Talking as Fast as I Can PDF Summary

Talking as Fast as I Can PDF Summary

From Gilmore Girls to Gilmore Girls

Well, it’s pretty far to say that Lauren Graham is currently winning on two fronts.

As an author and actress, she is undoubtedly transforming into a real gem and inspiration for thousands of people all across the globe.

We were skeptical about the possibility of her excelling in two fields, but she proved us wrong.

Let’s delve into her message!

Who Should Read “Talking as Fast as I Can”? And Why?

How fast can you talk?

Is it the speed of uttering words, or the concept of saying the right ones?

Well, the narrative behind this interesting book places emphasis on life as a whole, and how things unfold.

As such, it would be totally imprudent to exclude a group of people or to prioritize one over the other. With that said, we believe that “Talking as Fast as I Can” deserves all the merits and as such it’s suitable for everyone.

About Lauren Graham

Lauren Graham

Lauren Graham’s recent achievements can’t be put into words. Critics describe her recent take off in the professional realm as merely a glimpse of her unwavering potential.

We couldn’t agree more.

She is the author of:

“Talking as Fast as I Can PDF Summary”

In the beginning, Lauren looks back at some of the things that hold a special place in her memory. Born in Hawaii, Lauren didn’t have enough time to work on her tan, as they moved to Japan shortly afterward.

While in Tokyo, she discovered that her favorite food is in fact: mashed peas. They had to stay with her grandmother for a while and had a Japanese nanny, who Lauren loved dearly. She even remembers that her first word in Japanese was o-heso (which can be roughly translated into belly button).

Lauren’s mother grew up in Japan and had no problems at speaking in Japanese.

Back in the days, when there were just a couple of TV channels in the States and even fewer in other countries, her mom was aired on national TV in Japan.

Appearing on a TV with the size of a tablet, Lauren’s mother as a non-native Japanese speaker got the attention of Japan.

Her rise to prominence and traveling made it difficult to fulfill the traditional duties as a mother and wife.

As a result of that, her parents decided to go separate ways, because they couldn’t make their marriage work. The urge to pursue a career as a singer urged Lauren’s mom to split up her marriage in a friendly manner. Soon afterward, Lauren was on a plane to the US.

For quite some time, she recalls of sleeping on a bunk-bed-type placed in the kitchen. Their “residence” was actually a houseboat, which from today’s perspective seems kind of weird when you think about it. So, Lauren decides to call her dad and find out what was the reason behind it.

The chit-chat didn’t pan out as well as Lauren had imagined. After a lot of beating around the bush, we finally get to the bottom of the mystery:  

It was a strange place, I’ll admit, that marina—but friendly. Very bohemian.
Everybody there was sort of dropping out from society, which we were too, in a way—for weeks after we’d left D.C., I’m pretty sure my mother still thought I worked on Capitol Hill.
But I got to spend more time with you, which was 13 the goal. It was beautiful there.
We drove around a lot and went to the beach.
It probably seems strange to you now, but it was a 1970s thing to do, I guess. And we had fun.

No one knows why, but most of the people back in the days had some weird perception regarding the life of an actor. The closest thing you’ll ever get to watch on TV was Star Search and perhaps American Idol.

Same as nowadays, there were some major publications all working in feverish haste to publish the latest scandal or rumor.

We are pretty sure that it won’t come as a shock to you but back then, you couldn’t lean on Social Platforms to get media coverage.

Despite all of this and the lack of genuine knowledge of what to expect once she unleashes her talent, Lauren was determined to enter the big door in Broadway.

In the meantime, Lauren exerted herself to become a member of Actors’ Equity to fuel her ascend. She realized that one of the ways to achieve that was to earn enough hours in order to get in line for membership.

There was a faster route, but it was even harder to pull off. She had to figure out a way to get casted in an Equity role. As it turns out, that was easier said than done. Lauren put a lot of pressure on herself, especially on the part “special skills.”

It’s hard to stand out from the rest if you don’t possess a special set of skills and flair that will eventually put you on the pedestal.

Many actors were auditioned, and Lauren miraculously managed to leave a very good first impression. Maybe even too good, for the directors and members of the Equity Company.

During the audition, Lauren was caught off guard, and her vulnerability appeared on the surface.

At one point, she felt like a failure because in her opinion some of the things could have been done a lot better. The overall embracement took a toll on her performance as she realized that there’s still a lot of ground to cover.

Yes, it became clear that Lauren wasn’t psyched up for the challenge, mostly due to her burning desire to obtain the Equity card. When you are prepared to cling on anything out of desperation, you know that something isn’t right.

Years later, Lauren pushed her way through the obstacles and made it to Broadway.

It was one of those moments; you’re so thrilled that you don’t know how to react. It was literally a dream come true.

It was not all milk and honey, to say the least, but there is some magic in the idea of exceeding your expectations day in and day out.

Lauren was also given the honors to play Miss Adelaide in Guys and Dolls.

The Rise of Gilmore Girls

The Gilmore Girls script was delivered to Lauren’s home, long before the whole show commenced. On the flip side, she didn’t read it the first time. Lauren acknowledged the possibility of becoming too fond of the storyline and feared that a potential bond could end in separation.

But, despite this early pessimism, she was still in the game!

The whole world turned upside down the minute Lauren got the role to play Lorelai Gilmore, the thirty-two-year-old mother of a sixteen-year-old girl.

People close to her voiced concerns about the potential twist that could happen if her character gets the wrong label as the “Mom.” Lauren Graham claimed that she never once thought about that, and even less worry about something like that.

Lauren quickly realized that she is not one of those actors/actresses who want to see and critically observe themselves onstage.

When you’re committed to such an important project that does 22 episodes per season, you must know where you draw the line. Watching every single scene could take too much of your time, and make you totally engrossed into it.

Why would someone consider Gilmore Girls to be special?

Is it really that easy to discern it from all the rest? – Lauren had fallen in love with the script, and the story it portrays.

Later on, you’ll come to some important details that explain why Lauren craved to return and be a part of Gilmore Girls, once more.

It surely wasn’t easy for Lauren to say goodbye. As an “unemployed” actor afterward, she struggled to organize her daily activities, and cope with the new lifestyle. When that transition emerges, it’s tough to move on, especially when you were a part of a successful project such as Parenthood or Gilmore Girls.

The same holds true for other professions or jobs that are just as enjoyable as Parenthood.

It was a confusing time for Lauren, as she tried to get through this tough period in life.

When things get out of hand, we feel this need to ask for help, or at least to have someone special who can lighten the burden.

On the other side of the fence, are those moments when you feel so excited about something that you can barely sit still. Don’t you just hate it when a person you know, or a celebrity can’t keep their mouth shut about having a brand-new car, or getting a raise, or whatever?

Yeah, congratulations!

Are we done here? – How lucky they feel; it’s not our primary concern!

Lauren believed that the same reaction would ensue after appearing on a show like Parenthood. Nobody actually believed that Lauren could be as annoying as that, but let’s give her the benefit of the doubt, shall we?!

In this chapter, Lauren lavishes praise upon the cast, the crew, the screenwriters, the directors, all the fellow actors, and proves her point.

One big family is how she prefers to describe it!

Key Lessons from “Talking as Fast as I Can”

1.      Keep the fire burning
2.      Find the beauty in the small things
3.      Don’t abandon your dreams

Keep the fire burning

When things get rough, people often collapse on all fronts. You must not succumb to this pressure, and keep this momentum going.

Before you know it, life will tip the scale in your favor without any preparation whatsoever.

Your job is never to give up and keep blazing the trail for others.

Find the beauty in the small things

Like we said, somewhere down the road you’ll get greedy. You’ll forget about the things that made you happy and filled you with excitement regardless of their trivial nature.

Never fall under the thumb of “more” just keep pushing but remain vigilant.

That is the formula for achieving ultimate prosperity.

Don’t abandon your dreams

If you are given the option to fast forward to all the great moments and skip the hardship, what would you do?

If you are like most people, you’d probably take the fast track to success. But in doing so, you’ll abandon your dreams, which are consisted of both dangers and rewards.

Like this summary? We’d Like to invite you to download our free 12 min app, for more amazing summaries and audiobooks.

“Talking as Fast as I Can Quotes”

Because who wants to Fast Forward anyway? You might miss some of the good parts. Click To Tweet Because here's the thing: I was fine on my own, and so are you. But it can be hard when you feel ready for Happy Couplehood, and you seem to have missed the train. Click To Tweet So don't let your plans have the last laugh, but laugh last when your plan laughs, and when your plan has the last laugh, laugh back laughing! Click To Tweet If absolutely everything important is only happening on such as a small screen, isn't that just a shame? Click To Tweet Every bit of advice below was actually given to me by a fancy person or someone who knows a fancy person and the methods they use to stay fancy. Click To Tweet

Our Critical Review

We highly doubt that you haven’t watched at least a single episode of Gilmore Girls, but if that’s the case, we urge you to give it a go.

Apart from that, we love how personal and enlightening this book is. It truly opens us our eyes to the fluidity of life, and how we can leverage that.

You should most definitely give it a quick read.    Take this summary with you and read anywhere! Download PDF:   

You Are Not So Smart PDF Summary

You Are Not So Smart PDF Summary

So, you think you’re so smart, don’t you?

Well, David McRaney has some horrible news for you:

You Are Not So Smart.

Who Should Read “You Are Not So Smart”? And Why?

You Are Not So Smart covers 48 cognitive biases, most of which you’ve probably already heard about or read in books such as Dan Ariely’s Predictably Irrational.

If you haven’t, then this book is a great introduction; if you have, then read it anyways, because your memory has probably betrayed you in the meantime.

Finally, if you think that you’re a rational human being and that cognitive biases are for suckers – then definitely buy this book; you’ll be surprised how wrong you are.

About David McRaney

David McRaney

David McRaney is an American journalist and psychology aficionado.

As a journalist, he has covered Hurricane Katrina for several newspapers and magazines and has written many other articles for The Lamar Times and The Huffington Post.

However, he owes his fame to his blog, which served as the basis of this book.

Currently, he works as director of new media for a broadcast television company, for which he has also produced a TV show about the music of the Deep South.

“You Are Not So Smart PDF Summary”

As we have told you quite a few times, your brain is a complex machine which follows a set of all but unbreakable rules.

You Are Not So Smart collects 48 of them – all of them interesting, most of them working in a counter-intuitive manner.

In other words, no matter how smart you think you are, your brain is preprogrammed to tell you lies from time to time, either because that’s what helped your ancestors survive or because you are simply built in an imperfect manner.

Our species may be rightfully dubbed sapiens when compared to other species, but the truth is, writes McRaney, that

there is a growing body of work coming out of psychology and cognitive science that says you have no clue why you act the way you do, choose the things you choose, or think the thoughts you think. Instead, you create narratives, little stories to explain away why you gave up on that diet, why you prefer Apple over Microsoft, why you clearly remember it was Beth who told you the story about the clown with the peg leg made of soup cans when it was really Adam, and it wasn’t a clown.

These lies, these narratives, these little stories are either cognitive biases, logical fallacies, or heuristics. McRaney defines them concisely and illustratively thus:

· “Cognitive biases are predictable patterns of thought and behavior that lead you to draw incorrect conclusions.”
· “Heuristics are mental shortcuts you use to solve common problems.”
· “Logical fallacies are like math problems involving language, in which you skip a step or get turned around without realizing it.”

Let’s look at the 48 of them – selected and thoroughly analyzed by McRaney for his book.

Key Lessons from “You Are Not So Smart”

1.      Priming
2.      Confabulation
3.      Confirmation Bias
4.      Hindsight Bias
5.      The Texas Sharpshooter Fallacy
6.      Procrastination
7.      Normalcy Bias
8.      Introspection
9.      The Availability Heuristic
10.      The Bystander Effect
11.      The Dunning-Kruger Effect
12.      Apophenia
13.      Brand Loyalty
14.      The Argument from Authority
15.      The Argument from Ignorance
16.      The Straw Man Fallacy
17.      The Ad Hominem Fallacy
18.      The Just-World Fallacy
19.      The Public Goods Game
20.      The Ultimatum Game
21.      Subjective Validation
22.      Cult Indoctrination
23.      Groupthink
24.      Supernormal Releasers
25.      The Affect Heuristic
26.      Dunbar’s Number
27.      Selling Out
28.      Self-Serving Bias
29.      The Spotlight Effect
30.      The Third Person Effect
31.      Catharsis
32.      The Misinformation Effect
33.      Conformity
34.      Extinction Burst
35.      Social Loafing
36.      The Illusion of Transparency
37.      Learned Helplessness
38.      Embodied Cognition
39.      The Anchoring Effect
40.      Attention
41.      Self-Handicapping
42.      Self-Fulfilling Prophecies
43.      The Moment
44.      Consistency Bias
45.      The Representativeness Heuristic
46.      Expectation
47.      The Illusion of Control
48.      The Fundamental Attribution Error

1. Priming

You think that you know when “you are being influenced and how it is affecting your behavior.”

However, studies have shown that “you are unaware of the constant nudging you receive from ideas formed in your unconscious mind.”

In other words, many of the things you believe in you believe in because someone has meddled with your unconscious.

While you were casually going about your way.

Think Coca Cola and Santa Claus.

2. Confabulation

Even though you think that “you know when you are lying to yourself,” the truth is – you don’t.

“You are often ignorant of your motivations and create fictional narratives to explain your decisions, emotions, and history without realizing it.”

3. Confirmation Bias

If you are like most of the people, you want to be right about everything.

How should you not be?

After all, you’ve studied everything objectively and rationally for years!

That – of course – is not true.

The truth is that you continuously ignore information which challenges your preconceived notions; in other words, your opinions are a direct result of years of effort of trying to confirm them.

It’s a vicious circle.

This is why most of your friends agree with you.

4. Hindsight Bias

Has someone who hasn’t seen you for years told you, at a certain point in your life, that you’ve changed a lot?

That’s because you probably did – even though you think you didn’t.

