Reading is a very important part of personal growth and continuous improvement. If you are a (non-fiction) bookworm like me, you know there are two big problems when deciding what to read.
(1) There is never enough time to read everything you want and (2) most of the content out there is crappy. Sooner or later, ideas start repeating themselves in books.
Choosing a book that has zero value for you in terms of new ideas is a big cost, not so much financial as time-wise.
Executive summaries are one of the ways to get general ideas what a book is all about and see if it’s worth reading. I tried many different executive summary services and I wasn’t satisfied with any until I stumbled upon Blinkist.
Since I am really enthusiastic about the app, I decided to write a review. Maybe I’ll spread my enthusiasm enough for you to at least try it for yourself.
What is Blinkist?
Blinkist is a web and mobile app that offers more than 1,000 summaries of non-fiction books. They cover different non-fiction categories, from science, politics and economics to personal growth, investing, different business topics, health and biographies. They add new books summaries to their library daily, adding up to around 40 new summaries per month.
They add new books summaries to their library daily, adding up to around 40 new summaries per month.
They offer a free plan, which enables you to read one pre-selected book per day, the plus plan (49,99€), which enables you access to all the books and offline reading, and the premium plan (79,99€), which enables you to additionally listen to books with audio, sync highlights to Evernote and send your reads to Kindle.
|One pre-selected book per day
|Access to all summaries
Sync highlights to Evernote
Send summaries to Kindle
Designed for learning on the go
I use Blinkist only as a mobile app when I’m on the go. When I am at home and have enough time to read, I read books on Kindle. But when I’m on the move, Blinkist comes into play.
Using Blinkist on the move is one of the greatest strengths of the app.
Not only are book summaries very well written, Blinkist also uses a special outline. It takes you around 15 minutes to read a book summary, but what’s so special is that every summary is divided into 8 – 12 key book insights.
That’s where the name of the app comes from. Book summaries are split into “blinks”, short insights. It takes you 1 – 2 minutes to read one insight from a selected book, and then you swipe to the next one. You swipe around ten times and you read the whole summary. If you’re interrupted in the middle, you just end with your insight and come back to the next one when you have time.
You swipe around ten times and you read the whole summary. If you’re interrupted in the middle, you just end with your insight and come back to the next one when you have time.
When you are on the go, it’s guaranteed that you’ll be interrupted in the next 15 minutes. A phone call, your waiting ends, you meet someone or whatever. But it rarely happens in the next 1 -2 minutes. It’s like having small insight blocks you can read all the way until the next interruption.
But it rarely happens in the next 1 -2 minutes. It’s like having small insight blocks you can read all the way until the next interruption.
When you’re interrupted, you surely can’t get lost. I read or listen to Blinkist summaries when:
- Need new ideas to warm up my brain
- Cooking, showering, taking a walk (or I listen to Audible books as an alternative)
- Who knows where else
Whenever I have at least two minutes of time to kill, I open Blinkist and read at least one insight from a book summary. Sometimes I read only one 2-minute book insight, sometimes I read the whole summary if my idle time is longer, and sometimes I even read several summaries.
Sometimes I read only one 2-minute book insight, sometimes I read the whole summary if my idle time is longer, and sometimes I even read several summaries.
By the way, Lynda.com employs a similar concept in their educational courses, but they have video instead of text, and that kind of format is something that really works for me.
Here are some of the last book summaries I read:
- Contagious, Jonah Breger
- Breakfast with Socrates, Robert Rowland Smith
- The Selfish Gene, Richard Dawkins
- Why is Sex Fun, Jared Dimond
- Smartcuts, Shane Snow
- The Social Animal, David Brooks
- Thinking Fast and Slow, Daniel Kahneman
- The One Thing, Gary Keller
- The 4 Disciplines of Execution, Chris McChensney, and others
- The Introverted Leader, Jennifer Kahnweiler
There is one more interesting thing that I’ve noticed. I usually read like 20 book summaries in a few weeks and then I take a few weeks off.
After a short break, I start reading summaries again. I’m not sure why, but my brain probably needs to get some rest from too many different concentrated ideas.
Grasping new ideas fast
You probably know that you get out only what you put in, right? It’s no different in this case. Don’t expect that you’ll get the same value when reading a summary as you would when reading the whole book. Actually, you get a lot less because you invest so little (15 minutes rather than a few hours).
What I discovered is that I remember little when reading a book summary. Not only from Blinkist but whichever summaries.
