book summary is an original piece of writing, about five to ten pages
long, that "sucks the juice" out of a book, providing our
readers with a relatively brief, yet comprehensive exposure to the essential
contents of the book. "Five to ten pages" is, of course, an
average figure, some are longer, many are shorter, depending upon the
book and the conscientiousness of the summarizer. The summary should
be good enough that the average reader gets the essentials from the
book, while a few enthusiasts will be inspired to go and get the book
The hardest part about doing a book summary, but the part that yields
the greatest reward for the person doing the summary, is that it must
be in your own words! That means you have to understand what you are
reading well enough to be able to pass along the information in a new
way. The reward of doing a summary is that from then on, you "own"
the book, meaning the ideas in the book are now ideas you can express
and describe. You'll find that experience rewarding. You'll also have
the satisfaction of knowing that you have provided a valuable service
to many readers who would otherwise not have any exposure to that book.
About using your own words: No quotes. This is important, both for the
legal aspect and the spirit of the work. Using quotes makes for a copyright
problem, and subverts the purpose of writing summaries. Make the gift
to our readers of presenting everything in your own words.
The most challenging thing about doing a book is to keep the focus,
in your writing, about passing along the information in the book rather
than slipping into "describing" the book. Since space is at
a premium, and you are endeavoring to present the information in the
most efficient way possible, there really is limited, or no place for
"describing" the book. Simply pass along the information.
I find that when I go over the first draft of the first couple of chapters
of a book summary-something I suggest you send me before going on-especially
one from a virgin book summarizer, most of my work is pointing out all
the words, phrases and sentences that are spent "describing"
the book, which is material we can throw out to make room for passing
along the information in the book.
I'll give you an extreme example. I'm going to write a few sentences,
all of which are book "descriptions," but none of which give
you any information from the book itself.
"The book, "Secrets of Intuition" is a great book. It
measures five inches thick, eight inches tall, and the pages smell like
an expensive book. The author writes just beautifully. The author has
many, many good ideas on intuition that we should all know about. The
author is highly educated, and has written many other books. One story
from the book will really inspire you and you'll want to try the many
exercises in the book. Sometimes the author is a bit vague, however,
and you'll wish he would simply say what he means rather than beating
around the bush."
What secrets of intuition did you learn from reading that paragraph?
You did learn that the summarizer likes the book. But the summarizer's
feelings about the book are not really relevant in a book summary. A
book summary is not a book "review." It is non-evaluative.
In contrast to a book description, notice the different kind of statements
made in the sample below, which demonstrates the desired manner of passing
along the information:
"Secrets of Intuition" By Isaac Einstein
Summary by Patricia Smith
There is no secret to intuition, it is an obvious skill. That is true,
however, only for people who have come to trust themselves and have
the consequent healthy self-esteem. For most of us, however, intuition
lies secretly within us, waiting for our self-recognition to bring it
to life. To learn how to tap the secret of intuition, we have to first
allow for the fact that intuition does not usually appear in a form
that we expect it
Here are some things to note about the above example. By listing the
title and author right up front, and by noting that the essay is a "Summary,"
of that book, none of that information need be repeated. There was no
need to write, "Patricia Smith says there is no secret to intuition."
Or "To learn how to tap the secret of intuition, Patricia Smith
believes, we have to first allow
." Instead, the writing simply
passes along the information in the book, never mentioning the book
or the author. For example, it is not necessary to write, "In the
first part of the book, the author gives us the five secrets of intution."
Instead write, "The first secret of intuition is
" and so on.
It could be helpful to spend some time reading a few of the book summaries
on ICN. Not all our ICN book articles are summaries. Some, like the
ones I usually write, are reactions to the book, where I write about
my own ideas that the book inspires. Some are simply brief descriptions.
These books could use summaries. Most of the books listed at: http://www.intuitive-connections.net/contents-books.htm
are links to book summaries.
Clayton Montez, one of our best summarizer, tends to writer longer
summaries. He often begins with some clever statements (based on overall
ideas he has gleaned from the book) to get your interest, and then faithfully
describes, in his own words, the ideas in the book. He does tend to
mention the author more than I would like, but he gives great information.
You can read his summary of my book, "The
Intuitive Heart," where he is comprehensive enough that a reader
of the summary could perform the exercises that are described in the
His summary of the book, "The
Trickster and the Paranormal," is very long, but provides a
detailed summary of the author's complex arguments about why the paranormal
is so hard to pin down. The book is an important one, but few people
would normally read it. The author was very happy to see Clayton work
so hard to personally digest the ideas and present them in his own words.
At the other end of the continuum (in terms of length and detail) are
summaries by VerDella Denwiddie. She tends to be briefer than
I would normally prefer, but she gives the reader a good sense of the
basic ideas in the book. Her summaries are always a good read.
For example, you can read her summary of "Intuition
and Synchronicity" and her summary of "Dreams
are letters from the Soul" which gives a fairly detailed account
of the various levels of spiritual dreaming.
Lorrie Kazan has contributed a number of good book summaries.
Cayce on Soul Mates" . "Soul
Development: Edgar Cayce's Approach for a New World" . and
Cayce on Akaskic Records" .
As an example of how an experienced book summarizer-not something for
the virgin summarizer to attempt--can go outside the "box"
of the usual format and provide an essay that is a creative new form,
her summary of "Intuitive
Imagery: A Resource at work," includes, besides an excellent
summary of the book, a record of her own experiences trying the basic
method, which provides a good instructional example of the ideas in
Lorrie's work on this book is a good example of someone polishing their
writing skills by working on book summaries until she begins to write
her own stuff, responding to the book. Some book summarizers go on to
write original essays. Being able to put into your own, clear words,
the ideas of another author, is one way to learn how to communicate
clearly, a skill that can then be applied toward other purposes. It
is one kind of spinoff benefit that comes to our book summarizers, besides
the free books they get.
Here are some other book summaries you may wish to read. If you spot
places where the summarizer broke the "rules," that means
you are paying attention!:
Legacy," summarized by Linda Cornett, at:
the Future," summarized by Walt Stover, at:
Intuition," summarized by Rachel Creager, at:
Power of Now," summarized by Ann Holland, at: