Earlier this year, my wife and I went on vacation to Mexico.

During our stay, we spent about 90% of our time sitting on the beach (and I burned to a crisp… but that’s another story).

Now, sitting on the beach might sound like an easy thing to do (and it is, for the most part)… but there’s one problem I have with sitting around all day.

I’m not a big fan of doing nothing.

My brain always needs to stay engaged. Whether it’s solving a problem, working on a deal, listening to a podcast, reading a book, etc.

When it comes to reading books, I think most books have a ton of value, and it’s a perfect activity for sitting on the beach… but the problem I have with books is – I’m a SUPER slow reader. Unless I’m intensely interested in the subject matter, I have a hard time spending ALL DAY consuming a single book.

RELATED: 20 Books That Changed My Life

Even audiobooks can be a struggle for me because it can easily take 5 – 10 hours to get through one audiobook (not to mention, if I don’t like the narrator, it can ruin the listening experience for me).

But get this… even with all these things working against me, in one day of sitting on the beach in Mexico, I was able to get through 22 books.

  1. I Will Teach You To Be Rich by Ramit Sethi
  2. Ego is the Enemy by Ryan Holiday
  3. Atomic Habits by James Clear
  4. Thou Shall Prosper by Daniel Lapin
  5. One New Minute Manager by Ken Blanchard and Spencer Johnson
  6. Getting Things Done by David Allen
  7. Letters from a Stoic by Seneca
  8. How to Talk to Anyone by Leil Lowndes
  9. Crucial Conversations by Patterson, Grenny, McMillan & Switzler
  10. Never Split the Difference by Chris Voss
  11. On the Shortness of Life by Seneca
  12. The Richest Man in Babylon by George Clason
  13. Everybody Always by Bob Goff
  14. How to Lie With Statistics by Darrell Huff
  15. Living the 80/20 Way by Richard Koch
  16. Originals by Adam Grant
  17. How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie
  18. 12 Rules for Life by Jordan Peterson
  19. The Obstacle is the Way by Ryan Holiday
  20. Hug Your Haters by Jay Baer
  21. Deep Work by Cal Newport
  22. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey

How did I get through these 22 nonfiction books in one day? I used an app called Blinkist.

Note: This blog post is a not a paid endorsement of Blinkist. I just thought it was useful and wanted to share it with you.

What is Blinkist?

blinkist nonfiction booksBlinkist is a huge library of non-fiction book summaries. In about 15 minutes, you can get a quick overview of all the key ideas and takeaways from each book.

It’s like reading or listening to someone’s notes on a book. You’ll see only the most important points (called “Blinks”) and nothing else.

For me, this is EXACTLY what I needed.

Being a real estate blogger, there are dozens and dozens of books on my list that have been recommended by friends, family and colleagues.

But as I mentioned – reading books isn’t something I love to do for fun. I don’t appreciate all the “fluff” that comes with most books. I’m looking for those small nuggets that are buried in the text. You know… those 5 pages of real value for every 150 pages of unnecessary narrative and filler content.

The harsh reality is, I’m never going to read the vast majority of books that are recommended to me… there just isn’t enough time or desire to make it happen.

That’s where Blinkist comes in. It’s a great way to consume books that I’m mildly interested in (80% of books on my list), but will never make the time to read the long-form version of it.

How Blinkist Works

Blinkist is designed as a mobile app, so you can take it with you wherever you go.

You can read each book summary from the screen of our mobile device or you can listen to it. Both mediums are very well-written and presented.

I consider myself sort of an “audiobook connoisseur”, because I’ve heard a lot of different audiobooks and voiceover artists over the years. Some of them are excellent and some of them are terrible – but of every Blinkist book I listened to, I thought every narrator was very good and easy to listen to (which is a huge part of the listening experience).

Just like most audiobook and podcast listening apps, you can choose to listen at faster speeds if you’d like to get through it quicker. But personally, I felt it was better to listen at normal speed, since it’s already easy to miss things in such a condensed format (and they’re only 15 – 20 minutes to begin with, and there is basically zero fluff in these short summaries).

Drawbacks to Blinkist

Now, there are some obvious drawbacks to reading a book through Blinkist rather than reading/listening to the original, unabridged version of a book.

If you’re only willing to give a book 15 minutes of your time, you’re going to miss out on a sizable portion of the value you would’ve gotten had you given the book all of your time. If you choose to “read” a book through Blinkist, don’t expect to get the full experience the author intended.

Blinkist’s greatest strength is also its greatest weakness. It’s a nice all-you-can-eat, buffet-style way to read lots of books in a short timespan, but don’t expect as rich of an experience when you’re not willing to fully immerse yourself in a book.

Another thing I learned pretty quickly from Blinkist is that you need to stay engaged. DON’T zone out while you’re reading or listening to these “blinks”.

It’s okay to zone in-and-out of most long-form books, because the value is spread out and a bit more watered down, but not with Blinkist. If you miss 60 seconds, you’ll miss a HUGE chunk of what the book is all about.

Surprises with Blinkist

After using Blinkist for a couple of days, I was actually pleasantly surprised by a few things from it.

If you’re anything like me, you’ve probably started listening to an audiobook before, but you had to abandon it midway through.

There are a number of full-length audiobooks I’ve completely given up on, either because the narrator was too annoying or because I couldn’t stick with it and pay attention. Some books are just WAY longer (and more boring) than they need to be.

