The Pretend Hack: Why Book Summaries Don’t Work

Woman in her 30s looking mildly at her phone in her right hand. She has a glass of orange juice in the other and a laptop in front of her. She's wearing a light, informal olive shirt.

Name the last time you read a book summary that changed your life.

Hint: Never!

Book summaries don’t work for 3 big reasons which I will outline below.

But before I do, I get why the concept is so popular; I’ve tried it myself.

How can you not be swayed by the temptress that claims to condense 7 hours of reading into a quick info bite of 15 minutes?

So it’s not like I’m faulting you for trying to hack life – I’m merely pointing out that this hack fails.

Here’s why:

  • They strip a book of all its color and context which are needed to bring the key concepts alive
  • They totally divest you of buying into the information (when you spend 3+ hours of your life into reading something, you commit to it, at least temporarily)
  • They lull you into a fall sense of understanding

Look, I can tell you what The Slight Edge is about in 2 seconds:

The small things in life add up to make a big difference.

But if you skip out on reading the book because you already know what it’s about, then you really miss out on the monumental impact The Slight Edge delivers.

Hell, some books will even give you the important takeaways in bullet points at the end of every chapter.

Never Split The Difference does this but nothing’s going to stick in your brain unless you read the entire book.

Ultimately, the person summarizing the book masters it while the person reading the summary inherits a false sense of knowledge.

And this is why Notevantage is not in the business of summarizing books.

Rather than summarize, I hyper focus on super cool selections within the books (the gold nuggets, the best tidbits, etc.) and convey those to my subscribers much as I would retell them to someone at lunch.

If I find something I think is noteworthy – an anecdote, a statistic, a life lesson, whatever – I will make a huge deal out of it.

I’ll summarize and condense the selection.

I’ll explain what it means.

And then I’ll comment on it and discuss implications.

I’ll even send you the page number in case you want to read it for yourself.

When all is said and done, it might be a 5 minute read on one note I found in a book.

So whereas companies like Blinkist, GetAbstract, and MentorBox are in the business of providing book summaries (more or less), Notevantage is entirely unique.

We’re all in the education and time saving business, we just go about it in different ways.

My way is better.

Author: Kris