Studies have shown that instead of admitting that we’ve changed, we create stories which make us seem far more consistent that we actually are.

“You often look back on the things you’ve just learned and assume you knew them or believed them all along.”

5. The Texas Sharpshooter Fallacy

“If hindsight bias and confirmation bias had a baby,” writes McRaney, “it would be the Texas sharpshooter fallacy.”


Because, as Nicholas Taleb has repeatedly shown us, we tend to ignore randomness in our lives, even though it’s so important that we don’t.

In hindsight, we give random events some meaning when we want them to have one.

It’s like a cowboy shooting randomly at a wall in a bar and only afterward drawing a bull’s eye over the spot where the bullets are clustered the most.

In hindsight, it seems as if he is a great shooter.

However, that’s not the case.

6. Procrastination

Do we really need to tell you anything about procrastination?

Oh, yes – one thing: you don’t suffer from it because you’re lazy.

Procrastination is such a good friend of yours because you’re human.

It is “fueled by weakness in the face of impulse and a failure to think about thinking.”

7. Normalcy Bias

You think that, when disaster strikes, your “fight-or-flight” instincts kick in immediately and you’re ready to answer appropriately?

Well, that’s not exactly the case!

The truth is that “you often become abnormally calm and pretend everything is normal in a crisis.”

Don’t believe us?

Please, spare a moment or two and hear Anton Williams out!

8. Introspection

The misconception is that “you know why you like the things you like and feel the way you feel.”

The truth: “The origin of certain emotional states is unavailable to you, and when pressed to explain them, you will just make something up.”

9. The Availability Heuristic

You tend to believe more the things you remember well, because of your inherent bias that if you can recall something well enough, then it must be important.

This is why you tend to base your beliefs and opinions often on recent news.

And that’s why you think that most of the crimes are committed by terrorists or immigrants – when, in reality, those are merely the stories more available to you.

Stats show that you are very wrong.

And yet – you don’t believe us.

10. The Bystander Effect

Have you ever heard of Kitty Genovese?

If you haven’t, that girl was stabbed and murdered back in 1964, even though her shouts for help were heard by no less than 38 people.


Well, precisely because there were 38 and everyone expected someone else would rush to Kitty’s help.

The truth is – if there was one, he would have.

11. The Dunning-Kruger Effect

According to John Cleese, this effect is responsible for half of the things that are wrong with this world.

The problem: some people are so stupid that they have no idea how stupid they are.

Bluntly put, you can’t expect from someone to understand his own stupidity: he’s not smart enough to do that.

12. Apophenia

That funny sounding word was coined by a German only six decades ago, and yet – it explains so many things about humanity ever since it sprung into existence.

The idea behind it: our brains are constantly looking for patterns, which is why there are such things as gamblers, traders, or astrologists.

The simple truth is: coincidences are a routine part of life (it’s a matter of statistics), but any meaning applied to them is because your brain wants them to be meaningful.

13. Brand Loyalty

You drink only Coca Cola, use only Apple products and will play games on nothing but your Xbox?

Believe us, that’s not because your products are better than their rivals, nor because you’ve rationally came to that conclusion.

It’s because you’ve rationalized your past choices “to protect your sense of self.”

Simple as that.

14. The Argument from Authority

If someone you think is smart tells you something, you’re inclined to believe that something even without checking the validity of the information.

For example, if Einstein was alive today and told you he would vote for Trump, no matter how much you hate Trump, you’ll be affected by Einstein’s judgment.

However, genius is not transferrable, and, as brilliant physicist as he was, there’s no reason why Einstein should be an expert in politics.

(By the way, sorry Albert: it was only for the sake of our argument).

15. The Argument from Ignorance

You think that when you can’t explain something, you focus on what you can prove?

Well, the truth is that “when you are unsure of something, you are more likely to accept strange explanations.”

16. The Straw Man Fallacy

You know which one is the easiest way to defeat your opponent?

Reframe and simplify his position in a manner which will allow you to attack it forcefully.

Well, news flash: your brain knows this full well!

And, in any argument, it tempts you to use this tactic so that you can win the discussion.

Who cares about arguments or the truth?

17. The Ad Hominem Fallacy

While we’re on the topic of dirty tactics, this one’s the mother of them all!

And you know how it works from practically every second political debate: when you can’t attack the arguments, attack the man.

Even though what someone says and why he says it are two completely different things.

18. The Just-World Fallacy

We can translate this fallacy to you in terms of a few proverbs: “what goes around comes around;” “you reap what you sow;” and, our favorite, “everything happens for a reason.”

Well, it doesn’t.

The world is not just, and some good people suffer simply because things didn’t go their way, even though they tried their best.

Some bad people, on the other hand, are wealthy and happy because they got lucky.

And that’s it.

19. The Public Goods Game

You think private property and no regulations are the solution to all of our economic and social problems?

Guess again!

The public goods game proves – over and over again – that “without some form of regulation, slackers and cheaters will crash economic systems because people don’t want to feel like suckers.”

20. The Ultimatum Game

The misconception, in this case, is that “you choose to accept or refuse an offer based on logic.”

However, the truth is that “when it comes to making a deal, you base your decision on your status.”

21. Subjective Validation

Subjective validation explains, once again, why there is such a widespread acceptance of some paranormal beliefs and practices, such as astrology or fortune telling.

Also called Forer or Barnum effect, subjective validation says that you’ll believe any vague statement or prediction if it addresses you personally and if it is a positive one.

22. Cult Indoctrination

This is scary, but, nevertheless, true: you are not smart enough to not join a cult. Because the truth is that “cults are populated by people just like you.”

“The research on cults suggests you don’t usually join for any particular reason; you just sort of fall into them the way you fall into any social group.”

23. Groupthink

Even scarier than #22: two heads don’t think better than one.

Contrary to popular opinion, two heads tend to avoid confrontation and reach a consensus which usually leads to suboptimal results.

Groupthink, in other words, hinders progress.

24. Supernormal Releasers

Supernormal releasers are the reasons why Australian jewel beetles have sex with beer bottles.

Wait… what?!

It’s true: they do because beer bottles are bigger and shinier than any female beetle. They are better than the real thing.

Supernormal releasers are the reason why men have sex with RealDolls and why women marry eight-year-old millionaires.

Believe it or not, they are not insane or gold-diggers.

Or, at least, not necessarily.

25. The Affect Heuristic

You think: “I am capable of calculating what is risky or rewarding and even more capable of always choosing how to best maximize gains while minimizing losses.”

The truth: “You depend on emotions to tell you if something is good or bad, greatly overestimate rewards, and tend to stick to your first impressions.”

26. Dunbar’s Number

This one’s easy: there’s no way you can maintain more than 150 stable relationships with people at any one moment in your life.

But, then again, that’s more than plenty.

27. Selling Out

The misconception: “Both consumerism and capitalism are sustained by corporations and advertising.”

The truth: “Both consumerism and capitalism are driven by competition among consumers for status.”

28. Self-Serving Bias

The misconception: “You evaluate yourself based on past successes and defeats.”

The truth: “You excuse your failures and see yourself as more successful, more intelligent, and more skilled than you are.”

29. The Spotlight Effect

The misconception: “When you are around others, you feel as if everyone is noticing every aspect of your appearance and behavior.”

The truth: “People devote little attention to you unless prompted to.”

30. The Third Person Effect

The misconception: “You believe your opinions and decisions are based on experience and facts, while those who disagree with you are falling for the lies and propaganda of sources you don’t trust.”

The truth: “Everyone believes the people they disagree with are gullible, and everyone thinks they are far less susceptible to persuasion than they truly are.”

31. Catharsis

This one’s as counter-intuitive as they get!

Contrary to what everyone else says, studies have shown that cursing and venting your anger doesn’t reduce stress and doesn’t prevent you from lashing out later at your family or friends.

Oh, no: it’s the other way around!

Namely, venting increases aggressive behavior.

So, don’t use this as an excuse anymore.

32. The Misinformation Effect

Your memory is not a film recording.

It’s actually a palimpsest, i.e., a manuscript on which later writing is superimposed on an effaced earlier text.

Let us make that even clearer: you don’t remember the things you remember the way they happened; you remember them the way you’ve convinced yourself that they happened.

And every time you recall the memory – the memory gets ever more blurred and more affected by your present.

33. Conformity

Conformity is a survival instinct.

And you will conform if an authority figure or a social group pressures you a bit in that direction.

Even if that means increasing the voltage past the XXX point on the scale – despite the fact that you know the subject who’s being electrocuted might die if you do so.

Conformity is the reason why this thing happened as well.

34. Extinction Burst

You think that if you stop engaging in a bad habit, you’re done with it!

Well, think again!

Your brain will always make one last attempt to return you to your habit.

But, then again, that’s already happened to you, hasn’t it?

35. Social Loafing

The misconception: “When you are joined by others in a task, you work harder and become more accomplished.”

The truth: “Once part of a group, you tend to put in less effort because you know your work will be pooled together with others.”

36. The Illusion of Transparency

The misconception: “When your emotions run high, people can look at you and tell what you are thinking and feeling.

The truth: “Your subjective experience is not observable, and you overestimate how much you telegraph your inner thoughts and emotions.”

37. Learned Helplessness

The misconception: “If you are in a bad situation, you will do whatever you can do to escape it.”

The truth: “If you feel like you aren’t in control of your destiny, you will give up and accept whatever situation you are in.”

38. Embodied Cognition

The misconception: “Your opinions of people and events are based on objective evaluation.”

The truth: “You translate your physical world into words, and then believe those words.”

39. The Anchoring Effect

The misconception: “You rationally analyze all factors before making a choice or determining value.”
The truth: “Your first perception lingers in your mind, affecting later perceptions and decisions.”

40. Attention

The misconception: “You see everything going on before your eyes, taking in all the information like a camera.”

The truth: “You are aware only of a small amount of the total information your eyes take in and even less is processed by your conscious mind and remembered.”

41. Self-Handicapping

This is a great one – so we’ll break the pattern once again!

You think that you always do your best in order to succeed?

Well, it turns out that you don’t.

In fact, you often create conditions for failure even before you start your endeavor.

Why would you do such a thing?

Well, because that way, if you fail, you’ll have an excuse and your ego will be protected.

Your brain is a wondrous thing.

42. Self-Fulfilling Prophecies

Remember that time you justly predicted that that guy is actually a bad one and was merely faking it?

Chances are – you’ve made him act in such a manner!

Many of your predictions about people come true because you (un)consciously nudge things in that direction.

43. The Moment

The misconception: “You are one person, and your happiness is based on being content with your life.”

The truth: “You are multiple selves, and happiness is based on satisfying all of them.”

44. Consistency Bias

The misconception: “You know how your opinions have changed over time.”

The truth: “Unless you consciously keep tabs on your progress, you assume the way you feel now is the way you have always felt.”

45. The Representativeness Heuristic

The misconception: “Knowing a person’s history makes it easier to determine what sort of person they are.”

The truth: “You jump to conclusions based on how representative a person seems to be of a preconceived character type.”

46. Expectation

The misconception: “Wine is a complicated elixir, full of subtle flavors only an expert can truly distinguish, and experienced tasters are impervious to deception.”

The truth: “Wine experts and consumers can be fooled by altering their expectations.”

The even more interesting truth: there’s practically no such thing as wine tasting science; nor do older wines taste better; just different.

47. The Illusion of Control

The misconception: “You know how much control you have over your surroundings.”

The truth: “You often believe you have control over outcomes that are either random or are too complex to predict.”

The even more interesting truth: you’re no expert at trading; no one is.

48. The Fundamental Attribution Error

The misconception: “Other people’s behavior is the reflection of their personality.”

The truth: “Other people’s behavior is more the result of the situation than their disposition.”

That’s why – as quite a few smart people have said once or twice – never ascribe to malice what you can to ignorance or stupidity.

Like this summary? We’d like to invite you to download our free 12 min app for more amazing summaries and audiobooks.

“You Are Not So Smart Quotes”

You are a story you tell yourself. Click To Tweet If you see lots of shark attacks in the news, you think, 'Gosh, sharks are out of control.' What you should think is 'Gosh, the news loves to cover shark attacks. Click To Tweet You can't rage against the machine through rebellious consumption. Click To Tweet We reach for the same brand not because we trust its quality but because we want to reassure ourselves that we made a smart choice the last time we bought it. Click To Tweet The more pessimistic your explanatory style, the easier it is to slip into learned helplessness. Click To Tweet

Our Critical Review

If you want to learn all about how your brain is deluding you – then You Are Not So Smart is the book for you.

“Every chapter is a welcome reminder that you are not so smart – yet you’re never made to feel dumb, writes Alexis Ohanian, co-founder of then he goes on: “You Are Not So Smart is a dose of psychology research served in tasty anecdotes that will make you better understand both yourself and the rest of us. It turns out we’re much more irrational than most of us think, so give yourself every advantage you can and read this book.”    Take this summary with you and read anywhere! Download PDF:   

We Are All Weird PDF Summary

We Are All Weird PDF Summary

Don’t take umbrage at the title, because Seth doesn’t attach a negative connotation to the concept of weirdness.

We are impelled to believe in things and opinions imposed upon us by those who don’t understand the power of individuality.

Being weird means being unique.

And whether we like it or not, society fuels this weirdness that has swept the world.

Without further ado, let’s get to the bottom of this phenomenon.

Who Should Read “We Are All Weird”? And Why?

Well, if you are a weirdo, why not?

All joking aside, the central premise behind this book explains the idea of not falling under the influence of the mass markets.

Inasmuch as we’d all enjoy developing into a self-reliant person, that’s not something everyone can pull off.

For this reason, we feel like “We are All Weird” is best suited for those people who share this fire to break out from the collective mindset.

About Seth Godin

Seth Godin

Seth is hailed as one of the top marketers of his generation. His books continue to lift the veil on various concepts that led people astray with regards to marketing, decision-making, and life in general.

He is the author of multiple bestsellers:

“We Are All Weird PDF Summary”

Before we go any further, it’s of utmost importance to list the Four Words, which Seth deems them to be genuine representatives of the trajectory of the market.

