I. The Book Report
n Teachers who want to know whether
their students have read the books assigned
and how well they understand those books
may require a book report. If they are not
required, students may as well write one or
two for themselves, for writing book
reports helps students to improve their
reading comprehension and their ability to
analyze and evaluate books.
three main parts
n Generally speaking, a book report consists
of the following three main parts:
information about the author and his times,
a summary of the book, and comments on
A brief account of the author’s
n should be given together with a description of
his times. The latter should include the
circumstances that led to the writing of the book
under discussion and the historical and social
background related to the content of the book. To
make these things clear, the writer perhaps needs
to read some reference material, such as
biographies of the author and histories of the
period described in the book.
n (which will be discussed in Part II) should be
self-contained, clear, and easy to understand.
Above all, it should be objective. Comments on
and criticisms of the book should not be mixed
with the summary; they can be left to the third
part. The summary of a novel or a play is usually
written in the present tense, while that of
nonfiction, in the tense of the original work: for
example, the past tense should be used for a
history, and the present for a scientific work.
Comments on and evaluation of the book
n Comments on and evaluation of the book form
the third and most important part of a book
report. In this part the writer expresses his or her
own views on the book, names its merits and
demerits, and discusses its relevance to the
present time. The discussion should of course
center on the content of the book, but the author’s
style and techniques of presentation, if
interesting, can also be touched upon.
II. Writing a Summary
n A summary is a brief restatement of the
essential thought of a longer composition.
It reproduces the theme of the original with
as few words as possible. When one writes
a summary, one should not interpret or
comment. All one has to do is to give gist
of the author’s exact and essential meaning.
n condenses a paragraph, an essay, or a book to
its controlling idea and main points. It should be
written in complete sentences and reworded, as in
paraphrasing. Summarizing, like outlining, is an
effective study skill, for it requires the student to
differentiate between what is essential and what
is insignificant. The relative importance of ideas
must also be recognized. Once the main idea has
been rewritten, the information will be easier to
recall later on a test or in a paper. Summarizing is
also helpful in taking notes for a research paper.
Uses of summary writing
n 1) Summary writing is a very good exercise for
improving reading comprehension.
n Some students read carelessly, and gain only a
vague idea of what they have read. Summary
writing can force them to try to understand what
they read, for one can write a summary of any
passage unless he has grasped its meaning. So
summarizing is also training in concentration of
attention. It requires one to read with the mind, as
well as with the eye, on the page.
2) Summary writing is also helpful to composition
n It trains one to express one’s thought clearly,
concisely and effectively. It is an excellent
corrective of vague and disorderly thinking and
loose and diffuse writing. When writing a
summary, one has to work within strict limits.
One must express a certain meaning in a fixed
number of words. So it is important to chose
words carefully, to make sentences with an eye to
accuracy and brevity, and to write the summary
in logical order.
3) Summary writing has practical
n The ability to grasp quickly accurately
what is read, or heard, and to reproduce it
in a clear and concise way is of great value
to people of many professions. For
scientists, businessmen, lawyers, and
government officials this ability is not only
important, but necessary.
2. Qualities of a good summary
n No idea that is not the author’s should be
included in the summary, and no opinion of
the writer should be in the summary. No
judgments (whether the article was “good”
or “interesting”) are permitted in a
n Depending on the assignment, the summary
should contain every main idea in the
article. Stating only the first main idea, or
only one main idea and details to support it,
will not give the reader a complete idea of
what the article was about.
n Giving equal attention to each main idea,
and stressing ideas that the author stressed,
will result in an accurate summary.
3. Questions to judge a valid summary
n Did I include all the important ideas?
n Did I omit all unnecessary words and phrases?
n Does the summary read smoothly? (Have I made
good use of transitions: also, thus, therefore,
however, etc? Have I made every word count?)
n Would a reader of my summary who had not read
the article get a clear idea of the article?
4. The goal of the summary is
n To give readers an objective, complete,
accurate, balanced view of an article they
have not read.
5. Procedure of summary
n 1) Read the article quickly, looking for main ideas.
n 2) Read it again carefully, absorbing the information.
n 3) Look for the thesis and topic sentences; they will often
give you the main ideas of the article that you will need
for your summary.
n 4) Depending on the assignment, select the major ideas
you will need to use in your summary. Arrange these
ideas carefully in order to achieve balance and
n 5) Begin the summary with a sentence that informs your
reader of the title and author of the article.
n In the article” The Making of the Dutch
Landscape,” Audrey Lambert states that…
n Punctuation （1）Underline the titles of
the books, or in quotation marks
6. Experiences in Writing Summary
n 1) Omit unnecessary details 略去“绿
n In order to make the passage powerful
and convinced, he origin will quote
examples, quotations of authorities,
definitions, details and rhetorical phrases.
Such details can be omitted.
2) Keep some plots, reduce the examples 保
n Follow the chronological order of the
n 3)Simplify the descriptions, eliminate all
4) Compress wordy sentences and change
phrases to words.
n “His courage in World War II might without
exaggeration be called lion-like.”---He was very
brave in World War II.
n “They acted in a manner that rendered them liable
to prosecution（起诉）.”---They acted illegally.
n “He was hard up for money and was being
pressed by his creditor.”---He was in financial
5) Use general words instead of specific
n “She bought home several Chinese and
English novels, a few copies of Times and
Newsweek, and some textbooks. She
intended to read all of them during the
winter vacation.”--- She brought home a lot
of books and magazines to read during the
n 6) Use the shortest possible transitions, e.g. but, thus,
yet, for, etc.
n 7) Put the main points of a dialogue in indirect speech.
n 8) Analyze the origin 精剖原文
n Try to analyze the origin. Try to find out the main idea,
topic sentences and so on.
n 9) Take the use of topic sentences and key words 巧
n 10) Pay attention to Persons 注意人称
n A formal summary should be written by the third person.
Exercise: Write a summary for the following passage.
n It was an afternoon at the beginning of the spring of last
year. The weather was dreary, raining, and stormy. I was
alone in the cottage. I knew that I must be alone till evening.
The cottage was in a remote part of a remote country. It had
been let by its owner together with its furniture. As I am
easily affected by weather and hate being alone, I felt
unhappy. And my unhappiness was increased because I
dislike being set among things that do not belong to me.
Whenever I am alone in a room that is not mine, I feel as if
everything in it were warning me not to touch it. Articles of
glass and china seem to say: “Be careful not to break us.” The
carpet seems to say in an angry manner: “If you write
anything, you must not spill any ink on me”. The books seem
to say in a fit of ill temper. “You must not turn down any
page of us, nor leave any mark of your thumb on any page of
us, nor break the back of any one of us.”
n I stayed in a remote cottage on a wet
stormy day early spring last year. I was
made uneasier and unhappier, conscious of
the fact that neither the cottage nor the
furniture were in my possession.