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50+ FREE Detailed Book Summaries of Top Nonfiction Books

Book Summaries

How to Use These Book Summaries

There are two good ways to use book summaries:

  1. To help you decide if a book is worth reading; and
  2. To recap the points in a book that you’ve already read.

There are no substitutes for reading a good book yourself. So, if that’s what you’re looking for, I’m afraid you’ve been sadly misled. You won’t find that here, or anywhere else on the internet. (No matter what their marketing says.)

What you will find here is a growing collection of detailed free book summaries of some of the best books ever written (or, occasionally, just those I wanted to read), that’ll help you speed up your research and/or refresh your memory.

Which Book Summary Should You Read First?

The book summaries below are sorted alphabetically.

If you’re just browsing, start with my list of TAoL‘s Top 5 Summaries.

If you know what you’re looking for, jump right to the list of All 50+ Summaries.

If you’re surveying a particular topic, click a topic link below to browse my summaries by each of The Art of Living‘s 8 areas of life

  1. Health & Vitality - Master physical wellness;
  2. Thoughts & Emotions - Master mental wellness;
  3. Family & Friends - Build better relationships;
  4. Love & Partnership - Love and be loved;
  5. Growth & Learning - Get smart, faster;
  6. Productivity & Performance - Do more, better;
  7. Business & Career - Become an effective executive; and
  8. Wealth & Lifestyle - Free yourself.

And if you’re really stuck? Drop me an email (I love hearing from you), tell me what problem you’re trying to solve and I’ll point you to a book that can help… 🙌

I hope you enjoy the free summaries below. I hope you find what you’re looking for.

And whatever you do, don’t forget to read wisely, read widely and read well.

Start Here: TAoL’s Top 5 Book Summaries (A-Z)

If you’re new to The Art of Living, or just here for a browse, you might want to start your reading with one of the 5 book summaries below:

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Getting Things Done Summary – David Allen
27 MINUTE READ | THE classic life-changing manual on getting organised and building a robust productivity system that can handle whatever life throws at you - by productivity guru, David Allen. Topics:
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How to Read a Book Summary – M. J. Adler and C. van Doren
17 MINUTE READ | THE classic guide to reading faster, deeper and more effectively than you ever realised was possible - by deep-thinkers, philosophers and life-long learners, M. Adler and C. van Doren. Topics:
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How to Win Friends and Influence People Summary – Dale Carnegie
14 MINUTE READ | The classic guide to greatly improving effectiveness and efficiency by mastering the ability to work with and through the people around you – by self-improvement guru, Dale Carnegie. Topics: ,
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The 48 Laws Of Power Summary – Robert Greene
34 MINUTE READ | The ultimate guide to gaining and defending against ultimate control – by author and your nearest dictator’s favourite leadership coach, Robert Greene. Topics: ,
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The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People Summary – Stephen Covey
34 MINUTE READ | A perennial masterpiece on leading a happy, productive and purposeful existence and an unmissable stop for any pilgrim of personal improvement - by educator, author and speaker, Stephen Covey. Topics:
And if you’re still curious when you’re done? Start digging into…

All TAoL’s 50+ FREE Book Summaries (A-Z)