MASS is what has defined society as it is. Mass markets and mass demand have set the rules and helped us to improve our standard of living, among other things.

According to Seth, the urge to cover the basic human needs is labeled as “undifferentiated.”

NORMAL is what we call or name the middle, or someone would prefer other expressions such as “the majority.” You have to understand that being “Normal” is localized because the thing that makes you “Normal” in one area doesn’t apply in general.

So, marketers have tried to reach out to these masses and ultimately cater to their general demand.

WEIRD is when we label people who stand from the rest with regards to physical appearance, needs, and preferences.

Different by nature is not on the same wavelength as different by choice. Unlike the first part, your choices that don’t conform to the societal implications, also fall under the “Weird” category. It’s immensely helpful if you can be yourself at least to some extent and resist the temptation to take the general path.

RICH is Seth’s perspective of individuals who have the means and the wits to make choices. No one can argue that their freedom of choice is restricted in any way whatsoever, not by any stretch of the imagination.

It represents those who are entitled to utilize more resources, and allocate them in a way they deem fit. In all honesty, you don’t need a private jet nor a fancy car to be rich, because richness is predicated on your ability to interact with the market and satisfy your demands.

Enough about this, let’s take a sneak peek into why people feel the lingering need to belong somewhere.

As it turns out, people love to organize themselves in tribes or groups led by someone.

The digital age wastes no time in introducing the new outsider culture, which doesn’t resonate with the Normal part of the community.

Seth’s argument revolves around the inefficiency of pushing forward a uniform agenda that keeps all people under the same roof.

The idea of supporting the weird and eventually becoming one yourself should be the backbone of the new era.

The chances of implementing this on a larger scale are slim to none, but that mustn’t serve as an excuse to get the ball rolling.

So, how we should organize our societies and make headway in this process?

Since the beginning of time, people have been prone to select enemies and therefore justify their so-called thirst for domination.

In this book, the battle Seth is referring to is not a political standoff but manifests the stigma between the status quo of society and the Weird.

Part 1: Capitalism, Industry and the Power of Mass—and Its Inevitable Decline

As to the assertion made out by Seth, the weird aspect embedded into each and everyone one of us questions the moral high-ground of the masses. It’s by far the best way to understand the big picture and tackle the unconscious bias permeating the society.

Society prefers to stay clear of the outliers and indoctrinate young people by compelling them to lean on the good-old mass-market strategy.

It’s totally useless to rely on a system, contrived by organizations whose methods only exist to keep things running in their favor.

People are aversive to change, and the mass market only further endorses this behavior.

It all boils down to the characteristics of the mass market to create average products for average people in order to streamline their processes.

Let that sink in.

Take this for example: if the entire work of an organization pivots around the perpetual need to satisfy and sell to the masses, then a transition could prove to be costly. Even though it doesn’t seem like a big deal, it truly is.

For argument’s sake, Seth is not trying to teach you how to sell more goods, nor does he instruct you how to better position your company in the market.

The manifesto laid out here emphasizes freedom and the right to choose; a notion that correlates with weirdness.

You cannot deny the fact that we all share certain beliefs with others, but at the same time, we espouse different values and take refuge behind those values.

The 20th century had been turbulent by all accounts, and the businesses operating amid all the political and social struggles shaped the American business community.

Winning the mass market has been the end goal for every American company. In other words, the idea of selling a product to a large percentage of people, at a high price seemed to be the only driving factor.

Deserving the epithet of weird is reflected in the notion of being free to make up your mind. It manifests your fortitude to break the societal chains, and pave your own way.

Learning to appreciate your weirdness is not a foregone conclusion, but a way of life.

Part 2: The Four Forces for Weird

In his lifetime, Seth Godin has seen many changes, all of which can be attributed to the desire to stand out from the crowd. The need to be a part of a larger group and remain stuck in normality is slowly fading away.

In addition, Seth outlines four factors that affect our perception of the world.

Let’s have a glimpse into these forces:

Force One – Creation is amplified

Nowadays, it’s easier than ever to reach out to people, shift the perception of those around you, and help them adjust their mindset.

Through the power of the Internet, every person is able to take a critical view of the world, and advocate for a full-scale alteration.

Force two: Rich allows us to do what we want, and we want to be weird

It is crystal clear that one cannot undermine the continuity in the way individuals and groups address their problems. As you become richer, your instincts and interests begin to fluctuate and modify themselves.

In the last couple of years, we are witnessing an increase in productivity which also reflects in people’s weirdness in general.

As you can see, no one can deny this correlation and overlook the inevitable truth. As we are moving beyond the need for survival, we are starting to embrace aspects which appear eccentric and odd on the surface, but their depth is not questionable.

Force three: Marketing is far more efficient at reaching the weird

The barriers to entering a certain market and reaching out to people through a channel that resonates with them are slimmed down.

This opens up the door for enthusiasts and early-adopters alike to follow their vision.

Marketers no longer require an excessive budget to get the job done. Generally speaking, the preferences of the “weirdos” help marketers build their strategies along the lines of their target group.

Marketing is still the quickest way to introduce your product to the saturated marketplace; you better make it count!

Force four: Tribes are better connected

New tribes emerge on short notice, and you’ll find organizations and people dealing with overlapping interests.

Being weird is slowly taking over the scene, and leaves most of the skeptics in disarray.

Part 3: The Gradual and Inexorable Spread of the Bell Curve

So, what is the true meaning of mass-marketing?

In layman’s terms, it embodies the big, fat, juicy share of the market. The real deal, should you prefer. Governments, corporations, and businesses have realized the potential of keeping the mass consumers dependent on specific goods.

The profit generated gives impetus to the idea of sustaining this structure. But, is it the best option?

Seth Godin doesn’t think so!

For literally thousands of years, people were on their own when it comes to the production of food, clothing, and shelter.

With the rise of industrialization, society went from the culture of “every person for himself/herself” to mass markets.

With regards to marketing, marketers have realized the potential of nailing down the problems of the “weird” portion of the population. The proficient and smart ones, under no circumstances, would treat a market segment as an independent of the whole market.

The Bell Curve explains why marketing is much more than a pursuit of more sales. Although we cannot discard the notion that trade is where the money is, the true incentive is the one which promotes growth as the ultimate goal.

In addition, let’s take a look at the forces of the normal:

  • Big media
  • Manufacturers
  • Franchises
  • Large service firms
  • Many organized religions
  • Politicians
  • Law enforcement

And to add the finishing touches, let’s outline and take a closer look at the new forces predetermined for the weird ones:

  • Explosion of wealth
  • Explosion in media choices
  • Explosion in shopping choices

That’s about it.

Hope you learned something about mass markets and mass consummation that is at variance with the culture of Weird.

Key Lessons from “We Are All Weird”

1.      Get your head up
2.      Keep refilling the cup
3.      Tackle the need to belong somewhere

Get your head up

If we’ve heard it a thousand times, let’s utter those words again: Actions speak louder than words.

Work on keeping your cool when things go south, and try to subdue the immense social pressure. The cost of losing your “weirdo” nature is way too high.

It will be for the best if you apprehend the consequences of sticking to the Normal.

Keep refilling the cup

Well, the true meaning of refiling the cup is not to turn it into a brimming one. Just take a one sip at a time, and keep it from overflowing.

That way, you’ll maintain control, and preserve the weird aspects that relate to your preferences.

Tackle the need to belong somewhere

Last but not least, it’s of utmost significance to resist the urge to join a larger tribe whose program “on paper” overlaps with yours. Furthermore, it’s not something you should take for granted either.

If your agenda adds up to their broad outlook, then it’s fine, but more often than not, it’s not the case.

Like this summary? We’d Like to invite you to download our free 12 min app, for more amazing summaries and audiobooks.

“We Are All Weird Quotes”

It’s human nature to be weird, but also human to be lonely. This conflict between fitting in and standing out is at the core of who we are. Click To Tweet The epic battle of our generation is between the status quo of mass and the never-ceasing tide of weird. Click To Tweet Never fear. Marketers have shifted gears and are leading the push to weird. The smart ones are in fact co-marketing with parts of the market instead of marketing at the masses. Click To Tweet We can argue about whether the loss of a cultural center is a good thing or not, but it really doesn’t matter what one generation believes is good for the next… all of our choices are leading in just one direction, which is away from the… Click To Tweet Rich is my word for someone who can afford to make choices, who has enough resources to do more than merely survive. Click To Tweet

Our Critical Review

So, is it necessary to spring into action?

By all means!

It seems that we are all weird, but some people don’t feel comfortable accentuating this part of their lives.

It’s up to you to find your balance.    Take this summary with you and read anywhere! Download PDF:   

The Clockmaker’s Daughter PDF Summary

The Clockmaker’s Daughter PDF Summary

Are you ready for a visit in yet another fictional haunted house?

If so – join us, as we follow the footsteps of Kate Morton and try to uncover the mystery of The Clockmaker’s Daughter.

Who Should Read “The Clockmaker’s Daughter”? And Why?

The Clockmaker’s Daughter – as a Washington Post review by Jess Righthand states – assembles all the familiar trappings of a good ghost story.

In other words: “the titular character’s death under mysterious circumstances; a delightfully haunted house; and of course, the present-day saps who decide they’d better get to the bottom of it all.”

If that strikes your fancy and you like Kate Morton’s style (The Lake House, The Distant Hours, The Forgotten Garden), then there’s no way you won’t enjoy The Clockmaker’s Daughter.

In case you don’t know Morton, do yourself a favor and read the book if you like gothic novels such as Flowers in the Attic and Turn of the Screw or are interested in the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood.

See why in the summary below.nul

Kate Morton Biography

Kate Morton

Kate Morton is undoubtedly one of Australia’s most shining gems due to her amazing writings and publications.

She has sold millions of copies in 40+ countries all around the globe.


The Clockmaker’s Daughter is 500-pages long and winding mystery novel covering over two centuries of history – most of them packed in the Birchwood Manor, an estate on the Upper Thames. Consequently, it has more than one narrator.

The primary one is Albertine “Birdie” Bell, which is pretty strange considering the fact that she dies the year the novel begins – which is 1862.

Yup, you’ve read that right: most of this novel is narrated by a ghost haunting the Birchwood Manor.

The life of the second most important protagonist, Elodie Winslow, is told through a third-person all-seeing narrator in the present (2017).

However, there are many other characters whose lives we learn a lot about on the pages of The Clockmaker’s Daughter.

The reason?

They all get to meet the ghost of Birdie Bell (in one way or another) since they are all inhabitants of the Birchwood Manor.

Which is undoubtedly the best place to start our summary.

The Legend of Birchwood Manor

Back in the 19th century, it was believed that the Birchwood Manor had been built on land blessed by none other than a Fairy Queen.


Because it is in that house that a loving couple, a long time ago, managed to protect its children from harm.

According to many people, these children have haunted the house ever since: supposedly, sometimes, a light turns itself on in the attic window of the house.

And that’s precisely why the main narrator of The Clockmaker’s Daughter, Albertine “Birdie” Bell, came to the house back in the summer of 1862.

Though, being a ghost now, she knows that the above story is not true one bit:

We came to Birchwood Manor because Edward said it was haunted. It wasn’t, not then, but it’s a dull man who lets truth stand in the way of a good story, and Edward was never that.
His passion, his blinding faith in whatever he professed, was one of the things I fell in love with. He had the preacher’s zeal, a way of expressing opinions that minted them into gleaming currency. A habit of drawing people to him, of firing in them enthusiasms they hadn’t known were theirs, making all but himself and his convictions fade.
I remember him. I remember everything.

Who’s this Edward guy and how did our main protagonist fell in love with him?

Well, read on to find out!

Birdie’s Back Story

Albertine “Birdie” Bell didn’t have a great childhood.

The daughter of a clockmaker, she spent her early years believing that her father had abandoned her. In fact, as she learns on the very day of her death, he wanted to make a life for both of them in America but was killed by a horse before he could achieve that.

Be that as it may, in the meantime he left her in a house of petty thieves, and in the care of Mrs. Mack, a sort of a leader of the group.

Long story short – in time, Birdie became a pickpocket herself.

This is how Morton describes the moment when Birdie is first caught stealing by an aristocratic lady:

Over the years I had prepared myself for this precise scenario. I had been through it many times in my head. I should have feigned innocence, widened my eyes and pretended that it was all a mistake, perhaps even produced some pitiable tears. But I was caught unawares… Against this lady with her fancy hat, fine manners, and wounded delicacy, I was nothing.

Luckily, a prince on a white horse comes to her rescue.

And that guy is none other but a painter, the leader of the Magenta Brotherhood.

1862: The Magenta Brotherhood at Birchwood Manor

The Magenta Brotherhood is a group of talented young artists who descend upon the art world of the 19th century with a lot of passion and enthusiasm, embodied in their leader, Victorian painter Edward Radcliffe.

If you need real-life analogs to the characters of our story, google “Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood” and “Dante Gabriel Rossetti.”

Most of the things you know about the former can be applied to the Magenta Brotherhood: they too want to enthuse art with some new energy, utilizing novel techniques and creating seductive images.

Some of the things you know about Dante Gabriel Rossetti are true for Edward Radcliffe as well. Like, for example, that he had a keen eye for artists’ models; and that he fell in love with his muse.

In the case of Rossetti, the girl’s name was Elizabeth Siddal; in the case of Edward Radcliffe, it is Albertine “Birdie” Bell, or, as we soon learn, actually, Lily Millington.

After paying an obscene amount of money to Mrs. Mack for Lily, Radcliffe wins both the time and the heart of our protagonist.

In the summer of 1862, the two visit the Birchwood Manor, together with all of the members of the Magenta Brotherhood; their intention is to spend one last summer in their company before sailing away to America in search of a better life.

However, by the end of the summer, Fanny, Edward’s estranged fiancée, is shot dead by a supposed robber, an heirloom diamond called the Radcliffe Blue has disappeared, and there’s no sign of Lily anywhere.

