A Dissenting Opinion on Summaries

By Emma Gail Compton

I love books and I love stories, otherwise I wouldn’t be the Prose editor for OPUS. However, I HATE HATE HATE the summaries on the backs of books. Or even worse, on the inside of the front cover — which is truly a tragedy of epic proportions. Out of this hatred for poorly written book summaries has grown a habit that I am powerless to stop; when I am recommending a book to a friend, I send them a very brief summary of the plot, and then, I spam them for days with sections from the book. This usually works, but when it doesn’t, I send them videos of me crying over the characters. That always does the trick and soon we’re crying together. And so now friends, I invite you to read on and find some of my favorite sections from books, and hopefully your next obsession. 

The cover of the book Beach Read shows two people lying on beach towels on the beach

1. Beach Read by Emily Henry 

This is my all time favorite book ever in the entirety of the world and the entirety of all of time and space. And if the multiverse theory is perhaps true, there is never a universe in which this book is not my favorite. Written by Emily Henry (a Hope alum!!!), this book follows two very different writers and their personal stories, as well as their stories as they grow together. I 

cannot recommend this book enough. As you will probably see as you read the rest of the post, I am not much of a romance reader, but this book is the exception. I couldn’t choose just one section from this book, so I have listed several beautiful quotes: 

– “You know that feeling, when you’re watching someone sleep and you feel overwhelmed with joy that they exist?” 

– “‘Pete likes to say I was never a kid.’/ ‘That’s the saddest thing I’ve ever heard.’” – “‘You don’t know the difference between pity and sympathy.” 

– “‘…I want you in a way I’m not sure either of us can handle. I don’t want to hurt you and I don’t want to feel what it would be like to lose you.’”

– “‘Because I know no matter how long I get to love you, it will be worth whatever comes after.’” 

– “‘Let me prove I can love you forever.’” 

Along with Beach Read, Emily Henry has also written People We Meet On Vacation (READ IT! You won’t regret it). And of course I am anxiously awaiting her new book Book Lovers, that is set to be released on May 3, 2022.

2. The Iliad of Homer

This book is not my favorite, but it is a “classic” and I did have to read it for class in high school. As a high school student I was very reluctant to read the ancient syntax, but when reading it I found some of the best insults and roasts of my entire life. Now if you were to use them today, you would most definitely get weird looks, but in the story, these insults are absolute winners. 

– “‘… that you may learn well how much greater I am that you, and another man may shrink back from likening himself to me and contending against me.’” 

– “‘And then you will eat out the heart within you in sorrow, that you did no honor to the best of the Achains.’” 

– “‘…I for my part have no intention to obey you.’” 

– “‘I assert there is no worse man than you are.’” 

the cover of the iliad of homer
thin places cover

3. Thin Places: Essays from In Between by Jordan Kisner

This collection of essays by Jordan Kisner originally caught my attention because of the cover. The beautiful dust cover and the gorgeous deep purple of the hard cover underneath it stopped me dead in my tracks in the middle of Barnes and Noble. The title was what next commanded my attention. This probably has something to do with my theory on the existence of ghosts – I believe they can be witnessed only in thin spaces, in between reality and the past/future (and they aren’t actually dead, but just people living in a time other than the present), but that is not important as of right now. There are so many gorgeous passages from this book that I highly recommend, but my absolute favorite is as follows: 

– “If you conceive of the mind as a thing that has dimensionality, something that when you close your eyes seems to stretch up and out and behind and beyond you, then it is easy to imagine the mind as a place that one can move about in, and that this movement can be directional or aimless, wandering or purposeful. One can imagine that space as bounded but vaguely so, defined by parameters that are either shifting or unknown. There are days when the space of the mind feels expansive and clean, like the horizon line at the Pacific. And there are days – or weeks, or months- when its landscape is reduced to the size of an antique shop, suffocated by teetering stacks of chairs and dusty old keys amassed in plastic buckets under scratched records going for a dollar each.” 

4. The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery

When I read the Little Prince I immediately loved it. The interesting part of the story is that while it is a children’s book, the lessons of the book are for adults. I think the purpose of the book is to reach the adult version of the kid readers. As I have grown up from the version of myself that first read the book, I have kept the lessons I have learned in mind. I recommend you read this as you find yourself in a time of change, and potentially if you find yourself fearing age. It also works very well as a gift for a kid in your life! My favorite quote is: 

– “And now here is my secret, a very simple secret: it is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.” 

the little prince cover
cover of deaf republic

5. Deaf Republic by Ilya Kaminsky

I have a confession to make: I have never read this book. But I have been meaning to read it and really it’s the thought that counts. It has slowly crept up my “To Read” list, and it is almost at the very tippy top. But with my pesky classes, I have been unable to read it thus far. I know little about this book, but I do know that it toes the line between autobiography and fiction and deals heavily with topics of war and rebellion. It was written by hard of hearing poet Ilya Kaminsky, and follows the form of an epic poem. The quote that swims around my brain everyday and originally brought my attention to the poetry book will hopefully have you running to Barnes and Noble with me. 

From “A City Like a Guillotine Shivers On Its Way to the Neck” 

– “At the trial of God, we will ask: why did you allow all this? 

And the answer will be an echo: why did you allow all this?”

About the Author

Hi! My name is Emma Gail Compton. I am a freshman majoring in History. I am from Detroit, Michigan but I am happy to call Holland home for most of the year! I love all different kinds of art and how it connects to people’s lives (I shouldn’t play favorites, but I love a good short story). Besides writing, I love music! If you ever have an extra ticket to a concert, let me know and I’ll clear my schedule. 

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