, place of publication and the year of publication, for example

    • Foster, Thomas C., How to Read Literature Like a Professor: A Lively and Entertaining Guide to Reading Between the Lines. New York: Harper, 2003.

  • When using online sources, include these

    • the title or a description of the document

    • the name(s) of the author(s) if possible

    • a hyperlink to the website where you found the information you used

    • when you got the information, presented like this

      • Retrieved May 27, 2014

  • You do not need to list dictionaries.

There are various ways how citations and sources can be presented in academic papers, and many publications and organizations have their own systems. Getting them written correctly is usually a tedious process. For future reference, keep in mind this website:

Purdue OWL https://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/560/10/ 

Exercise 9.1 A Book Report

Read one of the books listed above and, following the guidelines presented in the lesson, write a book report on it.


About the evaluation of this exercise:

The book report accounts for 1/3 of your grade in this course.

Tehtävä arvioidaan arvosanalla 4-10.

Submit your report below:

 Lord Byron, 1816

Photo: Heli Viitanen

Otavan Opisto / Tarja Männikkö, Arto Silén ja Heli Viitanen

© 2015 Otavan Opisto