We sapiens are on a constant lookout for short cuts. A large reason why ideologies thrive is that they instil a consistency among us which will alleviate us from thinking about decisions that we have to make and instead equip us with short cuts.
A new short cut we have is ‘the summary of books’ that Amazon increasingly is suggesting when you search for a book.
So is it worth now reading a book when you can read it’s summary in 15 mins and get our dopamine dosage of intellectualism? More importantly, is reading a book summary the same as reading a book?
Here are some thoughts on book summaries.
It’s a quick hack, not that hacks are wrong or unacceptable. But they are structurally superficial.
The strength of the arguments made is lost.
You will not be inspired.
Reading summary will be the same as reading a headline of an in-depth article. That might be good for a lot of articles but in the meanwhile, you will miss the good ones.
Even if someone made a good summary, it is that person’s point of view or take away’s from that book. Or worse its most generic summary that the book can offer.
You will miss the subtext behind the text.
You will never know the personality of the author.
You would miss on your unique experience which would have absorbed and affected you.
It is the same as mugging an answer before an exam, rather than understanding and delving deep into the subject. But this might be a legitimate use case for a summary when you just want an overview of what the book is about.
Your neural network is left mostly unmodified. This to me is the biggest downside because even if you don’t remember every book you read, it would slightly alter the way you think and the subject gets ingrained in you at a subtextual level.
You will only get the conclusions, not the reasoning. Summary does not help your long term reasoning skill on the given subject.
Finally, a good summary is a different book.
P.S — This is not a suggestion, just an opinion. Find yours.