Warren Buffett spends 80% of his day reading, Mark Cuban reads three hours a day, and Bill Gates reads a book a week. Most successful people agree that reading books is important because it is a difficult mental task that requires focus and guides deeper thinking. Inc. says business leaders believe that deep reading cultivates in them the knowledge, habits, and skills needed to make decisions, plan, and prioritize.
So to be more like successful people, we need to adopt their reading habits, right?
Not according to Blinklist, who says there is no need for us to waste all those hours reading books when we can read summaries in only 15 minutes. Blinklist is one of many companies that sell book summaries for busy people on the go. They are the modern equivalent of Cliffs Notes, who started the whole book summary business in 1958. University students who were assigned books to read wouldn’t bother, reading only the short outlines instead. Millions were sold to students who were satisfied to go through college the cheap and easy way. Sensitive to these criticisms, Cliffs Notes said their outlines were never intended to replace reading the full books and “Students who use them in this way are denying themselves the very education that they are presumably giving their most vital years to achieve.”
Let’s take this saving-time-reading-books premise a step further.
Why should we waste 15 minutes on a book when we can do it in 15 seconds? How about:
- Outliers. Hard work and talent are great, but the secret is luck.
- Lean In. Women can overcome obstacles by speaking up.
- The Black Swan. People are very good at fooling themselves.
So who is more attracted to summaries than real books?
People who don’t want to interrupt their entertainment with reading. The latest reports tell us Americans (but not Buffett, Cuban, or Gates) spend eight to ten hours a day using smartphones and watching television.
No wonder they read so few books.