Leaders are often the widest-read and the most tenacious readers.

While anyone can read books, Warren Buffett determines successful people to be the few who actually read 500 pages every day.

Case in point: Bill Gates and his voracious appetite for books. He frequently reviews books at The Gates Notes.

(Yes. His own personal blog.)

Screenshot taken from: https://www.gatesnotes.com/Books

Leaders make an effort to read every day, but when work overwhelms, business executives from the likes of Mastercard and Adobe may turn to book summaries for a quick knowledge digest.

They use getAbstract, a book summary service that condenses business knowledge into 10-minute reads for their target market of CEOs, senior executives and managers.

Even superheroes find time to read. Photo by Raj Eiamworakul on Unsplash


But can book summaries offer the same insights and intrigue as the books themselves?

Below are three books recommended by Bill Gates and Singapore leaders. I took a page out of the leadership book and read the getAbstract summaries. They are available in NLB’s e-book collection.

Here are my thoughts on the book abstracts.

1. Business Adventures by John Brooks

Recommended by Bill Gates (and Warren Buffett). Read Gates’ detailed review here.

“Unlike a lot of today’s business writers, Brooks didn’t boil his work down into pat how-to lessons or simplistic explanations for success. … [His] work is really about human nature, which is why it has stood the test of time.” – Bill Gates

The main appeal of this book seems to be its compelling, “humane” style of business writing. That’s challenging for abstract writers to capture or imitate, as they often compress complex concepts in a factual manner.

Despite knowing little about the four case studies discussed, the summary swiftly explains the successes and failures. As a non-business student, however, I may appreciate the insights better written in the original, colourful style of Brooks.

(Image from: https://nlb.overdrive.com/media/1860332)

2. Leadership And Self-Deception – Getting Out Of The Box by The Arbinger Institute

Recommended by Tan Chuan-Jin, Speaker of Parliament. Explore Tan’s thoughts on reading and other books here.

“It is useful not only for leadership and management, but even, and perhaps especially, for personal relationships.” – Tan Chuan-Jin

When we go out of our way for someone, are we concerned with them or their opinion of us? The summary easily illustrates “self-betrayal” and makes me think twice about my “good-natured” intentions.

The ability to identify when you are in self-deception can lead to better leadership and relationship management. But, the abstract doesn’t elaborate on the solution to staying out of “the box” as much as I hoped. To really benefit from the book and “change the way you think, behave, and live your life”, reading the original book may be more insightful.

(Image from: https://nlb.overdrive.com/media/331760)

3. Nudge: Improving Decisions about Health, Wealth and Happiness by Richard H. Thaler and Cass R. Sunstein

Recommended by S. Iswaran, Minister for Communications and Information. Check out what our 4G leaders are reading here.

“Mixing genres and topics – in this case, psychology and behavioural economics research … keeps things fresh and interesting for me.” – S. Iswaran

I had modules on media bias and theories, so the abstract refreshes several concepts like priming and framing.

What’s not taught in communication classes? How behavioural economics can be applied outside of politics and marketing. Education, organ donations, and savings plans are just some areas “choice architects” can consciously present and thus influence people’s choices.

The wide array of issues packed into the summary also promises an even more informative read in the original book, so I may get a copy myself!

(Image from: https://nlb.overdrive.com/media/3186216)


All in all, I can definitely see why leaders may prefer to skim through key insights over their morning coffee before focusing on their business and people for the rest of the day.

Readers with the attention of a goldfish like myself can benefit as well—I would likely finish a getAbstract e-book instead of letting it sit in my phone, untouched.

So before your next lunch date, consider a quick read with getAbstract for your train ride.


  • Download the OverDrive app on Google Play or iTunes and access over 4000 getAbstract titles via NLB’s digital collection.
  • Singapore Citizens have free access to NLB’s resources and services: use your myLibrary ID to borrow e-books. Permanent Residents (PR) can pay a one-time registration fee of $10.50 for lifetime access to NLB’s resources and services. The annual membership fee for foreigners is $42.80. See NLB’s webpage for details.


Feature Image by Brooke Lark on Unsplash