From Book Notes to Book Reports
Writing papers and book reports has long been the bane of high school and college students' existence. It seems that no matter how hard you work to stay caught up, there is always a paper due tomorrow. Using book notes to help get the ideas flowing can save you time, heartache, and the stress of getting a bad grade.
There are many styles and formats available now, but a book note typically includes a summary of a literary work, commentary on the subject matter and deeper meaning of the passages, and biographical information about the author. The best book notes are written by qualified people (i.e. a college degree in literature, or in the academic area the book note is covering). Most importantly, the book note you choose should be easy for you to use - after all, if the information is just as difficult to find in the book note as it is in the book, what's the point?
When to use Book Notes
Book notes can help you out with more than just book reports. They provide valuable information you can use to write a paper about an author, philosopher, society, or culture. Let's say you had to write a paper about nineteenth century Russian culture. You gather together a lot of information about what was going on politically, what kind of figures were popular, what the economy was like, etc. Imagine the authenticity you could add to your essay by including even a small part about Leo Tolstoy, a prominent Russian author from the nineteenth century.
Providing information connected to a specific person makes the essay much more enjoyable to read, and showcases your ability to provide breadth and depth of research. Naturally, it is not necessary for you to read all of Tolstoy's works to know enough about him to include a piece in your essay. A book note on one of his masterpieces will usually contain enough information for you to apply what you learn to your more general topic.
How to use a Book Note
The most important thing to remember about using book notes is they are not intended to be substitutes for reading the real book. You will miss out on the opportunity to read some of the greatest works of literature if you only read their book notes. Try reading the book note chapter by chapter after you read that chapter in the book. This helps confirm the ideas you come up with on your own, and will point out new ideas while the reading is still fresh in your mind.
Alternatively, you could also try reading the summary of each chapter before reading the chapter in the book. This will help direct your reading to find the things that are most important in each chapter, and will help you find new ideas that either agree or disagree with the ideas discussed in the book note.
When you sit down to write your paper, having already gone over the reading and the summary, you will have an arsenal of ideas on which you can rely to start writing the paper. Very rarely will you receive an essay assignment that is answered perfectly by the information in the book note, so you'll have to pour some of your own thoughts into your paper.
Where to find Book Notes
The best things in life are not always free, but there are a lot of free resources available now online. The three best places I have found for book notes are SparkNotes.com, CliffNotes.com, and PinkMonkey.com. They each have their own advantages and disadvantages, so try each one out until you find the one that works best with your style.
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