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7 Blinks in the Blinkist App I Have Recommended 100 Times

From a thrilling startup story to a cookbook featuring Picasso and cannabis fudge, these are 7 nonfiction books from the Blinkist app I’ve recommended over 100 times.
by Rob Gillham | Jan 7 2022

During my thirty-something years orbiting the Sun, I have read countless nonfiction works. Of some, I never made it past the first page, and others quickly faded from my memory. But, a select few became firm favorites—the kinds of books that stay with you long after you have put them down. These “Blinks” I have recommended countless times to friends and family, and now you (if you will do me the honor) are going to enjoy my picks for the best nonfiction books I can’t stop recommending.

If any of my recommendations spark your curiosity, and I sincerely hope they do, you can see for yourself whether you will enjoy the title by using the Blinkist app to get the lowdown. The app has been an invaluable tool for me to get the gist of a nonfiction book in just a few minutes, with short explainers that break down the powerful ideas from a nonfiction book and compile them into a bite-sized explainer that can be enjoyed through text or audio.

TThe following 7 Blinks have honestly changed my life and granted me an invaluable perspective on the world around us, and I can’t wait to tell you about them. I loved reading them, and I hope you will too. But first …

What Is a Blink?

A Blink is more than just a summary; it’s an insightful explainer of a book in the Blinkist app. It distills the most important and memorable insights into key ideas, each around 200-300 words. And with an average of 7-8 key ideas, a Blink enables you to absorb the most impactful knowledge in around 15 minutes, either through audio or text.

“Blinkist has helped me read more — period. I love that I can get the key learnings from 10+ books a week, and immediately implement them in my own life. Blinkist has also helped me filter the books I purchase — if I couldn’t get enough of the Blinks, I buy it. ”
– Hitha Palepu, entrepreneur and author.

1. Bad Blood by John Carreyrou

When was the last time you read a nonfiction book that told a story so unbelievable that you had to read it from cover to cover in one sitting? For me, Bad Blood was that book. It’s a thrilling true story about the startup Theranos and how its founders used extraordinary deception to sell the idea of a futuristic blood-testing machine to Silicon Valley investors. You may have already heard the story on the news, but John Carreyrou tells it in such an engaging way that you swear you are reading an espionage thriller.

2. The Alice B. Toklas Cookbook by Alice B. Toklas

Much like Owen Wilson’s character in Midnight in Paris, if I had to choose one place and time to live in, it would be 1920s Paris. Unfortunately, I can’t transport myself to the moveable feast just yet, but I found The Alice B. Toklas Cookbook to be the next best thing.

Equal parts cookbook and time machine, this is a window into the raucous world of Parisian expats in the 1920s. In the book, you ride along with Toklas and her partner, Gertrude Stein as they road trip through France in their Model T Ford. Along the way, they meet art legends like Picasso and Hemingway, collecting recipes as they do so. With Blinkist, you can even listen to the audio explainer while cooking and eating some of Toklas’s recipes, such as a cannabis-laced fudge. Bon Appétit!


3. Secondhand Time by Svetlana Alexievich

For almost sixty years, the people of the Soviet Union lived, worked, and died under the singular ideology of Marxist-Leninism. In the 90s, that ideology was replaced almost overnight by free-market capitalism, and in the process, the Soviet person or Homo Soveticus became an endangered species. In Secondhand Time, Nobel Prize-winning author Svetlana Alexievich interviews the last remaining Soviet people to reveal the truth about what it was like to live under Stalin’s brutal dictatorship and about what was left behind.

What made this Blink a fantastic read for me is that it goes beyond monumental words such as “Communism” and “Marxism” and finds the human story hidden underneath. In the end, we are all just people with similar hopes and dreams.


4. The Third Chimpanzee by Jared Diamond

Have you ever read a book that was so engrossing that you missed your bus stop? While reading The Third Chimpanzee, that happened to me. I was so engaged that I left the book behind as I rushed off the bus. Once I found another copy, I couldn’t stop reading it, and as soon as I finished it, I started the Blinkist explainer right away to understand more deeply the ideas that Jared Diamond puts forward.

4. The Third Chimpanzee explores how humans evolved from simple primates to machine-building Homo Sapiens. Not only does this book reveal fascinating insights about our past, but it also opened my eyes, like Neo unplugging from The Matrix, to why we behave the way we do. This was the first book by Jared Diamond I read, and since then, I’ve read all his major works, many of which are also explained in the Blinkist app.


5. The Uninhabitable Earth by David-Wallace Wells

The Uninhabitable Earth is not a cheerful book, but a blindingly necessary read for anyone interested in the future of humanity on Earth. The author forecasts the horrors that await us in an ever-warming world and draws from the latest research in climate science to give us a final warning to take action.

6. Across That Bridge by John Lewis

As a white male living in the Western world, I am granted privilege in every aspect of my life, just on the basis of my skin color. I was aware of the struggles that civil rights leaders faced in the US (and still face today), but I was not aware of the incredible bravery, strength, and civility with which John Lewis fought for his cause.

In Across That Bridge, Lewis uses personal recollections from the civil rights movement to impart lessons about nonviolent protest to the next generation of leaders. It’s an invaluable book for anyone who wants to gain a new perspective and learn more about the history and struggle of the civil rights movement in America.


7. The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank

There are many important messages in this book, but the most important message is that all people have the right to live in freedom. Anne’s story shows us that just because people may be of a different religion or race doesn’t mean that they should be treated differently. When I put down The Diary of a Young Girl, I wept from the depth of sorrow I felt when confronted with the horrors that many people faced during World War Two. However, it gave me the resolve to fight any act or word that would send us back to such dark times.

And for those intrigued by not just our nonfiction Blinks but by fiction as well, don’t miss out on our collection of the 13 Best Fiction Books in the Blinkist Magazine. From banned classics to timeless tales, our selection is sure to captivate every reader.

Find Your Favorites

A number of the books above didn’t become my favorites after being recommended by a friend or a fellow bookworm but from the Blinkist app itself. While you are listening or reading to explainers for bestselling books, the app uses smart algorithms to learn from what you like and recommend new titles from its library of 6,500 nonfiction titles, spread across 27 categories.

This means that not only will you quickly find new favorite books based on your likes and dislikes, but you will never be short of a powerful idea to learn from. Plus, the Blinkist app can be used to sieve through hundreds of nonfiction books until you find one you truly love.

And you know, it’s not just me saying this; even Apple recognizes Blinkist as The Best App For Intellectuals Around The World.

If my recommendations have sparked your curiosity, you can head over to the Blinkist app right now and start learning from them. Hopefully, one of my favorite Blinks will become yours too.

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