About — The Mission, People & Story Behind Four Minute Books

Welcome to Four Minute Books, where everything we do serves only two goals:

  1. Help you learn more in less time to achieve your dreams.
  2. Inspire you to read more no matter how busy you are.

Hi! My name is Niklas Göke, but please call me Nik. I’m a self-taught writer and author from Germany — and the sweaty guy behind the curtain here at Four Minute Books.

I started Four Minute Books in late 2015 as a creative side project to learn more and get better at writing. Since then, it has grown into a small business and, with over 1,300 summaries published, one of the top destinations for free book summaries on the internet.

In 8 years, we’ve never missed a week of publishing. Right now, we post a new book summary every Wednesday. We also send out a weekly newsletter, The 4 Minute Read, where we share that summary, a new, animated video summary on our Youtube channel, and a classic from our archives, along with other freebies and resources to help you learn more faster.

There’s a lot to discover. Let me show you around! But first: Why are we here?

Our Just Cause

About Page Motto Banner, Read a Page, Save the Day

In The Infinite Game, Simon Sinek shares the idea of a “just cause” — an inspiring vision so big, it can fuel your business for generations. At Four Minute Books, our Just Cause is the following:

“We want to build a world in which every person reads at least one page a day, and no human, child or adult, is afraid to open any book.”

Why? That goes back to my personal beliefs — and Sinek’s other big idea, from Start With Why: Finding a strong reason to jump out of bed in the morning. For me, that reason is the following:

I believe that the world is a better place when we read, because it becomes a better place when we approach it every day with the inspiration, ideas, and empathy we gain from reading great books.

Tim Ferriss famously asks all his podcast guests the following question: “What message would you put on a billboard for millions to see?” For me, it would be the following motto:

“Read a page, save the day.”

In my opinion, time spent reading good books is never wasted, and the daily habit of reading as little as a single page — which takes even less than 4 minutes — can make a wealth of difference for your personal growth, inspiration, happiness — and thus your contributions to the world.

Our Promise to You

The world is noisier than ever. Almighty algorithms entice you to keep scrolling while global news pop up on your phone by the minute. Ever more emails, entertainment, and arguably interesting things clamor for your precious attention — and that is to say nothing of your important, real-world obligations to work, friends, and family.

You love reading. You know you love reading. But you just don’t feel you have the time to do it. Reading feels like a luxury you can’t afford. That is the world many of us now live in, and it is a problem we must face head on.

At Four Minute Books, we aim to help you solve this problem in 2 ways:

  1. We publish book summaries that teach you 3 valuable lessons from a great book in just 4 minutes each, helping you learn more in less time in a way that fits into your current, busy schedule.
  2. With those same book summaries and all our other work, we give you the confidence to pick up real books. We help you make room for reading in your life again and slowly build and expand a daily learning habit.

Here’s what we promise to deliver — what we have delivered every week, like clockwork, for many years:

  • A new book summary, every Wednesday at 2 PM Central European (Summer) Time, right here on Four Minute Books.
  • A new, animated video summary, every Friday at 2 PM Central European (Summer) Time, released on our Youtube channel.
  • A weekly email roundup of all our latest titles as well as archive classics, new tools, tips, lists, and reviews, and the obligatory meme of the week — all in a 4 Minute Read, delivered straight to your inbox.

The easiest way to not miss anything and simply choose what you want to read, watch, and learn more about is to join the weekly newsletter:

But who makes all this cool stuff? I’m glad you asked!

Meet the Founder

Heyo! 👋🏻 It’s me again. Nik, the summarizer of books and, really, doer of all kinds of things behind the scenes of Four Minute Books. If you want to know a little more about me, here’s a short bio along with some of my greatest hits.

I was born and raised in Germany. After getting my Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration & Engineering from KIT Karlsruhe in 2014, I started a blog and became a freelance writer. Two years later, while growing Four Minute Books, I decided to go back to school and get a Master’s Degree in Management & Technology from the Technical University of Munich.

After graduating, the business fortunately did well enough that I could just keep going, so here I am! I still live in Munich, and I enjoy a great slice of salami pizza almost as much as reading or writing, be it the next summary, daily blog, book of mine, or anything else, really!

Life is not a straight line, of course, and I’ve done many other things along the way, from publishing tons of essays and articles on Medium to answering Quora questions daily for 9 months to running magazines, coaching people, and creating and selling over $60,000 worth of my own writing course. Here are some of my notable achievements:

The best way to reach me is to join the Four Minute Books newsletter, then introduce yourself. Email is my favorite medium of communication! I’m not big on social media, but if you want, you can also connect with me on LinkedIn, which I check occasionally.

