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Writing Book Reviews

Part one: just getting started start with a category..

“No matter what kind of review you write, it's important to develop a clear thesis and evidence to support your opinions. Whether you are writing a review of a book, a movie, or something else, you need to start by putting your subject into a category. This will narrow your focus and allow you to you create a more effective argument. If you are reviewing a book, what kind of book is it? A historical book? A romance? A psychological novel? A How-To book? Fiction? Biography? If you are reviewing a movie, is it action-adventure, is it a documentary, drama or perhaps comedy? The type of material you are reviewing makes a big difference in how you shape your judgment about it. Ask yourself “What category does my subject fit?

Use Your Professor’s Criteria

“Once you have put your subject into a category, you need to use a clear list of criteria on which you will base your judgment. Often when they assign a review, professors give students a list of questions or criteria to use. If your teacher has done so, go by that list, but remember everything on a professor’s list may not be required. Check to see if items on the list are mandatory or optional. Look for phrases like ‘such as’ or ‘for example’ to give you hints concerning items that may be useful but that are not required. The phrase ‘including but not limited to’ indicates that you must include certain things, but may add others on your choosing. The list of criteria or questions does not need to be explicitly stated in your review, but it should be clearly implied in your writing.

“A list of criteria is important because it forces the writer to go beyond blanket summaries of the subject or the plot. It also helps you to avoid giving only vague opinions. Criteria give the writer something to sink his teeth into. Here are some of the things you may want to consider:

Make a Judgment

“Once you have outlined what criteria you are using you can make a clear and reasoned judgment. Decide what you want to say about the subject overall. Avoid generalities such as “best” or “worst.” Your readers won’t believe you if you appear too passionately positive or negative. Rather, make a reasoned judgment and develop it into a working thesis statement.

Gather Evidence

“Like any good argument, you need to back up your claims with evidence. The good news is that your evidence will come directly from the subject itself in the form of examples. If you are reviewing a book, give examples from the text to support your position. If you say the characters in the book are not believable, provide an example from the book that illustrates this point.

Sum It All Up

“Be sure to sum up your conclusions at the end of your review. This will bring closure to the piece and reiterate your ideas. The biggest mistake review writers make is giving too much summary of the contents of the book and not enough clear criteria. Keep this in mind as you put on your critic’s hat and write your review.”

**The information in Part One of this guide is excerpted from this online source: How to Write a Review: Strategies for Effective Critiques of Movies, Books, Music and More

Part Two: The Art of the Review

“A book [or movie] review is an assessment of a work. Reviews not only report on the content of a work, but also evaluate and critique the work by considering the author’s argument, structure, evidence and logic....The book review accomplishes these tasks in a limited number of words, usually between 500 and 750 words, or 2-3 double spaced pages [unless an instructor has given a different length requirement]. It is important to think of the book review as short essay which means it has an introduction, argument, body, and conclusion.

The Introduction or First Paragraph

“The introduction to a book review should begin ... by placing the complete citation for the book [in the correct citation format] at the head of the review. The first paragraph should state the argument that is developed in the book in one, succinct sentence... give the themes of the book...and take a position on the overall strengths and weaknesses of the book. Like essays, good book reviews have a thesis statement, which is the argument you will be making, for example, ‘In his book Innocence Abroad, historian Benjamin Schmidt successfully shows the relevance of Dutch activities in the new world.’ This thesis sentence suggests that the author was successful in achieving the goal and argument set for the book, while other thesis statements might be negative about his accomplishments.

The Body of the Book Review

“The body of the book review is used to answer a number of questions about the book....The review should be as comprehensive as possible. Use the following questions as a guide, but do not feel that you must answer every question. Important: Do not include the question in question form; instead, answer the question in complete sentences that give a thorough answer to the question.

What issues does the book cover?

It is not necessary to summarize the entire book, or even each chapter. Instead, include a paragraph which indicates the chronological and thematic sweep of the book, the main issues that are addressed, and how these contribute to the overall thesis of the book....Does the introduction properly introduce the main themes of the book?

What is relevant about the author and the audience?

