When scrolling through Instagram or Facebook, have you ever come across this ad for the app Blinkist? It intrigued me too. I did a trial run. There was a huge load of books and it was kinda crazy to pick the one for my liking.
The books I pick up depends on my current focus and short term goal, which will eventually take me to the long term goal. Having so much of choice was exhausting and I could immediately notice that my focus drifted. Should I focus on productivity? Should I learn something from Rich Dad, Poor Dad? What about getting an excerpt from the latest Tim Ferris book? It was all exhausting. There were premium plans which offered more benefits. The premium membership may be costly for some and not so costly for others. But it is definitely in five digits if we go for a one year package.
The other thought, because of the social media content I devour each day, was about my privilege. I have a smart phone. I have required English knowledge to understand what the app is saying, also at least a bit of knowledge about what books I want to start listening to. What will happen to a person, who is from a middle class and don’t understand English, who couldn’t be sure of what he wants to read? Why not these books translated to regional Indian languages? At least why are they not available in platforms for people who think they have no time to read such books?
Business Books – The Problem
In my experience I have come across talented people who couldn’t move corporate ladder because of the lack of reading. Their communication skills were also not so great. If you argue that communication is nothing to do with language, I will agree with you. But one can’t really rely only on their company to train them in stuff like productivity, out of the box ideas and get them to another level. These guys are so immersed in job they couldn’t read the books. They miss out on opportunities, because they couldn’t bring anything new to the table other than what their managers had taught them.
I have suggested books to people. They are enthusiastic at the start and then they don’t go past ten pages. They blame it on variety of things like hard words, seeking dictionary etc. Then I suggested them the translation of great non-fiction business books. The translators come to the point very long time by the time the person reading the book has already discarded the book. It was a no-win situation.
But now, I have found a service that gives exactly what I wanted for a very nominal sum. Before I get into that let me talk a bit about the problem with apps like blinkist.
Book summaries aren’t perfect. I found it more like reading the excerpt in the back of the book or about the book inside the jacket cover. Some of the books like Sapiens, Seven habits of highly effective people have good summaries and conveyed the whole point. But for books like Sapiens, it is not just information. It is the insight you gather when you cross a part of the book that made it all fun and useful. Blinkist doesn’t really get to that. Yes, there are limitations. But if you are new to reading, it will work to an extent.
But there are different topics you wouldn’t have imagined or paid for in a book store. This gives you an opportunity to explore what it is and may be, you may like it and go deep into it.
The major problem I had was, taking down points without any context of it. Without context we may even misinterpret the facts and fit it into our beliefs which we had developed already. This defeats the purpose of reading books. And importantly, you are trusting someone who wrote the summary, but not the subject matter expert who wrote the book. You can’t be sure if the person had read the book or scavenged internet for different point of views to get the summary to you.
And to the last issue for me. It is not available in any Indian regional language. You should be familiar with online listening and also to pick up the language and accent (it is neutral) of the reader.
But I found this website recently where there are more than 50 books available as audio snippets, capturing the essence of the book so well and make into action items. One person reads the book every week and records the takeaways in a podcast. The person who reads the book Mr. Suresh Balachandar is a business coach by profession. He reads the books to gain insights to help his clients’ businesses. To me it was like a stamp of authority.
For a monthly subscription of Rs. 99, you will get a new business book summary in your inbox every week. And there are more than 50 books in the library. The book summary is provided in Tamil, which was the most important thing for me.
You can get the subscription here. For this blog readers, he was kind enough to give a trial period. The free trial ends on 29-02-2020. This link will be valid only upto that date.
The internet is a huge space and there can be a lot of distractions. But if you can spend ten minutes a day per week, you will have the essence of one of the great business books. And if you remember it well or take notes, you can even use it in your workplace or life to see the results.
Are you willing to do that?