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10 Steps to Earning Awesome Grades Summary – Thomas Frank
10 MINUTE READ | A short, practical guide for students on being more productive and studying more effectively - by veteran student-success writer, Thomas Frank of College Info Geek. Topics:
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10,000 Years of Art Summary – Phaidon Press
3 MINUTE READ | The perfect handbook for anyone interested in a perspective on the history and progression of art, across the world and over 10,000 years – by the wonderful team at Phaidon Press. Topics:
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A Mind For Numbers Summary – Barbara Oakley
6 MINUTE READ | A practical, research-based guide to unlocking the power of your brain to learn math, or anything else you put your mind to, even if you think you're hopeless - by professor Barbara Oakley. Topics: ,
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Apology Summary – Plato
10 MINUTE READ | Three powerful speeches made by Socrates, a founder of Western Philosophy, in his final defence of wisdom, excellence and his life - by Socrates's student, Aristotle's teacher and eminent Greek philosopher, Plato. Topics:
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Atomic Habits Summary – James Clear
10 MINUTE READ | A powerful and practical guide to transforming your habits, making change stick and achieving remarkable results – by author and habit-guru, James Clear. Topics: ,
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Black Box Thinking Summary – Matthew Syed
4 MINUTE READ | A fascinating account of how cognitive biases and fixed mindsets cause individuals and institutions to fail to learn from mistakes (and what to do about it) - by athlete and author, Matthew Syed. Topics:
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Bounce Summary – Matthew Syed
10 MINUTE READ | A thoughtful investigation into the primacy of practice and mindset over talent when learning and mastering new skills - by top-ranked table tennis champion and journalist, Matthew Syed. Topics:
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Deep Work Summary – Cal Newport
10 MINUTE READ | A timely reminder of the value of deep, focussed work and the dangers of losing yourself in the shallows of entertainment and distraction - by author and associate professor, Cal Newport. Topics: ,
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Eat That Frog Summary – Brian Tracy
8 MINUTE READ | A punchy, concise guide to identifying what matters, setting powerful goals and then getting to work on them right away - by productivity and self-development legend, Brian Tracy. Topics:
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Effortless Mastery Summary – Kenny Werner
3 MINUTE READ | An inspirational and practical guide for advanced and expert practitioners in any field on finding mastery by getting out of your head and surrendering to your art - by jazz pianist and composer, Kenny Werner. Topics:
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Flow Summary – Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
4 MINUTE READ | A bottom-up guide to finding success, growth and happiness through flow - an optimal experience of being, marked by total absorption and joy in the present - by psychology professor, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. Topics: ,
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Getting Things Done Summary – David Allen
27 MINUTE READ | THE classic life-changing manual on getting organised and building a robust productivity system that can handle whatever life throws at you - by productivity guru, David Allen. Topics:
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Guest Blogging Summary – Jon Morrow
17 MINUTE READ | The ultimate guide to writing great articles and getting them published on some of the biggest blogs, platforms and news sites on the internet - by blogging legend, Jon Morrow. Topics: ,
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How Not To Die Summary – Dr. Michael Greger
9 MINUTE READ | A deeply researched and compelling primer on the promise and importance of whole food plant-based nutrition in preventing and reversing disease – by medical doctor and nutrition expert, Michael Greger. Topics:
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How to Develop a Perfect Memory Summary – Dominic O’Brien
25 MINUTE READ | The perfect manual for anyone wanting to effortlessly retain names, faces, facts, figures, speeches and languages. All the tools you need to develop a perfect memory – by 8-time World Memory Champion, Dominic O’Brien. Topics: ,
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How to Read a Book Summary – M. J. Adler and C. van Doren
17 MINUTE READ | THE classic guide to reading faster, deeper and more effectively than you ever realised was possible - by deep-thinkers, philosophers and life-long learners, M. Adler and C. van Doren. Topics:
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How to Win Friends and Influence People Summary – Dale Carnegie
14 MINUTE READ | The classic guide to greatly improving effectiveness and efficiency by mastering the ability to work with and through the people around you – by self-improvement guru, Dale Carnegie. Topics: ,
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Make It Stick Summary – Brown, Roediger and McDaniel
5 MINUTE READ | Tools, strategies and stories to help students, teachers and trainers learn more effectively based on 10 years of collaboration between 11 cognitive psychologists - collected and synthesised by author Peter Brown and psychology researchers Henry Roediger and Mark McDaniel. Topics: ,
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Man’s Search for Meaning Summary – Viktor Frankl
3 MINUTE READ | A gruelling and yet deeply liberating insight into the why behind each of our whats and hows - by holocaust survivor, psychologist and founder of logotherapy, Viktor Frankl. Topics: ,
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Mastery Summary – Robert Greene
6 MINUTE READ | An exploration of Mastery - its benefits, principles and strategies - enriched with instructive and inspirational biographies of historical and contemporary masters - by modern-day Machiavelli and author Robert Greene. Topics:
