Tips for How to Summarize a Book
If you’re a little unsure of how to summarize a book, here are a few top tips to help you along your way.
1. Work out a plan
Just like the writer of the book made a detailed plan before writing, you need to create a detailed plan before summarising. You need to decide how long the summary is going to be (how many words), as well as the type of summary you’re going to write up.
Creating an outline plan before writing will help you to condense information a lot better.
2. Read the book through
Read the book through from beginning to end. Make notes as you go along if you wish, but don’t write anything just yet. The purpose right now is to grow a better understanding of the book’s message.
3. Draw up a list of topics
What topics and themes stood out as you read the book through? Write them down in a list.
4. Read chapter by chapter
Now read the book chapter by chapter, making notes as you go along. If the book is yours, you could underline key sections to refer back to. The main purpose of writing notes is to get a better understanding of the chapters and the books’ core themes.
Then, put the back away and using only your notes, summarise each chapter before moving onto the next one.
5. Use quotes
Although you don’t want to stuff your summary with them, it’s a good idea to use a few quotes in order to back up your text. Without direct quotes, a reader might be unsure as to whether the ideas in your summary are actually taken from the book – or whether they’re yours.
How to Summarize a Book
A summary is essentially a condensed version of a book that contains all of its key points. It should be a lot shorter than the original book, and it should comprise all the major arguments while broadcasting the core messages and ideas. Books are often lengthy and convoluted, a book summarizing can take up a lot of time. If you need to summarise a book, let’s take a closer look at how to do this.
Summarise a Book the Right Way
The purpose of book summarising is to make life easier and more convenient for people who don’t have a lot of time on their hands, and as such cannot read the whole book in its entirety.
For this reason, it’s your job to simplify the language so that the summary is readable and usable to your audience. The content should be engaging and broken up into small sections and chapters, and it should only include information that is relevant and actionable.
A book summary should also be an impartial version of the original. It isn’t your place to add options or bias. Doing so will turn book summarising into book reviewing.
Lastly, a book summary should not be stuffed with quotes. Doing so will turn your summary into a collection of extracts.
Guidelines for Book Summarising
To sum up, here are a few guidelines that you should keep in mind when you summarise a book:
- Give your summary a strong structure
- Group together relevant topics
- Edit any irrelevant or minor details out of your summary
- Read through the summary to make sure you have put across the key ideas