The Second Mix Podcast - Reflect, Revise, and Remix Your Life
Feb. 6, 2023

Book Summary vs. Reading - Is It Better To Read Books Or Summaries? My Take on Summaries

Book Summary vs. Reading - Is It Better To Read Books Or Summaries? My Take on Summaries

This is my personal take on book summaries - Is it better to read books or summaries? When is it okay to read the summary? When should I read the whole book? What kind of value can I get out of a summary? I dig into why sometimes it's better to read the whole book, and sometimes summaries can be immensely helpful!

(Second Mix Podcast Episode 82)
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This is the Second Mix Podcast - a dose of personal development leading to personal growth. My philosophy is that personal development is business development and that mindset, especially a success mindset, is the primary factor that leads to self-improvement and successful entrepreneurs. I like to talk about things that matter with people who care as well as bring you some old-school motivation and valuable information from the original masters of inspiration Jim Rohn, Zig Ziglar, Brian Tracy, and more. These guys helped me turn my life around in just a couple years, I've 5Xed my income, improved my relationships with my wife and kids, and I've completely changed my network - and so much more! I use this podcast to tell you how I did it, the thinking behind it, and as a way to get to meet great new people who are all moving forward by helping people become more than they are.Β 

Don't wish things were easier, wish you were better - Jim Rohn

#booksummary #books #readingΒ 

#meaningoflife #purposeoflife #manssearchformeaningΒ 


Should you read the entire book? I see a lot of comments on Amazon and Audible when I'm searching for books that I wanna read and people say things like everything the author had to teach could have been taught. In 10 pages. This whole book needed to only be 10 pages long or other comments like that indicating that the book was too long.

Sometimes this is absolutely the case, but that has been very rare for me to see in the books that I've read. I want to clear up some ideas about this. Sometimes arrogant or at least ignorant stance about books, it also catches my attention when I hear people believe that they got everything from the summary.

So why waste time reading the book? I want to tell you how I see it. Circumstances when reading the whole book is way better and circumstances when it might be better to check out a summary. All that coming up in 5, 4, 3, 2, 1.

In a great book. The author presents a case and tells us what they believe. Then each chapter usually goes on to prove the case with data or examples, which to me are ultimately just as important as the main points. A summary usually misses this or it turns meaningful and moving examples and data into yet more bullet points that feel more like a list than an argument.

But the examples are there to convince us. So we miss a lot of the author's passion if we're just reading the bullet points of a summary. This stories and data also help the points sink into our heads. We get good input, and it adds to our own body of accessible knowledge all the. From the new book, bumps around in your head for a while with all the other information from all the other books that you've read, the experiences that you've had, the life that you're living, and like magic, but not magic,

new ideas are created in your own mind in a particular mix that no other human being has access to. Your knowledge, your experience. Your lifestyle, your mindset and stories also help us think of other points in the same way where we use the stories and data to come to our own conclusions about other things that aren't even related to the book.

I can't tell you how many times that's happened to me that I get an idea for something I've been pondering for a year based on a book that I'm reading. And the book has nothing to do with the idea that I came up with. So books have more power than merely sharing information.

With a summary, we miss the chance to agree or disagree with what the author is saying, and we miss the opportunity to think for ourselves about whether or not the argument holds water. If you have absolute faith in the author, which should never be, then maybe the convincing data is unnecessary. But isn't that the whole point of writing a book? To present the argument in such a way as to convince the reader that your premise is accurate, helpful, and useful.

 If you have no faith in the author or haven't heard of them, then you're robbing yourself of a chance to hear them out and make a decision whether or not their argument holds water, 

and in my opinion, every book you read should be an argument with yourself about whether or not the author has convinced you of their point.

Stories and examples have an additional purpose. If you're reading and the first example doesn't strike you in your experience as good proof, then hearing a different story and different data that still backs up that same point in the chapter may serve to actually convince you. 

So a good author is gonna go at their own argument and each point from several angles to make certain that they get the point across in as many ways and to as many readers as possible.

So reading through the data and reading through the stories, reading through the examples, all of that serves to help you understand these main points better, helps them sink into your head.

In some ways it really is like going to court and having witnesses on the stand and having character witnesses and hearing the stories from different viewpoints and hearing what happened from different people and different perspectives. And then you get to decide for yourself whether you think that the defendant is guilty or innocent, but you have to hear the stories. You don't want to go to court and just have, here's the data, here's the data, here's the data for one side, here's the data, here's the data, here's the data for the other side. Why don't you guys look these over and make your decision?