What other relevant books has this author written? Are there specific aspects of the author’s background that affect (positively or negatively) the author’s interpretation? Who should or should not read this book [to which audience will it appeal, who will be able to understand it, and why]? Why was this book written [authors often explain this in their introductions]?

What historical genre and theoretical approach best fits this book?

Is this a biography, an economic, cultural, social, intellectual, environmental, political military or religious study? What methodology or critical method does the author employ... [Examples might include Marxist, Whig, feminist, or revisionist methods]? Is the author’s approach biased in a way that he or she may not even realize?

What evidence does the author use? Is the book based on primary or secondary research?

Is the primary research based on archival documents or printed sources? Does the way the author presents evidence created a skewed interpretation? Does the author effectively consider evidence or works that challenge his or her interpretation, or does the author fail to do this? Does the evidence present any interpretation to you that the author failed to mention or consider?

How, and how well, is the information presented? Is the book organized and structured well?

Is the argument presented thematically or chronologically, or does the author use a combination of both? Are important terms sufficiently defined? Does the writing flow well? Is the book easy or difficult to read, why? Are there intelligent transitions from one theme to the next? Does the conclusion summarize and reflect well on the issues addressed?

The Heart of the Book Review

The conclusion of your review, works cited page examples:.

The most common formats:

MLA Format Example: Book with two authors

Apa format example: book with two authors, chicago format, n/b style: book with two authors.

Get more examples in our Citation Guide .

**Information in Part Two, above, is excerpted directly from The University of Calgary’s History Student’s Handbook, 2007.

Part Three: Finding Example Reviews Online

Examples of history book reviews can be found on the San Juan College: Book Reviews page.

To see examples of book reviews for books on a wide variety of subjects, try these sites:

Reference Desk

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Writing Book Reports


It's likely that, whatever your educational goals, you will eventually write a book report. Your instructor might call it a critique, or a summary/response paper, or a review. The two components these assignments have in common are summary and evaluation.

Other TIP Sheets on related topics that might prove helpful in developing a book report, depending on the type of book and the specifics of your assignment, include the following:

Summary AND evaluation Typically, a book report begins with a paragraph to a page of simple information-author, title, genre (for example, science fiction, historical fiction, biography), summary of the central problem and solution, and description of the main character(s) and what they learned or how they changed.

The following example summarizes in two sentences the plot of Jurassic Park :

Michael Crichton's Jurassic Park describes how millionaire tycoon John Hammond indulges his desire to create an island amusement park full of living dinosaurs. In spite of elaborate precautions to make the park safe, his animals run wild, killing and maiming his employees, endangering the lives of his two visiting grandchildren, and finally escaping to mainland Costa Rica.

On the other hand, a thesis statement for a book report reflects your evaluation of the work; "I really, really liked it" is inadequate. Students sometimes hesitate to make judgments about literature, because they are uncertain what standards apply. It's not so difficult to evaluate a book in terms of story elements: character, setting, problem/solution, even organization. (See TIP Sheet Writing About Literature for ideas on how to handle these standard story elements.) Nevertheless, a good thesis statement should include your reflection on the ideas, purpose, and attitudes of the author as well.

To develop an informed judgment about the work, start by asking yourself lots of questions (for more ideas, see "Evaluation" on the TIP Sheet Writing About Literature). Then choose your most promising area, the one about which you have something clear to say and can easily find evidence from the book to illustrate. Develop this into a thesis statement.

For example, here is what one thesis statement might look like for Jurassic Park (notice how this thesis statement differs from the simple summary above):

In Jurassic Park , Crichton seems to warn us chillingly that, in bioengineering as in chaos theory, the moment we most appear to be in control of events is the exact moment control is already irredeemably lost to us.

To develop an informed judgment and a corresponding thesis statement about a book, brainstorm by answering questions such as the following:

The invisible author One common mistake students make is failing to step back far enough from the story to evaluate it as a piece of work produced by someone . Evaluation–you may be surprised to learn it!–is as much about the author as about the story itself. It is about making informed guesses about the author's purpose, ideas, and attitudes based on his use of language, organization, plot, and character development.

Usually the author does not figure prominently in the story unless the book is autobiographical. More often he is the invisible persona–invisible, yet not absent. The author leaves traces of himself throughout. Paradoxically, your understanding of the author depends on your deliberate detachment from the story itself to discover those traces.

