How To Write An Essay Book

Last Updated on August 28, 2023

You may find it hard to access the right information on the internet, so we are here to help you in the following article, providing the best and updated information on how to write a book title in an essay, how to write an essay without reading the book. Read on to learn more. We at collegelearners have all the information that you need about how to write an excerpt from a book in an essay. Read on to learn more.

How To Write An Essay Book

If you need help writing an essay on a book, a literary analysis essay, fear not! You’re in the right place. We’re happy to help. Once you get your thoughts organized – and we are expert brain organizers – it can be a surprisingly easy task. We may even manage to have a little fun.

A Literary Essay Is Not a Book Report

You’re in the big leagues now, lexicographically speaking. We are no longer writing book reports. We’re writing literary essays. The two follow a similar structure but are fundamentally different in quality. The difference between a grade school book report and a literary analysis essay is twofold: rigor and tone.


Rigor is Academic Talk for structure, specifically for choosing a structure, making it clear why it was chosen, and sticking to it. Unlike a book report, a rigorous literary essay calls on you to do more than have clever thoughts about a book. Specifically:

  • Quote: In a proper essay, your thoughts need to be grounded in the text. Provide quotes to back up your statements in the body paragraphs.
  • Read: Don’t just read your book. Read about it. Find articles about it online or in your local library, then present arguments that support your thesis. Be sure you properly credit each source. Make sure you’re drawing on reputable sources: news sites, school projects (look for the magic .edu), and nonprofit organizations are probably reputable. Random stuff on the Internet, up to and including us? Not so much. We can help you with your paper. We can’t be cited in your paper.
  • Reference: Reading other people’s arguments and putting them in your paper sounds a wee bit like plagiarism, right? This is why we reference. Whole writing styles exist so you can clearly state your sources. Ask your teacher which they prefer. Modern Language Association (MLA) style is the format of choice for English and the humanities. University of Chicago style is also popular. Likewise American Psychological Association, or APA. We’ve linked our own guides to each format.

Rigor may seem intimidating at first glance. It’s your best friend. It provides a clear structure that will serve you from junior high through your Ph.D dissertation. Better yet? It’s something a lot of your classmates won’t bother with. It’s a way to make your work stand out, to clearly demonstrate that you did the work when you could have phoned it in.


There is a fundamental difference between the tone of a book report, which is fundamentally a personal essay on your own experience with a book, and a literary essay, which is fundamentally an argumentative statement about the book defended with examples from the text and third-party sources.

  • Be Authoritative: You can make any claim you like about the text in a book report. It’s about personal experience. In a real essay, you need to be able to back up your claims with examples from the book and/or citations from authoritative sources.
  • Be Clear: A book report allows for a bit of personal anecdote and literary meandering. None of that in a formal essay, please. Remember, you’re stating a case. Keep it concise and to the point.
  • Be Smart: You cannot cheat or fake your way through a literary essay. SparkNotes might get you through a book report. It will not get you through a real essay, and there will be real consequences for trying. An F is frankly the best possible outcome. Read the book. Use the text. We’re leveling up here.

These three points will stand you above 95% of the literary essays your teacher ever sees. Get them right and rake in those good grades and good graces.

Structuring a Literary Essay

So you have your book (and read it), you know the tone and structure. You’ve done the required reading and have your perspective on the book’s characters, themes, and plot in mind. Congratulations! Half the battle is won. Here’s the rest.


Your introduction will set the tone for your paper. Keep things clear, observational and grounded in the text. If you’re stumped on where to start, follow the structure below:

  • Universal Statement: Introduce the book with the basic facts about it.
    “The Count of Monte Cristo is a action-adventure book written by the popular French author, Alexandre Dumas.”
  • Body Sentences: Context, context, context. Keep this part tight: three to five sentences should do it. Spend those sentences setting the scene and providing support for your thesis statement.
    “Using the form of the romantic adventure, Dumas turns a keen eye on the France of his day, noting that…”
  • Thesis Statement: This is the most important part of your essay. Make a claim about the book that you can support from the text. Take a look at these thesis statement examples for inspiration. Above all, make it an argument, something that could be true or false and that you are saying is true.
    “While ‘Count of Monte Cristo’ is a thrilling adventure tale, it has entered the canon of classic literature because of the richness of its observation of Restoration France.”

Oh, just to state the obvious: even if you’re writing about “The Count of Monte Cristo,” don’t copy and paste our example sentences into your paper. Teachers have Google. You’ll get in trouble. Feel free to copy the outline and rewrite in your own words, though! No rules against that.

Body Paragraphs

The body paragraphs demonstrate your analysis of the book; providing evidence that can support your statements. A short essay might only have one body paragraph. A serious research paper might have 10 or 12. This doesn’t matter, because each body paragraph can follow the same structure.