That doesn't work. You have to, you have to hear the people speaking. You have to say, do I believe them? Is it ringing true? Do they seem honest? Does this all hold water or not? In that case, reading the book is like actually going to

the trial and being able to understand because you were there instead of understanding when you read a newspaper article about it the next day.

So reading a summary and acting on it seems to me like blindly following advice without totally understanding what the author intended with the point they were trying to make. Some people will take action from a summary and they might have enough background learning to be able to strategically implement brief lessons.

But some people can hear a single quote and realize that they can implement that quote into their life. I'm not like that. I want to know where that quote came from. I want to know the context. I wanna know the paragraph that quote was pulled out of. I want proof and more background, and I want to allow myself the chance to be convinced because once again, every book you read should be an argument with yourself about whether or not the author has convinced you.


So another reason that you would want to read the book instead of the summary. Is because of bias, there will be missing information between the author and the summarizer, and then there will be missing information between the summarizer and the listener of the summary. We all have bias based on our experiences, lifestyle, our network of friends and family.

This is nothing new. We all know it.

and most bias isn't good or bad. It's just how we think. The term bias has been commandeered, and most of the time it usually means something bad. Bias is not bad. It's just there. It is just how we think. So, For my bias, if I were to summarize a book, 10% of that book that I'm summarizing is gonna speak to me based on what I'm going through, based on what I need, based on what speaks to me.

Reviewers have biases and they're gonna pick out information that's applicable to them. If I review a book, I'll try to cover everything, but I'm going to emphasize the most important parts and the bias kicks in when I say the most important parts.

because they're the most important parts to me, and they're not necessarily gonna be the most important parts to you. In fact, I will say the most important parts to me are not gonna be the most important parts to you, and you're only gonna get 10% of the value of my summary. So if I'm getting 10% of the book and you are getting 10% of my summary, now you are getting 1% of the value of the book.

and to me that's not enough. Of course, decide for yourself. You figure out. I mean, it's, it's not up to me to tell you how to learn because there are times when I use summaries myself and I, I wanna give you the three times that I use summaries myself. 

Number one, if the book is a "how to" book. and you have a good background in the subject matter. If you already know all the parts of a system and the author is teaching a new way of implementing the system, then a summary may be okay for you. That may be all you need just to, just to run through this new system that the author's writing about for you to decide if it's worth it or not. 

Number two, before you read the book. You can listen to a summary to decide whether you're gonna read it or not. If it's basic information that gives you noth nothing new, then maybe it's best to spend your time stretching yourself when you read and getting outta your comfort zone. If you're gonna spend the time reading, then of course you want to do a little bit of research on the book, and the summary can help you with that research. 

Number three, after you've read the book. If it was excellent information, use a summary to refresh your memory. Every time I finish a book that I think I would love to revisit at some point in my life, I look for several summaries. If I can find them online, I save them as a PDF and keep them on in my Google Drive so that I can quickly revisit a book if I want a quick review.

And then if I want a longer, more accurate review, I will read the book again.

I do want to say through all of this that I believe that learning is vital, and I believe that you learn from a book summary so you know, weigh the scales about what is better or not for you. If you're just not gonna read books, uh, something is better than nothing. and going through the summary may be a really good way of staying accurate on the current information that is out there, and I would definitely encourage that in anybody.

But if you're doing it and thinking that you're getting just as good as reading the whole book, I would have to disagree with that premise and say reading the book is more valuable. So, My advice to you, if you like to listen to summaries, and I know nobody was asking for my advice, but here I am on my podcast,

My advice to you if you are reading book summaries is that if you listen to a summary and say, wow, that summary was incredible, then go read the book. Go buy the book. Read the book, you, you know, I mean, most people are listening to summaries now on audio anyways, so. I would recommend getting the audiobook and listening to it all the way through and taking six or seven days on the way to and from work instead of listening to three or four books on the way to and from work in one day.

I think you're gonna get a lot more out of it. And I can honestly say that reading these books instead of listening to summaries has changed my life. It has helped me expand. I have become something entirely new, and it was all because of the stuff that I decided to put in my head. Thanks for sticking around.

I'll see you next time.