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'PhilosophersNotes' Review: Can You Really Read One Book Per Day?

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We All Have Great Ideas, But Some People Do More Than Imagine!

We All Have Great Ideas, But Some People Do More Than Imagine!

There are some things in life I wish I would have thought of first. I always say to my husband, "Why didn't I think of that?" And the other day, when I found PhilosophersNotes, I said it again.

I'm sure that I have had a similar type of idea in my head, but it got shoved to the back as a passing thought. Brian Johnson was lucky enough to see his idea turn to reality.

PhilosopherNotes is a a bunch of summaries of popular self help and personal development books. But these summaries are more than just summing it up; they are highlighting the most important points of the books and giving you the 'big ideas' that you need to know.

In other words, these notes allow you to experience the book without having to read the whole book.

Brian Johnson

Brian Johnson

Who Is Behind PhilosophersNotes?

Brian Johnson is the face behind the idea. He is a man that obviously loves to learn the ‘why’ and ‘how’ of life, and he also loves to share the information that he has learned. You can read about his successes on his site, so I don't need to fill you in on all of that, but if I wanted to sum up a good portion of his life up to now, I would say that he has been trying to make the world a better place while making himself a better man. (That was the exact same intent I had when I started online, so I have huge respect for him doing it.)

One of the things I really like about Brain is that he talks in his own language while writing. He uses a lot of slang that can sound silly while reading it, but it shows that he is authentic and not afraid to be who he is.

Why Did I Want PhilosophersNotes?

When I first saw the intent behind the notes, this is what I thought:

These will help me understand the most important ideas behind every book that I have ever wanted to read but ended up not reading at all, and it will do it in twenty minutes or less.

I have to say that it made me pretty excited about PhilosophersNotes!

My husband and I are both members of our local library, and we use it a lot. We check out books for personal development that will help us get more confidence, become more successful, and live happier lives, then we put those books in our offices or beside our beds and wait until we cannot renew them anymore (you only get a few renews you know) to return them back to the library. Of course, we haven’t read any of them – but at least we had the intent, right?

The truth is that we desperately want to read all these books, but life has a funny way of taking up all our time, and then at the end of the night, when we could take the time to read, we were TIRED!

I was sure that I could read more books if I only learned some concepts about how to improve my focus throughout the day, stop procrastinating, and really use every moment to my advantage...but I had to read the books first and that wasn’t happening!

Philosophers Notes promised to help us understand the core concepts of the books that we wanted to read, and do it in twenty minutes. I knew that I could find the twenty minutes in my day and I was instantly excited.

What Do You Get?

Brian has 180 PhilosophersNotes in total, which means he has 180 summarized books in total.

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1. PDFs

These are the notes (see video below), and they are a 6-page PDF files that have the summaries on them.

On the top left, he puts 'The Big Ideas', which are the concepts he is going to cover in the note, and then he starts off by listing the title of the book, the author, and the number of pages.

As you read, you get a lot of quotes from the book and some information to help back up the points and really drive it home.

On the left side, Brian occasionally throws in a quote (sometimes by the author and sometimes not) to help drive the points home even further.

At the bottom of the note he puts an ‘about the author’ for the author of the book and also himself.

And then on the bottom left he suggests other notes that are similar to the note you just read.

I find that I can read one note in about 30 minutes in the evening. I take my time though. I ponder the thoughts, read them repeatedly, and yell out key points to my husband as he tries to brush his teeth.

2. MP3s

He also includes an MP3 version of each note, which is him reading the PDF file.

The MP3 is about 20 minutes long, and I listen to the MP3 in the morning when my brain is ready to focus and absorb the information.

I have, however, put it on my MP3 player and listened to it while I ride my bike.

If you have an iPhone, you can open up the MP3 right from the download page of the note by clicking on the download link. I'm sure this applies to other phones as well - it's just that I have an iPhone so I can only attest to that.

Brian Johnson On YouTube - Talking About One Of His PhilosophersNotes

In the video below, you can see exactly how one of the PhilosophersNotes look, and you can listen to Brian discuss it - Time Warrior by Steve Chandler. (The notes that you will receive do not come with his personal notes like this. They are clean, attractive, and ready for you to underline and put your own notes on!)

Pros And Cons Of PhilosophersNotes

Are they worth it? I think so!


  • You remember these notes after you read them, which means you keep some important information in your head. I know that after reading a book, I often only remember a few key points - I heard somewhere that you can retain up to 80% of these notes, and because they are 'big ideas' that is very important!
  • You can read one note per day and really grasp the concept of the book.
  • Your knowledge improves much quicker than if you were to try to read the full book! I have already learned a ton of useful life-changing tips in the past few days which has changed the way I view myself and people around me, as well as how productive I am during the day.
  • The PDF takes about 30 minutes of your time and the MP3 takes 20 minutes. Anyone can sacrifice that time out of their day in some way.
  • You can listen to the MP3 anywhere! So when you are shopping, you can also take in the finer points of A New Earth By Eckhart Tolle (or one of the other 179 choices!)
  • The cost is low and worth every penny.
  • You can download the PDF's and MP3's to your computer, or you can just go to the site and pick your note of the day from there.
  • You know that you are purchasing these notes from a man who has your best interest at heart.

The Cons

There are always cons - they can't be helped. In the case of Philosophers Notes though, the pros really outweigh the cons.

  • You will want to read some of the full books after you read the note. This means that your 'to read' list may grow even more. However, with some of the tips and tricks you learn in the notes, you should be able to free up your time and learn how to be more productive throughout your day and, therefore, get the chance to read some books!
  • Brian talks in a weird language sometimes. Many reviewers on Amazon reviewed one of his books negatively for using this weird language. (I saw one woman say that she was not a twelve year old who enjoyed such language.) For example, the first note I read included a statement that had the word 'Yo!' at the end. This kind of threw me for a loop, because most writers don't write in slang, but like I said earlier I love that he can be himself. Plus, most of his writing is normal - it is just the occasional slang word that may halt your reading as you ponder the word.

Should You Buy Them?

In the end, I love the PhilosophersNotes, and I really do feel like I am reading one book per day. I feel as though I am taking the essence of the book and gaining valuable insight — which was what the author's intention was in the first place!

Of course, my list of 'books to read' has grown much longer, but now I know that if I don't get to those books I can still fill my head with new knowledge by using just thirty minutes to read in the evening and twenty minutes to listen in the morning.

So What Do You Think?


Kari (author) on December 07, 2019:

@Kota - Of course it's a revenue model. Why would someone do all that work, provide value, and do it for free? That's the point of work - doing something that provides value to other people and getting paid for it. Some people just don't seem to understand that it doesn't have to be working at McDonald's or at a traditional job. There are many ways to do what you love and turn it into a business.

Kota Siva on December 07, 2019:

While it is a revenue model of sorts to be able to provide insights into a book, Brian is doing a terrific job . He is helping the author, the readers as well as the content itself( by enabling it to more people and thus increasing the utility value of the concepts). Hats off to him, for having not only come across the idea, but also implement it with such consistency and enthusiasm. These two last listed qualities are pretty uncommon. Thanks Kari for giving an opportunity to give my opinions.

Tesfa on December 23, 2017:

A shortcut to tap and capitalize the storm of wisdom.

Thanks anyway

Kari (author) on September 15, 2017:

This article was from a long time ago, so I'm not sure they still have it. You would have to look for it yourself. on September 14, 2017:

Is the subscription the same price without the MP3?

Kari (author) on August 30, 2017:

When you are online, you can't get anything from anywhere. on August 30, 2017:


I would like to sign up to philosophers notes however I am from the UK, does this change things?

Kari (author) on June 02, 2013:

Yes is totally true. Not everyone has a ton of time to read every book they want to, and not everyone has an attention span to get through the books they want to. These notes are great for both those people.

Kari (author) on June 02, 2013:

That's a great place to turn Faith. :)

Aleshia Clarke from Port Orange, Florida on June 02, 2013:

I think the notes will benefit people who are too busy (or have a short attention span) to read the full texts.

Faith Reaper from southern USA on June 02, 2013:

Well, I am just not into self-help books, as I am in a personal relationship with my Lord God, and His Word is the only book I to turn for help in any and all issues I may face in my lifetime.

God bless, Faith Reaper

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