Reading book summaries is becoming more and more popular these days. And we don’t mean books that you might be obliged to read for school or work but reading from a genuine desire to gain some knowledge. It is quite widespread among readers of non-fiction – books about self-development, personal growth, business, history, and so on. Many people want to learn something but aren’t that fond of reading books from cover to cover. Additionally, those who enjoy curling up on the couch with a book very often have too little time to read everything they have on their reading list.

However, this reading style might not always be equally beneficial. This article will help you get your head around what’s wrong with book summaries and when they might be enough.

A Book Summary Reading – What’s the Idea?

Let’s get this straight – when we talk about a book summary, we don’t mean these 100-200 words you can read on Goodreads. A proper one will present you with all the main ideas from the text – from beginning to end. So, to get a gist of a book, you can read 10-20 pages instead of 300, which is an excellent alternative for people who want information but aren’t big readers.

Of course, it’s ideal when such a summary is prepared by someone who knows and understands a given topic. Because of the growing popularity of this reading style, there are even special platforms that focus on providing their users with relevant and concise summaries.

MentorBox vs Blinkist

These are two popular providers of book summaries. MentorBox is a subscription service that allows you to learn from the best books about personal and professional development by providing the gist of their main ideas. Blinkist, on the other hand, is a platform with one of the largest libraries of both book reviews and summaries.

Why Is It Better to Actually Read a Book?

You will always get more from reading the whole book. A person preparing a summary might not pay attention to the same details as you would. There’s also an issue of how you will react to what you read or hear – a summary might not provide enough arguments to convince you to a specific statement while a full book could. A summary would never go into as much detail as a book, which can influence your perception of the whole text. Then, there’s also the matter of retaining information; logically, if you spend more time with a topic, reading an entire book about it, you will remember more.

Reading books can change you as a person, or at least help you develop. Especially if you don’t limit yourself to a single genre, you will broaden your horizons, learn more about the world and its people. Moreover, it’s simply a great exercise for your brain; even if you’re reading entertaining fiction, you need to focus and think about what you’re reading, which keeps your brain working. Not to mention when you’re immersing yourself in an in-depth, challenging reading.

Furthermore, in the case of novels, the two experiences are incomparable, as the writing style and narration might be vital to understanding the story correctly.

When Might It Be Enough to Read a Summary?

Summaries are an excellent way of gathering ideas and inspiration. You are capable of reading way more of them than the whole books, even if you’re only browsing, so it’s undoubtedly a good idea if you have a long reading list, and you’re not sure what you will like – you can always read a book later (if a summary is encouraging).

A summary would also be more objective. If you’re curious about someone’s point of view, but you don’t want to immerse yourself in their argumentation, it will provide you with the core of the text. This way, you can compare many different books in a shorter period of time.


Final Thoughts

Is reading summaries wrong? Like with everything in life, the correct answer here is: it depends. While we recommend reading books, because its benefits are endless, sometimes it is enough to read a summary only. Moreover, of course, reading a summary is better than reading nothing at all.

If you’re only looking for specific information or inspiration, it might make more sense to focus on summaries and then go into more detail once you find what you’re looking for. You will never read as many books as you might summaries, so it certainly is a good way of broadening your horizons.

The best way would be to combine these two reading styles – to browse through various summaries but regularly go deeper.

Whatever you decide, make sure you benefit from it. Books, even summaries only, should never feel like an unpleasant and unnecessary obligation.