Imagine standing very, very close to a large painting–inches away. Your focus is on blobs of color, but you are unable to identify the object represented. When you move back a few steps and alter your focus, the blobs take on a recognizable form. In the same way, you have to draw back from the story to discern the purpose, ideas , and attitudes of the author.

Author's purpose No one goes to the trouble to write something without purpose. Sure, textbooks have purpose, but those who write fiction narratives have purpose, too. Even fantasy writers have purpose. A book report should include your evaluation of whether the author succeeded in his purpose.

The following writer has made a statement about the author's purpose:

Crichton seems not so much to be warning us of the evils of scientific inquiry as begging us, in a very convincing way, to exercise collective moral restraint on scientific research.

This writer would then go on to use quotations, examples, and evidence from the book to show why she believes this is Crichton's purpose.

To identify and respond to the purpose of an author, try asking questions like these:

Author's ideas The author's ideas may be stated by the author himself in a foreword, or they may show up in the words of a narrator or a principal character. The character Ian Malcolm, for example, is a primary spokesman for Crichton's criticism of post-modern science. Malcolm's words, below, express one of the ideas Crichton wishes us to consider:

"I'll tell you the problem with engineers and scientists.... They are focused on whether they can do something. They never stop to ask if they should do something."

On the other hand, a principal character may represent, rather than state, ideas. Hammond's visiting grandchildren, for example, might represent the oblivious, yet threatened, human populations of the mainland and the planet itself. When ideas are implied rather than stated, they are called themes.

To discover and evaluate ideas in a book, try asking questions like the following:

Author's attitudes Once you have identified what ideas an author is trying to examine, you must still determine what the author's attitude is toward those ideas. An author's attitudes are revealed in part by the tone, or overall mood, of the work. In writing, as in conversation, tone is not so much stated as implied. In reading we depend solely on the emotional overtones of the words to infer the attitudes of the author.

For example, suppose you have determined that Crichton wishes to explore the idea of how private industry exploits scientific research. You must then determine, as well, what Crichton's attitude is toward this situation. Does he think this is a positive development, or a negative one, or a little of both? Does he think it is inevitable, or preventable? One way to figure out Crichton's attitude about this is to identify the tone he uses to tell the story. We describe the tone of a book with adjectives, and more than one if necessary: straightforward, complex, ironic, creepy, pathetic, bitter, comic, tragic.

For example, here is a statement using three different adjectives to describe Crichton's attitude toward one of the central problems in Jurassic Park :

Crichton strikes an ominous tone in Jurassic Park. Even though this is a cautionary tale, the author nevertheless is optimistic that the mainstream scientific community, represented in this story by Alan Grant, can learn restraint and respect for nature.

(When identifying the tone of a book, make the effort to distinguish an individual character's attitude from the author's overall attitude-they may differ.)

To begin talking about tone, ask yourself questions such as these:

Is there a particular setting or scene that stands out in my mind? What was the mood of that scene? Is this mood indicative of the entire book? Is the author an optimist, a pessimist, or a realist? How does he show it? Does a principal character experience one persistent state of mind or emotion? What would I call it? Is it indicative of the work overall? Did the mood of the work help or hinder my understanding of the author's ideas?

"In conclusion..." Clearly it is important to be able to make intelligent inferences about the author, because a book evaluation evaluates how well the author has done her job, not just how much you liked the story. After you have asked and answered that question, then you may add, "I really, really liked it."

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Write a Book Review

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A book review describes, analyzes, and evaluates a book by examining its purpose and its contribution.

A book review should address the following:

Your professor may specify additional instructions or objectives for their book review assignment. Therefore, be sure to read the assignment instructions carefully.

In many ways, your book review can be structured like a typical essay, using an introduction, body, and conclusion.

Like other introductions, the book review introduction should move from broad (the topic of the book) to narrow (your specific argument or purpose statement).

Your reader will expect you to do the following in your introduction:

The thesis of your book review may vary depending on the assignment.

