When I was in high school, the internet was still in its infancy. There was no powerful, all-knowing search engine (though Ask Jeeves was pretty revolutionary for its time!). Instead, we relied on things like CliffsNotes for cheating on our homework. Just kidding about the cheating part—though it’s a topic that’s often been debated. CliffsNotes were never able to substitute for reading assigned literature, nor was that their intent. But the little yellow-and-black-striped books did come in handy for a refresher on earlier chapters before a quiz, or to help to clear the cobwebs when a section was above my comprehension level.
Today, many book summary websites offer paid subscriptions for key insights into books you may want to read. For a free alternative, the Libby app from your library provides summarized analysis of classics, popular fiction and nonfiction books from publishers like Worth Books, Bright Summaries and the In a Nutshell series.
If you love the nitty gritty details, book summaries may not be for you. But for others who might appreciate a condensed yet comprehensive version, they may serve as a good supplement to your usual reading routine. Here’s a few ideas on how book summaries might improve your reading life:
Keep up with conversations by growing your working knowledge of tons of books in a short amount of time. Book summaries feed you the main points of a book, but leave out the accompanying stories. If you’re not into all of the details, but like to understand the “meat and potatoes” of a title, book summaries make it possible.
For even the most avid readers, life can sometimes get in the way. Time is a premium these days, and you don’t want to waste it reading the first few chapters of a book only to find it’s not your cup of tea. Browsing through the book summary can help you sample some of the main ideas to decide if you want to commit your valuable time to the whole book.
Instead of spending passive time scrolling through social media, use those 10 or 15 minutes waiting for the bus or at the doctor’s office to pick up a book summary and exercise those brain cells. Those minutes add up and imagine how many books you could get through in a year!
Here’s a sample of some of the books you might find that can enhance your reading:
Download the Libby app to start exploring.