Do you know how many books I read last week? Eight.
I’m not talking about short children’s stories or Buzzfeed articles. I’m talking about professional book summaries that I became addicted to.
If you’re a bookworm like me your reading list is probably growing faster than you can keep up with. Books on self-improvement, psychology, building a business, improving time management, and, needless to say, about memory and language learning.
Books are like mentors, personal coaches who help us progress.
Online blogs and podcasts are full of book recommendations, but let’s face it: the time is scarce.
Also, how many times did this happen to you: you bought a book recommended to you by a colleague you look up to. You read it and discovered that the lessons it contained were not worth the monetary investment. Or worse, discovered that the writer’s style inevitably puts you to sleep each time you attempt to read a page.
Lack of time and an expanding reading list are two opposing forces. The way to combine them is to use book summaries. Blinkist is an app that specialises in those: the creators have compiled a huuuuge (and constantly growing) library of summaries of non-fiction books. And, guess what? The summaries are coupled with audio versions, so you can go through a whole book as you walk to the gym (that's what I do 😉 ).
If you think that a shortened version will stop you from reading a complete book, you’re mistaken. After reading or listening to a summary you may likely discover that you do want to read the book in full! Or, be glad you didn’t buy it.
All self-learners naturally aim for self-improvement, but it’s hard to do it alone. Books offer us a helping hand.
With that in mind, here are my recommendations for you, dear language learners: five books on language, time management, habit building — a basic selection to give you a taste of methods you can easily apply to your daily study routine.
Most importantly… with book summaries, you can read each of these in one day. Or even: all of them in one day.
Many of you have probably been brought to language learning by the author of this book, Benny Lewis. This Irish polyglot has only started learning languages in his 20s, yet in a very short time seems to have hacked the system. How? By eating three sushi pieces a day! Just kidding 😝 Read the book and you'll know.
My highlight: "It’s much easier to focus on language learning from the comfort of your own home."
If you are a LinguaLift student and messaged me about your study plan, I probably replied referring to the "compound effect of studying a little bit every day". Now you know where this recommendation comes from! The concept doesn’t only apply to language learning, of course. Once you learn about the full power of this method, you’ll be dividing all your day into 20-30 minute intervals!
My highlight: “The wall of your discipline and routines represents the gap between your old self and your improved, stronger self.”
Not everyone is a fan of Guy Deutscher, but it’s good to know his arguments before you read any controversies they provoked. The book discusses the question of the extent to which language influences our thinking, and to which the culture shapes the language. Many words to read, many convoluted arguments—rather than diving head first, better start with this summary.
My highlight: “Which language is more complex: one with more vowel sounds or one with more verb tenses? There’s no real answer.”
I guess the title speaks for itself here. If you’re driven to achieve, these are your new seven commandments. Each chapter ends with a one sentence take-away. I’d write them down and stick in front of your desk.
My highlight: “You should visualize how you’re going to aim your bow so that you hit the bullseye.”
Now, I had to think twice before recommending this book. Once you read it, you may stop messaging me for language coaching advice! The book summarises key points of efficient learning and memorisation, sort of like the articles on our blog, but with less funny anecdotes ;-)
My highlight: “What about just repeating again and again what we studied? Well, this is overlearning, and experiments have shown that it’s pretty useless for long term memory.”
Learning requires repetition. Repetition requires habit. In the back of our heads we all know that, but sometimes we need an extra kick in the bum to make it happen. This book will give you motivation you’re searching for in the form of examples and research to support the science of habit.
My highlight: “This is the golden rule of changing any habit: don’t resist craving, redirect it.”
These should set you for a day! Remember to make your own highlights and notes in Blinkist, so that the compact knowledge from the above summaries doesn’t escape from your head too quickly.
Why not start a habit of reading through your highlights on a weekly basis? The compound benefits will be huge and you're likely to become fluent forever ;-)
Feel free to share this post with all your book-worm friends 😁