How to Read a Book in 4 Minutes and Still Get Value From It
Non-fiction books have a lot of fluff in them. There are a few reasons for that.
First, publishers are afraid of breaking the tradition and think people wouldn’t buy a shorter book for the same price. Next, examples, spread throughout books, help understand concepts better. And finally, included stories keep the reader engaged.
Drop all these reasons and you’ve got a 90-page book instead of 250 pages. So, realistically, a book only has at most 90 pages of content. But even then, a lot of the sentences are about why you should care and how they got to a conclusion. They also repeat the key message many times over to help you retain it.
But what you’re looking for in a well-researched book are the facts and conclusions. And some books really only have a couple. Because I value my time greatly, I wondered if there was a way to get the facts first, then decide if I wanted to get the examples and stories to understand further.
It turns out that there is, and it’s called Four Minute Books (4MB)[free], by Niklas Göke. He even created a publication for it. With over 800 summaries, there’s a lot to choose from. So far, every book I was interested in was listed.
What I like about 4MB is the structure behind the summaries. You get a one-sentence summary, a favourite quote from the book, 3 important lessons, and the summary in other formats. It’s like reading a very valuable review of the book.
I loved this idea so much and gained so many insights quickly that I decided to turn the summaries into mind maps. You can find some of them on their website, or you can find my collections on Mind Meister [free].
Why does it work?
Authors frequently repeat the same nuggets of wisdom in their book. This is to help your brain retain what you read. When you boil it down to three short lessons, you’re not overwhelmed with other information. You can much more easily retain 4-minutes’ worth of information than you can 6 hours of reading.
It also makes it much easier to recollect using spaced repetition — a powerful technique to help you retain information longer, battling the forgetting curve. The forgetting curve stipulates that you lose a major chunk of what you learn within a day unless you actively recall it. The more time passes, the more you keep forgetting.
Another reason I like 4MB’s approach is that I don’t have to scour the most important parts. They bring the top three lessons to the forefront. It’s not always obvious what the main three points are by simply reading a book.
A lot of the summaries on 4MB are summaries of summaries on Blinkist. Whenever I want to learn more about the book but I’m still undecided about getting the full book, I can find a longer summary on Blinkist. And then, if I can’t get enough of it, I can purchase the book.
For lesser-known writers, I like to support them by purchasing the book whether or not I decide to check it out on Blinkist. I don’t always read them, but I feel good about supporting the author.
If you’ve heard about a book before and would like to know more about it before buying it, fourminutebooks.com is an excellent resource. You can also use it, like me, to get the golden nuggets much faster. And if you prefer a more visual approach, you can check out the mind maps I did out of them.
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