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The Power of Shortform: Book Summaries to Improve Your Life


Time! Who has it? That’s the problem with traditional reading – who has the time to pick a book, sit by the pool, on a park bench, or at the beach, and actually read? 

Couple that with the fact that most people read books all wrong – their eyes bounce off the words on the page as though there is a medal to win by finishing your reading list. There isn’t. (BTW, I’ve definitely read my fair share of books just like this!)

It’s more important to retain the information from what you’re reading over checking off a box. To extract the nuggets, you need to employ critical thinking skills to help you digest and integrate the information you’re reading. Books are information gained over years of study condensed into one form. They are the author’s best stuff. 

That is where book summary apps come in, like Shortform. Book summary apps help you remember what you read and important ideas or quotes from the reading (if you read the book) or help you decide if the book is worth reading (if you haven’t read the book). But not all book summary apps are created equal, in my humble opinion. 

Here are the big differences: 

  • Book selection. How many book summaries does the app have, and what are the titles? Are the books on your reading list? Some book summary apps specialize in particular genres, like business or self-improvement. Some may be too broad, so there are just a handful of options within each category.  I love to have the precise key takeaways from popular books in my hands at a moment’s notice.
  • Quality of summary. The summary itself is the reason to subscribe to a book summary app. Does the summary capture the key points? Is the quality consistent among all of its books? Shortform uses a one-page summary (which is a bit of a misnomer—their one-page summaries contain a ton of detail!). Blinklist, by contrast, provides a “blink” of the main ideas from each chapter. Blinks take about 5 to 15 minutes to read. These summaries take 15 to 30 (but you can also listen to their audio summaries).  
  • Original content. Does the app help you process the information through critical thinking? For example, Shortform compares and contrasts titles on similar content. This is epic. They also provide links to relevant information online. What I particularly like is that using a summary platform offers differing opinions and notes that get my brain churning. 
  • Features. This includes mobile apps, audio, and exercises. How will you receive the information? Does the app include PDFs? Are the unique features of the app important to you? And do the features help you retain the information or implement the strategies in the book? For example, Shortform allows you to highlight the summaries and connect those with Readwise. Readwise connects your highlights from all platforms, like Shorform, Kindle, Apple Books, Medium, and more, into one place, so you can build a personal library of the most important tidbits of what you’ve learned. 

Personally, I’ve been using Shortform for a few months now, and I’m still really excited about this app. Their summaries contain so much information, and the way the summaries are organized helps me integrate the key concepts into my life. Shortform lets you listen, download PDFs, and highlight what is most important to you. So, if you are on the fence about diving into a book and dedicating time to read each page, having short summaries of must-read books helps you decipher whether the book calls to you on a deeper level.

Books on my reading list include Self-compassion by Kristin Neff, The Big Leap by Gay Hendricks, and Getting the Love you Want by Harville Hendrix. I also recently read Atomic Habits by James Clear. For comparison, I checked out Shortform’s summary of the book. Wow! I didn’t realize how much I forgot from a book a read less than four months ago! I kept saying: I don’t remember that. When I cross-referenced, I realized I read it … it just didn’t stay put in my brain. 

If you’re anything like me, you’re reading because you want the information to make a difference in your life. Reading is like taking courses with the best scholars in the world — past and present. The thought-provoking exercises found in these summaries not only make the information immediately relatable but connect me with work on a much deeper level.  

As you can tell…I love Shortform, SO much that I reached out and asked them for a discount to share. 

Visit to receive 5 days of unlimited access and an additional 20% discount on your annual subscription.

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