How to Identify the Subject of a Book

Every text carries implicit information about a specific subject. This represents the theme of a book and always answers the question: what is the narrated discourse about?

The text’s theme is the main idea developed in the reading, expressing a general and constant concept throughout the text. It is the means that connects the components that structure the information.

1 What is the theme of a book?

 In order to understand the nature of the theme of a book, it is important to understand whether the text is:

  • It is expository since it neither denies nor affirms concepts.
  • It is expressed by means of a resource or noun phrase.
  • It must answer the question: What is the text’s subject matter?

book-theme How to Identify the Subject of a Book

2 Literary themes

Starting from the theme, the author exposes a premise in which he provides his point of view on the chosen motif, thus defining his ideological position.

The reader must discover the meaning expressed by the dialogues or narrated events. The theme is an abstract element that must be represented in a word. It is not limited to measures of space and time, and a theme can be the origin of many stories.

The works can have several themes, which are sometimes identifiable when reading and finding the so-called sub-themes. This is why, starting from a specific idea, a book’s theme can be developed broadly.

For example, when reading a romantic-style book, the basic idea is love. Still, other aspects such as family, society, and religion are addressed, complementing and giving meaning to the theme, as occurs in the classic Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare.

Traveling-with-books-reading How to Identify the Subject of a Book

3 The themes of a book

For some classic authors, there are only three themes: life, love, and death, from which others are related, such as family, friendship, self-improvement, envy, religion, the struggle between good and evil, personal traumas, politics, power, sexuality, technology, among many others.

Having as a characteristic its universality since we find them in all cultures and human societies. Being able to be included in:

  • Loving
  • Historical
  • Adventures
  • Police
  • Fantastic

They are actions used as the theme of texts regardless of the genre to which they belong. These are seen in prose, verse, theater even in a genre like a review, for example, review.

Literary themes form the central axis of the plot and are the link between the situations devised by the author.

writing-a-book-review How to Identify the Subject of a Book

4 How to identify the theme of a book?

Generally, the following basic techniques are applied:

  • Recognition
    By means of two actions: identifying the idea that expresses the information contained in the text or the idea that appears most frequently. Asking the question: what is the text about? To try to identify short and frequent ideas in the author’s discourse.
  • Questioning
    Through the formulation of questions, the sentences should be analyzed in order to choose a title that encompasses them in a general way before the correction of texts.

 Ask yourself: How do I recognize that this is the right title for this text? What is the subject matter of the text? What idea does the author want to express?

 Another methodology to identify a text’s subject is through classifying phrases and words. Using nominal syntagms, it is possible to identify characteristics that serve as a connecting thread of the information contained.

book-theme. How to Identify the Subject of a Book

5 What is a subtopic?

Subtopics are the main issues in a given paragraph that allow distinguishing between the general theme of the text and the various topics. They are subordinated or generated from it, according to the narrative needs of the author.

subtopic. How to Identify the Subject of a Book

6 How to identify the subtopic?

For this task can be used:

  • Ask yourself the following question: what is the theme of the paragraph? Does it continue to deal with the same thing? Secondly, you should analyze the sentences individually to choose the theme alluded to in them, even if the general theme is handled in different ways. It is good practice to identify each paragraph with a title.
  • Then ask yourself the following question: how can you know that the title chosen is appropriate for each paragraph? To do this, it should be related to the concept of theme, represented by a short phrase in every sentence.

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7 The subject of a sample book

Stem cells

Stem cells, or progenitor cells, are cellular units with the capacity to develop and manifest themselves as blood-type cells, either red blood cells, leukocytes, or platelets.

Topic: stem cells

Subtopic: function (develop and manifest)

book How to Identify the Subject of a Book

8 The central theme of a book

The central idea of a book constitutes the most important message or content, with which the author sustains the informative content. To identify it, it is necessary to interpret the reading in order to distinguish the argument expressed by the work.

There are also secondary ideas, whose function is to reinforce the context of the main idea, but they are not essential to give meaning to work. At the same time, the central idea is what makes it possible for the author to narrate or expose his ideology or knowledge.

The-central-theme-of-a-book How to Identify the Subject of a Book

9 How to distinguish the main idea in the text?

Some indications can guide you:

  • Reading analysis, identifying what the document is trying to convey in each paragraph, chapter, or section.
  • Implement basic actions that will guide you in the task: identify the paragraph’s theme and the text’s broad sense to interpret what the author wants to communicate.
  • The main idea synthesizes the information the author wants to convey.
  • The interpretation is the main basis for differentiating the main ideas from the secondary ones.

reading-book How to Identify the Subject of a Book

10 Examples of main and secondary ideas

Animals are heterotrophic, which means they are incapable of producing all the vital substances they require for their subsistence. They need to obtain them from other living beings.

Main idea: animals are heterotrophic because of their type of feeding.

Secondary idea: they cannot produce all the vital substances they require for subsistence. They need to obtain them from other living beings.

book-1 How to Identify the Subject of a Book
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