Book Talk

Your oral presentation for this class will be a book talk. You’ll select a book from the reading list, read the book and report on the book to the class. Approximately 5 minutes per speaker, plus 3–4 minutes of Q&A. Your main task will be to clearly describe the book and interest your audience in it.


  • Class #5: Book Selection Due
  • Class #25: Present Book Talk



  • You have 5–6 minutes for your talk—which you should fill—and 4–5 minutes for Q&A.
  • Your audience will ask questions of curiosity and also questions to test whether you read your book carefully.
  • Presenters may sit at their desks or, if they prefer, they may stand in front of the class.
  • Presenters may have the book with them when they speak, or they may type up a handful of quotes from which to read.
  • Your goals:
    • to describe your book clearly and accurately;
    • at the same time, to interest your audience in the book; and
    • to speak clearly and articulately, in complete sentences.

A book talk should:

  • Identify the author (including, very briefly, significant biographical/bibliographical facts), publisher, and publication date.
  • Represent the book accurately.
  • Include a very succinct—1–2 sentence—description of the book as a whole and its key features.
  • Tell us:
    • What the book is like (perhaps including how it’s shaped).
    • What it’s good for.
    • Who would especially like it or find it useful.
    • Is it enjoyable to read? What, especially, interested you in this book?
    • Does it meet the reader’s expectations? (Note: These expectations should be formed by what the author sets out in his or her Foreword or Introduction.)
  • Give us some of the flavor of the book—the author’s own words.

The Listeners’ Role:

  • All listeners are meant to really listen.
  • For each presenter, two listeners will be designated to fill out an evaluation form. The instructor will evaluate each presenter, too. These forms will be skimmed by the instructor and then given to the presenters.
  • All listeners are encouraged to ask questions of meaning, questions that dig deeper into the book’s content and style, and questions that stem from their own interests and curiosity. 

Book Talk Questions

Include the book title, publisher, and publication date along with your answers.

  1. Describe the book in 1–2 sentences.
  2. Why did the author write this book?
  3. Briefly describe how your book is structured. Don’t spend a lot of time on this in your talk; just be clear about it. (Structure will be more significant for some books, and less so for others.)
  4. What interested you in this book, i.e., why did you choose it?
  5. What do you plan to emphasize in your talk?
    • A theme, some examples of the way the author thinks about things, the book’s overall argument…
  6. Who would you recommend this book to, and why?
  7. What (short) passages do you want to read to give your audience a sense of the writer’s voice, the “flavor” of the book?