However, when I listened to the Blinkist versions of these same books, it breathed new life into them for me. I finally saw the value in the author’s message when it was condensed into a smaller, bite-sized format and fed to me in a way that I had the capacity to digest. I didn’t have to attention span to consume the unabridged version of these books, but Blinkist made them much more palatable.

Another funny thing I discovered when listening to the Blinkist version of How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie, I actually came away with new insights from the book that I never noticed back when I first read the unabridged version of the book years ago.

When you listen to someone else’s takeaways from the same material, there’s a good chance they’ll interpret the information in a different way than you do – and that was another unexpected piece of value I got from Blinkist.

Is It Worth Trying?

As I eluded to above – Blinkist isn’t for everyone. If you’re someone who NEEDS to experience the full, unabridged version of every book you read, then you probably won’t appreciate what Blinkist has to offer.

If you’re like me, however, and you don’t have the time, desire or attention span to get through dozens of books every year…

If the alternative to reading books is to just NOT read books at all – then I think Blinkist can bring a huge amount of value to the table.

It’s definitely not the same experience as reading through an entire book the old fashioned way, but if you want to get in on the action without completely missing out on all the value that non-fiction books have to offer, I think the value of Blinkist is easily worth many times more than it costs.

Have you used Blinkist (or anything similar) before? What did you think of it? Let us know in the comments below!

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Seth Williams is a land investor with hundreds of closed transactions and nearly a decade of experience in the commercial real estate banking industry. He is also the Founder of REtipster.com - a real estate investing blog that offers real-world guidance for part-time real estate investors.

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  1. Larry Stewart says:

    Seth – I agree that listening is a great way to get info, and make good use of windshield time. I didn’t know about Blinklist, and I may subscribe. It seems like a good value for the guy that wants to continue to learn, and has a lot to do. I also found value in the reviews found on YouTube. In particular, check out the reviews by Nathan Lozeron published under the name “Productivity Game”. He includes a sketch to highlight his review, and it helps me keep the focus on the subject, and listening and viewing is more effective than just listening for many of us. His assortment isn’t as broad, but it’s free. Check it out! I pay an extra $15 for YouTube Premium, which allows me to download videos on WiFi, and then listen to them while I am in the car, or waiting for my oil to be changed, without using up cellular data, and without having to search for what to play. In my car, my bluetooth hooks up, and resumes the YouTube video (audio) where it left off when I turned the car off, so it’s like having a dedicated radio station, that waits for you until to restart the car. Technology is amazing, isn’t it? Thanks for sharing this resource with us. – Larry

    1. Thanks for your thoughts Larry! I’ve often wondered if it’s worth paying for YouTube premium… perhaps I’ll check out out soon.

  2. "Mad" Max Speedwell says:

    Can BlinkList be loaded onto RSVP? (Rapid Serial Visual Presentation).
    If so, seventy books/day might be easily within reach.
    I use rapid Reader (free version). There are several plateaus when using
    RSVP. Once you are comfortable with the program, the speed will increase
    (I’m at about 750 WPM) and the comprehension goes up to about 80%.

    Most people find the limit to be around 1,500 WPM. Another problem with
    the program is the refresh rate of the monitor. The LCD screen on my laptop
    causes the words to meld together at about 800 WPM.

    1. I’m not sure about RSVP, but that’s a great question. Could be a great way to get the job does EVEN FASTER.

      Thanks for asking Max!

  3. Vincent Dew says:

    Yes Seth I am like you. I still have a full-time job and I work in the evenings from 2 to 10:30 so I just do not have the time to read a whole book from cover to cover. This is great for me and I love reading things everyday but I just do not have your attention span to read a whole book. I have read some books that you are talkin about years ago but I would love to go through and just it got the main points again.

    1. That’s awesome Vincent! I’m glad you can relate. Even if you want to burn through a bunch of books – you can always subscribe for one month, binge on the content and then cancel. 🙂

  4. Deone says:

    Blinkist has been on my radar for awhile.

    I like long form overall, but I often find so the fluff to be annoying. I always find myself wondering why I’m being sold on a concept or process instead of being told the concept or process. I already bought the damn book, give me the info!

    I get why you need enough content to make a book in order to sell a book, and maybe that long form way does help with saturation, but if you ponder a succint idea for awhile, I can’t imagine much of a difference.

    A few books ago I started keeping my own notebook and writing down the main ideas myself, and it’s been incredible in my uptake of the lessons contained therein. I imagine someone doing the same thing is where the idea for Blinkist originally came from.

    When you’re doing the reading (as opposed to audio) version, does it include any charts/graphs/infographics (ala 22 Habits and Rich Dad’s quadrant boxes) or is it pure text?

    I may have to try this on.

    1. I am totally with you on that Deone. TOTALLY.

      As for the reading – I don’t recall seeing any other visual aids represented in the ones I read (but most of my experience was in the audio format).

  5. Katie from OutwitTrade says:

    Cool to see you link to Blinkist 🙂 I’ve been using them for the past few months to summarize books since I’m so busy. Great service overall. We’ve reviewed them & collected a bunch of user reviews and most people like them. Just a handful of people who say their book summaries are not that good.

    1. Yeah, I hear you. Blinkist summaries definitely aren’t the same as reading the whole book… but in the absence of anything else, it’s not a bad option to start with.

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