Review Shorts: Mini Reviews of Book Summaries


Occasionally, I review in brief short works or books that have been reviewed hundreds or literally thousands of times. In this segment, below, are reviews of what has become known as summaries of books. These summaries are not a condensed version of the actual book but are more like book reports. It gives the reader a view of what to expect in the book. Key facts, characters, plot points for fiction and points, sometimes called takeaways, are summarized. Sometimes there are leads on similar books for addition to the never-ending to be read list. Sometimes there are cites to interesting and useful websites. Essentially, the summaries I believe are intended to give a reader a chance to see if the book will be of interest before they invest time and money in the actual book. Often the summaries are published by someone or entity other than the author. Not always though. Where I have found the summaries helpful are those that report on scientific or other specialized matters that a preview of key terms and the like would be helpful. None of the summaries that I have read are about fiction works.

gene This summary fits into the category of necessary background reading for those who do not have a degree in science, particularly the biological sciences. The history of the discovery of what makes us human — the gene, DNA, RNA is recounted in the book by Siddhartha Mukherjee. The summary follows the book through history from the origins of the investigation into what genes are, their functions, and replicating and experimenting with them. Summary and analysis is done by a formulaic method.  It is a repetitive formula but it works because it makes the book understandable, by making the science not so daunting and the reader is introduced to key persons ahead. There is a summary of who is who with a timeline. The key facts or points at the end of each section are contained in the preceding discussions. In the end, a reader gets a good idea of what to expect if they should decide to read The Gene.

Fast Reads’ summary of The Obesity Code is not as well done as those by Summary and Analysis. The formulaic style is not as comprehensive as Summary and Analysis. The key points/facts at the end sometimes do not appear in the preceding discussion and at times appear to have no relation to the chapter under discussion. Still the reader gets an overall idea of what to expect if they should decide to read Jason Fung’s book on the science behind losing weight in a scientific and reasonable manner. Myths behind and which prop up the popularity of fad diets, wonder cures, exercising and calorie and carb counting are explained. Healthy and truly nutritious foods that actually promote weight loss versus the official or accepted wisdom of nutrition is explained. The function of a body’s metabolism and an individual’s weight set point is likewise explained. It was a much faster read for me. I cannot say that I gained a lot from reading the summary though it appears that I am doing a lot of what Jung recommends to lose weight and maintain the weight loss and be healthy. Whether it is because of the subject matter or how The Obesity Code was written, or for other reasons, I expect I could have read traditional reviews of The Obesity Code and still gotten a good idea of whether I wanted to read the actual book.obseity



boleynI was not sure of what to make of this Summary and Analysis. It is nothing like that done for The Gene. That is not to say that I did not enjoy reading the summary. I did, but the summary would keep me from buying the actual book, if there is one. I suspect that there is not one. The summary and analysis concerns The Love Letters Of Henry VIIIth to Anne Boleyn. Each letter is set out and discussed and analyzed by traditional vocabulary and sentence metrics, , including for the last letter Anne Boleyn written shortly before her execution. Was it written by her or by someone on her behalf? Thomas Jerome Baker makes a good case for it not having been written by her. There is an introduction that gives the reader an overview of what is to come and what led to the writing of the summary. I gained a new historical fiction author book to read, Hunter S. Jones’ Phoenix Rising.  hunter

It is as if this summary was done to promote Phoenix Rising. That is the feeling I got when I read the first portion of the summary. This summary is a longer and harder read because of the science behind the metrics and the stilted language used in the letters but this is one that I as a fan of British history will  likely come back to time and time again.

I do not have much to say about Wiseminds’ summary of Peter H. Diamandis’ Bold, which is a book on how successful entrepreneurs conceive of an idea, work to get it established, and then promote it into making the idea a best-selling idea. This summary was almost too short to be of any use; it is not really done by a formula, or at least it appeared to me. There were no helpful charts or tables. The summaries of the chapters are good with examples given of the entrepreneurs who have made it big and why but that’s about all. A good review of the actual book could have done the same thing.