How To Write A Book Summary For A Self-Help Book?
To understand how a summary of a self-help book is written, let us go a little back into the mind of the writer when the writer was creating the book.
When you start writing a book, you do not have 100 pages in mind but only one idea and this idea is what you divide into sub-ideas that form chapters or parts of your book. As your chapters took shape from your key idea, they will all be connected in a flow that gives a story-like structure to your book. These chapters could be different parts of the idea of different perspectives around it.
Your first job is to identify this core idea around which the book is created and most likely, you will find it in the introduction chapter. You can also go through the index of the book if the chapters are self-explanatory, and you will be able to figure out how they are connected. In the book Psychology of Money by Morgan Housel, the core idea is that the writer wants you to look at money not just from the materialistic angle but think about it psychologically. Its chapter titles are not self-explanatory, but the introduction chapter does make the idea clear.
Once you have identified the core idea, flip through the pages and start reading it. You have to have a fair idea of what most chapters are talking about so read a few pages from each chapter if you can. Because the beginning of each chapter will cover the fundamental ideas that are later explained in the chapter.
The introduction section as already stated can be a useful resource for you as it would not just give you an about the core message of your book but also who are the people it is targeting, what is theory it is based on, what are the pain points it is going to relieve, and so on. Your summary must cover these.
When writing a summary, your objective is not to create an alternative option for the reader than reading the book, but your purpose is to provide a Trailor to it and compel the reader to pick up the book. To make this possible, you need to share some of the strongest points of a book in your summary that provide the crux of the book.
When reading the book before you commit yourself to the summary, try underlying the important sentences so they can help you later when you start with the summary. Read at least 5 chapters of the book to ensure that you have pulled out enough ideas to give a good picture to the reader.
1. Who is the reader?
2. What is the key theory or concept it is based on?
3. What is the purpose of the book?
4. What is the key ideas propagated?
5. What are the challenges or pain points of a reader that are covered in this book?
6. What are the benefits of reading this book?
7. What are key concepts or lessons?
8. What are some key stories and examples covered in the book?
9. Why should you read this book?
Most of these points will be covered in the introduction of your summary. In the body, you would be covering lessons that show the pathway; key stories, and examples that illustrate the benefits. In the end, don’t forget to provide a glimpse of your experience of reading the book. If the book gave a transformational lesson, do cover it with your experience and interpretation. You can also mention other books from the same category for comparison and if the author has written other books on the topic, include them.
Above all this, you must remember one thing – a self-help book is created to help a reader solve a problem. You need to understand what that problem is and if your summary can convince a reader that the identified problem can be solved by the methods given in the book, the book is sold.
Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki was written to solve the problem of people struggling with money but wanting wealth.
And once you understand why a reader would want this book, you will know who the right reader for this book is. With this knowledge, you can extend your book summary and add a review that states if the book is able to meet the expectations of the reader and is able to generate interest.
For example, the book, Design for how people learn by Julie Dirksen, is written for people who understand that design matters to learners but don’t know how to use design principles to create a learning program. People who have an interest in design will also like to see designs in the book. Such readers are also very fond of colours and thus, might like to read a book that has one. As they are interested in a specific process of designing a learning program, they will also be expecting clear steps from the book. The book is full-coloured, and presents a lot of doodles that serve as illustrative designers. It also provides pointers and steps involved in designing. Thus, can we say that this book has sufficiently met the expectations of a reader?
The book has been reviewed on Amazon.in by close to 650 people and has a good average rating of 4.6 stars. You can figure out why it is reviewed by so many people and liked despite having a price range that is considered high in India for regular self-help book readers. But of course, the book targets people serious about learning and design. Also, as the book is full colour, the cost is expected to be a little high. So, for a reader, the cost is also justified.