Book Summary: Tips and Examples ( Guide )- The question of “how to summarize a book” may sound like it has an answer set in stone with a particular technique to crack open the book and cover all points. However, like the uniqueness of every book, the summaries need to carry over this fairy dust of uniqueness without being hundreds of pages long. Several ways of summarizing a book are known today, and without further ado, we can see one of them below.
The main idea to follow is the ‘EAT’ – Experience, Analyse and Telepathize.
Tip: When experiencing the book, take note of the descriptions that struck you the most. This will give the summary its skeletal framework.
Analogies appear to produce the best results in conceptualization comprehension across all age groups. This analogy that follows has broken the step-by-step process of summarizing a book with relevance to the human body.
BOOK SUMMARY: HOW DO YOU DO IT?
The reason for this comparison lies in the fact that, just like a human body, which has infinite depth in its understanding and functionality, a book also has uncountable meanings, imagines, and purposes. But the deal with summarizing a book comes when the various phases of the summary resonate with the following parts.
Step 1: The head:
To start a summary, one must first immerse themselves in the book after thorough reading and be clear on its proceedings and events’ order in sync with the plot. This creates a relationship between the summary reader and the summarizer, bridging any communication gaps.
This is where one analyzes the forefront of a book. Framing an initial glossary, this phase consists mainly of what the book is at a glance, what it is aiming to convey to its audience, and what the title stands for as well. For some, this might also include an overview of the characters involved in the storyline or the pictures set in the timeline around which the story revolves.
For example, when you meet someone for the very first time, there are a few qualities that get associated with the said person. For some, it could be their scent, and for others, it could be their body language. Books also resonate with unique identities, and it is important to capture them in this stage of summarizing.
However, one must note to not give away crucial plot elements of the storyline in the head phase of the summary to assure a reader’s projectile into the next phases of the summary.
Tip: Try making a flowchart of events if the book is too dramatic or the remembrance gets tricky. For those who respond better to pictorial representation, a pinboard with different situations pinned up might also help not miss out on the elements of book introduction.
Step 2 – The eyes:
“The eyes are the windows to the soul,” as the saying goes. Similarly, it is important to paint a picture of the book in the reader’s mind’s eye in the initial phases of the summary, or, in a more popular phrase, to ‘hook them on’ to the summary and ultimately the book itself. This painted picture need not pertain to the details of the book, nor should it compromise on the thrill giving aspects of the storyline.
In books with protagonists involved or a point-of-view narrative, it is important to decide which pair of eyes the summarizer wants the reader to hone, as this sets the tone for the rest of the summary from the reader’s perspective. If an independent perspective is provided to the reader, he/she shall be ignorant about the outlook of the book characters, but it does uphold the element of surprise till the book is read.
However, if he/she is given the protagonist’s perspective, a more bonded picture will be painted in the reader’s eyes, even if the book is read with an ounce of bias or sensitivity in accordance with the main character.
Step 3: The Nape:
This section of a book summary, like the connecting function in the human body, serves as a link between the overview and the delve into deeper detailing that follows. This phase is necessary to ensure reader connectivity and can be achieved by pointing out certain characteristics of the book, such as the tone, the writing style, or even the small but significant aspects of the plotline.
Tip: Relate the day-to-day experiences of the character’s philosophy with the audience’s context. This correlation helps readers put themselves in the author’s and the protagonist’s shoes with a much better fit.
Step 4 – The heart:
This touches upon the essence of the book and is perhaps the most crucial to touch upon. While the reader may or may not empathize with the characters or the plot, it is necessary for the summary to hint at the overall message the book is trying to convey in this phase. The conclusion determines whether the reader will continue with the summary, and by extension, the book, or not.
For example, when reading a psychology book, it is important to make the readers feel understood and non-judged rather than jumping to the conclusion that there is something wrong with them if they can relate to any phenomenon mentioned in the book. Such critical language or descriptive writing influences readers’ acceptance of the book as a whole.
To ensure the former, the summary must be framed in such a way that makes the reader think about or re-read certain elements. One of the ways this can be done is by relating the summary to everyday life examples that resonate with the relevant audience. That fragment of attention requires a long-term investment of time on the reader’s end. This can also become a stepping stone to the next part of the summary that deals with the working dynamics of the book, its content, and the reader’s reactions.
Tip: Make a note to not include personal bias in the book’s plot. It can be included at the end, but here, it interferes with the mental flow of the reel happening in the reader’s mind like a badly cut cinema roll.
Step 5 – The backbone:
The thinnest line to be walked between a spoiler and summary comes at this phase, where certain techniques can aid in achieving a better balance along it.
For example, one can follow a flow chart equating the following criteria to the events of the book:
- WHO – Hierarchy of the importance of characters in the book usually topping with the protagonist unless a personal outlook of the summariser is included.
- WHAT – This usually refers to the sequence of events that pile on to the plot line. An ordered list helps sequence these and later draw out conclusions with respect to the same.
- WHERE – It may refer to location journey in the plot or the page numbers/chapters at which point the incidents noted have occurred. In case of detailed writings, these end up telling a story within themselves.
- WHEN – This comes separately only when authors have made it a point to go back and forth in a plotline to keep readers on their toes. To rise above this reader’s outlook, one must track episodes.
- HOW – Good writing usually encompasses a great eye to detail. A summary but retain the beauty of the picture painted by the author without replicating the description. This moulds the canvas for the reader furthermore along the lines in which the author wants to proceed. The picture painting of the head phase gains its deeper details in this stage.
Tip: This is similar to identifying the main ingredients in a recipe. The clearer the illustration, the better the understanding. How can one make it clear? by jotting down the details of these 4W’s and 1H as the book proceeds. This eye for detail goes a long way when there need to be gaps filled in the summary as well.
Step 6 – The appendage:
It is important to ensure that, while summarizing a book, one does not ignore the driving forces of the plot that tend to affect the book’s workability. It may be something as trivial as a flavor description or as crucial as a historic reference. It is inadvisable for a summariser to ignore these references, and this is where the research capability of the person summarising also comes into play.
The research can be about the events mentioned in the book, the author’s background, or even the book’s backdrop. The bigger picture is always to be kept in sight while summarising the book.
For example, this can garnish the book’s summary. “The musky smell of the leather after the heavy downpour…” gives the reader’s all five sensory organs a push to paint this bigger picture more detailed.
Step 7 – The footing:
By now, the reader’s ruminations are a sign of a successful summary of the book. But a firm footing before the conclusion is what brings the reader back to finish that picture-in-progress. Note that the ending does not have to be revealed in this phase just because of the culmination of the summary. Other conclusive alternatives include the summarizer’s personal review of the book or a gist of the book’s tides and turfs. These precariously stand to hold the tone built by the summary as well as ignite an urge to know more about the book, in the reader.
Tip: This need not necessarily be conclusive, as it may put a period on the reader’s attention sometimes. Therefore, it is advisable to leave it on an open-ended note, preferably as a question.
For example, in the summary of the book ‘The Secret’ by Rhonda Byrne, concluding it with “Would you like to be in on this secret’ resonated well to ignite the reader’s curiosity, and the intentional puns could also strike a memorable spot in their minds that will favor the book heavily.
These seven steps, or key stages, in the summary of a book shape the whole idea that the author is trying to project onto their audience, with the potential to make or break the book’s image on any platform. Therefore, it becomes critical to identify the integration of these points into the summary.
Book summaries today have become a label to the books and every summariser plays the role of attaching this crucial tag onto the work of a writer.
Also Read; How to Write Book Review – Easy Guide