Example thesis relating the book to course themes:

George Orwell’s 1984 provides insight into three course themes: critical thinking as a form of resistance, the role of misinformation in totalitarian societies, and the connection between privacy and personal freedom. The review that follows argues that the novel’s engagement with these themes can deepen our understanding of these themes in the course context by illustrating their interconnections.

Example thesis evaluating the book’s contribution to the field:

Sara Jaquette Ray’s The Ecological Other: Environmental Exclusion in American Culture is an important contribution to environmental justice scholarship because it offers a nuanced account of how environmental discourse has positioned people with disabilities, immigrants, and Native Americans as environmental outsiders. At the same time, it suggests how environmental activists can frame their arguments with greater inclusivity and care.

In your body paragraphs, you will describe, analyze, and evaluate the book. Your reader will expect you to do the following in the body of your review:

Paragraph Order

In the body of your book review, you will support your thesis with reference to specific examples from the text. Although you may organize this material in a number of different ways, three common patterns of organization are thematic, chronological, and evaluative.


Rather than summarizing the book or restating your thesis, use the conclusion to provide your final thoughts. Consider the following questions:

The conclusion is your last chance to add analysis to your book review, so be sure to address the book’s overall significance.

Try using signal words like ‘ultimately’ or ‘overall’ instead of ‘in conclusion’ to help you frame your conclusion through an analytical lens while also telling the reader that they should pay special attention to what follows.

The assignment’s instructions may also provide clues for material that you could include in the conclusion.

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Thesis Statement

Thesis statement examples.

A thesis statement is one of the most important aspects of the essay structure. It provides an overview of what essays will talk about. Also, the main claims define the structures and content of the whole paper. Consequently, even a paragraph structure depends on the main idea. However, there are problems with understanding the difference between the thesis statement and purpose statement and the differences of main statements for specific types of papers. Therefore, the thesis statement examples presented in this article will shed light on how to create a perfect thesis claim and even will earn you an A+ grade in every academic essay.

Thesis Statement Examples

The thesis statement is a summary of an essay that is usually one sentence at the end of an introduction. Also, the sentence can serve as the roadmap for investigations and has to be written with care. However, students can find general tips on writing the main sentence example in previous and next articles that they can access in the blog section. Additionally, the previous article already provided some tips on writing the main sentence on different academic levels. Over the top of these facts, students must be sure not to stop in this article and investigate how to write a thesis statement further.

Thesis Statement Vs. Purpose Statement

The goal of the purpose statement is to deliver a message about what essays will be written about. In contrast, the main sentence talks about what is already written in papers and provides on the final investigations found within written pieces. For example, the purpose sentence does not provide a clear structure of papers. Unfortunately, it fails to meet academic standards as it is clear that writers do not understand what will be written in their works when they started it. However, the thesis claim is the way how scientists deliver their insightful thoughts that are important for investigation.

Purpose statement example – In this essay, I will…

Thesis statement example – This essay investigates on…

Even from these simple examples, it is clear that future work will be way different.

Thesis Statement Examples for Different Types of Papers

As a fact, for any type of paper, scholars should write academically. Hence, students must follow the set of rules regarding paper formats, essay structure, and others. Therefore, tips on academic writing would be like:

Below are a few thesis statement examples on how to adapt a main idea to a specific type of paper.

Scientific Works

Research paper.

As a fact, the research paper is a unique type of paper designed for serious academic investigations. Also, writers should pay attention to all results acquired during the research and make sure each important conclusion that the research provided is mentioned in the main sentence. Sample:

The research paper found that X compound will behave differently due to this, this and that while external influence from this and that will not affect the outcome of the reaction, which was considered unreachable before, creating a new stable compound.

Literature Review

For the literature review or literary analysis , individuals make sure that they summarize the synthesized argument they got during their review of different sources. Also, written works must not make any new contributions. In this case, the main claim example has to reflect the main idea and be centered around sources. Sample:

As a result, the literature review on recent publications on global warming proved that the rise of temperature is a short-term consequence of pollution while the long-term threat is yet to determine.

Research Proposal

The main claim in a research proposal is more like a hypothesis. Scholars are trying to explain what they are going to accomplish. However, while the purpose statement might be used in some cases, the research proposal also has done the research. In turn, the main sentence has to summarize such an act. Sample:

However, considering the gap in the understanding of how global warming affects the species in Texas, it was found that some of them got extinct, creating a need for the investigation of the possible link between the two events.

