A book report is a fairly common type of essay required at all levels of schooling. It involves reading a book and creating an advanced summary of its contents. While some professors may have a specific format they want you to follow, there are some elements common to all book reports.
In the opening paragraph, discuss general details about the book. The first sentence should give a very brief summary of the book, because a longer summary will come later. Talk about who wrote the book and when, and concentrate on simple details to introduce the paper. You may introduce the characters and discuss the setting, but remember this is only the introduction. In the body paragraphs, you can go into more detail.
The first body paragraph should provide a summary of the book. It should be detailed, but not more than a page long. You do not want to retell the entire story, just key plot points. It will be easier to discuss characterization and themes if you have a summary to refer to, but in most situations the professor will have a keen understanding of the book and not need a complete retelling. After the summary, the next paragraphs should discuss the development of characters, themes, and the structure of the book. You must prove you have read the book, so discuss the arc of the story, the major characters, and the conflicts between them. If the book is nonfiction, these categories might change to delve deeper into the author's intent and the effectiveness of the points. Use quotes and evidence from the book to enhance your paper.
The book report should close with a personal reflection. This is where you get to talk about your reaction to the book. Discuss what you liked, what you did not like—and the reasons why. Write about things that you thought did not make sense or that worked very well. It is acceptable if you did not like the book, as long as you can explain why in a cogent and well thought-out manner. Perhaps mention whether you would recommend the book to someone else, and outline what you will take from it. Even a book you detest should still leave some impression. Discussing your reactions and feelings to the book should wrap up your report in the proper manner.