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[Psychology Images] PSY 101 Introductory Psychology

Instructor: Vincent W. Hevern, S.J., Ph.D.

  • Section 02 MWF 1:30 PM-2:20 PM Grewen Hall 203
  • Section 03 MWF 2:30 PM-3:20 PM Grewen Hall 203

Book Report Instructions

Book Report: General Instructions You will prepare a critical review of a book which deals with psychology or has psychology as a principal theme. This book should be chosen from among those listed at this link (or you should ask permission to use another book). This will be worth 10% of your grade. The review should run between 3 and 8 pages, typewritten and double-spaced.  (If your book is a novel or story, go to the description below).
 Nonfiction Books

 For nonfiction books, your review must include the following elements:

(a) a well-crafted synopsis of the major points of the book,

(b) strengths and weaknesses of the book from the perspective of psychology as a science, and

(c) an evaluation of how successful the author(s) have/have been in meeting the goals states for the book.

Style. I will want to know whether you liked or didn't like the book and why. You should adopt a formal and measured tone in reviewing. You should not be too colloquial, shout, become excessively emotional, or lose sight of your audience: me and others like me as educated readers. Good grammar, care in spelling, and orderly progression of critical thinking and reasoning will be important positive criteria in evaluating your report. This is both an exercise in critical thinking and in writing. I want to see that you can think and that you can express those thoughts well.

Mechanics. Mechanics of the paper include

  • margins of 1 inch on all sides
  • typeface must be in 10, 11, or 12 point
  • all pages must be numbered
  • pages should be stapled or paper-clipped together in the top left corner; you may not use a plastic cover for the review.

Your name and the complete book reference must be included at the top of the first page. The top of your first page would look something like this:


Type Name Here (e.g., John Q. Student)
Type Class Section Here (e.g., PSY 101-01 or PSY 101-02)

Book: Smith, John. (1998). The Psychology of Laughter (3rd edition). New York: Academic Publishers, Inc.

[begin your review here.]




Your last name or a few words from the book's title as well as the page number must be included in the top margin of pages 2 and following. It should look like this:

John Smith   -2-


continuation of your book review goes here...............


Book Report: Novels & Fictional Writing

Students in the past have asked if they can choose to review a novel or a piece of fiction for this exercise. I have said "yes", but if you want to review a work of fiction, you should understand how your review must be written if it is to fulfill the purpose of this assignment.

The novel or work of fiction must illustrate some important point or issue that psychology has researched. That issue must be central to the book's overall theme or purpose. For example, Sylvia Plath's harrowing (semi-autobiographical) novel, The Bell Jar, describes a young woman's descent into depression and madness. Mark Haddon's brilliant new short novel, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, is written from the perspective of an autistic teenager in England and tells the story of his search for the solution to a murder; his autism, however, is crucial to how the story is told. Note that not every book has a compelling psychological focus and I may not agree to your reviewing a book which doesn't. Although I enjoy science fiction as a reader myself, I will not accept any Sci-Fi novels for this assignment.

Reviewing a book of fiction for this assignment must achieve the following goals:

  • Providing a well-crafted synopsis of the major plot and characters of the book;
  • Identifying the important psychological aspects of the book
  • Relating the psychological aspects of the book to what the science of psychology has to say about those aspects, i.e., minimally you must become familiar with the psychological issues by reading your textbook and/or other sources and then relate what you found in the scientific literature to what you read in the fictional book.
  • Evaluating the strengths and weaknesses of the book in light of what you found about in scientific psychology about the book's topics; and
  • Providing a clear statement of whether you liked or disliked the book and why

All of the same guidelines about writing style and mechanics noted above for non-fictional works also applies to reviews of fiction.

Not for Review

There are some books, authors, and genres which, for one reason or another, I would prefer that you NOT choose to review since they would not fulfill the objectives of this assignment. These days I would not generally approve the following:

  • Any book by Dave Pelzer (e.g., A Child Called "It")
  • Any book which is primarily religious in orientation
  • Any Science-Fiction novels

Of course, I am always willing to listen to and discuss with you your suggestion(s) as well as my concern for this assignment.

 Deadlines Mon, Sep 17: The title and author of the book you are reviewing must be submitted to me on a typed single sheet of paper. I will tell you if I have any objection to the book you have chosen.
Mon, Nov 19: Your final report is due by the end of the day at my office. You must hand in both a hard copy in printed form AND an electronic file version which should be sent to me as an email attachment to my email address: hevern @ lemoyne.edu [remove the spaces before and after the @ sign]. I may submit your final version to TurnItIn.com or a similar site to encourage your originality in writing (and discourage plagiarism). Book reports will be returned to you at your 3rd (Final) exam
  This page was first posted 01/12/04