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Book Analysis Assignment Guidelines

Paper Mechanics

Each student is required to complete one book analysis. For their analysis students must read one book from a pre-approved list and write a paper in which they summarize the major points of the book, connect the book to additional class material, and provide a critique of the book. Additionally, in the last week of the class, students will be required to present their analysis to the class.

1. This assignment is worth a total of 100 points and 25% of your final grade. Your paper should be 3 to 4 pages in length. The paper should be typed, double spaced, and a font size no larger than 12 points. Be certain to include page numbers on your paper as well. Margins are to be no larger than one inch. If you are unclear about setting up these requirements in Microsoft Word, please ask. Papers must be stapled and submitted as hard copies. Electronic submissions will not be accepted.

2. Please note that grammar, spelling, and overall organization are all part of the grading process. Therefore, I urge you to contact the Academic Resource Center. The Academic Resource Center can help you identify organizational and grammatical errors. For substantive paper questions, please bring your questions to me during office hours or make an appointment.

3. All students must be sure they are providing both in-text citations in their papers and full references at the end of their paper. While there is no required citation style, students must use one citation format consistently and correctly throughout their paper.

4. Finally, please remember as noted in the course syllabus that late assignments are not accepted.


Analysis Guidelines : In completing their analysis, students should be sure to address each of the following steps:

1. Summarize the major arguments for the book. Make sure you clearly articulate the authors’ arguments, not just a description of the topic. Why did the author(s) write this book?

2. What is the central premise of the book? Who are the main characters? What are they doing? Provide specific details.

3. Connet the book to previous course material. How does this book contribute to the larger issues we are addressing? Try to make connections across a wide array of the materials we discuss in this class. You must be very specific in your connections with other material.

4. Provide a thorough critique of the book. What about the book did you not agree with? Was there anything that was unclear or did not make sense? Is there anything that should have been addressed that wasn’t?


Analysis Presentation: During the class period on December 7 each student will be required to lead the class through a summary of their book and their analysis. In preparing for their presentation, each student should consider the following:

1. What is the purpose of the book? What is the major point the author is trying to make? What is the question they are trying to answer?

2. If it is an empirical research study, how did the author go about trying to answer their question? What methodology was used?

3. Is there anything in the book that you did not agree with? Parts that should be changed? Issues or topics that were missing?

4. Develop three discussion questions to pose to the class that aim to connect your book to material we have examined previously. 


How do people practice religion in their everyday lives? How do our daily encounters with people who hold different religious beliefs shape the way we understand our own moral and spiritual selves? In Heaven’s Kitchen, Courtney Bender takes a highly original approach to answering these questions. For more than a year she worked in New York City as a volunteer for a nonprofit, nonreligious organization called God’s Love We Deliver, helping to prepare home-cooked meals for people with AIDS. Paying close attention to what was said and not said, Bender traces how the volunteers gave voice to their moral positions and religious values. She also examines how they invested their conversations, and mundane activities such as cooking, with personal meaning that in turn affected how they saw their own spiritual lives. Filled with vibrant storytelling and rich theoretical insights, Heaven’s Kitchen shows faith as a living practice, reshaping our understanding of the role of religion in contemporary American life.

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