Book Notes

5 November, 2020 | min read

This is my template for book notes. It's heavily inspired by one I saw by Ali Abdaal.

In practice, I've found that the way he set it up didn't quite fit my style. So I changed it up a bit.

3-Sentence Summary

The 3 sentence summary is for capturing the essence of the book. I thought about making it a one-liner — and you could do that — but I'd rather have three. It feels like just enough, but still restrictive, so you're forced to think about what you write.


Next up is writing down my thoughts about the book, and if I'd recommend the book, why I'd recommend it. This is pretty simple and should easily be doable after reading the book.

Action List

I make a list of the actions or changes I'll make as a result of reading the book. That might be something concrete, like implementing a habit, a new system, or it could be a new way of thinking about something.

I think that having an action-list like this makes you a bit more accountable to do what you set out to do. It's important to write why you are doing it or why it changed something for you. That'll help you both now and later. Now because you'll write down your reasons, and later because you'll be able to look back to those reasons.

Top 3-5 Ideas, Concepts, or Quotes

Last up before we get to the notes. These are the top 3-5 ideas, concepts, or quotes from the book. I don't like restricting this to just quotes. I find it much better to explain the ideas or concepts in my own words. But quotes are great — they can usually capture meaningful parts of the book quite well.

I usually fill out that section after going through my highlights and summary.


This is where I summarize the main points. This is for short one-liners that capture some parts of the book. Something that's meaningful to you.

I usually do this after filling out the highlights and notes field.

Highlights & Notes

What I do, is I copy everything from the Readwise export — except the table of contents — and I put it under highlights and notes. I try to read it through, format it nicely, and then expand upon my notes.

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