It isn’t difficult to connect the dots: Lily, the one-time pickpocket Birdie, made a deal with one of her old friends, who subsequently killed Fanny, stole the diamond, and together with her ran off to America.

But, of course, that’s not the whole story.

2017: The Satchel and the Archivist

Back in the present, Elodie Winslow is a young archivist at Stratton, Caldwell & Co., a London firm. The daughter of a celebrated and deceased cellist, Elodie is engaged to a domineering and bullying mama’s boy named Alastair.

One day at work, Elodie discovers an old leather satchel; in it, there’s an artist’s sketchbook and a photograph. While cataloging the items, Elodie’s attention is grabbed by some of the sketches.

One of them features a beautiful young woman wearing the heirloom diamond we mentioned above, the Radcliffe Blue. And another one is the sketch of a house which reminds Elodie a lot of one her deceased mother told her many stories about.

So, Elodie decides to discover the story behind the sketches, and her journey leads her to Birchwood Manor.

And she is merely the latest of the many guests the ghost of Lily has already entertained.

1899: Ada Lovegrove and the Blue Light

Three decades after Lily died during the events for which she was deemed the cause, Ada Lovegrove was a student at a school located at Birchwood Manor.

The school was opened by none other than Lucy Radcliffe, Edward’s little sister; Edward, in the meantime, had died, after living a few solitary and depressed years following the death of Lily.

Bullied at school, Ada nearly lost her life one day, during a boating accident which cost the life of another girl.

How did Ada survive even though she could not swim?

Lily helped her, by appearing to her underwater and telling her to follow the blue light.

After the accident, Ada wasn’t tortured anymore.

1928: Leonard and Juliet

In 1928, Leonard, a historian still in grief over the death of his brother Tom in the First World War arrives at Birchwood Manor to research the life of Edward Radcliffe and his possible love affair with Lily.

He is aided in his research by the now-elderly Lucy, Edward’s sister.

Leonard is doubly devastated by the death of his brother because he had had an affair with his fiancée, and he is somehow inclined to believe that the latter had contributed to the former.

At Birchwood Manor, Leonard crosses path with Juliet, with whom he eventually becomes friends.

1940: Juliet and Her Children

In 1940, in an attempt to escape the London Blitz (during which her house is destroyed), Juliet takes refuge at Birchwood Manor with her three children.

Her husband Alan, we learn, had been killed in the war.

Tip, Juliet’s youngest son, develops a connection with Lily, and, after a few meetings, he tells his mother.

You can’t blame Juliet for not believing him.

However, later, at a restaurant in Birchwood, Juliet meets Ada. During a conversation, Ada understands that Tip is seeing the same ghost who had saved her life.

So, she suggests Juliet that Tip is not lying, after which he starts an in-depth conversation with the boy.

1862: The Story of Lucy

Now that the stories of a few of the Birchwood tenants through the years connect, it’s time we go back to 1862 and find out what really happened during the visit of the Magenta Brotherhood.

And we learn about these events through the story of Lucy, Edward’s then thirteen-year-old sister.

We learn that Lucy was in the house when Mrs. Mack’s son, Martin Mack, entered the house to look for Lily and ask her a few things about the Blue Radcliffe.

Lucy didn’t only overhear this discussion but also saw how Martin was dragging the unconscious Lily by her wrist.

In an attempt to help her, she hit Martin on the head and then locked Lily in a secret compartment at Birchwood Manor.

However, during the struggle, she suffered a head injury herself and couldn’t explain to the police what had happened other than Lily talking to an old acquaintance of hers, Martin.

And that persuaded the police in the Lily/Martin robbery plot they had been suspicious about from the start.

Years later, however, in a suitcase she had never unpacked, Lucy discovers the Radcliffe Blue diamond.

And, in a revelatory flash, she is suddenly capable of remembering everything – not only the fact that she put the diamond in her case after the arrival of Martin, but also that she had locked Lily in the secret compartment.

After the death of her brother, that’s exactly where she finds her dead body.

Lucy buries Lily’s remains in a casket in the front yard of Birchwood Manor; besides her body, she leaves a letter detailing her life; above it, she plants a Japanese maple sapling.

The Clockmaker’s Daughter Epilogue

Back in 2017 – exactly one hundred and thirty-five years after the burial of Lily (which had occurred two decades after her death – Elodie visits the Birchwood Manor in an attempt to uncover the mystery of the artist’s sketchbook.

Due to a storm, her taxi never arrives, and she spends the night there with Jack, a man who is living in Birchwood Manor hoping to find the Blue Radcliffe there.

The storm uproots the maple tree in the front yard, and Elodie and Jack discover that there’s something hidden in the hole beneath it.

As they are waiting for the storm to pass, they agree to dig it up and see what’s under there.

Meanwhile, Lily tells us that even though the mystery of her death has finally been solved, she has no plans of leaving the Birchwood Manor.

In a way, she says, she feels as if she’s a part of the house.

Like this summary? We’d like to invite you to download our free 12 min app for more amazing summaries and audiobooks.

“The Clockmaker’s Daughter PDF Quotes”

People value shiny stones and lucky charms, but they forget that the most powerful talismans of all are the stories that we tell to ourselves and to others. Click To Tweet There are very few certainties in this world, Mr. Gilbert, but I will tell you something I know: the truth depends on who it is that’s telling the story. Click To Tweet No matter what evil might come one's way to be loved is to be protected. Click To Tweet I have learned that one must forgive oneself the past or else the journey into the future becomes unbearable. Click To Tweet What a dignified object was a book, almost noble in its purpose. Click To Tweet

Our Critical Review

At its best, The Clockmaker’s Daughter is a captivating read; at worst, it’s overpopulated.

And for all its merits – mysterious, breathtaking, finely written – The Clockmaker’s Daughter would probably have been a better book if Morton had decided to leave out all of the secondary characters altogether.

The story is excellent as it is – even if Lily, Edward, and Lucy are its only protagonists.    Take this summary with you and read anywhere! Download PDF:   

Brain Rules PDF Summary

Brain Rules PDF Summary

12 Principles for Surviving and Thriving at Work, Home, and School

Do you know how your brain works?

Let us burst your bubble: you don’t.

Which is why it’s more than necessary that you take some time to learn the 12 most essential

Brain Rules.

Who Should Read “Brain Rules”? And Why?

Even though this book is suited for neuroscientists and psychologists as well, it probably works best as one of the best popular science books on how the brain works for laypeople and students.

It would be great if people in power read it too – Medina’s ideas on how our classrooms and business environments should look like seem to us not only great but revolutionary.

If only some of them could become reality.

About John Medina

John Medina

John J. Medina is a developmental molecular biologist and research consultant, working primarily on issues related to mental health with pharmaceutical and biotechnological companies.

The author of the “Molecules of the Mind” column in the Psychiatric Times journal, he is also the founding director of the Talaris Research Institute.

Brain Rules, part of a trilogy of similarly titled books (with Brain Rules for Aging Well and Brain Rules for Baby) is one of the many books on the subject he has so far authored, such as What You Need to Know About Alzheimer’s, The Clock of Ages and Depression.

Find out more at

“Brain Rules PDF Summary”

“I am a nice guy, but I am a grumpy scientist,” says John Medina in the “Introduction” to Brain Rules, a reader-friendly exploration of our brain powers with applicable revelations, based exclusively on peer-reviewed scientific studies.

That’s what the sentence above refers to, in fact: for a study to appear in his book, Medina goes on, “it has to pass what some at The Boeing Company (for which I have done some consulting) call MGF: the Medina Grump Factor.”

What does Medina Grump Factor mean?

“That means,” explains the guy after whom it is named, “the supporting research for each of my points must first be published in a peer-reviewed journal and then successfully replicated.”

In other words, all of the rules presented here are factual and verified; they are, as Medina calls them, “things we know about how the brain works.”

Unfortunately, it seems that most of these things are either willfully ignored by the people who have created – and carry on creating – our societies or are not known to anyone outside the neuroscientific community.

Because, in a nutshell, what they all point to is this:

If you wanted to create an education environment that was directly opposed to what the brain was good at doing, you probably would design something like a classroom. If you wanted to create a business environment that was directly opposed to what the brain was good at doing, you probably would design something like a cubicle. And if you wanted to change things, you might have to tear down both and start over.

Well, this is to book which can help you start off on the right foot.

Key Lessons from “Brain Rules”

1.      Rule #1: Exercise Boosts Brain Power
2.      Rule #2: The Human Brain Evolved, Too
3.      Rule #3: Every Brain Is Wired Differently
4.      Rule #4: We Don’t Pay Attention to Boring Things
5.      Rule #5: Repeat to Remember
6.      Rule #6: Remember to Repeat
7.      Rule #7: Sleep Well, Think Well
8.      Rule #8: Stressed Brains Don’t Learn the Same Way
9.      Rule #9: Stimulate More of the Senses
10.      Rule #10: Vision Trumps All Other Senses
11.      Rule #11: Male and Female Brains Are Different
12.      Rule #12: We Are Powerful and Natural Explorers

Rule #1: Exercise Boosts Brain Power

Let’s get straight to the point: your body is not built to sit 8 hours a day; your brain likes that even less.

Think of it this way: you’ve become who you are – aka homo sapiens – not because your predecessors say 8 hours a day, but because they walked at least 10 and as much as 20 kilometers a day.

The point?

Your brain still craves this experience!

All of the studies consistently prove this: exercise boosts brain power, especially in sedentary populations.

Whether it’s long-term memory (see Rule #6) or problem-solving tasks, attention (see Rule #4) or reasoning – exercisers always outperform couch potatoes.

And there’s a physiological reason for this!

Namely, exercising stimulates the production of certain hormones, one of which is the BDNF.

That acronym stands for brain-derived neurotrophic factor in the scientific community, but in layman’s terms, you can translate that to “boost dem neurons, friend.”

Because BDNF refreshes your neurons and strengthens the connections between them and that’s great both for your problem-solving capabilities and long-term memory.

To sum up in Medina’s words: “To improve your thinking skills, move… Aerobic exercise just twice a week halves your risk of dementia.”

Rule #2: The Human Brain Evolved, Too

Now, it’s important to note that when we use the word “brain,” it’s almost more appropriate to use it in the plural.

Because we don’t have one, but three brains inside our skulls.

The oldest one is the lizard brain, which is “lively as Las Vegas” and controls “most of your body’s housekeeping chores;” namely, “breathing, heart rate, sleeping, and waking.”

The second one is the (paleo)mammalian brain, which is responsible for your survival, or as some scientists say, the four F’s: “fighting, feeding, fleeing, and … reproductive behavior.”

Finally, the third one is the human brain, the one responsible for all the complex tasks, the pinnacle of evolution.

Now, everybody expects from you to have your human brain active at all times; the problem is the other two brains are still there; most of these rules concern the mammalian brain which is a large part of us and is still too powerful to be ignored.

The lesson?

Until we evolve to become something more than sapiens, we’re still part animals; and we need to react appropriately to this fact.

Rule #3: Every Brain Is Wired Differently

The brain may have evolved historically in humans as species, but it is also continually evolving (well, sort of) inside each and every one of us.

“What you do and learn in life,” writes Medina, “physically changes what your brain looks like – it literally rewires it.”

Think of your brain as an empty map containing no roads. More or less, all humans share the same blueprint (the same locations and places, the same milestones), but no two humans connect these by drawing upon the map the same, exact roads.

In other words: “no two people’s brains store the same information in the same way in the same place.”

It is wiring – connecting the different regions of the brain – which makes virtuous pianists and it is wiring which helps some people be so great at chess.

However, wiring is also the reason why some people score high at IQ tests, and others don’t.

“We have a great number of ways of being intelligent,” writes Medina, “many of which don’t show up on IQ tests.”

Rule #4: We Don’t Pay Attention to Boring Things

When it comes to paying attention, your brain is, simply put, not evolved enough to multitask.

So even though you try to talk on your cell phone while driving, the fact is that your brain is constantly switching on and off between the two; what actually happens inside your brain when you think you’re multitasking is chaotic singletasking between more than one assignment.

It is literally impossible to multitask: “the brain’s attentional ‘spotlight’ can focus on only one thing at a time.”

Also, as you know full well from every single PowerPoint presentation you’ve seen so far in your life, it is impossible for you to pay attention for more than 10 minutes at anything.

So if you want to keep your audience’s attention, do something which will arouse their emotions at 9 minutes and 59 seconds!

Rule #5: Repeat to Remember

The Romans had a nice saying: repetitio mater studiorum est; repetition is the mother of learning.


Because that’s precisely how your brain works when it tries to remember things; it first encodes them, and then stores them; however, unless you try to decode the info repeatedly, your brain just forgets the code, and, thus, you forget the information.

This is the reason why you sometimes can suddenly recall something you’ve forgotten after reproducing the environment or the immediate surrounding information of the one you’re interested in.

The more elaborate the initial encoding, the longer you’ll remember the info; the more often you visit the information stored, the more likely it will become part of your long-term memory.

Which brings us to Rule #6.

Rule #6: Remember to Repeat

“Most memories disappear within minutes,” says John Medina, “but those that survive the fragile period strengthen with time”:

Long-term memories are formed in a two-way conversation between the hippocampus and the cortex, until the hippocampus breaks the connection and the memory is fixed in the cortex – which can take years.

After this process is finalized, you don’t even need to think to remember something: your brain does it by default.

But what does this mean in practical terms?

Simply put, it means that the schools of the future should completely eliminate homework and instead focus on initiating “review holidays.”

In other words, if every third or fourth day, you repeat with your class your notes of the previous days (in summarized form), then you’ll have no need of homework.

Rule #7: Sleep Well, Think Well

Let us ask you a question: do you feel tired every day around 3 o’clock?

If so, do you know why?

No, it’s not because of your work or your kids or what not – it’s because your brain really needs a nap from time to time!

Put it this way: sleeping is not exactly something evolution should encourage; after all, it’s not a great idea to sleep for 8 hours when there are lions around you; and yet, sleeping has endured to this day.

