Is a Book Summary Really Reading?

From Jamie:

I’ve been thinking about abridgments lately because of an ad that keeps popping up on Facebook. It’s for a service called Blinkist. The service claims it allows you to “fit reading into your life.” It does this by providing short (15 minute or so) key takeaways of popular nonfiction books. I took a look at some titles in the History category. Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari, a book I recently finished, is summarized in 19 minutes of audio. The actual unabridged audiobook is over 15 hours long. Doris Kearns Goodwin’s Team of Rivals, which I read last year is summarized in 19 minutes. Actual unabridged audiobook length: 41 hours 32 minutes. This, to me, is abridge too far.

Yes, I do book reviews and know that others read them to see if it’s a book worth reading. I’ve thought about Blinkist, which was the trigger for the post above, but always thought that I’ll get so much more out of the book by sitting down and reading it.

If it’s a bad book, or a book that’s not for me right now, I’ll put it down and move on to the next book. I don’t sweat ending a reading session and you shouldn’t either.

Sure, do some research before you invest in a book. Make sure it’s helping you solve a problem you currently have.

Don’t fool yourself into thinking that reading highly summarized versions of a book is in any way as beneficial as reading the whole book. The simple fact of investing your time into the book means you’ll get more out of it.

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