How to write an essay on a book you haven't read

Usually the hardest part of the assignment in English literature (or any other for that matter) is not the writing itself. Much more complicated is to read all the books, necessary for the course or at least one book for this specific assignment. You will most likely come to this problem at some point of your academic career, especially if you like to leave the paper for the last minute. Sooner or later you will find yourself in front of the paper you have to write within a day (or even less) and the 300-page book you have to read for this essay. Here is when some smart ideas will be useful.

  • Websites with quick overview of the book. They may take a look at the plot summarizing, description of the main characters or studying the most important problems of the book. Some of the websites even have readers’ feedback section – take a look, you will read a lot of thoughts on the book and will be able to make an impression of it. Do not use any direct contact, if you don’t want to face problems, paraphrase only!

  • The movie on the book. Modern directors tend to put a lot of books on screens. Check the adaptation of the book you have, especially if it is popular or belongs to classic literature. It will save you a lot of time. However, you will have to be careful and not mention any details that were in the film – adaptions’ screenwriters tend to let out a lot of important things of the book and add something new – stay alarmed, this is just to give you a general impression.

  • Others’ essays on the same topic. We do not encourage you to plagiarize from other students in any way; you shall not do this under any circumstances. However, if you read several essays on the same book, you will be able to take a look at it from the points of view of different people and understand the different aspects of the book, which will together perform the most full image of the book.

  • Rethinking the topic. This is a technique you shall not use, unless you are absolutely desperate. Try to lead your readers to the information that is connected to the book in some way, but does not demand knowing in details what the book is about.

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