The reason?

It’s just too essential.

Afternoon naps especially!

Because, even though “people vary in how much sleep they need and when they prefer to get it, but the biological drive for an afternoon nap is universal.”

Don’t believe us?

According to one study, a 26-minute nap improved NASA pilots’ performance by 34 percent!

So, what are you waiting for?

It’s time for a sleep revolution!

Rule #8: Stressed Brains Don’t Learn the Same Way

As we have already told you, stress is the direct product of your body’s defense mechanism.

In a nutshell, when in a fight-or-flee situation, your body switches off all the systems which are not necessary for your immediate survival and turns on all those which are.

The problem?

Your body’s defense system – the release of adrenaline and cortisol – is built for an immediate response to a serious but passing danger, such as a saber-toothed tiger. Chronic stress, such as hostility at home, dangerously deregulates a system built only to deal with short-term responses.

So, in other words, when the danger of a saber-toothed tiger attack passed, the bodies of the Neanderthals went back to normal; however, ours don’t – because saber-toothed tigers have evolved into never-ending streams of abstract fears, be they deadlines or homework assignments.

Unfortunately, chronic stress causes your brain to stop working properly, “crippling your ability to learn and remember.”

Want better schools and offices?

Make them as stress-free as possible!

Rule #9: Stimulate More of the Senses

You know why some people have unlimited memories?

Because they include more of their senses to remember things.

Just ask synesthetes, aka people who smell colors or see sounds; apparently, they also remember things unusually well.

But there’s a very understandable reason for this.

“We absorb information about an event through our senses,” reminds us John Medina, “translate it into electrical signals (some for sight, others from sound, etc.), disperse those signals to separate parts of the brain, then reconstruct what happened, eventually perceiving the event as a whole.”

Memory, as we learned above (Rules #3, #5 and #6) is all about your capability to connect the dots, aka wire the parts of the brain which keep the information.

Just imagine the power when you are hardwired to connect them because you experience everything in more than one sense!

Why not use this while learning new things?

Also, an interesting trivia: because smell signals bypass the thalamus, smells bring back memories most forcefully.

However –

Rule #10: Vision Trumps All Other Senses

Leonardo da Vinci knew this intuitively; science has all but proven it: “vision is by far our most dominant sense, taking up half of our brain’s resources.”

In fact, it’s wrong to say that we see with our eyes; we’re, in truth, seeing with our brains. Consequently, “what we see is only what our brain tells us we see.”

It’s only natural that this is not 100 percent accurate; in fact, this explains, in no uncertain terms, why some people see ghosts or visions. Simply put, their eyes are seeing what their brain tells them to see, even though there’s nothing of that sort in reality. 

Vision is so important, in fact, that, as Wittgenstein argued, it’s possible that you can’t really understand things unless you translate them into images.

That’s the reason why you use analogies and why the only way you can comprehend the beginning of Beethoven’s Fifth is by saying that it’s Destiny knocking on the door.

“We learn and remember best through pictures,” concludes Medina, “not through written or spoken words.”

Rule #11: Male and Female Brains Are Different

No matter what religions say, women are actually the more complex sex: the X chromosome (which females have two of, and men only one of) carries “an unusually large percentage of genes involved in brain manufacture.”

Also, the X chromosome carries about 1,500 genes, fifteen times more than the number of genes in the corresponding male Y chromosome.

In other words, the brains of males and females are different both structurally and biochemically; even though this explains how men and women react to stress and why men are generally the more stable sex, we don’t know if the differences go past, say, the speed of serotonin production.

Also, we don’t know whether we should encourage these differences or balance them out; and, if the latter one, in which direction.

So, anyone who says that he knows and he’s advocating either of the views, he’s lying – because science hasn’t said the final word on this just yet.

Rule #12: We Are Powerful and Natural Explorers

If you observe a baby for a while, you’ll immediately understand that we’ve evolved to learn new things “not by passive reaction to the environment but by active testing through observation, hypothesis, experiment, and conclusion.”

In other words, you posit a hypothesis (“lions are great creatures”), then look for errors in it (“wow: that look is slightly menacing”), and then, another part of your brain tells you that you need to change your behavior if you want to survive on this planet (“you better run”).

The great news?

“Some parts of our adult brains stay as malleable as a baby’s,” says Medina.

Yes, that means exactly what you think it means: you can create neurons and learn new things throughout your whole life.

Since you’re reading this summary, you’re actually doing that right now.

Like this summary? We’d like to invite you to download our free 12 min app for more amazing summaries and audiobooks.

“Brain Rules Quotes”

The most common communication mistakes? Relating too much information, with not enough time devoted to connecting the dots. Click To Tweet We must do a better job of encouraging lifelong curiosity. Click To Tweet One of the greatest predictors of successful aging, they found, is the presence or absence of a sedentary lifestyle. Click To Tweet Studies show that a person who is interrupted takes 50 percent longer to accomplish a task. Not only that, he or she makes up to 50 percent more errors. Click To Tweet Emotionally charged events are better remembered—for longer, and with more accuracy – than neutral events. Click To Tweet

Our Critical Review

Brain Rules seems like one of the best candidates for the Brain 101 book you’ve always wanted to find, but never could.

It’s science-based, nicely structured, simply written, and offers many practically applicable ideas.And there’s a whole website – which includes references and a film – if you want to delve into the subject further once you finish the book.    Take this summary with you and read anywhere! Download PDF:   

Joyful PDF Summary

Joyful PDF Summary

The Surprising Power of Ordinary Things to Create Extraordinary Happiness

You are probably wrapping your head around the logic that surrounds this book. Well, the core message revolves around the small trivial things that could make a great difference, and give any community the edge in the fight against crime, poverty, and depression.

But most of all, it zooms in on the tones, hues, shapes, shades, and colors that could bring about the much-desired change on the outside.

Indeed, it isn’t comparatively easy to cover the external effects which if subjected to alteration could have an influence on societal well-being.

With that said, one must take them into account for achieving greater success.

Enough talking, let’s make it count.

Who Should Read “Joyful”? And Why?

More than anything else, Ingrid shares her concerns and attempts to raise awareness regarding the upsurge in violent crime and lack of prosperity in some areas.

She struggles to single out the main culprit for these difficulties that ensue as a result of ineffective policies, carelessness or simply lack of knowledge.

Whatever the case may be, we find “Joyful” amusing and educational for the wider audience.

About Ingrid Fetell Lee

Ingrid Fetell Lee

As the founder of the blog The Aesthetics of Joy, Ingrid Fetell Lee has been trying to spread the word since day one.

Because of her achievements, she has been featured in renowned magazines such as the New York Times, PRI’s Studio 360, CBC’s Spark, and others.

We are looking forward to seeing what the future holds with regards to her achievements.

“Joyful PDF Summary”

From the moment Ingrid decided to delve into the mystery of joy, she realized that it’s going to be a long an exhausting process. It didn’t herald anything other than a fierce battle to reinvigorate the dark parts of certain communities.

As it turns out, color can influence how a group of people behave and act.

The truth is that every organism regardless of its complexity strives to invigorate itself by absorbing energy through food, safety, warding off potential threats, reproduction, etc.

So, what does that has anything to do with the colorful revolution?

Ingrid lays out two examples which examine and explain why color has such a tremendous effect on people’s behavior. The first one tells the story of Edi Rama, the Mayor who rejuvenated the city of Tirana in the aftermath of the dark communist rule.

The next one covers the vision of Ruth Lande Shuman; a courageous lady who managed to breath new life into East Harlem. Namely, by brightening up the place a bit, she made huge strides to revamp the prison-like schools and give them the much-needed finishing touch.

It became clear that bright colors stimulate the brain and make everyone feel better and safer.

While chatting with multiple persons and critically observing their comfort-zone, Ingrid felt like the cultural bias is embedded deep within, making us reluctant to change things.

As if people are not comfortable to make things a bit more colorful; a move that could lift the spirits of any community.

One woman even told Ingrid that she feels extremely awkward to enjoy all the colors she finds peaceful. To some extent, the so-called cultural bias restricts and deprives us of this cheerfulness. We often find joy in decorating or let’s say embellishing some areas, such as the child’s room.

However, we also feel the societal burden when we try to apply the same logic in otherwise unusual situations.

It is crystal clear that brightness is crucial with regards to joyfulness and nurturing a positive atmosphere.

In addition, adding color tones which depict purity and vivacity can be absorbed in a greater process that extends beyond the usage of proper lumens and hues.

According to recently conducted studies in this realm, people prefer lighting over any kind of uniform display of colors.

In chapter 3, Ingrid puts forward the urges which prompted her to be more attentive of the surroundings. She decided to embark on a journey, inspired by Sam Gribley’s endeavors in My Side of the Mountain. Unlike Sam, who set up traps, ground acorns, and befriended a falcon, Ingrid was back by nightfall.

It’s not easy to live off the land, especially if you are attached to the comfort of the modern-day world. Nonetheless, she took it as a lesson and realized that you’re compelled to abide by the law of nature, it’s not like you’ve been given much of choice anyway.

Even when a person subsists on nature’s bounty and its survival is put at risk, the freedom it receives eclipses all confinements and dangers that may incurr.

In the next chapter, Ingrid tells us about the ambiguous nature of any organization. At first glance, a person might think that arranging things in perfect order, either by size or type has nothing to do with a colorful gradient that can improve the atmosphere.

On the flip side, putting everything in order conflates with the idea of finding some who can whim the whole atmosphere into shape.

Causing total mental disarray is not something we do consciously but, it’s definitely an attitude one might be lured into adopting. On the surface, life seems very spontaneous, but the original essence is not in conflict with order nor with the idea of uniformity.

Harmony, unlike disorder, is the embodiment of a positive life.

When you put up time, energy and resource into making the place a bit more colorful and energetic, it truly manifests your readiness to grab hold of life.

The author even introduces an exercise that could help you get the big picture.

If you’ve been asked to name a joyful shape, what would be the first thing that comes to your mind?

Probably a circle!

In ancient times – circles represented a geometric body that was regarded as both complex and majestic. Nowadays, we share that enthusiasm as well.  

Research has shown that people prefer to be disposed into circles, rather than sitting side by side. It was a discovery that left many researchers engrossed into this whole argument.

In an effort to sustain this feeling of asymmetric connection, which depicts inner harmony and joy, you must be eager to exercise your freedom of expression. Moreover, asymmetrical faces are considered more attractive to both sexes; a fact that only further endorses this theory.

You don’t need us telling you that since ancient times; asymmetry has had a pivotal role in architecture, different types of craftsmanship, science, and even politics.

The widespread use throughout Egypt, Rome, Greece tells us a great deal about the alignment between harmony and asymmetry.

Next in line is playfulness.

Archeologists have dug up toys originating from ancient times.

When darkness prevails, playfulness it’s the only thing standing in its path, to say the least. Ingrid believes that “play” hasn’t received much attention from the scientists and people in general.

Nowadays, the idea of analyzing the playful behavior starts to make way more sense than ever before. Furthermore, Ingrid asserts that “play” should be put on an equal footing as emotions in order to understand their combined and separate value.

Transcendence also plays an essential role in this process. Over the course of hundreds of years, people have exhibited an unusual fascination for overcoming certain obstacles such as gravity.

Prior to the construction of the first airplane, the society saw flying as a way to defy nature and crush physical boundaries.

Through my years of studying joy, I’ve noticed that people seem to have a natural attraction to things that float and fly. Most insects attract little interest, but when a butterfly appears and flits around the garden, it becomes a cherished visitor.

In the sequel, you’ll come across some pretty exciting stories and theories related to magic, celebration, and renewal.

Key Lessons from “Joyful”

1.      Get out of your bed and seize the day
2.      Bring more color into your life
3.      Don’t be afraid to question the societal norms

Get out of your bed and seize the day

Sometimes, we don’t have the courage nor do we venture to take risks that could incite change and joyfulness.

However, that’s not a valid excuse for you to remain stuck in the endless stream of destructive thoughts and patterns. Get back on your feet, and make your way through life.

Bring more color into your life

This lesson can be interpreted both symbolically and literally, whichever way you see fit will serve an equal purpose.

You feel embarrassed to make your life more colorful? Snap out of it!

Energize your life by adding different hues and shades that can rejuvenate any place, including the ones you deem unworthy.

Don’t be afraid to question the societal norms

Well, it is not as easy as it sounds, because sometimes we are sucked into the system without even knowing it.

Take for example, tradition. Probably, you like most people incline towards preserving certain cultural paradigms and do things which are an integral part of it.

Ask yourself – have you ever tried to step out of it, and perhaps make your own judgments? – As you can see, it’s not as straightforward as it appears to be.

Make your own case, and build your own life.

Like this summary? We’d Like to invite you to download our free 12 min app, for more amazing summaries and audiobooks.

“Joyful Quotes”

From the moment I first started studying joy, it was clear that the liveliest places and objects all have one thing in common: bright, vivid color. Whether it’s a row of houses painted in bold swaths of candy hues or a display of colored… Click To Tweet Burnout often has as much boredom in it as exhaustion. Click To Tweet Safety isn’t the only thing that roundness has going for it. Curved objects have a broad range of affordances, a term -designers- use to describe the different ways an object can be used Click To Tweet Just as the space can promote a feeling of unity, so can attire. Click To Tweet The only requirement is what you already have: an openness to discovering the joy that surrounds you. Click To Tweet

Our Critical Review

Hopefully, our summary will evoke some kind of response from you with regards to the problem addressed by Ingrid.

Not all communities face the same obstacles and problems that more often than not derive its authority from meaningless concepts.

If you are keen to dive into the depths of joy, then this book may become your lifeline in that endeavor.

Keep learning, and keep questioning!    Take this summary with you and read anywhere! Download PDF:   

Very Good Lives PDF Summary

Very Good Lives PDF Summary

The Fringe Benefits of Failure and the Importance of Imagination

Very Good Lives is an illustrated and somewhat edited version of J. K. Rowling’s 2008 commencement speech at Harvard University.

