Critical reading and writing an introductory course book

We had to summarize the plot on each page, highlight literary devices, and make our own observational notes until the books were no longer recognizable.

Critical reading and writing an introductory course book

Your introduction should include an overview of the book that both incorporates an encapsulated summary and a sense of your general judgment.

This is the equivalent to a thesis statement.


Do NOT spend more than one-third or so of the paper summarizing the book. The summary should consist of a discussion and highlights of the major arguments, features, trends, concepts, themes, ideas, and characteristics of the book.

While you may use direct quotes from the book make sure you always give the page numbersuch quotes should never be the bulk of the summary. You might want to take the major organizing themes of the book and use them to organize your own discussion.

This does NOT mean, however, that I want a chapter-by-chapter summary. Your goal is a unified essay. So what do I want, if not just a summary? Throughout your summary, I want you to provide a critique of the book. It is not necessarily negative.

critical reading and writing an introductory course book

Nor do you need to know as much about the subject as the author because you hardly ever will. The skills you need are an ability to follow an argument and test a hypothesis.

Regardless of how negative or positive your critique is, you need to be able to justify and support your position. Here are a number of questions that you can address as part of your critique. You need not answer them all, but questions one and two are essential to any book review, so those must be included.

critical reading and writing an introductory course book

The answers should be part of a carefully constructed essay, complete with topic sentences and transitions. What is your overall opinion of the book?

On what basis has this opinion been formulated? That is, tell the reader what you think and how you arrived at this judgment. What did you expect to learn when you picked up the book?

To what extent — and how effectively — were your expectations met? Did you nod in agreement or off to sleep? Did you wish you could talk back to the author? Amplify upon and explain your reactions. How clearly and in what context is it stated and, subsequently, developed?

To what extent and how effectively i. Use examples to amplify your responses. If arguments or perspectives were missing, why do you think this might be? How well have they been achieved, especially with regard to the way the book is organized?

Are these aims supported or justified? You might look back at the introduction to the book for help. What assumptions lie behind these points?

How effectively does the author draw claims from the material being presented? Are connections between the claims and evidence made clearly and logically?

Here you should definitely use examples to support your evaluation.Features: A compact but comprehensive guide to critical thinking and argumentation.

Missimer, Good Arguments: An Introduction to Critical Thinking, 4th Edition | Pearson

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