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