"Needs" is a transitive verb, so it needs some kind of noun as its direct object.
The book needs to be read before Thursday.
is one candidate; "to be" is an infinitive functioning as a noun, and since it needs to be something, we use the past participle of the verb.
Or you might skip all that and just take the gerund form of the verb by appending the -ing suffix to it, which turns it into a noun:
The book needs reading before Thursday.
This is perhaps a more informal construction, and it might sound slightly awkward to some people, especially because of the "before Thursday" at the end.
The book needs read.
is unacceptable to many educated speakers, because the past tense "read" doesn't function as a noun in any normal situation. I live in Arkansas, so I hear people use this construction occasionally, but very rarely from careful speakers.