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Meditations Summary – Marcus Aurelius
9 MINUTE READ | A deeply humbling and thought-provoking insight into the stoic mindset of one of history's greatest leaders and thinkers - by Roman emperor, philosopher and example to us all, Marcus Aurelius. Topics: ,
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Mindset Summary – Carol Dweck
5 MINUTE READ | A research-grounded dive into the self-fulfilling nature and impact of Fixed- and Growth-Mindset beliefs in personal development - by social and developmental psychology professor, Carol Dweck. Topics: ,
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Moonwalking with Einstein Summary – Josh Foer
4 MINUTE READ | An overview of the history, science and philosophy of memory set against a year-long sprint from memory virgin to 2006 U.S.A Memory Champion - by journalist, Josh Foer. Topics: ,
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On Writing Well Summary – William Zinsser
10 MINUTE READ | A book so brimming with literary wisdom that it feels like you're clutching a living brain. Writing, about writing, for writers - by writer, editor, critic, teacher and captain of the craft, William Zinsser. Topics: ,
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Optimal Living 101 Summary – Brian Johnson
23 MINUTE READ | A fantastic synthesis of ancient and modern wisdom into a single manifesto on how to live well - by author, coach and modern-day philosopher, Brian Johnson. Topics:
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Outliers Summary – Malcolm Gladwell
4 MINUTE READ | A systematic debunking of the myth that success is mostly determined by talent and hard-work - with quantitative and qualitative evidence from medicine, sport, business, history, music, science and more - by journalist and author, Malcolm Gladwell. Topics:
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Peak Summary – Anders Ericsson and Robert Pool
5 MINUTE READ | A practical, fact-based primer on the primacy of purposeful and deliberate practice in expert performance - by psychologist and scientist, Anders Ericsson, and science writer, Robert Pool. Topics:
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Perennial Seller Summary – Ryan Holiday
8 MINUTE READ | A fascinating and practical guide to making your heart and nerve and sinew serve your turn long after they are gone - by modern stoic and devourer of the written word, Ryan Holiday. Topics: ,
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Pragmatic Thinking and Learning Summary – Andy Hunt
9 MINUTE READ | A practical and extensive collection of ideas, frameworks, tools and tips to supercharge your learning at school, at home and at work - by programmer and life-long learner, Andy Hunt of Pragmatic Programmers. Topics:
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Rich Dad Poor Dad Summary – Robert Kiyosaki
19 MINUTE READ | One of the few must-read handbooks for anyone who's serious about earning their financial freedom - by businessman, investor and best-selling author, Robert Kiyosaki. Topics:
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Stop Working Harder Summary – Arthur Worsley
7 MINUTE READ | TAoL's ultimate guide to defeating distractions, beating procrastination, setting each day up for success, getting organised and generally getting more done - by thinker, writer and coach, Arthur Worsley. Topics: ,
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Teach Yourself How to Learn Summary – Saundra McGuire
3 MINUTE READ | Simple strategies and inspirational stories to help you ace courses and enjoy a lifetime of deep, effective learning - by retired Chemistry professor and writer on academic success, Saundra McGuire. Topics:
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The 4-Hour Work Week Summary – Tim Ferriss
21 MINUTE READ | One of the most influential books on the reading list of nearly every successful digital nomad and online business owner I've ever met - by serial entrepreneur, life-hacker and pod-casting legend, Tim Ferriss. Topics: , ,
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The 48 Laws Of Power Summary – Robert Greene
34 MINUTE READ | The ultimate guide to gaining and defending against ultimate control – by author and your nearest dictator’s favourite leadership coach, Robert Greene. Topics: ,
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The 5 Love Languages Summary – Gary Chapman
7 MINUTE READ | A concise, actionable and time-tested guide to letting others know they are loved and feeling loved and appreciated in return - by best-selling author, pastor and marriage counsellor, Gary Chapman. Topics: ,
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The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People Summary – Stephen Covey
34 MINUTE READ | A perennial masterpiece on leading a happy, productive and purposeful existence and an unmissable stop for any pilgrim of personal improvement - by educator, author and speaker, Stephen Covey. Topics:
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The Body Keeps The Score Summary – Bessel van der Kolk
4 MINUTE READ | A fascinating dive into the hidden epidemic of trauma, what we've learned about it in the last 30 years and how to better diagnose, face and heal it - by psychiatrist, author and post-traumatic stress researcher, Bessel van der Kolk. Topics:
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The Brain That Changes Itself Summary – Norman Doidge
3 MINUTE READ | An informative and readable journey into the history, science and consequences of recent research in neuroplasticity - the brain's incredible ability to change and reorganise itself - by psychiatrist, psychoanalyst and researcher, Norman Doidge. Topics:
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The Compound Effect Summary – Darren Hardy
14 MINUTE READ | A concise, practical guide to mastering small choices that determine big outcomes which dictate the course of your life - by best selling author, publisher and motivational speaker, Darren Hardy. Topics: ,
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The Effective Executive Summary – Peter F. Drucker