  • Mission Statement: One specific way the book’s text supports your thesis.
  • Support: Five to seven sentences providing examples from the book that support your thesis. At this level, these should be quotes from the book, not just paraphrases. Explain how each supports your thesis.
  • Closing: Wrap it up by bringing your main points together. Use transition words to help.


The conclusion is almost the mirror image of the introduction. It restates your premises and asserts you’ve proven your thesis.

  • Reflection: Not quite as general as the universal statement, but close.
    “The Count of Monte Cristo is not merely a thrilling adventure. It is an opportunity for the author to cast a critical eye over his country and history…”
  • Body Sentences: Summarize the main argument in each of your body paragraphs. If you have more than 5 body paragraphs, don’t hesitate to combine them. Write no more than 5-7 sentences.
  • Final Thought: Restate your thesis, with an added sentence about what makes it important. “The Count of Monte Cristo is not merely a fictional but an historical document. The events may not have played out as written, but Dumas’s careful depiction of a unique moment in the history of France…”

Rigor and Reality

Literary essays are more than Book Reports Mark Two. They’re vital preparation for college coursework. The more you learn before college or work rolls around, the better prepared you’ll be for the challenge. Embrace rigor, read deeply and engage your imagination with the text.

Of course, you may have looked over this whole deal and realized what your teacher really wants is, in fact, a book report. No problem. Take a look at our format for writing a book report. You’ll notice the basic essay structure is pretty familiar. That’s not a coincidence. As we’ve noted, the difference between a book report and a literary essay is rigor and tone. Get personal on your book report. Be authoritative in your literary essay. Go forth and get As.

