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book summary

Perhaps you are familiar with Cliff’s Notes or Spark Notes. This assignment is to create Bob’s Notes or Sarah’s Notes (assuming your name is Bob or Sarah). Take a book you have read (recently, if possible) and summarize the plot so that someone could read your notes and be familiar enough with the story to act like he had read it himself.

There are many sites on the web that offer notes of this kind. Just don’t “borrow” from them. Do this on your own. As an example, here is a partial summary of Hamlet.

A ghost appears to the night watchmen outside the royal castle in Elsinore, Denmark. It does not speak until its third appearance, and then it only speaks when alone with Hamlet, Prince of Denmark. The ghost very much resembles Hamlet’s recently deceased father, the former King Hamlet – and he claims to be such – but Hamlet is not sure whether to trust the apparition or not. The ghost reveals a harrowing story of murder committed by Claudius, the King’s brother who promptly assumes the throne after Hamlet Senior’s death. Swearing himself to revenge, Hamlet is understandably irate to learn of his father’s untimely murder, but as of yet he remains uncertain of the ghost’s credibility.  He resolves to put on an “antic disposition” – to act like a madman – in hopes of confirming Claudius’ guilt or innocence, and then in order to take necessary action.

Further complicating the situation is Hamlet’s mother, Gertrude, who has remarried shortly after her husband’s death; Hamlet’s anger at her haste is only magnified by her (in his mind) “poor” choice:  none other than his father’s brother, Claudius! That makes Hamlet both son and nephew to Claudius, the new King of Denmark, the same party guilty of his father’s blood. Hamlet meanwhile becomes romantically involved with Ophelia, daughter to the King’s advisor named Polonius. Both Polonius and his son, Laertes, counsel Ophelia to resist Hamlet’s advances. She does…

This full summary is long and detailed. It goes on for several pages. Yours will probably be less so, but be sure to include the most important points of the plot.


Suggested Length: two to five pages (depending on the book you choose)

Note: This first assignment will be completed in only one draft. In the future you will have several opportunities to revise and improve your papers, but for now we just want to get a feel for the kind of writer you are.

Be sure to follow the formatting guidelines.