Essay Thesis Statement Examples

Narrative essay.

The narrative essay is usually based on personal experience. In this case, the thesis claim example for the narrative essay will explain how such experience accomplished a specific goal. Also, the whole work will be a story on how individuals moved from one point of life to another and how it changed them or how some other events were a definite event in someone’s life. However, the main sentence will connect the start and end points. Sample:

Therefore, I realized that various challenges on my life path could make me only stronger in regards to the fact that we are all becoming stronger with each day we live, but such knowledge becomes inevitable after you face tons of paid in the process of perception of it.

Expository Essay

The expository essay is written to inform readers of some minor themes. Therefore, the thesis sentence example is informative and explains the defined messages that writers try to deliver. Sample:

Therefore, these days, the word “to google” means to search, not to use Google to search for any information as a person who “googles” will not necessarily use Google for such purpose.

Argumentative and Persuasive Thesis Statement Examples

In argumentative and persuasive types of papers, writers try to present convincing arguments that might change someone’s perception of the topic. Hence, students use evidence to follow the academic rules, while utilizing facts is vital. Therefore, the main statement example will be unique in such type of works and will display convincing argumentation. Sample:

Therefore, Trump is wrong on his judgment of global warming being a myth as scientific journals such as 1, 2, and 3, present more than a hundred of recent articles only within the last year of publication, providing evidence of his opinion being incorrect.

Application Papers

Thesis sentence examples for cover letter, admission essay, personal statement, application essay and related types of papers.

In the types of papers used to participate in specific job applications or colleges, candidates should make it clear why they are the best fit for available opportunities. Sample:

Therefore, my passion for something, required knowledge in point 1 and point 2 , vast experience in idea 1 and idea 2, and the willingness to accomplish this and that, makes me a perfect fit for the available opportunity.

Thesis Statement Examples for Personal Reflection and Response

These types of papers are used to express opinions on specific works so that thesis statement examples for them would orient on one’s final judgment. For Sample:

Therefore, the “Black Panther” movie is one of the best movies existing as it opened up a new era of empowering blacks within the media.

Thesis Statement Examples in Reviews

Book or movie review thesis statement examples.

In contrast, this type of paper focuses on the analysis of facts and interpretations of it to access the author’s purpose. Also, the review might include personal opinion, but it has to be based on analysis, making a thesis claim example more analytical. Sample:

As a result, by considering the analysis of the use of light, characters, themes, symbolism, settings, and plot of the movie “Black Panther,” it is clear that the movie highlighted Black people most appealingly, using strong images and magnificent cultural background to appeal to their viewers in a way to present Blacks strong, smart, independent, and crucial for their enemies.

Article, Artwork, Event, and Video Review Thesis Statement Examples

These types of works usually focus on observations and the thesis claim example has to be a reflection of the personal assessment. Usually, it also talks about the takeaway. Sample:

After viewing a scientific video, it became clear that these factors impact people’s perception of anything before interacting with it because they are coming into contact with it with a biased viewpoint.

Thesis Statement Examples for Summary, Analysis, and MEMO

Thesis statement examples for summary usually orient on the expression of the author’s main idea. As a result, some also call it as an author’s thesis. Therefore, writers have to reflect on the author’s main idea delivered by their work. Sample:

As a result, this and this impacted this and this in the 19th century, according to the author, who is highlighting point 1, point 2 , and point 3 in her book.

Rhetorical Analysis

As a fact, ethos, pathos, and logos, are those rhetorical devices that students will write about. Therefore, a working idea has to reflect on those. Sample:

Using ethos, pathos, and logos, the author succeeded in delivering the message to the target audience as point 1 proves the author’s credibility, point 2 appeals to emotions, and point 3 is where the author uses logical reasoning.

Memo Thesis Sentence Examples

There are usually no thesis statement examples in memo letters. In this case, individuals use such papers for communication within non-scholars, mostly. However, when it comes to memo examples, the main sentence example will be the most important information that the author tries to deliver. Sample:

In the next semester, all teachers are obligated to take one extra course due to the shortage of personnel, but will also have higher salaries available to cover up the inconveniences caused.