how to write a book title in an essay

  1. FORMAT: Type papers with a 12 pt. font, double-space, number pages, and proofread carefully; correctness counts.
    1. While you are encouraged to use your natural voice, avoid highly colloquial usage, such as “The ending blew my mind” or “Her awesome sense of humorâ?¦” Avoid passive construction, such as “irony can be seen inâ?¦” or “a definite freedom was evidenced inâ?¦,” which makes writing feel stiff and pompous. Instead, write, “the reference to her brother’s saintliness is ironic” or “the seemingly random association of images suggests freedom.”
    2. The convention in writing about literature is to discuss actions from a work in present tense, as if they were happening right now: “Joyce creates a melancholic mood with images of night and isolation.” Or, “When Marlow first sees Kurtz, heâ?¦.”
    3. Use transitional words or phrases to connect parts of your argument (e.g., therefore, furthermore, nevertheless, consequently, however, similarly, by contrast, rather, instead, as a result, on the other hand, for example, etc.). These are SIGNPOSTS that help the reader follow the thread of your argument. Remember, these words can begin a sentence or can connect two independent clauses using the following punctuation: “Woolf’s writing can be highly sarcastic and playful; however, in To The Lighthouse, the tone is somber and elegiac.” Instead of “So” or “Also,” use more formal phrases: “It is clear, then, that Marlow lies to himself on at least one occasion”; “This passage confirms that Marlow isn’t honest with himself.”
  3. TEXTS:
    1. Introduce the text you’re writing about in the beginning of your essay by mentioning the author’s full name and the complete title of the work. Titles of books should be underlined or put in italics. (Titles of stories, essays and poems are in “quotation marks.”) Refer to the text specifically as a novel, story, essay, memoir, or poem, depending on what it is.
    2. In subsequent references to the author, use his or her last name. If the title is very long and you are making numerous references to it, you can refer to it by a shortened version. i.e., “A Perfect Day For Banana Fish” can become “Banana Fish.”
    1. Don’t begin by quoting the assignment sheet or indicating which topic you’re writing about. Your essay should stand alone, quite independent of the assignment sheet.
    2. Don’t begin with vast generalizations like “Within every human being there are unique thoughts and feelings that no other person has ever experienced before.” Or, “Color symbolism is found in all great pieces of literature.” These “from the dawn of time” statements point to a lack of focus or (public enemy number one) a vague thesis.
    3. In most cases, it’s best to state your main idea – your thesis – in the first or second paragraph, so that your reader knows right away what it is that you’re going to argue.
    1. Don’t evaluate the quality of the writing (“Faulkner’s use of symbolism, narration, word choice, and characterization made this a powerful novel.”); analyze and interpret instead. You’re not writing a review, where evaluation is appropriate; you’re writing criticism (which isn’t necessarily critical, but analytic). Avoid comments such as “I likedâ?¦” or “I was confused byâ?¦.” Don’t refer to your own process of investigation. Instead of writing “I couldn’t find a beginning, climax, end in â??The Mark On The Wall,'” (which tells your readers about you instead of the text), you might write “‘The Mark On The Wall’ dispenses with the traditional beginning-climax-end story structure.”
    2. Avoid plot summary at all costs !! It’s sometimes hard to resist the desire to rehash a novel’s plot. However, remember, in academic writing it is assumed that your audience is familiar with the text. Make sure you’re writing an argument, not simply a plot summary.
    3. Evidence. Evidence. Evidence. It’s fine to make a point, such as “the first memoir seems rambling and aimless, while the second is tightly structured.” But then you must provide examples that support your points. Continue on with, “For example, in â??Reminiscences’, Woolf discusses her mother in several places, sometimes repeating herself, sometimes contradicting her previous statements. Twice Woolf tells us that her motherâ?¦..”
    4. Determine what the text says. Don’t read your own assumptions into the text, as in: “The speaker must be a man because women wouldn’t act so insensitively.” Instead, you might say, “The speaker seems to be male because the cursing and the news of the war was more likely the province of men during the early 20 th Century.” Instead of a statement such as, “The author shows the pride Americans feel in their freedom,” you can more accurately say, “The author is writing about Americans who are proud of their freedom.”
    5. The paper should discuss your observations about the text. You may want to consider the following, which is by no means a complete description of either the elements of style or their definitions. Not all of these will be appropriate for every discussion. But having thought about these elements, you should be able to draw conclusions (create an argument, an interpretation) about the overall significance of the text as you understand it.
      1. style – is it formal? journalistic? colloquial, stream of consciousness, etc.?
      2. voice – written in first, second or third person (and why)
      3. imagery – what metaphors and similes are used?
      4. tone – humorous, intimate, sarcastic, conversational, etc.?
      5. mood – melancholic, ecstatic, hyper, suspenseful?
      6. language – poetic? lyrical? scientific? pseudo-scientific?
      7. structure – is it loose and rambling? Tightly structured? Is there a climax and denouement? How are the parts of the story connected?
      8. plot and character development – what do we know of the “story” and of the characters?
      9. symbolism – sometimes a cigar is only a cigar, and sometimes not.
      10. point of view – how do different characters see things? What’s the author’s view?
      11. setting – is place important? How is it described? What role does it play?
    1. Use quotations to support your argument or interpretation. (Note that writers make statements, not quotes; something isn’t a “quote” until you’ve copied it out, so you never say, “The author quotes.” Instead you say, “The author says…” or “the author writesâ?¦”
    2. Don’t expect quotations to make your point for you. Rather, use your own language to make your argument; use the quote as evidence that will support what you have to say. Before or after the quote, connect it to your argument using your own words: eg., As Gilbert and Gubar argue in The Madwoman in the Attic.
    3. Don’t incorporate the page number of a quotation as part of your sentence: “On page 116 the author makes reference…” because you don’t want the page number to be the emphasis of the sentence. Write, rather, “The author makes reference to…”
    4. If everyone is writing on the same text, cite the passage you want to quote by giving the page number in parentheses after it: “She told Christmas about the graves” (248). Note where the period is.
    5. The MLA rules (used in most literary criticism) on quotation marks are these:
      1. If you use more than three exact words from your source, you must put them in quotation marks.
      2. If, within those quotation marks, you must use other quotation marks to indicate direct speech, the author’s own quoting, or to refer to the title of the story, use single quotation marks: “For example, in â??Reminiscences’, Woolf discusses her mother in several places.”
      3. If you add words to a quotation, put brackets around them; if you omit words, use ellipses to indicate them. Example: Brunvand states: “some individuals [who retell urban legends] make a point of learning everyâ?¦tale” (78).
      4. Periods and commas go inside quotation marks; semicolons and colons go outside.
      5. If your quotation is more than four lines of prose or three lines of verse, you set it apart from the flow of the text by indenting it ten spaces on the left and continue double spacing. Note: when indenting a quote, you do not need quotation marks around the blocked quotation. Use “double quotation marks” within the blocked quotation for direct speech or a title. Here’s an example from Adrienne Rich’s “Sources.”The faithful drudging childthe child at the oak desk whose penmanship,hard work, style will win her prizesbecomes a woman with a mission, not to win prizesbut to change the laws of history. (23)
      6. If you’re using several texts, then footnote the quotation, providing the name of the author, title of the book, publishing information, and page number.
      7. In APA style, provide the author’s last name, the year of publication and page (line in case of verse) numbers in the text, parenthetically, and include a complete reference in the WORKS CITED list at the end. Punctuation comes after the citation. Example:
        “Is it possible that dreams may express “profound aspects of personality”

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