Most Flexible Book Notes

The first rule of fight club, that’s already taken? Oh, okay. The first rule of reading books, it’s always better to read and not take notes than to not read at all. While it is ideal to retain knowledge from the books that we’ve read any type of consumption, including passive consumption, like listening to audio books is better than not consuming in the first place.

My Notion Of Book Notes Templates

In this blog, you’ll see how customer support cv writing service structured my Notion of book notes template to reduce the friction of reading as much as possible, so I don’t feel like I need to commit a significant amount of time when I start a new book.  

No, not really, but I do have problems committing myself to non-fiction books because I always feel like I need to take comprehensive notes, when I read them. After listening to Ali Abdaal’s advice and trying out the service called Shortform, who are very kindly sponsoring this blog, by the way, I have to say I’m extremely impressed with our book summaries.

Book Reading Process

In fact, I’ve partially integrated their offering into my book reading process. Let me show you what I mean. Jumping straight into my book notes template here in Notion. I’m actually gonna start with the content, portion first, before coming back up to the properties and you’ll see why in a little bit. First, I actually like to remind myself how I came across this book, and there’s a very practical reason for this. Usually it’s friends, family, colleagues, who would recommend me books. And I like to follow up with them after I’ve started or completed a book.

Hold Myself Accountable To Finishing The Book

To build that relationship by letting them know I took action based on their recommendations. And this next part is just for me because I’m make blog, so ignore this part. And here comes our first interesting section. Impressions from one pager. And this one-pager is referring to the one page summary that comes with all of Shortforms book guides.

This is like a short article within itself. So, what I’d like to do is first read through, this entire one-pager without taking any notes and just write, my initial impressions from it. And I’ll give a specific example later on. Then I’m gonna make a decision.

Do I Wanna Start With Just The Impressions?

AKA, is this book not something I’m looking for right now? It’s not you I promise it’s me. Or do I wanna take it a step further and take notes on the one-pager. As your gonna hopefully start to see this is a flexibility I was talking about that allows me to dial up or down the commitment as I see fit. Within the one-pager note section, I would usually start to take notes down here first, then summarize in one sentence to make sure I understood the core message.

Apply The Learnings In My Life

Then I will think of ways I can apply the learnings in my life, easy peasy. Of course, if you choose not to use Shortform, you can simply replace this one-pager section with a summary you find online or your current go-to source that helps you determine whether you wanna commit to reading a book or not. Jumping back in the template usually at this point I make one of four choices.

Do I wanna stop with the notes I’ve taken so far? Meaning do I have the general gist down already? Or do I proceed onto the Shortform book guide? Listen to the book on audible or read through the entire book. Usually I pick one of those four choices, but sometimes I mix and match. And if I choose to go with a Shortform guide, you’ll see that I added another section here.

Viewpoints/Further Reading

This is because in my opinion, Shortforms biggest value add is that the writers include relevant research and formation that I otherwise would have missed, had I only read the book. Let’s take “Why We Sleep” by Matthew Walker as an example. I first came across this book in Thomas Frank and Ali Abdaal’s blogs. And I also know Bill Gates endorsed this book. All very impressive individuals, right? Okay, Bill Gates slightly higher than, you know okay? The extremely interesting thing is Shortforms book guide for “Why We Sleep” brings up scientific findings that go against.

Author’s Talking Points

Yes, go against the author’s talking points. And if I had only read the book, I probably would not have gone out of my way to search for opposing viewpoints for a book endorsed by Bill Gates right? Of course I wanna say for the record, the book is great, it’s backed up by a lot of scientific research, but as a reader, I would at least like to know if some parts of the book were over-exaggerated or if somethings were left out. No matter how small those elements may be, since it gives me the choice to follow up or not.

For the audible section, I’m gonna jump to another example, “Contagious” by Jonah Berger. Huge shout out to Kajol who recommended me this book, she’s a management consultant based in the UK. She has her own YouTube channel, I’ll link it down below. And as you can see, I took notes on the one-pager because there are six principles that apparently contribute to why ideas and products go viral. And I definitely want to remember what those are. If I scroll down, first social currency. Second, create effective triggers. Third, emotional response.

Public Visibility

I decided to listen to the audio book because although I can use the notes here to remind myself of the six principles, it was clear that the author included a lot of interesting case studies, and I wanna hear those actual examples. So I’ve been listening to this whenever I go to the gym. And this is where I give myself a lot of room for error, because as you can see in the audible section here, I let myself write down anything I remember. This is passive consumption, right? I’m listening to this at the gym.

I’m not gonna be typing out notes as I work on my sweet biceps. So a healthy balance is when I come back, if I remember something, I write it down. Because something is always better than nothing. And finally, for the read the book and take full notes section, the only addition is the top three quotes part. And as many of you might’ve already noticed, I took a lot of this structure from Ali Abdaal’s book notes template.

15 Minutes On Property Field Alone

I spent like 15 minutes on his property field alone, and I felt like that added to the friction of reading. So mine is like the dumb down version. And speak of properties, I kept the bare minimum. So after the author of the genre, I kept this simple, as opposed to the 20 Ali has in his I think just business career and personal. And for status, I would bucket it the impressions, one-pager, Shortform and book under reading and audible for listening obviously.

Also Read: Best Dropshipping Suppliers & How to Source Them

Format could be multiple formats, right? So for “Contagious,” it would be impressions, one-pager and audible. And I’m honestly impressed by the number of categories that Shortform has already. I usually read books in business, career success productivity obviously, psychology, “Thinking Fast and Slow” by Daniel Kahneman and “Predictably Irrational” by Dan Ariely, fantastic books must read.

Try A Book In Money/Finance Next

If you guys have any recommendations, let me know down in the comments below. I’ve heard “Freakonomics” pretty good. I’m embarrassed to say I’ve not read “Moneyball” yet. I love Michael Lewis’s “Liar’s Poker”. So maybe this one first. Oh, almost forgot, you can download my book notes template over at my website.

If you wanna give Shortform a try, you can actually get a five day free trial by going to or by clicking the link down in the description. They publish new book guides every week and apparently subscribers get to vote on what books to cover. If you use Notion you might like this playlist where I share more Notion tips and templates.

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