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How to Start a Book Report

No matter what you're writing, be it the next great novel, an essay for school, or a book report , you have to capture your audience's attention with a great introduction. Most students will introduce the title of the book and its author, but there's so much more you can do. A strong introduction will help you engage your readers, hold their attention and explain what is coming up in the rest of your report.

Giving your audience something to look forward to, and perhaps even creating a little mystery and excitement, can be great ways to make sure your readers stay engaged with your report. How do you do this? Check out these three simple steps:

1. Hook the Audience's Attention

Think about what you experience in your daily life that captures your attention. The news and radio shows "promo" upcoming stories with a little teaser, often called a hook (because it "hooks" your attention). Corporations use snappy subject lines in emails and enticing headlines in social media to get you to open their messages; these are often called "clickbait" as they get the reader to click on the content. So how can you grab your reader's attention? Start by writing a great  introductory sentence .

You may choose to begin by asking your reader a question to hook his or her interest. Or you may opt for a title that hints at the topic of your report with a dash of drama. Regardless of the way you choose to start a book report, the four strategies outlined here can help you write an engaging essay.

Starting your book report with a question is a good way to grab your reader's interest because you're addressing them directly. Consider the following sentences:

Most people have a ready answer for questions like these because they speak to common experiences we share. It's a means of creating empathy between the person reading your book report and the book itself. For example, consider this opening to a book report about "The Outsiders" by S.E. Hinton:

Have you ever been judged by your appearance? In "The Outsiders," S.E. Hinton gives readers a glimpse inside the tough exterior of a social outcast.

Not everyone's teenage years are as dramatic as those in Hinton's coming-of-age novel. But everyone was once an adolescent, and odds are everyone had moments when they felt misunderstood or alone.

Another idea to hook someone's attention is, if you're discussing a book by a well-known or popular author, you might start with an interesting fact about the era when the author was alive and how it influenced his or her writing. For example:

As a young child, Charles Dickens was forced to work in a shoe polish factory. In his novel, "Hard Times," Dickens taps into his childhood experience to explore the evils of social injustice and hypocrisy.

Not everyone has read Dickens, but many people have heard his name. By starting your book report with a fact, you're appealing to your reader's curiosity. Similarly, you may choose an experience from the author’s life that had an impact on his or her work. 

2. Summarize the Content and Provide Details

A book report is meant to discuss the contents of the book at hand, and your introductory paragraph should give a little overview. This isn't the place to delve into details, but draw off your hook to share a little more information that is crucial to the storyline. 

For example, sometimes, a novel's setting is what makes it so powerful. "To Kill a Mockingbird," the award-winning book by Harper Lee, takes place in a small town in Alabama during the Great Depression. The author draws on her own experiences in recalling a time when a small Southern town's sleepy exterior hid a vague sense of impending change. In this example, the reviewer might include a reference to the book's setting and plot in that first paragraph:

Set in the sleepy town of Maycomb, Alabama during the Depression, we learn about Scout Finch and her father, a prominent lawyer, as he desperately works to prove the innocence of a black man wrongly accused of rape. The controversial trial leads to some unexpected interactions and some terrifying situations for the Finch Family.

Authors make a deliberate choice when selecting the setting of a book. After all, the location and setting can set a very distinct mood. 

3. Make a Thesis Statement (if applicable)

When writing a book report, you might also include your own interpretations of the subject matter. Ask your teacher how much personal interpretation he or she wants first, but assuming that some personal opinion is warranted, your introduction should include a thesis statement. This is where you present the reader with your own argument about the work. To write a strong thesis statement, which should be about one sentence, you might reflect on what the author was trying to achieve. Consider the theme and see if the book was written in such a way where you were able to determine it easily and if it made sense. As yourself a few questions:

Once you've asked yourself these questions, and any other questions you may think of, see if these responses lead you to a thesis statement in which you assess the success of the novel. Sometimes, a thesis statement is widely shared, while others may be more controversial. In the example below, the thesis statement is one that few would dispute, ​and uses dialogue from the text to help illustrate the point. Authors choose dialogue carefully, and a single phrase from a character can often represent both a major theme and your thesis. A well-chosen quote included in your book report's introduction can help you create a thesis statement that has a powerful impact on your readers, as in this example:

At its heart, the novel "To Kill A Mockingbird" is a plea for tolerance in an atmosphere of intolerance, and is a statement on social justice. As the character Atticus Finch tells his daughter, 'You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view...until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.'"

