Generally, you should try to find a relatively recent work of about 200-350 pages on some aspect of the course that particularly interests you.

The Health Gap – Michael Marmot
Generally, you should try to find a relatively recent work of about 200-350 pages on some aspect of the course that particularly interests you. Describe and evaluate: You are expected to describe the book, that is, to summarize some major points of interest, and to evaluate it, that is, to make judgments about it. The areas to address include the following: Description Information about the author Author’s purpose-to inform? Entertain? Persuade? Author’s thesis Summary Evaluation Other reviews Scholarship Strengths and weaknesses Their order may be changed, with more important or striking matters appearing first. Usually the descriptive section appears first in non-fiction reviews, especially in scholarly journals. All these organizational decisions are subjective and can be revised as needed. While reading the book, take notes of the passages and their page numbers that relate to how you can describe and evaluate the work. In particular, be on the lookout for thesis statements, chapter summaries, striking quotations, discussions of methodology, conclusions, and author’s recommendations. If you question whether or not to take a particular note, remember that it would be wiser to err on the side of having too many, rather than too few. You can always eliminate notes that appear unnecessary. Points of description Information about the author may appear on the book jacket or may be obtained or inferred from what is written in the preface. In order to determine to what extent the author is an authority on the subject, you should do some library research into the author’s present position, background, experience, and qualifications. Biographical sources such as the Biography Center in the GaleNet database will help you find this information. It need not be much, perhaps just a sentence; at most, it might consist of a short paragraph. The thesis or central idea of the book will probably be stated in the introduction or the conclusion. To gain an overview of the book that will help you realize its purpose and main ideas, read the preface and the introductory and concluding chapters first. The summary should be written for an audience who has not read the book. Summarize the book, referring to any relationship between ideas in the book and material we covered in class. Points of evaluation At the same time that you gather information to describe the work, you should be thinking about your evaluation of it. See if you can find one or two other reviews of this book to inform your own opinionwhat points did other reviewers address? Were professional reviewers unanimous in their evaluations, or did their opinions differ? Of course, any ideas or quotations obtained from these reviews should be attributed to their owners in your paper. To consult published reviews of the book, ask the reference librarian to help you find an appropriate index, or check an online database. You may find it difficult to judge the scholarship of a work or an author’s expertise because of your limited understanding of the subject. But it does not require highly specialized knowledge to note what sources the author uses (look for the notes or bibliography sections), how much and what kind of evidence he provides, or how he analyzes data and justifies his conclusions. Read carefully to identify omissions, discernible bias, or unsupported generalizations. When considering a book’s strengths and weaknesses, discuss the following points, from your perspective: The tone and style of the writing The value of the book for its intended audience The effectiveness of the author’s argument The soundness of the author’s conclusions The practicality of the author’s recommendations. Your discussion the book’s strengths and weaknesses may overlap with your discussion of scholarship. Plan to sort this out when revising your review so that your paper concludes with your general reaction. If your overall evaluation is favorable, admit the book’s few weaknesses first and conclude with its many strong areas. If unfavorable, name the book’s strengths first and conclude with its numerous weaknesses. Mention any particularly interesting or memorable points or passages, and support your opinions with references to the book, but use quotations sparingly. In your evaluation, you might reflect on how the book relates to your course. Consider what issues, ideas, or institutions the author criticizes or defends. Note the methodology and evaluate how it shapes or restricts the topic. Also, evaluate how well the author has added to your knowledge and understanding of the subject, particularly how it supplements the ideas in the textbook and the views of your instructor.

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