Although we are living in a world with plenty of opportunities for gathering information and easy communication, a good tradition still exists. Internet forums, chats, and social networks are becoming more and more fashionable.
Fortunately, the good old paper book has not been forgotten.
Books are language in general; they also implement a certain culture. One can grasp the spirit of a given era, or to extend their knowledge about a given personality, place, or field of science. The only thing that we can learn from the majority of internet forums is how to use as simple language as possible, and how to discuss a topic without any clue of rational arguments. For that reason, we still need to read books, whether paper ones or e-books.
There is one difficulty arising after we have received an assignment to write an essay about a given book. Every book contains a world consisting of symbols. Symbols are signs employed by human beings to communicate information. Knowledge, for example, is a system of symbols. It is important to note that every symbol needs to be interpreted by a given person; symbols do not exist independently from human thought. Therefore, one and the same interpretation of a given book is far from possible. Hence, don’t be afraid to express your own feelings and impressions; in the essay you should write your personal point of view on the book. However, you’d better follow some rules for writing a good essay.
How to write an essay about a book – 8 key tips
1. Read some analysis of the book in question. It is always better to read secondary literature first, otherwise, you may be confused while reading the book.
2. Read the book. Try to read as much as possible. If there is not enough time left, you may skip the passages which seem unimportant (but not more than one third of the book). The voluminous books contain some descriptions of places, persons, and circumstances that you need to take into consideration.
3. Write down your impressions and thoughts, as well as the most important events described in the book. Unlike some ancient Greeks, you cannot remember all acts described in the Iliad.
4. Describe the plot of the book in two or three short paragraphs. Be concise: your teacher has probably read the book already.
5. Quote! Select two quotations from the book and elucidate their meaning. Explain what is important in them.
6. Write a paragraph about the author: their style, education, themes, and their influence over other writers. You should demonstrate your comprehensive knowledge of the historical era or literary school.
7. Criticize. What facts are unreliable in the book? Are there any weak points in it; for instance, wrong historical descriptions, prominent author’s bias, or unjustified end of the book (Deux ex machina), etc.
8. Draw a conclusion. What lesson do we learn from the book? What does an author intend to tell us? What do they not tell us and why?
A good interpretation grasps the similarities between different books of one category, thereby analyzing a book in the light of a given era, or social, historical, political context, as it was stated. Every interpretation is a generalization, and at the same time it implies good knowledge about the distinctive features of a given book. You should pay attention to the details, and then generalize them. This is the essence of writing a good essay on a book.