And it’s profoundly moving, funny, and inspirational!

Read ahead to find out how in our summary.

Who Should Read “Very Good Lives”? And Why?

If you like inspirational commencement speeches such as David Foster Wallace’s This Is Water, then you’ll more than enjoy Very Good Lives.

The same holds true if you watch TED Talks to find meaning and direction in life; speaking of which, you can find large portions of this book in J. K. Rowling’s TED Talk, “The Fringe Benefits of Failure.”

About J. K. Rowling

J. K. Rowling is a British novelist, one of the bestselling authors in history.

She is best-known for her Harry Potter books, which have sold almost half a billion copies worldwide (that is not a mistake) and have been translated into no less than 80 languages.

Unsurprisingly, all of them have been turned into blockbuster movies, the last two of which were produced by Rowling herself.

Since completing the Harry Potter saga, Rowling has written five books for adult readers: The Casual Vacancy, The Cuckoo’s Calling, The Silkworm, Career of Evil, and Lethal White. The last four have been published under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith, and form the Cormoran Strike series.

J. K. Rowling has received an OBE for services to children’s literature and supports many charities.

“Very Good Lives PDF Summary”

Very Good Lives is the book version of J. K. Rowling’s Harvard commencement speech, sharing her wisdom and knowledge on, mainly, two topics: “the benefits of failure” and “the crucial importance of imagination.”  

J. K. Rowling’s Youth and the Realities of Poverty

“Looking back at the twenty-one-year-old that I was at graduation is a slightly uncomfortable experience for the forty-two-year-old that she has become,” says Rowling at the beginning of this book.


Because, as almost everybody knows, the 21-year-old J. K. Rowling was not at the right place in her life. And that is an understatement: as she says, by any conventional measure, she was an epic failure!

Now, how did that happen?

Difficult to say.

She was always interested in writing, but, since she came from a poor family, this was a career her parents hadn’t encouraged one bit, thinking that writing would never pay a mortgage or secure a pension. (“I know that the irony strikes with the force of a cartoon anvil now,” Rowling notes jokingly)

So, they didn’t allow Rowling to study English Literature, and, as a compromise to them, she chose Modern Languages. But, as she says, even before her parents’ car had rounded the corner at the end of the road, Rowling decided to “[ditch] German and [scuttle] off down the Classics corridor.”

Basically, this means that the compromise resulted in the worst decision imaginable (in the eyes of Rowling’s parents): choosing a subject even less useful than English Literature.

It didn’t matter that Rowling was a good student; simply put, nobody needed anyone to tell him the names of the Greek gods and nymphs.

Fast forward a few years and…

An exceptionally short-lived marriage had imploded, and I was jobless, a lone parent, and as poor as it is possible to be in modern Britain, without being homeless. The fears that my parents had had for me, and that I had had for myself, had both come to pass, and by every usual standard, I was the biggest failure I knew.

The Rock Bottom and The Benefits of Failure

Now, it is important to note that Rowling doesn’t blame her parents for trying to steer her in a different direction.

Poverty is not an ennobling experience, she says, and since her parents had been poor for most of their lives, they knew full well the realities of poverty.

“Poverty entails fear,” Rowling goes on, “and stress, and sometimes depression; it means a thousand petty humiliations and hardships.”

Only fools would ever want to romanticize it.

However, even at her poorest, what Rowling feared the most wasn’t poverty, but failure. And then she realized that her epic failure – even though no fun by any measure – was the greatest thing that could ever happen to her.


Simply because failure meant a stripping away of the inessential. I stopped pretending to myself that I was anything other than what I was, and began to direct all my energy into finishing the only work that mattered to me.
Had I really succeeded at anything else, I might never have found the determination to succeed in the one arena I believed I truly belonged. I was set free, because my greatest fear had been realized, and I was still alive, and I still had a daughter whom I adored, and I had an old typewriter and a big idea.
And so rock bottom became the solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life.

Failure gave Rowling “inner security” that she never attained before by passing examinations. It taught her things about herself that she could have learned no other way.

Among other things, Rowling discovered that she had “a strong will, and more discipline than [she] had suspected;” even more importantly, she also discovered that she had “friends whose value was truly above the price of rubies.”

Amnesty International and the Crucial Importance of Imagination

Looking back, Rowling realizes that her failures were great formative experiences; and the same holds true for one of her earliest day jobs as well.

Namely, in her 20s, Rowling worked as a bilingual secretary and researcher at the African research department at Amnesty International’s headquarters in London.

There, she worked with many ex-political prisoners, “people who had been displaced from their homes, or fled into exile, because they had the temerity to speak against their governments.”

And those were her co-workers!

What her job entailed was even worse:

There in my little office I read hastily scribbled letters smuggled out of totalitarian regimes by men and women who were risking imprisonment to inform the outside world of what was happening to them. I saw photographs of those who had disappeared without trace, sent to Amnesty by their desperate families and friends. I read the testimony of torture victims and saw pictures of their injuries. I opened handwritten, eye-witness accounts of summary trials and executions, of kidnappings and rapes.

Why is this important?

Because Rowling had never experienced anything even remotely similar to this and, yet, she was able to empathize.


Rousseau answered that question centuries ago: because of the power of the human imagination.

“Unlike any other creature on this planet,” Rowling reminds us, “humans can learn and understand, without having experienced. They can think themselves into other people’s places.”

And that is an enormous power!

True, it can also sometimes be a burden, since, no matter how happy your life may seem to be, you can still suffer profoundly because of the pain people you don’t know are going through.

Even so, Rowling doesn’t envy the people who never employ their imaginative powers. They suffer from mental agoraphobia, she says; and they are often more afraid.

Ancient Quotes for the Modern Students

J. K. Rowling ends her speech by quoting two ancient authors and reminding the modern students how relevant their words still are.

The first is Plutarch, a Greek biographer and Platonist, who once wrote that “what we achieve inwardly will change outer reality.”

“This is an astonishing statement,” notes Rowling, “and yet proven a thousand times every day of our lives. It expresses, in part, our inescapable connection with the outside world, the fact that we touch other people’s lives simply by existing.”


Well, first, you should remember that Very Good Lives is a book version of a commencement speech for the 2008 Harvard graduates.

And as Rowling explains to them, what Plutarch was trying to point out two millennia ago, was relatively simple.

Namely, being a Harvard graduate isn’t such a minor thing.

First of all, it means that you’re an American, citizen of the only remaining superpower in the world.

Secondly, it means that you’re either very wealthy or very smart – not everyone can afford to be a Harvard graduate or be awarded a Harvard scholarship.

And thirdly, it means that you’ve gotten the very best education an institution can offer.

So, in other words, some of the Harvard graduates of 2008 who listen to J. K. Rowling’s speech may one day become the people who decide whether the US should bomb another nation or help the refugees from a different one.

If Rowling’s speech touches them, they may make a more humane decision, and, thus, help the world in an exceptional way; and the reason for that: a single speech which changed them inwardly.

Rowling ends her speech with another quote, this one by Seneca: “As is a tale, so is life: not how long it is, but how good it is, is what matters.”

Key Lessons from “Very Good Lives”

1.      Your CV Doesn’t Define You
2.      Failure Strips Away the Inessential
3.      Imagination Is the Root of Empathy

Your CV Doesn’t Define You

“Given a Time Turner,” writes J. K. Rowling, “I would tell my 21-year-old self that personal happiness lies in knowing that life is not a check-list of acquisition or achievement.”

And she goes on: “Your qualifications, your CV, are not your life, though you will meet many people of my age and older who confuse the two. Life is difficult, and complicated, and beyond anyone’s total control, and the humility to know that will enable you to survive its vicissitudes.”

And this comes from someone who was as poor as one can be without being homeless; and became the author of the bestselling book series in the history of mankind.

Failure Strips Away the Inessential

Failure is not a nice thing; however, it does have some benefits.

J. K. Rowling found out this the hard way: at the age of 30, she was a divorced mother of a three-year-old daughter with no job or money; and her mother had recently passed away; the future seemed more than bleak; she was, in her own words, an epic failure.

However, that’s where things started getting better.

Not because something magical happened, but because, simply put, nothing magical could have happened.

Bob Dylan sang that “when you ain’t got nothing, you got nothing to lose” – and that’s the place J. K. Rowling was before Harry Potter made her so famous.

But, she says, she could only write it because her failures revealed to her that nothing else mattered. The worst had happened, and she was still alive.

If she had succeeded in anything, she implies, she would have probably never finished Harry Potter, because she would have always had something to rely on.

The same is probably true for each and every one of us.

We have dreams, but we stop short of turning them into reality because our lives are comfortable enough to make us forget that we are not immortal.

Imagination Is the Root of Empathy

Human beings are exceptional in more than one way; one of the least talked about ways, however, is their capability to simulate the effects of something that has never happened to them, merely through the imaginative powers of their brains.

Rowling says that these powers can save humanity; because empathy stems from them, from our capability to identify with people who suffer.

And because:

If you choose to use your status and influence to raise your voice on behalf of those who have no voice; if you choose to identify not only with the powerful, but with the powerless; if you retain the ability to imagine yourself into the lives of those who do not have your advantages, then it will not only be your proud families who celebrate your existence, but thousands and millions of people whose reality you have helped change. We do not need magic to change the world, we carry all the power we need inside ourselves already: we have the power to imagine better.

Like this summary? We’d like to invite you to download our free 12 min app for more amazing summaries and audiobooks.

“Very Good Lives Quotes”

As is a tale, so is life: not how long it is, but how good it is, is what matters. I wish you all very good lives. Click To Tweet We do not need magic to change the world, we carry all the power we need inside ourselves already: we have the power to imagine better. Click To Tweet You will never truly know yourself, or the strength of your relationships, until both have been tested by adversity. Click To Tweet Unlike any other creature on this planet, human beings can learn and understand without having experienced. Click To Tweet Failure meant a stripping away of the inessential. I stopped pretending to myself that I was anything other than what I was. Click To Tweet

Our Critical Review

Even though Very Good Lives is a fairly short book, it’s undoubtedly one which can effectively change your life. And that’s not used in the usual cliched way, nor it is an exaggeration.

One of the all-time most inspirational speeches and, thus, one of the best graduation gift books ever.    Take this summary with you and read anywhere! Download PDF:   

The Power of Positive Leadership PDF Summary

The Power of Positive Leadership PDF Summary

How and Why Positive Leaders Transform Teams and Organizations and Change the World

The key leitmotif throughout this book pivots around the idea of transforming organizations under the guidance of leadership.

It truly is a complex process, but if you are serious about getting the most out of your business circle, then you have to enforce it by all means necessary.

In this summary, you’ll be able to digest the accurate definition of Positive Leadership and understand why Jon puts the emphasis on it.

Let’s dive into it!

Who Should Read “The Power of Positive Leadership”? And Why?

Not all of us are leaders, not all of us aspire to absorb their role, but we all need some knowledge on how to interact with people and protect our common interests.

With that said, we can now get an aerial perspective and realize why excelling at leadership should not be construed as a privilege, deemed only for top managers or executives.

We all require those skills on a day-to-day basis.

Generally speaking, we believe that “The Power of Positive Leadership” could be of use to everyone, but we feel like leaders in-the-making should be given the priority.

About Jon Gordon

Jon Gordon

Jon Gordon is a well-known American author, speaker, consultant and leadership expert born in 1971. He came to prominence in 2007 with the best-selling book “The Energy Bus.”

Jon also wrote

  • One Word That Will Change Your Life
  • The Power of a Positive Team
  • The Carpenter
  • The Hard Hat

“The Power of Positive Leadership PDF Summary”

Jon starts on the right foot but also dazes the readers by sharing that innately he is not a positive person. He had to work his way through life in order to transform its mindset and seize the momentum.

He recalls that back in the days when psychology and self-help genre swept the Western World, he remained skeptical and started practicing the things he had been subjected to.

Jon came to the conclusion that being a better and cheerful person affects the whole world. The change he saw in his father evinced some excitement to continue down that path and make headway in the journey.

So, what’s the goal of being positive or what incentivizes a person to espouse similar principles?

The beauty and carelessness of life rarely prompt us to resort to positivity; in fact, it’s the other way around. The hardship in life and troublesome encounters act as an impetus for people to cast doubt on their mindset.

You might ruminate on the idea of building a world-class organization, but that will not get you anywhere. There will be times when you’d feel like the whole world is crashing down on your shoulders.

Such stalemate generates a destructive force that should be met with its own weapons. We presume that you already know that teams with positive synergy are much more likely to get the job done, and that same applies to marriages.

Talented and honest people are much willing to add to the functionality of the group system, rather than those who are overwhelmed by negative emotions.

It’s more than just common sense; it’s also an irrefutable fact!

Jon believes that culture, cannot be encompassed into just one aspect, and has to be embodied in the structure of society. It reflects how we feel, how we act, how we tend to respond, and whether our mindset is in tune with the environment we live in.

For the same reason, it’s crucial to discern pattern and expectations that drive the behavior of the community. The same principle applies to habits and the culture we nurture at an organizational level.

Case in point – Apple; founded by Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs.

From the outset, these two geniuses were keenly aware of the culture they wish to promote and reward. In reality, their sole concern was to challenge the status quo and make “Culture” the primary propeller or engine of the company.

Culture beats strategy!

In that regard, one can clearly define what the company stands for, or from where it derives its strength! In other words, the company must be able to answer the following questions:

  • What do we stand for?
  • What do we want to be known for?

This leads to understanding the “Mission Statement” that is put on the pedestal by the business community. Remember, it doesn’t matter what you have written on the walls or the website if you don’t abide by those rules with each breath.

Creating a better future for the people working with you or under you is, in fact, the core of positive leadership. It encompasses innovation, management, strategic approach, relationship building, law regulation, transportation, finances, etc.

A proficient leader leans on acceptable norms, and then join forces with likely-thinkers. Its main job revolves around the idea of gathering as many goal-oriented people as possible under one common objective and mapping out an actionable plan to help the execution.