Quoting Finch is effective because his words sum up the novel's theme concisely and also appeal to the reader's own sense of tolerance.

Don't worry if your first attempt at writing an introductory paragraph is less than perfect. Writing is an act of fine-tuning, and you may need several revisions. The idea is to start your book report by identifying your general theme so that you can move on to the body of your essay. After you've written the entire book report, you can (and should) return to the introduction to refine it. Creating an outline can help you best identify what you need in your introduction.

Article edited by  Stacy Jagodowski

book review thesis statement example

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Literary Criticism: thesis examples


These sample thesis statements are provided as guides, not as required forms or prescriptions.


The thesis may focus on an analysis of one of the elements of fiction, drama, poetry or nonfiction as expressed in the work: character, plot, structure, idea, theme, symbol, style, imagery, tone, etc.

In “A Worn Path,” Eudora Welty creates a fictional character in Phoenix Jackson whose determination, faith, and cunning illustrate the indomitable human spirit.

Note that the work, author, and character to be analyzed are identified in this thesis statement. The thesis relies on a strong verb (creates). It also identifies the element of fiction that the writer will explore (character) and the characteristics the writer will analyze and discuss (determination, faith, cunning).

Further Examples:

The character of the Nurse in Romeo and Juliet serves as a foil to young Juliet, delights us with her warmth and earthy wit, and helps realize the tragic catastrophe.

The works of ecstatic love poets Rumi, Hafiz, and Kabir use symbols such as a lover’s longing and the Tavern of Ruin to illustrate the human soul’s desire to connect with God.

The thesis may focus on illustrating how a work reflects the particular genre’s forms, the characteristics of a philosophy of literature, or the ideas of a particular school of thought.

“The Third and Final Continent” exhibits characteristics recurrent in writings by immigrants: tradition, adaptation, and identity.

Note how the thesis statement classifies the form of the work (writings by immigrants) and identifies the characteristics of that form of writing (tradition, adaptation, and identity) that the essay will discuss.

Further examples:

Samuel Beckett’s Endgame reflects characteristics of Theatre of the Absurd in its minimalist stage setting, its seemingly meaningless dialogue, and its apocalyptic or nihilist vision.

A close look at many details in “The Story of an Hour” reveals how language, institutions, and expected demeanor suppress the natural desires and aspirations of women.

The thesis may draw parallels between some element in the work and real-life situations or subject matter: historical events, the author’s life, medical diagnoses, etc.

In Willa Cather’s short story, “Paul’s Case,” Paul exhibits suicidal behavior that a caring adult might have recognized and remedied had that adult had the scientific knowledge we have today.

This thesis suggests that the essay will identify characteristics of suicide that Paul exhibits in the story. The writer will have to research medical and psychology texts to determine the typical characteristics of suicidal behavior and to illustrate how Paul’s behavior mirrors those characteristics.

Through the experience of one man, the Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave, accurately depicts the historical record of slave life in its descriptions of the often brutal and quixotic relationship between master and slave and of the fragmentation of slave families.

In “I Stand Here Ironing,” one can draw parallels between the narrator’s situation and the author’s life experiences as a mother, writer, and feminist.


1. In (title of work), (author) (illustrates, shows) (aspect) (adjective). 

Example: In “Barn Burning,” William Faulkner shows the characters Sardie and Abner Snopes struggling for their identity.

2. In (title of work), (author) uses (one aspect) to (define, strengthen, illustrate) the (element of work).

Example: In “Youth,” Joseph Conrad uses foreshadowing to strengthen the plot.

3. In (title of work), (author) uses (an important part of work) as a unifying device for (one element), (another element), and (another element). The number of elements can vary from one to four.

Example: In “Youth,” Joseph Conrad uses the sea as a unifying device for setting, structure and theme.

