5 Blinkist Alternatives for Free Book Summaries You May Not Have Known – MUO – MakeUseOf

Go after more knowledge in less time with free book summaries in text, audio, video, and animations.
Haven’t read a book but still want to look like you read it? Get a free book summary through these apps, podcasts, and YouTube channels.
Not everyone wants to develop a habit of reading regularly. But that doesn’t mean you need to miss out on the great content in books. From entrepreneurship and marketing to classic novels and fiction, these services offer free book summaries, whether in text, audio, video, or animations.
QuickRead is the best free alternative to Blinkist, one of the must-have apps for book lovers. It’s a treasure trove of free book summaries available to listen to on an app or online, or read as text. And they’re all done by humans, not AI.
As you’d expect, the books at QuickRead are the non-fictional variety, including categories like entrepreneurship, history, economics, marketing, spirituality, philosophy, etc. Considering it’s all free, it hosts a shockingly large collection of popular books in these genres from reputed authors. Each book is summarized by one person and narrated by another.
The mobile apps allow you to download books for offline listening if you pay for the premium account. But well, the website offers free MP3 downloads of each book (as well as the text in a PDF file). It makes little sense to pay for the premium plan unless you want to support the developers and content team.
You can also subscribe to the QuickRead podcast to get a new book daily in your favorite podcast player.
Download: QuickRead for Android | iOS (Free)
While AI summarizers are great, there’s nothing better than a real person reading a book and telling you all about it. Meet Michael George Knight, the man behind Best Book Bits, who voraciously reads books to upload four summaries a week.
Unlike a lot of other book summarizers, Best Book Bits offers three ways for you to access what a book is all about. There’s a full-text summary on the website, a podcast for an audiobook-style precis, and a YouTube video that combines visuals with Knight speaking. Knight has the ability to pick the most important nuggets from any book and present them in context through his own words. It’s a wonderful insight.
The summaries are usually about 20 minutes in length to listen or watch, and about the same at a natural reading speed. You can browse the massive library at Best Book Bits alphabetically or by category. Knight has included a helpful Top 20 section as well and made his own book free to read.
Overdue is a podcast about books you’ve been meaning to read, but no longer have to because someone else is telling you what it’s all about. Hosts Andrew Cunningham and Craig Getting dive into one book every Monday to analyze it in an hour-long episode. And unlike most others, they are unafraid to do fiction book summaries.
This isn’t a book review podcast though. Andrew and Craig’s lively banter is entertaining and informational, and intended for those who’ve already read the book or don’t care about spoilers. It’s more a way to cheat on actually reading the book, but knowing enough about it to get away in conversation. And along the way, you’ll also learn what the book is trying to say.
Start with the New Listener? section on the website, where they present some of their best episodes. Pick a book you haven’t read, listen to its episode, and then head to the Wikipedia page of the book. You’ll be surprised by how well you already know the whole plot.
Can a whole book be turned into a short animated video? Both Book Video Club and One Percent Better do a remarkable job of summarizing books into animations. Both avoid fiction and you’ll generally find books on self-improvement, marketing, history, sales, and other such subjects.
Book Video Club keeps the videos short at an average length of three minutes. It’s not a cartoon, mind you, but illustrated images that slowly animate to life, while a speaker talks about the lessons from the book. In most cases, you’ll understand the salient points, but you’ll obviously need to read the book to get the details.
The main One Percent Better channel has several animated videos such as articles, personal stories, etc. So check the Animated Book Summaries section, with videos ranging from three to 15 minutes. Again, it’s a similar style of animation, but it’s a much deeper dive into the book than Book Video Club.
These aren’t the only two channels that animate book summaries, but they do have extensive libraries of finished videos. Check YouTube for more such channels and one-off videos by searching for book summaries.
Book Cheat is hilarious. Yes, it’s a book summary podcast that will make you feel like you’ve read the book even if you haven’t, but above all that, it’s funny. Host Dave Warneke submits a book report to two guests twice a month, who haven’t read the book he’s talking about.
The podcast is all about Warneke, who seems to script his summary to elicit reactions from his audience. And those reactions are great because that’s what you’re also thinking in your head. It lends a more interactive feel to the podcast while giving you breathers to process all that you’ve heard so far.
The books on offer are all classic novels you never read, from A Streetcar Named Desire to Lord of the Flies. Some books go into double episodes, so it’s not really a summary anymore. But hey, if you like the podcast but always found that book difficult to read, this is the next best step.
Blinkist has spawned several off-shoots. Some of them use AI to summarize books, others use real humans. The end result is the same: a short, 10-15 minute version of a popular book, in text and audio. But all these apps like 12min, BookShort, Bookey, and more are paid subscription services like Blinkist, so you really need to be sure you’ll use them regularly to be worth it.
The good news is there is always a free tier. Apart from the trial version, you can always turn to Blinkist Daily for a free daily book summary. You’ll find a similar feature in most of these apps, and that by itself might be enough to make you well-read.
Mihir Patkar has been writing on technology and productivity for over 14 years at some of the top media publications across the world. He has an academic background in journalism.
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