We are led to believe that optimism surmounts all other characteristics that exemplify excellent leadership, but what to do with the pessimists?

Should we lay them off?

It’s easy to push the button and act as the executioner, but that’s not what Jon is advocating for! First, find the nearest mirror and look into the eyes of that person and ask yourself: Am I the person I deem everyone else should strive to become?

If you recall some past events, you’ll see that at the time you perceived them as obstacles, but nowadays you regard them as challenges and opportunities.

The bottom line is, our reaction is often an ill-defined interpretation of how some situation is unfolding. The British conducted a study to learn more about qualities that predict success in life, and they found out that people who experienced some kind of trouble in their adulthood were more likely to endure potential twists down the road.

The way you look at these obstacles determines the likelihood of a positive outcome, to say the least.

In addition, Jon gives a brief explanation of a phenomenon named: The Curse of Experience.

The paradox is best described as – The longing for the good old days, which in fact, influences your present and future. It’s a self-destructive mechanism that many leaders embrace, both consciously and unconsciously.

A huge and essential part of leadership is to understand that we are masters of our world. The world doesn’t create itself outside of us; we do it from the inside! Hence, you must accept liability for the risks your organization undertakes, and counter-measures to stifle down potential unrest.

You are as powerful as your team deems you to be, and that authority stems from good decision-making.

The objective sense of genuine leadership is often times put under scrutiny; a process that wields power to distract the organization and distort reality. However, bear in mind that leaders throughout history had the power to make their own objective perception in order to make the most out of the situation.  

For the sake of uniting people, they are forced to change the rules of the game. Walking on eggshells is not an attitude positive leaders embrace, nor promote. The ability to consolidate all the forces, put them under the same roof, and lead them into “battle” is truly the backbone of successful management.

In addition, let’s list a couple of ground rules for making a positive impact on the organization:

  • Connection Is the Difference
  • Team Beats Talent When Talent Isn’t a Team
  • Collaborate and Facilitate
  • Dictatorship Doesn’t Work, and It Isn’t Cost-Effective

A true leader doesn’t require a follower-base, but the people, in general, are willing to follow him/her. They tend to adopt his/her vision, and then do everything in their power to put it into practice.

Some say – leadership starts with love, while others believe that legitimate authority and respect play a key role.

Can we all come to terms, and agree that all of these facets matter equally?

Jon explains that genuine leaders strive for excellence, and are optimistic about the future. It’s not like they are trying to reach excellence, but they also don’t discard it as well.

The main contrast is best illustrated in the following quote:

Positive leaders are humble and hungry.

They are cognizant of their lack of knowingness and are more than willing to broaden their horizons. That’s what defines both humbleness and an unquenchable thirst for expanding their prowess in any matter.

If we take a critical look at some of the world’s top brands and their organization, we’ll see a pattern. All of them have a distinct culture that guides their efforts, both individual and organizational. Success is based solely on merit, and egregious misconduct is punishable.

If you are attempting to build a company, startup or any kind of organization, you’ll need a winning team which can abide by similar principles. You need contacts forged in the fire of struggle and common goals.

Only then you can bring your organization to the next level, and preserve the fire burning inside you!

According to Jon Gordon, grit is what makes all the difference. It represents the real bulwark for success and prosperity in every regard.

It’s also important to mention that many people are doing something they hate. Truthfully, that is the main cause for mediocrity or something that impairs one’s ability to flourish.

You have to be engrossed fully in what you do in order to surmount all obstacles and become a winner.

Take this situation for example – How can you become an NBA superstar if you don’t like basketball in the first place.

We all have heard tales about Michael Jordan and other Hall of Famers who gave up on everything to follow their dreams. It’s pretty simple – if you don’t put up the effort, energy, heart, and endurance, you are not going to make it.

The same applies to leadership.

Key Lessons from “The Power of Positive Leadership”

1.      There are no ends in leadership
2.      The magic of the 1% rule
3.      Find your purpose

There are no ends in leadership

While talking to top-notch leaders including the legendary George Raveling, Jon discovered that it’s impossible to cross the finish line regarding leadership.

It’s all about pushing and improving, with no end in sight. The bar can be raised innumerable times, and that’s something out of your control.  

Those who can carry the burden of continuous enhancement and struggle will be rewarded!

The magic of the 1% rule

As a general rule of thumb, Jon lays out the 1% principle which embodies combativeness and positive aggressiveness.

It manifests the leader’s ability to increase its efforts by 1% every single day.

It also pinpoints that becoming a better person the next day is what lies at the end of the battle.

Find your purpose

Even if you are worn out from life, and want to take a breather, you mustn’t forget that without an end-goal, you’ll get lost.

Having said that, there’ll be periods when sadness and deep dejection will get the better of you, but keep in mind that those are just temporary states.

Allow anxiety and aimlessness to recede, and you’ll find yourself once again on the right track.

Like this summary? We’d Like to invite you to download our free 12 min app, for more amazing summaries and audiobooks.

“The Power of Positive Leadership Quotes”

If you don't love it, you'll never be great at it. If you don't love it, you won't work to overcome all the challenges to keep doing it. Click To Tweet The vision is where you are going. The purpose is why you are going there. Click To Tweet People think you have to choose between positivity and winning. You don't have to choose. Positivity leads to winning. Click To Tweet We don't get burned out because of what we do. We get burned out because we forget why we do it. Click To Tweet A team feels a leader's commitment when the leader takes the time to serve them. Click To Tweet

Our Critical Review

We covered a lot of ground today with a single intention in mind – to have the makings of a great leader.

Jon helped us understand what it takes to rise from the crowd and to resist the temptation to make quick judgments.

Let this be a lesson of positive leadership and how to excel at it.

Keep learning!    Take this summary with you and read anywhere! Download PDF:   

What I Know for Sure PDF Summary

What I Know for Sure PDF Summary

Oprah Winfrey is a living legend.

And her columns for the O, The Oprah Magazine have certainly contributed to that status.

In What I Know for Sure Oprah has collected the best of them, revised them, and updated some of them.

And we have the summary.

Who Should Read “What I Know for Sure”? And Why?

Oprah Winfrey is dubbed the Queen of All Media and the Most Influential Woman in the World for a reason. And What I Know for Sure is a collection of the best of her columns.

If these two sentences don’t spell a recommendation for you, we don’t know which will.

About Oprah Winfrey

Oprah Winfrey

Oprah Winfrey is an American talk show host, actress, and media executive, best known for The Oprah Winfrey Show, the highest-rated TV program of its kind in history.

Born in poverty and out of wedlock to a teenage mother, Oprah lived through a tough childhood (including sexual abuse and pregnancy at 14) and landed a job in radio in her teens, becoming a co-anchor for the evening news by the age of 19.

Soon, she transferred to Chicago and became the host of AM Chicago, a low-rated half-hour morning talk show. After making it the highest-rated talk show in Chicago in just a few months, Oprah was persuaded by the movie critic Roger Ebert to sign a syndication deal with King World.

After Winfrey was nominated for an Academy Award for her appearance in The Color Purple, AM Chicago was renamed The Oprah Winfrey Show and relaunched as an hour-long TV event; the rest is history.

Not that you don’t know already, but in case you need to, you can find out more at

“What I Know for Sure PDF Summary”

During an interview two decades ago (1998, to be precise), film critic Gene Siskel (one half of the famous Siskel and Ebert duo) asked Oprah a compelling question: “What do you know for sure?”

Oprah took the question pretty seriously: “Uhhhh, I know for sure… uhhh… I know for sure, I need time to think about that some more, Gene,” she replied.

And she did!

In fact, the question inspired Oprah to start writing the identically titled monthly column for O, the Oprah Magazine – for the next fourteen years!

These columns are collected, revised and updated in this book.

Not because most of them weren’t already famous enough, but because, as Oprah says in the “Introduction,” “when you know something, really know something, it tends to stand the test of time.”

In the book, the columns are organized in eight different sections – joy, resilience, connection, gratitude, possibility, awe, clarity, power – and we have the highlights of them all.

Joy Is the Ultimate Product of Resilience

Now in her 60s, Oprah Winfrey is one of the wealthiest people in the world and undoubtedly one of the most influential women on this planet.

However, few – if anyone – would have predicted her even a modestly successful future four decades ago.

Born out of wedlock to a teenage mother, Oprah spent the first six years of childhood with her poor grandparents.

At the age of six, she moved back with her mother, who had too many problems of her own to look after her well enough.

Unfortunately, Oprah’s problems only got worse: from the age of ten to the age of thirteen, she was sexually abused by as much as three different people (her cousin, her uncle, and a family friend).

Owing to this abuse, at the age of 13, Oprah ran away from home, only to get pregnant the very next year; just like her mother, Oprah hid her pregnancy from everyone; her son was born prematurely and died just a few weeks after being born.

You can’t go any lower than this in life, can you?

So, how did Oprah find the strength to grow into a planetary star from being a poor and lonely family-less 14-year-old sexually abused girl with a prematurely born and deceased son?

According to her, she managed to make the leap precisely because of her suffering.

“What doesn’t kill me,” wrote once Friedrich Nietzsche, “makes me stronger.”

That’s something would most gladly sign.

Be resilient and endure, she says, and you’ll earn your happiness in the end:

There is one irrefutable law of the universe: We are each responsible for our own life. If you’re holding anyone else accountable for your happiness, you’re wasting your time. You must be fearless enough to give yourself the love you didn’t receive.

Be Grateful for the Little Things

One of the things Oprah learned during her life is to be grateful for all the beautiful little joys in life.

For example, for long years, she struggled with her body image and tried tons of different diets to make herself slimmer: “Beverly Hills, Atkins, Scarsdale, Cabbage Soup, and even the Banana, Hot Dog, and Egg diets.”

However, nothing worked.

And then, one day in 2001, she started suffering from heart problems at night; six months later, she finally had a life-affirming epiphany: she needed to help her heart beat for many more years, not deal with trivial matters such as body image.

“There is no need to struggle with your body,” she concluded, “when you can make a loving and grateful peace with it.”

And so she did.

Now she is grateful for it – as well as for at least fifteen different things she lists in one column:

1. Planting vegetables in my garden.
2. Making blueberry-lemon pancakes on Sunday morning for Stedman. Never fails to delight him—like he’s 7 every time.
3. An off-leash romp on the front lawn with all my dogs.
4. A rainy day, a chill in the air, a blazing fire in the fireplace.
5. Picking vegetables from my garden.
6. A great book.
7. Reading in my favorite place on earth: under my oak trees.
8. Cooking vegetables from my garden.
9. Sleeping till my body wants to wake up.
10. Waking up to the real twitter: birds.
11. A workout so strong, my whole body breathes.
12. Eating vegetables from my garden.
13. Being still.
14. Embracing silence.
15. The daily spiritual practice of gratitude. Every day I bless my life by counting my blessings.

What are the things you’re grateful about?

Everything Is Possible If You Don’t Apologize for Yourself

 “Beginning when we are girls, most of us are taught to deflect praise,” Oprah writes in one of her columns. “We apologize for our accomplishments. We try to level the field with our family and friends by downplaying our brilliance. We settle for the passenger’s seat when we long to drive.”

Oprah experienced this in the third grade, in, as she says, “one of the defining moments” in her life. After her book report earned the praise of her teacher, her classmates grudgingly started whispering to each other something along the lines of “She thinks she’s so smart.”

For years Oprah feared that people would see her as arrogant. In fact, she even thinks her weight was some sort of an apology on her part: “See,” her body seemed to her to be saying, “I really don’t think I’m better than you.”

But that’s not the way to go.

Too many of us are willing to hide our light as adults. Instead of being filled with passion and purpose, “we empty ourselves in an effort to silence our critics.

The truth, according to Oprah, is “that the naysayers in your life can never be fully satisfied”:

Whether you hide or shine, they’ll always feel threatened because they don’t believe they are enough. So stop paying attention to them. Every time you suppress some part of yourself or allow others to play you small, you are ignoring the owner’s manual your Creator gave you. What I know for sure is this: You are built not to shrink down to less but to blossom into more. To be more splendid. To be more extraordinary. To use every moment to fill yourself up.

Key Lessons from “What I Know for Sure”

1.      Joy and Love Stem from Self-Sufficiency and Resilience
2.      The Power to Choose
3.      Saying No Is Also a Choice

Joy and Love Stem from Self-Sufficiency and Resilience

It’s an understatement to say that Oprah had a difficult childhood.

She was born out of wedlock, raised in harsh conditions, sexually abused for at least three years by three different people from her near family, ran away from home at 13, got pregnant at 14, her son died a few weeks after being prematurely born.

And yet – she became a global superstar!

How did she do it?

Well, by enduring and by learning to be self-sufficient.

Instead of looking outwardly, she learned to look inwardly. Instead of looking for validation for her actions in someone else (be that a parent or a lover), she decided to look for it in herself.

And if you want to be loved and successful, you should do it too!

Because, for one thing, you’ve endured a lot as well already.

“Think back for a moment on your own history,” Oprah writes at one place. “What were the moments along the way that wounded or scared you? Chances are, you’ve had a few. But here’s what’s remarkable: You are still here, still standing.”

Isn’t that a lot?

The Power to Choose

“After the hundreds of stories I’ve heard of atrocities around the globe, I know that if you’re a woman born in the United States, you’re one of the luckiest women in the world,” writes Oprah.

Andshe has a point.

Because, unlike millions and millions of women in the world, you’ve almost certainly been given an opportunity to live the life of your choice.

Why don’t you start using it:

Take your good fortune and lift your life to its highest calling. Understand that the right to choose your own path is a sacred privilege. Use it. Dwell in possibility.

Saying No Is Also a Choice

It isn’t at all surprising that Oprah – being Oprah, aka the greatest black philanthropist in American history – was often overwhelmed by too many requests for help by too many needy people.

“Some would spend their last dime on a bus ticket to get to me,” she writes, “children would run away from home, abused women would leave their husbands and show up at the doorstep of my studio, all hoping I’d help.”

