"Objective Summary" is an Oxymoron

Why book summaries are inherently subjective

"Objective Summary" is an Oxymoron
Photo by Jack Reichert / Unsplash

I've hesitated to write book summaries and post them on this blog because I never wanted to inaccurately represent the books I was reading. I feared my summaries would be too subjective.

After reading Tiago Forte's Ultimate Guide to Summarizing Books, however, I've realized not only is a summary inherently subjective but crafting one also requires a fair bit of creativity.

After all, it's the summarizer's job to pull out the most useful insights and synthesize them into a cohesive blog post. In doing so, they must decide which parts are worth mentioning and which can be passed over for the sake of brevity. This process in and of itself cannot be objective since summaries are just condensed "reinterpretations" of a book.

Furthermore, if a reader wanted complete, unabated information from a book, they would just read the whole thing. If they choose to read my summary then, it means they're counting on me to pull out the most relevant points in their stead. The time I save them by extracting and synthesizing these points is what makes my summary valuable.

Knowing this, I'm much more inclined to write book summaries and share them here in the future. Stay tuned!

P.S. If you're reading this post far into the future and want to know if I've stuck with my resolution to write more book summaries, check this updated list of my book notes, summaries, and reviews!