Friday, June 5, 2015

How to save $99

A smarter you is only 15 minutes away!

Aha!  I have been wondering where she’d got to, my smarter self.  She slipped away back in ’92, round about the time Apple stock was selling at $6.00 a share and Nike at 52 cents. 

Of course Blinkist doesn’t really mean it that way.  Smart Carolyn isn’t across the bridge and down I-80 in Berkeley.  The teaser in their online ad implies if I give them $99, and read the non-fiction book summaries they send me, my noodle power will expand in 15 minute increments.  Wouldn’t that be nice? 

It’s a clever new service that reads non-fiction books so you don’t have to.  They’re like Cliff’s Notes for the 21st Century person who is too preoccupied Tweeting about Instagram to pursue learning on her own. 

Yes, it’s just like back in high school, except now, instead of escaping a death march through The Scarlett Letter, you can become superficially familiar with the cutting edge concepts in science, business and technology others have devoted their lives to exploring.  You’ll know just enough to bluff your way through a casual conversation over latte and a scone.

It’s perfect for busy know-it-alls.

As a dummy and someone drawn to the quick fix like a teenage bride to Hamburger Helper, I’m tempted.  But $99!?  Maybe it’s smarter to hold onto my C-note.

Here’s why:  Blinkist says they read more than 1000 of the best in nonfiction and business books each year, then reduce them into “powerful, memorable distillations” for schmucks like me, so we can Evelyn Woods our way through them and claim we know stuff.

But let’s be real.  With 50 new titles and 40 new audio versions – their “fresh weekly releases added for you each month” – I’m pretty sure I don’t have time for this shortcut.  Just scanning the lists would constitute a detour off my highway of retired bliss into a quagmire of book selection.  It’s hard enough picking which T-shirt to wear each day!  And really, don’t you have to read the rundown to choose the book?  Rather defeats the purpose.

And honestly, if past behavior predicts future success, I concede.  There will come a reason I do not read the abstracts of the books I wish I’d read but really don’t wanna.  Case in point:  My Netflix queue is backed up with a cache of erudite yet unwatched documentaries downloaded from 1998 to present, that I cannot bring myself to delete. 

If only good intentions could boost your IQ! 

And here’s a red flag:  Blinkist doesn’t say how much smarter I’ll be.  That’s an important detail.  Is the formula $99 a year x 15 minutes/number of synopses of arid material deemed too desiccated to digest the old fashioned way = 25 points of intellect?  Or what?

My cost-benefit analysis leaves me dubious.  See, I’ve been through this before.  Just the other day I was promised that I could “get these abs in two weeks!”  The headline on the magazine cover was accompanied by an arrow pointing at the bony midsection of Gwyneth Paltrow. 

BTW – She has one of those non-committal belly buttons – is it an innie or an outie?  I don’t like the looks of it.  She is distressingly long-waisted.  Maybe it’s because her bikini bottoms are drifting lazily south, below the skeletal remains of her baby bump. 

And how does she get those abs?  “Having sex and laughing,” according to a completely out of context quote from her interview in Women’sHealth magazine. 

Well, let me just tell you that Mr. Plath – who is retired now as you may recall, and home all the time with not quite enough to occupy himself – and I are laughing and laughing and…well, here we are, 10 days later, and I don’t think I’m getting those abs. 

Just sayin’.  You can’t believe everything you read.

So when Blinkist promises I can “Learn more, do more, be more—and still spend less time reading;”  I say, I’m doing that already.  Except maybe for the “being more” part.  I mean really.  How can you be more? 

I say you can’t.  You can only be what you can be.  In the philosophical sense of course.  So.  There’s my smarter self. 

And I still have my $99!