For example, if you ask me about the content of the summaries of the books I listed above and their general ideas, I’d be quite lost. On the other hand, I have no problem explaining the main ideas from the last ten books I read.
So you must have realistic expectations. Reading a summary is not the same as reading a book.
The purpose of reading a summary is not to read it instead of a book, but to more easily decide whether you want to buy and read the whole book or to grasp the main idea of the book for whatever reason. After reading a Blinkist summary, there are three potential things I always do:
- Buy and read the book, if I like it.
- Send highlights from a summary to Evernote and review them from time to time – if there was a cool idea in the book, but I still have other better priorities on my reading list. Reading only about new ideas can definitely open your mind and help you to widen your thinking horizon.
- I just forget about it – if there were no new ideas presented to me or if there wasn’t anything I found particularly interesting, I move on.
Much easier to decide if you should buy a book
Besides exploring many different ideas fast, the important purpose of reading a Blinkist book summary is to decide if you’re going to buy a book or not. By reading a summary, you can quickly grasp if there are any new and interesting ideas for you and if reading the whole book is worth your while.
I bought a few books on Amazon Kindle after being impressed with their ideas in the Blinkist summary.
If you need additional info about the book before buying it, every summary in Blinkist is also accompanied by a short author biography, what the book is all about, who should read it, the iBook rating and publishing year. In that way, you have all the information you need before buying a book.
Well, to be honest, reading the Blinkist book summary (if it’s available) is the first thing I do, but it’s not the only thing. I also check Goodreads and Amazon ratings and reviews.
It does take a little bit more time to go through all the different reviews and to read the summaries, but it’s definitely better than buying and wasting time on a book you don’t like.
Refreshing knowledge from books you already read
I can surely name the last ten books I read and what they were all about. But the more time that passes after reading a book, the faster I forget the main ideas. I always remember the name of a book I read, but after a few years, you can quickly forget what the book was all about.
You can make mind maps after reading a book, to refresh your memory, but it takes quite a lot of time to do that. I only do mind maps for the best of the best. But what you can do to refresh your memory is to read a Blinkist summary long after you already read a book.
That’s also a reason why I find Blinkist very useful. It goes something along the lines of: oh right, I read that book ten years ago, what was it about again? And I read the summary to refresh my memory. It definitely feels good to do that.
Blinkist of my Blinkist Review
Is it worth it to invest around 6,5 EUR per month into Blinkist? Definitely. That’s two coffees per month. We were all born as curious beings, not coffee consumers.
If you read at least a summary or two, you get much more out of a Blinkist subscription per month than you do from coffee or any other bad habit.
We were all born as curious beings, not coffee consumers. Thus be curious and read.
Here is the Blinkist review summary, the final judgment with all the pluses and minuses:
- Outstanding user experience (easy to use, nice design,)
- The summary outline structure with blinks is really good, especially on the go
- Huge selection of books
- Quality book summaries
- Easy to review your favorite highlights
- It gives you a good idea of whether you should buy a book
- You can read a summary to refresh the main ideas of the books you already read
- Syncing highlights to Evernote (premium membership)
- Audiobook summaries available (premium membership)
- Audiobooks can be pre-downloaded (premium membership)
- Different voices for audiobooks for more variety (premium membership)
- It’s not the same as reading a book
- It can get boring reading only summaries, especially in the same categories. Somehow all the ideas start to sound the same. You have to combine it with other types of reading materials.
- There is no monthly payment available
My final rating is 4.8/5 stars. The Blinkist app absolutely deserves 5 stars, but since I’m quite a critical person, the only app to receive 5 stars will be the one that will enable me to download knowledge straight into my brain, like in the Matrix. :)
There’s one more cool thing about the German company Blinks Labs that’s behind the Blinkist app. They use the Holacracy management system.
The main idea of Holacracy is to eliminate all hierarchies and job titles in the organization, and instead introduce only a set of organizational rules to enable every employee to make quick, smart decisions and get their jobs done. It must be cool to work for the company behind the app.
Try the app and you’ll see how well it fits you to make the best use of the reading time you have available throughout the day.
You can try the free Blinkist plan or the Plus/Premium plan with a 30 Day money-back guarantee, no questions asked. Start your free trial here:
Blinkist links in this post are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and join Blinkist, I will receive 7 days free access to the app. I strictly promote only the things and the services that I also regularly use and like.