Blinkist: Bite-Sized Learning for Productivity and Self-Improvement


So easy, it feels like cheating!

Photo by C D-X on Unsplash

I have a confession to make. I don’t love to read. I mean, I do read, but I don’t love it like some people do. I never feel an urge to curl up on the couch and lose myself in a book for a few hours.

Don’t get me wrong. I have read plenty of books. I know the benefits of reading books and I wish I read more, I truly do. However, I struggle to find the time and the focus that is needed to read more often.

The Problem With Self-Help Books

Here’s the deal. When I do read, I read non-fiction self-help books. But those books have a fatal flaw. Most of them could have been a blog post.

I know that is an incredibly disrespectful thing to say about the authors who spent months, or years, researching and writing these books, but with very few exceptions, I do believe that it’s true.

I have read physical books, e-books, and audiobooks but, with the notable exception of Daniel Pink’s books, I rarely finish them. Why? Because too many authors spend too much time regaling countless studies and stories to support the points they are trying to prove.

Some people love that, and I am genuinely happy for those people. Me? I find it repetitive and verbose. Just get to the point.

Enter Blinkist: Book Summaries You’ll Love

Whether you agree with me or not, there is a service out there that caters to this problem. It’s called Blinkist. It provides short audio summaries of books (and podcasts) for those who don’t like to read, or for those who just don’t have time to read.

These short summaries are called Blinks, and they are anywhere from 15 to 30 minutes long, depending on the book. They contain only the key lessons from a book and are presented in a succinct, easy to follow format. You can listen to Blinks with the Blinkist mobile app, or online at

Screenshot by Jonathan Wylie

What I Like About Blinkist

I’ve been using Blinkist for a few weeks, and I’m truly impressed with this service. With over 5,500 non-fiction books and podcasts to choose from, you are almost guaranteed to find something that you like.

Titles like Atomic Habits, 12 Rules for Life, Building a Second Brain, The 5 AM Club, Deep Work, Getting Things Done, and The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People are all available as book summaries on Blinkist.

If you don’t have a specific title in mind, you can browse topics like Productivity, Personal Development, Education, or Technology to find new releases and bestsellers that will inspire you.

Screenshot by Jonathan Wylie

I also love the quality of the audio production. The narrators that they select to read each Blink are as good (or better) than anything you will find on Audible. The narrators don’t just read the words on a script. They immerse you in the most important things that you need to know.

And, if you need a break from the dulcet tones of the Blinkist narrators, you can read the summaries yourself. A full transcript is included with each Blink to give you the choice between listening and reading. If you prefer, you can even send Blinks to your Kindle to read later.

But you don’t have to just use Blinkist as a replacement for reading a book. You can use it to refresh your memory about books you have already read, or to preview a new book before you read it.

To evaluate how good the summaries are, I listened to some Blinks of books I have already read, like To Sell is Human, by Daniel Pink. It felt very familiar and included many of my personal takeaways.

How Much Does Blinkist Cost?

A one-year subscription to Blinkist is $79.99 a year right now, and I think it’s great value for what you get. You can pay monthly if you prefer, but at $12.79 a month, it’s not nearly as cost-effective.

It’s not well advertised, but if you want to use Blinkist for free, you can. With a free account, you can read or listen to one pre-selected book for free, either in the app, where it is listed as the Blink of the Day, or on their website at

Obviously, the free account is a little limiting. So, if you like what you hear from the Blink of the Day, I would strongly recommend a premium plan where there is no limit to the number of Blinks you can listen to.

Is There Room for Improvement?

As you can probably tell, I’m very happy with Blinkist, but if I could change one thing, it would be CarPlay integration. I use Overcast as my podcast app, and it lets you select or navigate between chapters in a podcast.

Blinkist doesn’t allow that, but it could because every Blink is split up into seven or eight key points. Adding a chapter menu or a skip forward and skip back button would be great for finding the chapter that you want to listen to. You can do this in the Blinkist app, but not while using CarPlay.

Overcast’s CarPlay Chapter Support: Screenshot by Jonathan Wylie

The only other thing I don’t like about Blinkist are the badges. I “earned” the Librarian badge for adding a Blink to my Library. I got the Lunchbreak badge for using Blinkist between 12 and 2pm, and the Driver badge for using Blinkist on my commute.

Blinkist says badges are “a great way to understand more about how you’re getting powerful ideas” but they weren’t doing anything for me. Gamification is for some, but not for all, and I found an option to turn these email notifications off in the settings. Bah, humbug!

Blinkist vs. Audible

Blinkist is the Audible I always wanted. It has the content I want to listen to in the format that I prefer; short form audio. However, Blinkist is a lot cheaper than Audible and I don’t have to worry about whether a book will be “worth” my Audible credit.

Audible lets you listen to 12 books a year. With Blinkist, you can listen to as many as you want. I know it’s not a like for like experience, but I can’t tell you how many times I have agonized in the past over which book to spend my monthly Audible credit on.

With Blinkist, I can try all the books and if I find one I like, I can purchase the full audiobook version from Blinkist. There is, of course, no obligation to do so, but the option is there if you want it.

Final Thoughts

So, if you are looking for a way to engage in some new learning and boost your productivity and performance at work, Blinkist is the service for you. It has the content you crave, and it gives you the flexibility to listen while walking the dog, picking up groceries, or driving to work.

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