And, of course, she did!

After all, she had a difficult life and knew that many people needed help; however, after writing thousands of checks, she started feeling worn out.

More importantly, she started realizing that she wasn’t helping anymore because she thought that she could help, but because she was afraid that if she didn’t write a check, people would hate her.

“I was saying yes so people wouldn’t be angry with me, so they would think I was a nice person,” she concluded. “My intention was to make people feel I was the one they could call on, count on, last minute, no matter what.”

She was 40 years old when she realized that this was the wrong way to go in life.

And she started saying “no” – because that’s also a choice.

She still keeps the note she wrote that day on her desk

Never again will I do anything for anyone that I do not feel directly from my heart. I will not attend a meeting, make a phone call, write a letter, sponsor or participate in any activity in which every fiber of my being does not resound yes. I will act with the intent to be true to myself.

It’s time you started doing this yourself.

Like this summary? We’d like to invite you to download our free 12 min app for more amazing summaries and audiobooks.

“What I Know for Sure Quotes”

What I love most about reading: It gives you the ability to reach higher ground. And keep climbing. Click To Tweet If the only prayer you ever say in your entire life is ‘Thank you,’ it will be enough. (Via Meister Eckhart) Click To Tweet You can either waltz boldly onto the stage of life and live the way you know your spirit is nudging you to, or you can sit quietly by the wall, receding into the shadows of fear and self-doubt. Click To Tweet What I know for sure is that pleasure is energy reciprocated: What you put out comes back. Your base level of pleasure is determined by how you view your whole life. Click To Tweet Balance lives in the present. Click To Tweet

Our Critical Review

If you like Oprah, you’ll certainly like What I Know for Sure as well.

All of her trademarks are here: the confessional tone, the honesty, the clarity, the warmth, the wisdom gained through experience.

The perfect gift book for hurt women.    Take this summary with you and read anywhere! Download PDF:   

I’ll Be Gone in the Dark PDF Summary

I'll Be Gone in the Dark PDF Summary

One Woman’s Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer

I’ll Be Gone in the Dark is the story of the Golden State Killer and one woman’s obsession to identify him.

And it’s fascinating from cover to cover.

And even beyond that.

Who Should Read “I’ll Be Gone in the Dark”? And Why?

Do you like CSI shows or books related to true crimes?

Well, let’s just say that we have no doubt that I’ll Be Gone in the Dark will probably be one of your favorites.

But, don’t trust our word for it: be sure to read it as soon as possible

Michelle McNamara Biography

Michelle McNamara

Michelle McNamara was an American crime blogger and freelance writer.

After graduating from the University of Notre Dame and earning an MFA in creative writing from the University of Minnesota, McNamara launched her website, True Crime Diary, where she shared with the world her fascination with serial murderers, especially the Golden State Killer.

I’ll Be Gone in the Dark was supposed to be her debut book; unfortunately, it ended up being her only book: McNamara died in her bed on April 21, 2016, just a week after her 46th birthday.

“I’ll Be Gone in the Dark PDF Summary”

I’ll Be Gone in the Dark is one of the most chilling books you’ll read this year – or any other year, for that matter.

In it, Michelle McNamara goes on a personal quest to identify the Golden State Killer, a guy you know by that name precisely because of her efforts. (Before this book was published, McNamara penned quite a few related articles for the Los Angeles Magazine, in which she coined the name.)

I’ll Be Gone in the Dark chronicles not only the three separate crime sprees of the Golden State Killer (Part 1) but also McNamara’s efforts to find out as much as she can about him (Part 2).

McNamara died before being able to finish the book and discover the identity of the Golden State Killer; however, that’s not where the book ends.

And this is not only because Michelle’s lead researcher, Paul Haynes, and investigative journalist Billy Jensen prepared I’ll Be Gone in the Dark for its release by compiling the rest of McNamara’s notes and adding a third part to the book.

Read ahead to find out what we mean.

Part One: The Murderer with Three Names

The Original Night Stalker (October 1979 – May 1986)

The book begins with an exploration of the deaths of Patrice Harrington (on August 19, 1980) and Manuela Witthuhn (on February 6, 1981) – both in Orange County.

Criminalist Jim White (of the Orange County Sheriff’s Department) notices strange similarities between the murders.

Both Patrice and Manuela were about the same age (27-28) and recently married; in the case of Patrice, her three years younger husband, Keith Eli Harrington, was also with her, murdered as well; Manuela’s was hospitalized, and she had been alone on the night of the murder.

Both Patrice and Manuela were bound, raped, and bludgeoned to death; most conspicuously, in both cases, the killer had stolen a small and trivial object of personal value to the victims and taken the murder weapon with him.

In time, Mary Hong and Larry Pool – the former a criminologist, the latter a sex-crimes detective – join Jim White and the three discover DNA evidence linking the three murders.

Soon, the investigation discovers three other cases that may be related.

On October 1, 1979, an intruder tried to murder a Goleta couple; fortunately, the attempt failed after the wife’s scream alarmed a neighbor, an FBI agent. The couple provided a description: a 5’9” man in his thirties with blonde hair.

Two days before the start of 1980, Dr. Robert Offerman, a 44-year-old osteopathic surgeon, and his wife, Alexandria Manning, 35 years old, were killed in a manner very similar to Patrice and Manuela: tied and shot dead.

And on March 13, 1980, another couple, Charlene and Lyman Smith, were bludgeoned to death after being bound with drapery cord; Charlene had been raped before.

Years after the connection between the murders was made, the murderer stroke again, killing a troubled teenager by the name of Janelle Lisa Cruz on May 4, 1986.

The East Area Rapist (June 1976 – July 1979)

At the time, nobody knew that the murderer of Patrice and Manuela – known to the local area residents as the Night Stalker, but after Richard Ramirez’s murders renamed the Original Night Stalker – had a previous criminal history.

Or, better yet, many knew, but they used a different name to tell that story.

Namely, between 1976 and 1979, a guy dubbed the East Area Rapist terrorized Sacramento, with over 50 attacks during that period.

He started in 1976 by stalking middle-class neighborhoods late at night and trying to discover alone women in one-story homes, usually near open spaces which would provide him a quick escape.

In time, however, the East Area Rapist changed his preference for couples, breaking in their houses through windows or sliding doors and waking them up with a flashlight while threatening them with a handgun.

The rest of the modus operandi was, more or less, the same as the one practiced by the Original Night Stalker.

First, he would ask the wife to tie her husband, after which he would tie the woman himself.

Afterward, he would separate the two, dragging the woman to an adjacent room where he would rape her repeatedly and unhurriedly.

In fact, the Rapist often spent hours in the home, drinking beer and eating food in the kitchen or ransacking drawers and closets for some personal items of little value.

After some time, the East Area Rapist would leave the house, his victims uncertain whether he has due to his leisurely and silent presence before.

Even though the Rapist always wore a mask – usually a ski mask – many identify him as a young man with a round face, wide eyes and a broad mouth.

The Visalia Ransacker (April 1974 – December 1975)

But that’s a description and an MO already familiar to some officers from Visalia P.D., as detective Richard Shelby – who is assigned with the case of the Eastern Area Rapist – learns from his colleagues.

Namely, between April 1974 and December 1975, a baby-faced man burglarized over 120 homes and committed at least one murder in Visalia, California.

The strange thing: he ignored almost everything valuable, stealing only coins and personal items of low value.

Richard Shelby and his partner, Carol Daly, are almost sure that Visalia was the training ground for the East Area Rapist of Sacramento.

They still don’t know that Sacramento was the training ground for the murder spree of the Original Night Stalker in Santa Barbara and Orange County.

The Connection

In 1997, Paul Holes, a criminologist from Contra Costa County, creates a profile of the Original Night Stalker.

Three years later, Larry Pool of the Orange County Sheriff’s Department, notices similarities between some of the murders and the rapes.

The next year, Holes and Mary Hong realize that the DNA of the Contra Costa County attacks matches the one of the Original Night Stalker.

In April 2001, the police informed the media of the connection, and on April 5, 2001, an article is published in the Sacramento Bee magazine confirming what many had been suspecting for the past few years.

Namely, that the East Area Rapist and the Original Night Stalker are one and the same person.

Just one day later, a victim of the East Are Rapist receives an eerie phone call.

“Remember when we played?”

That’s everything she hears before the caller hangs up.  

Part Two: McNamara’s Journey

A decade later, McNamara, a crime blogger obsessed with serial killers, starts investigating the murders.

She collects theories related to the identity of the man referred to as the East Area Rapist-Original Night Stalker (or EAR-ONS, for short).

Soon, she starts publishing articles in the Los Angeles Magazine, dubbing the EAR-ONS the Golden State Killer.

During her investigation, she meets with the Kid and the Social Worker, pseudonyms of two people who are part of an internet group devoted to discovering the identity of the Golden State Killer.

McNamara also meets with Richard Shelby, Larry Pool, and Paul Holes who tell her everything she needs to know about the Golden State Killer, as well as about the different tactics the police use to eliminate suspects and close in to the murderer.

Paul Holes even takes Michelle on a tour of a few murder sites, pointing out to her possible places of entry and escape the Golden State Killer might have used.

Using this knowledge, McNamara theorizes that the killer might have been originally from Goleta and that he might have had a military background.

In addition, she hypothesizes that he might have lived in Sacramento and gone to the California State University there, since, as she notes, his murders seem as if to follow an “academic schedule.”

Part Three: The Ending that Wasn’t Written

On April 21, 2016, Michelle McNamara died in her bed in her family’s home in Los Angeles, California. Her death was attributed to the mixing of multiple drugs.

She was only 46 at the time of her death.

She never got to finish her book.

That’s why Paul Haynes – aka the Kid from the book – and Billy Jensen, an investigative journalist, decided to write the third part of the book.

In it, they describe the full extent of McNamara’s obsession and her investigative work, analyzing her geographic profiling maps, theories about the identity of the killer, and many other of the 3,500 documents in Michelle’s hard drive.

(Her obsession with the Golden State Killer and her desire to find him is once again highlighted by Patton Oswalt, Michelle’s husband, in the afterward of the book.)

The third part of I’ll Be Gone in the Dark ends with an e-mail Michelle had sent to her editor in the final month of 2013, stating her optimism about new developments in the case and her wish to turn her readers into detectives.

“If the challenge here, or perceived weakness,” she writes, “is that the unsolved aspect will leave readers unfulfilled, why not turn that on its head and use it as a strength? I have literally hundreds of pages of analyses from both back in the day, and more recently—geo-profiles, analysis of footwear, days of the week he attacked, etc. One idea I had was to include some of those in the book, to offer the reader the chance to play detective.”

Haynes and Jensen swear to not stop the investigation until getting the Killer’s name.

The Epilogue

I’ll Be Gone in the Dark ends with a strange Epilogue subtitled “Letter to an Old Man,” in which McNamara addresses the Golden State Killer.

“One day soon, she ends it, “you’ll hear a car pull up to your curb, an engine cut out. You’ll hear footsteps coming up your front walk.”

“Like they did for Edward Wayne Edwards, twenty-nine years after he killed Timothy Hack and Kelly Drew, in Sullivan, Wisconsin. Like they did for Kenneth Lee Hicks, thirty years after he killed Lori Billingsley, in Aloha, Oregon.”

McNamara ends her letter to the Golden State Killer with a few sentences which will undoubtedly give you goosebumps:

Walk into the light.

The doorbell rings.
No side gates are left open. You’re long past leaping over a fence. Take one of your hyper, gulping breaths. Clench your teeth. Inch timidly toward the insistent bell.
This is how it ends for you.
‘You’ll be silent forever, and I’ll be gone in the dark,’ you threatened a victim once.
Open the door. Show us your face.
Walk into the light.

I’ll Be Gone in the Dark Epilogue

You may wonder why we chose to summarize the epilogue above and not in the section titled “Epilogue.”

Well, that’s because this book has an epilogue in reality.

Published on February 27, 2018, McNamara’s book reignited interest in the Golden State Killer. Just two months later, HBO bought the rights for it and announced the development of a documentary series.

The filming began on April 24, 2018, two years after the accidental suicide of McNamara, almost to the day.

That very same night, at a promotional event in Illinois, Patton Oswalt, Michelle’s husband, told the audience that he believes the Golden State Killer will soon be caught.

“He’s running out of time,” he concluded.

The very next morning, the Sacramento Police announced the arrest of the 72-year-old Joseph James DeAngelo, a former police officer in Auburn and Exeter, California.

James’ DNA matched the one of the Golden State Killer.

He was not just a suspect.

He was the murderer.

“You did it, Michelle,” Oswalt told his Instagram followers soon after. “Even though the cops are never going to say it, but your book helped get this thing closed.”

Like this summary? We’d like to invite you to download our free 12 min app for more amazing summaries and audiobooks.

“I’ll Be Gone in the Dark Quotes”

That’s what we do. All of us. We make well-intentioned promises of protection we can’t always keep. I’ll look out for you. Click To Tweet He loses his power when we know his face. Click To Tweet I love reading true crime, but I’ve always been aware of the fact that, as a reader, I am actively choosing to be a consumer of someone else’s tragedy. Click To Tweet He's the fake shark in Jaws, barely seen so doubly feared. Click To Tweet What is the lasting damage when you believe the warm spot you were just sleeping in will be your grave? Click To Tweet

Our Critical Review

I’ll Be Gone in the Dark was deemed the best book of the last year by so many magazines and authors that there’s, really, no reason to list them here.

“What readers need to know—what makes this book so special—is that it deals with two obsessions, one light and one dark,” wrote Stephen King. “The Golden State Killer is the dark half; Michelle McNamara’s is the light half. It’s a journey into two minds, one sick and disordered, the other intelligent and determined. I loved this book.”

King also described the book as a “brilliant genre-buster,” a feeling shared by just about anyone.

Including us: this book is unputdownable and brilliant.

We can’t recommend it enough.    Take this summary with you and read anywhere! Download PDF: