“Why don’t you do book summaries?”
“What are your key takeaways?”
“Can you tell us more about what’s in the book?”
…and so on.
I feel a little harsh when I decline these questions, but personally, I’m not a fan of book summaries and I have no intentions of producing them.
Book summary vs book review
First things first, I think it’s important that we clarify what the difference is between a book summary and a book review.
A book summary is literally as the name suggests – a summary of the book.
The person producing the summary will cover details such as chapters, key concepts, and takeaways, and tell you what they have learned from the book overall.
A book review, on the other hand, tells you what someone else thought of the book (their opinion) and whether they would recommend it or not.
So in my reviews, I usually cover the three aspects of:
- Design and layout
- Quality of information
(I also use these criteria when I score the books out of 10)
To wrap up my book reviews, I also state whether I would or wouldn’t recommend the book, whether I found it to be valuable or not, and who the book is best suited for e.g. new entrepreneurs, sales teams, etc.
Why I Will Never Produce a Book Summary
There are a few reasons why I avoid giving book summaries and delving too far into the content of a book during my reviews.
Those reasons are as follows.
1) Book summaries promote laziness
There are many people who will watch a book summary and then believe that they understand the full concepts and teachings of a book.
Book summaries are appealing to the lazy individuals who, in no better words, can’t be arsed to read a book.
2) We are all different
Even though we may possess the same love for personal development and entrepreneurship, we are not the same.
We have read different books, have different views, have experienced life differently, and are at different places in our own personal development journeys.
Therefore, the key takeaways that I get from a book are most likely going to be very different from the key takeaways that you get from a book.
I could produce a book summary explaining what I believe to be all the main concepts. When in reality, the concept that has the most value to you I could have easily overlooked because it had no value to me.
3) Depth of a concept
Lastly, I believe that those that rely solely on book summaries for their personal development miss out on the full understanding of concepts.
Instead, they just get a brief overview. But usually, the concept goes much deeper than a few short sentences of basic explanation.
Let’s take the book Rich Dad Poor Dad as an example.
If you head over to YouTube and search for ‘Rich Dad Poor Dad book summary’, you will be confronted by a sea of animated explainer videos anywhere from 5-10minutes.
Although these explainer videos are helpful (and I’m not knocking the value that they bring) they’re just the tip of the iceberg.
Rich Dad Poor Dad is 336 pages. The book cannot be read in under 10-minutes, therefore, these explainer videos cannot provide you with the same insight in under 10-minutes.
You can watch/listen/read book summaries, but nothing will give you the same depth of understanding as actually reading the book.
Reading list research
I guarantee there are many people reading this post that are shouting at their computer or mobile screen telling me that they use book summaries as research for their reading lists, and they do indeed go on to purchase and read the book.
In which case, my argument is this…
…doesn’t the knowing of what’s going to happen spoil the reading experience for you?
I mean, you wouldn’t want to read a fiction book and know how it ends or which characters get killed off before you even turn the first page. So why would you want to know the plot of a non-fiction book?
In my opinion, personal development and entrepreneurial books are best when you can follow along the journey of discovery with the author and you can both build the jigsaw together.
You can see how each nut, bolt, and cog work together and put them in place one at a time. Compared to having 3 cogs from chapter 6 and 2 cogs from chapter 8 before you even begin.
Yey for book reviews
For my reasons set out in this post, I will always prefer the humble book review containing someone’s thoughts, opinions, feelings, and experience of a book over a book summary.
To get the full fact and figures, and to understand the full depth of a concept, I would much rather read the book and get the information straight from the author’s mouth.
The purpose of a book review is simply to inform me about whether the book is valuable, worth the read, and suited to someone in my position.
What do you think about book summaries? As always, this post is just my own thoughts on the subject, but I’d love to know what you think.
Let me know in the comments below.