How to use ChatGPT to Summarize Books

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You’re sitting in your favorite coffee shop, sipping on a hot latte, when you suddenly remember that your book club meeting is tonight. You haven’t even cracked open this month’s selection, “The Road” by Cormac McCarthy, and there’s no way you have enough time to read the whole thing before the meeting. What do you do?

This is where ChatGPT comes to the rescue! With just a few clicks and the right prompt, ChatGPT can provide you with a concise and informative summary of the book you need to discuss. Instead of trying to skim through the pages or search for unreliable summaries online, you can rely on ChatGPT to deliver a quick and accurate overview, so you can confidently join the conversation at your book club meeting.

So, go ahead and ask ChatGPT for a summary – it’s like having a super-smart, book-loving friend ready to help you out whenever you need it!

Disclaimer: Currently ChatGPT only knows about books published before 2022.

Getting started with ChatGPT for book summaries

Here are some example prompts that you can use or modify to suit your needs.

Direct Summary Request

Prompt: “Provide a quick summary of ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ by Harper Lee.”

Pro Level Follow-up Prompt: “How does the character development of Scout Finch contribute to the themes in ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ by Harper Lee?”

Prompt: “Offer a brief rundown of ‘1984’ by George Orwell.”

Pro Level Follow-up Prompt: “Can you explain the role of the Thought Police in ‘1984’ by George Orwell?”


Specific Information Request

Prompt: “Explain the key character relationships in ‘Pride and Prejudice’ by Jane Austen.”

Pro Level Follow-up Prompt: “What role does social class play in the character relationships in ‘Pride and Prejudice’ by Jane Austen?”

Prompt: “Summarize the main themes in ‘Brave New World’ by Aldous Huxley.”

Pro Level Follow-up Prompt: “How does the society in ‘Brave New World’ by Aldous Huxley reflect the theme of individuality versus conformity?”


Contextual Summary Request

Prompt: “Provide a summary of ‘The Catcher in the Rye’ by J.D. Salinger, focusing on the exploration of adolescence.”

Pro Level Follow-up Prompt: “How does the protagonist’s journey in ‘The Catcher in the Rye’ by J.D. Salinger reflect the challenges faced during adolescence?”

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Prompt: “Summarize ‘Animal Farm’ by George Orwell, emphasizing its allegorical connections to the Russian Revolution.”

Pro Level Follow-up Prompt: “Can you provide examples of how specific characters in ‘Animal Farm’ by George Orwell represent figures from the Russian Revolution?”

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Reading Time Limitation

Prompt: “Provide a summary of ‘Moby-Dick’ by Herman Melville that can be read in 10 minutes.”

Pro Level Follow-up Prompt: “What are some of the most memorable scenes in ‘Moby-Dick’ by Herman Melville that showcase the book’s themes?”

Prompt: “Summarize ‘The Great Gatsby’ by F. Scott Fitzgerald with key points that can be read in 5 minutes.”

Pro Level Follow-up Prompt: “How does the setting of ‘The Great Gatsby’ by F. Scott Fitzgerald contribute to the novel’s overall message?”?”

Resonating Messages

Prompt: “Please provide the most resonating messages in ‘The Alchemist’ by Paulo Coelho.”

Pro Level Follow-up Prompt: “How do the characters and their journeys in ‘The Alchemist’ by Paulo Coelho help convey the book’s resonating messages?”

Prompt: “Identify the messages that strongly resonate with readers from ‘The Power of Now’ by Eckhart Tolle.”

Pro Level Follow-up Prompt: “What are some examples of practices or exercises from ‘The Power of Now’ by Eckhart Tolle that help readers understand the book’s main messages?”


Themes

Prompt: “How does the character of Dorian Gray exemplify the themes of aestheticism and morality in ‘The Picture of Dorian Gray’ by Oscar Wilde?”

Pro Level Follow-up Prompt: “Can you explain the role of the Thought Police in ‘1984’ by George Orwell?”

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Prompt: “Provide an overview of the key themes in ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ by Margaret Atwood.”

Pro Level Follow-up Prompt: “In ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ by Margaret Atwood, how are the themes of power and resistance explored through the characters’ experiences?”

Key Principles from a Specific Chapter

Prompt: “Summarize the key principles from Chapter 3 of ‘Thinking, Fast and Slow’ by Daniel Kahneman.”

Pro Level Follow-up Prompt: “How do the key principles from Chapter 3 of ‘Thinking, Fast and Slow’ by Daniel Kahneman relate to decision-making in everyday life?”

Prompt: “List the main takeaways from Chapter 7 of ‘Atomic Habits’ by James Clear.”

Pro Level Follow-up Prompt: “What are some practical applications of the main takeaways from Chapter 7 of ‘Atomic Habits’ by James Clear?”


Chapter-by-Chapter Summaries

Prompt: “Provide chapter-by-chapter summaries for ‘The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People’ by Stephen Covey.”

Pro Level Follow-up Prompt: “How do the principles from each chapter of ‘The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People’ by Stephen Covey build upon one another?”

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Prompt: “Summarize each chapter of ‘Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind’ by Yuval Noah Harari.”

Pro Level Follow-up Prompt: “Which chapters of ‘Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind’ by Yuval Noah Harari focus on the development of human societies and culture?”

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Why (and when) would you use ChatGPT to summarize a book?

Save time

Let’s be real, we’re all busy. ChatGPT can provide a quick summary when you don’t have the time to read an entire book or need a refresher on the main points.


Prep for discussions

Whether it’s for a book club or a class, ChatGPT can help you get up to speed on a book’s content, making you feel more confident in participating in discussions.


Discover new books

ChatGPT’s summaries can be like a sampler platter, helping you decide if a book is worth investing your time in or if you’d rather skip it.

Support memory

Read a book ages ago and need a refresher? ChatGPT can help jog your memory by summarizing the key points and themes, so you don’t have to reread the entire thing.


Better understanding

If a book is complex or challenging, ChatGPT can break it down into simpler terms and concepts, making it easier to digest and comprehend.


Compare notes

Already read the book? Use ChatGPT to see if your interpretation matches the AI-generated summary, which could spark new insights or ideas.

Still Confused? Need a human to help you?

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Conclusion and final thoughts

Using ChatGPT to summarize any book is a game-changer for readers everywhere. Whether you’re short on time, prepping for a discussion, or just need a little help understanding a challenging read, ChatGPT has got your back.

By providing clear and specific prompts, you’ll be able to get the most out of this powerful AI tool.

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