4. (Author) develops the character of (character’s name) in (literary work) through what he/she does, what he/she says, what other people say to or about him/her.

Example: Langston Hughes develops the character of Semple in “Ways and Means”…

5. In (title of work), (author) uses (literary device) to (accomplish, develop, illustrate, strengthen) (element of work).

Example: In “The Masque of the Red Death,” Poe uses the symbolism of the stranger, the clock, and the seventh room to develop the theme of death.

6. (Author) (shows, develops, illustrates) the theme of __________ in the (play, poem, story).

Example: Flannery O’Connor illustrates the theme of the effect of the selfishness of the grandmother upon the family in “A Good Man is Hard to Find.”

7. (Author) develops his character(s) in (title of work) through his/her use of language.

Example: John Updike develops his characters in “A & P” through his use of figurative language.

Perimeter College, Georgia State University,  http://depts.gpc.edu/~gpcltc/handouts/communications/literarythesis.pdf

Oscar Wilde

book review thesis statement example

Charles Dickens

book review thesis statement example

Zora Neale Hurston

book review thesis statement example

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25 Thesis Statement Examples That Will Make Writing a Breeze


Understanding what makes a good thesis statement is one of the major keys to writing a great research paper or argumentative essay. The thesis statement is where you make a claim that will guide you through your entire paper. If you find yourself struggling to make sense of your paper or your topic, then it's likely due to a weak thesis statement.

Let's take a minute to first understand what makes a solid thesis statement, and what key components you need to write one of your own.

Perfecting Your Thesis Statement

A thesis statement always goes at the beginning of the paper. It will typically be in the first couple of paragraphs of the paper so that it can introduce the body paragraphs, which are the supporting evidence for your thesis statement.

Your thesis statement should clearly identify an argument. You need to have a statement that is not only easy to understand, but one that is debatable. What that means is that you can't just put any statement of fact and have it be your thesis. For example, everyone knows that puppies are cute . An ineffective thesis statement would be, "Puppies are adorable and everyone knows it." This isn't really something that's a debatable topic.

Something that would be more debatable would be, "A puppy's cuteness is derived from its floppy ears, small body, and playfulness." These are three things that can be debated on. Some people might think that the cutest thing about puppies is the fact that they follow you around or that they're really soft and fuzzy.

All cuteness aside, you want to make sure that your thesis statement is not only debatable, but that it also actually thoroughly answers the research question that was posed. You always want to make sure that your evidence is supporting a claim that you made (and not the other way around). This is why it's crucial to read and research about a topic first and come to a conclusion later. If you try to get your research to fit your thesis statement, then it may not work out as neatly as you think. As you learn more, you discover more (and the outcome may not be what you originally thought).

Additionally, your thesis statement shouldn't be too big or too grand. It'll be hard to cover everything in a thesis statement like, "The federal government should act now on climate change." The topic is just too large to actually say something new and meaningful. Instead, a more effective thesis statement might be, "Local governments can combat climate change by providing citizens with larger recycling bins and offering local classes about composting and conservation." This is easier to work with because it's a smaller idea, but you can also discuss the overall topic that you might be interested in, which is climate change.

So, now that we know what makes a good, solid thesis statement, you can start to write your own. If you find that you're getting stuck or you are the type of person who needs to look at examples before you start something, then check out our list of thesis statement examples below.

Thesis statement examples

A quick note that these thesis statements have not been fully researched. These are merely examples to show you what a thesis statement might look like and how you can implement your own ideas into one that you think of independently. As such, you should not use these thesis statements for your own research paper purposes. They are meant to be used as examples only.

Still stuck? Need some help with your thesis statement?

If you are still uncertain about how to write a thesis statement or what a good thesis statement is, be sure to consult with your teacher or professor to make sure you're on the right track. It's always a good idea to check in and make sure that your thesis statement is making a solid argument and that it can be supported by your research.

After you're done writing, it's important to have someone take a second look at your paper so that you can ensure there are no mistakes or errors. It's difficult to spot your own mistakes, which is why it's always recommended to have someone help you with the revision process, whether that's a teacher, the writing center at school, or a professional editor such as one from ServiceScape .

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