8 MINUTE READ | THE timeless classic on leadership and management; on getting the right things done - by the dean of business and management philosophy, Peter F. Drucker. Topics:
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The Elements of Style Summary – William Strunk Jr.
Perfect for you if: Writing good concise English is important to your success. You can't spot the simple, common and 'obvious' mistake in this sentence. The idea of someone crunching such a sacred work fills you with rage. Topics: ,
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The Four Agreements Summary – Don Miguel Ruiz
7 MINUTE READ | A provocative and mind-altering Toltec guide to waking up and finding peace in our illusory world - by retired surgeon, author and Eagle-Knight shaman, Don Miguel Ruiz. Topics:
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The Inner Game of Tennis Summary – W. Timothy Gallwey
6 MINUTE READ | An insightful and practical guide to optimizing natural learning and performance with applied mindfulness - by author, speaker and ex-Harvard tennis captain, W. Timothy Gallwey. Topics:
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The Little Book of Talent Summary – Daniel Coyle
8 MINUTE READ | 52 short, immediate and practical tips to kick-off your learning, improve your skills and sustain your progress at school, at work, at home and at play - by journalist and author, Daniel Coyle. Topics:
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The Magic of Thinking Big Summary – David J. Schwartz
12 MINUTE READ | A powerful, practical and uplifting book to help get you out of a rut, invigorate your goals and empower you towards success - by life-long motivational writer and coach, David J. Schwartz. Topics:
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The Memory Book Summary – Harry Lorayne and Jerry Lucas
17 MINUTE READ | A practical guide to remembering anything, faster, with simple, millennia-old mnemonics and proven memory boosting techniques - by memory masters, Harry Lorayne and Jerry Lucas. Topics: ,
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The Neuroscience of Intelligence Summary – Richard J. Haier
5 MINUTE READ | A neuroscience-heavy, research-rich review of the evidence, myths and future of our understanding of intelligence - including what it is, why some people have it and what can be done to enhance it - by psychologist and professor, Richard J. Haier. Topics:
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The Power of Habit Summary – Charles Duhigg
9 MINUTE READ | A page-turning dive into the power and ubiquity of unconscious habits in shaping our decisions and destinies (plus a practical guide to changing them) - by Pulitzer Prize winning journalist, Charles Duhigg. Topics: ,
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The Psychology of Selling Summary – Brian Tracy
30 MINUTE READ | A powerful, motivational and practical guide to becoming one of the most successful (and highest-paid) salespeople in your company, industry and the world – by self-help legend and sales guru, Brian Tracy. Topics:
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The Richest Man In Babylon Summary – George S. Clason
6 MINUTE READ | THE classic parable on how to acquire money, how to not lose money and how to make money multiply - by serial entrepreneur and author, George S. Clason. Topics:
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The Slight Edge Summary – Jeff Olson
11 MINUTE READ | A short, punchy, practical guide to the why, what and how of using simple daily disciplines to achieve breakthrough success - by serial entrepreneur, speaker and author, Jeff Olson. Topics:
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Think and Grow Rich Summary – Napoleon Hill
13 MINUTE READ | A best-selling book of all time and a cornerstone guide to the Law of Attraction and the role of the subconscious in transforming your life - by a titan of the self-help genre, Napoleon Hill. Topics:
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Tiny Beautiful Things Summary – Cheryl Strayed
6 MINUTE READ | A heart thumpingly raw, vulnerable and powerful collection of letters and advice on the power of love, of forgiveness and of finding growth in the darkest of places - by award-winning writer, Cheryl Strayed. Topics: ,
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Tools of Titans Summary (452 Book Recommendations) – Tim Ferriss
40 MINUTE READ | A curated collection of interview notes on health, wealth and wisdom from over 100 conversations with top performers and curious characters – by author, podcaster and life-hacker Tim Ferriss. Topics:
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Unlimited Memory Summary – Kevin Horsley
1 MINUTE READ | A short and accessible introduction to mnemonic memory techniques for anyone looking to quickly improve their memory and increase their productivity – by Grand Master of Memory, Kevin Horsley. Topics: ,
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Who Moved My Cheese Summary – Dr. Spencer Johnson
5 MINUTE READ | A short, light-hearted parable about the different ways we respond to life's changes and how doing so skillfully can help us find more success and happines in our lives - by best-selling author, Dr. Spencer Johnson. Topics: ,
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Why We Sleep Summary – Matthew Walker
17 MINUTE READ | A fascinating and accessible guide to what sleep is, why sleep matters and how to optimise your sleep habits to live longer, feel happier and set your life up for success - by sleep scientist and best-selling author, Matthew Walker. Topics:
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Wooden Summary – John Wooden and Steve Jamison
2 MINUTE READ | An effort-and-integrity focussed personal philosophy - spanning family, achievement, success and excellence - by UCLA's famous philosopher-coach, John Wooden, and author, Steve Jamison. Topics:
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Writing Tools Summary – Roy Peter Clark
6 MINUTE READ | Decades of writing experience condensed into 55 highly practical tools that will help you improve every part of your writing process – by writer, editor and writing teacher, Roy Peter Clark. Topics:

Book Summary FAQs

Low-quality book summaries waste everyone’s time. And you can’t beat reading the original book. But if you want to survey a topic, decide if a book is worth reading or recap the main points in a book that you’ve already read then reading high-quality book summaries will help. And if you want to really understand and remember what you’re reading, then writing high-quality book summaries is even better. Want examples? Check out The Art of Living’s 50+ nonfiction book summaries to learn more.

The best way to find book summaries is to look for them. Type the title and the word “summary” (e.g., getting things done summary) into Google, YouTube, Amazon or your favourite search engine and browse the results that come up. Not sure which summary to read? Avoid short summaries, bulleted lists, quotes dumps or, worst of all, summaries of other summaries. Instead, read the highest quality book summary you can. You’ll more than get back the effort you invest if/when you read the original book.

Book summaries are brief recaps of the main points in a book. When read, they’re great for surveying a topic, deciding if a book is worth reading or recapping a book that you’ve read. When written, they’re fantastic for helping you understand and remember what an author thinks and means. Want to learn more? Check out The Art of Living’s 50+ nonfiction book summaries for some FREE high-quality examples.

I spend days (often weeks) making sure each book summary on The Art of Living is the very best version you’ll find. But if you can’t find the book summary you’re looking for on my list of 50+ FREE high-quality book summaries then the best book summary websites I’d visit next would be: Sparknotes (free, high quality, mostly fiction), Optimize.me (paid, high quality, nonfiction) or Blinkist (paid, medium quality, widest range).

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