Self Improvement

Book Summaries: 19 Best Book Summary Websites & Apps (2020)

“So many books, so little time.” — Frank Zappa

Ever since humans learned to read and write, everything changed.

We could pass on information and wisdom to the next generations and that’s the reason for our dramatic growth.

We all know the importance of books. Yet, not all of us are able to read books as often as we’d like to. Here are a few reasons for that:

  • Lack of time and energy
  • Shortening of attention span (due to technology and social media)
  • The confusion of which book to read next

So we either turn to book summaries or we don’t read at all.

But there’s a problem…

When you read a book summary, you hear voices like:

“Reading summaries of books does NOT replace reading books.”

“Book summaries are NOT enough!”

book summary app

Should You Read Book Summaries?

The short answer is yes.

Of course, book summary websites, apps or videos don’t replace books. But that doesn’t mean they don’t provide value.

In fact, they provide more value than you could ever get from the passive consumption of social media.

Instead of choosing between reading book summaries or reading books, why not do both?

I’ve read book summaries of so many books that I will never touch in my life and I still read the books I want to read.

The best part?

I’ve already done the hard work for you and compiled a list of websites with free book summaries (especially nonfiction book summaries) along with the summarizer’s best or favorite book summary to start with.

Let’s dive in.

The Best Websites To Read Book Summaries (Free & Paid)

Table Of Contents
James Clear
Derek Sivers
Nat Eliason
The Art Of Living
Four Minute Books
Samuel Thomas Davies
Paul Minors
Alex Hughes
Readingraphics Blog
Actionable Books
NJlifehacks
Sipreads
Sloww
Blinkist
Instaread
Readingraphics
Getabstract
Readitfor.me
Optimize.me

Best Free Book Summary Websites Or Blogs

James Clear

James is a famous blogger in the self-improvement niche and shares his “informal” notes which are a combination of quotes from the books and his own insights.

Start with: On the Shortness of Life by Seneca

Derek Sivers

Derek shares his insights or highlights from the books he reads so he can reflect on them later.

Start with: A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy By William Irvine

Nat Eliason

Nat’s notes are crisp, to-the-point, written in short sentences. Once you start reading, you will keep scrolling for more.

Start with: 12 Rules for Life by Jordan Peterson

The Art Of Living

Arthur’s blog is a goldmine for lifelong learners. He summarizes books in no-nonsense lists, bullet points, subheadings and easy to follow sentences.

Start with: Getting Things Done By David Allen

Four Minute Books

If you’re looking for a giant library of book synopsis, look no further than Nik’s Four Minute Books. He further summarizes books from the Blinklist app with 3 big lessons and his own personal takeaway.

Start with: The One Thing By Gary Keller

Samuel Thomas Davies

Sam provides five big ideas for each book and then continues writing a longer book summary by chapter.

Start with: Essentialism by Greg McKeown

Paul Minors

Speaking of organizing, Paul’s book summaries make such good reads. You can scan, read or skip as you scroll down because they are written keeping the reader in mind.

Start with: You Are A Badass By Jen Sincero

Alex J. Hughes

Alex writes slick book notes that you can visit anytime you want to read or re-read the gist of books he has summarized.

Start with: Atomic Habits By James Clear

Readingraphics Blog

They not only provide book summaries in text, but they also create graphics that go along with the posts. It’s super useful if you’re a visual learner.

Start with: Principles: Life And Work By Ray Dalio

Actionable Books

Actionable books is an incredible website that summarizes books and provides an amazing reading experience.

Start with: The Magic of Thinking Big By Dr. David Schwartz

NJlifehacks

Nils’ and Jonas’ summaries are remarkable. They break down the books in sub-headings and then cover the details so you can read them like you read articles.

Start with: The Happiness Advantage by Shawn Achor

Sipreads

Another gem with a great reading experience. I love the simplicity of Basile’s and Ali’s summaries.

Start with: The Subtle Art Of Not Giving A Fuck By Mark Manson (Paperback | Audiobook)

Sloww

Kyle summarizes just the kind of books I love reading. Learning how to live is what I’ll be doing for the rest of my life.

Start with: Ikigai: The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life

Best Book Summary Apps And Subscription Services

Some famous apps include spark notes or cliff notes. Cliffs notes is mostly for students while Sparknotes is for literature and fiction book summaries. But if you’re looking for summaries of nonfiction books, here are the top apps for that:

Blinkist

Blinkist is the first app that comes to mind when we speak of book summaries. It really is a wonderful app and best for listening to the summaries on the go.

book summary websites

Instaread

Out of all the Blinkist alternatives, Instaread is one of the best I’ve read or listened to. So if you’re big on quality over quantity, it’s the one to pick.

Readingraphics

Folks at Readingraphics are doing a brilliant job. They provide audio, PDF and a freaking infographic for each book. Infographics are great since you can revisit them to remember the big ideas from the books.

Getabstract

If book summaries weren’t enough, how about summaries of articles, reports, and videos such as TED talks? You get all of that at Getabstract in addition to the in-depth book summaries.

Readitfor.me

Read or listen to business and personal development book summaries in less than 12 minutes. Their catalog is not the biggest out there, but it’s still a good service if you want to get the biggest ideas from books in less time.

Philosophers Notes (optimize.me)

If you’re looking for a book summaries for self-improvement, it’s got to be Brian’s Philosophers Notes. They are plain epic.

Related: Life Designer’s Toolkit — Top Learning Tools

How To Read A Book Summary

Here’s a quick rundown of the different ways you can use these book summary websites:

  1. Read summaries of books to dip your toes before buying them.
  2. Read them to revisit the best concepts from a book (because repetition is the mother of lifelong learning).
  3. Read them to hunt for books to read.
  4. Read them like you read articles.
  5. Actually apply the lessons you learn from these summaries because learning more is not always the answer.

The last thing you need is a plan for reading the best book summaries. It won’t fit in your schedule by accident. For that, determine your reading frequency, set a trigger, create a focused environment and get reading.

An example:

  • Reading frequency: 5 book summaries a week
  • Trigger: Reminder on my phone
  • Environment: Remove distractions (you can use FocusMe, Freedom or Cold Turkey)
  • Read
  • Set a reward (optional)

We live in an information age where we jump from one article to another. That’s no way to accelerate your learning. You need focused time-blocks to read what matters. You can learn more about how I read books or articles by clicking here.

Books are still one of the best sources of learning. Now that you know where to find the best-summarized version of them, it’s your turn to “hack” your way through life one book summary at a time.

FAQs

What is the summary of a book?

A book summary may include the notes, top highlights, conclusions, and interpretation of the person summarizing the book. It’s always best to refer to the original book for full information, ideas and facts.

Which is the best book summary app?

According to the reviews of most people, Blinkist and Instaread seem like the best book summary websites. Both of them are great so it’s up to you to pick your favorite one!

Affiliate Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. That means if you purchase a service through my link, I get a commission. Thanks for your support.

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