Our Writers (Past & Present)

Despite starting Four Minute Books strong with 365 book summaries in 2016 (more on that in a second), I never could have built this awesome collection to over 1,000 titles by myself. While, right now, I’m running the website as a solo business outside of Youtube, we’ve had plenty of great writers contribute over the years. Some still publish with us on occasion.

Here are all our writers, past and present, and where you can read more of their awesome work!

Claire Law ProfileClaire Law: As a Lead Contributor, Claire has rounded up some of the best books on procrastination, mental health, and managing difficult relationships for us from a therapist’s perspective. She is a Qualified and Accredited MBACP (Accd.) Registered Integrative Psychotherapist and has a post-grad qualification in Psychotherapy. Claire also has almost 20 years of teaching experience. She currently works as a relational psychotherapist, writer and trainer. In her therapy work, she draws heavily on humanistic modalities and creative ways of working. Claire is experienced both in short-term (one-at-a-time) counseling sessions and longer-term psychotherapy, which she provides in the Higher Education Sector as well as in private practice through her company, Free to Be Counselling. As a mom of 2 teenagers and having experienced burnout herself, Claire is particularly passionate about supporting children’s and young people’s mental health and wellbeing. To get to know her better, you can read her articles on Four Minute Books or connect with her on LinkedIn.

Luke Rowley Profile

Luke Rowley: With over 450 summaries that he contributed to Four Minute Books, first as a part-time writer, then as our full-time Managing Editor until late 2021, Luke is our second-most prolific writer. He’s also a professional, licensed engineer, working in the solar industry. Next to his day job, he also runs Goal Engineering, a website dedicated to achieving your goals with a unique, 4-4-4 system. Luke is also a husband, father, 75 Hard finisher, and lover of the outdoors. He lives in Utah with his wife and 3 kids, and he still writes the occasional review for us. If you want to get to know him better, you can read all his summaries or connect with him on LinkedIn.

Maria Deac: While working with my friend Ovi‘s company SocialBee, I had the good fortune of Maria writing over 200 summaries for us over the course of 18 months. Maria is a professional SEO copywriter, content writer, and social media marketing specialist. When she’s not writing or learning more about marketing, she loves to dance and travel all over the world. You can read her summaries on Four Minute Books or connect with her on LinkedIn.

Marta Brzosko ProfileMarta Brzosko: In 2019, Marta wrote 30 summaries for us as a freelance contributor. She is a facilitator, writer, and community wizard. Originally from Poland, where she attained a Master’s Degree in Asian Studies, she now lives in Edinburgh, where she runs her own event agency called Contour. In her spare time, Marta loves running, camping, meditation, and dancing. You can read her summaries or reach her on LinkedIn.

Jim Farina: Seeing as he was a longtime reader and writing course student of mine, I was thrilled to see Jim write 20 summaries for us in 2019 and 2020. Hailing from Chicago with a full-time job as a manager and a family, I’ve watched Jim go from complete writing obscurity to having his work read, improve, and even featured on places like Better Marketing, the magazine I ran on Medium. He’s now freelancing part-time, writing great stuff for companies like Best Buy and Bloomingdale’s, and his first screenplay, Martin Eden, made quite the splash in several competitions. You can read his summaries or connect with him on LinkedIn.

Clara Lobina Profile

Clara Lobina: Clara is a SEO content strategist, writer, and proofreader from Sardinia, Italy with a Master’s in Sustainable Architecture from the University of Bologna. She is the cofounder, head of content, and COO of Botteega, a delivery service for local goods from high-quality shops and farmers. Clara wrote a total of 16 summaries for us. When she’s not working on her own or her client’s blogs, she teaches and does yoga. My favorite project of hers is Come L’Acqua — “Like Water” — a personal growth and mindfulness blog (in Italian). For more of her work, read her summaries or talk to her on LinkedIn.

Pamela Hobart Profile

Pamela Hobart: A New Yorker in Texas and mom of 4 kids, Pamela still finds time to offer philosophical life coaching to smart overthinkers. She wrote 10 summaries for us in 2019 and was a contributor to Bustle. Pamela also holds a BA in Philosophy from Georgia State University. Whenever she’s not at a kid’s birthday party, she’s a big foodie and voracious reader. You can read all her summaries or connect with her on LinkedIn.

Prakhar Verma ProfilePrakhar Verma: When we started out as digital coaches on coach.me (now Better Humans), little did I know that Prakhar and I would still be working together a decade later. Originally from India, he now lives in Bali and holds a Master’s Degree in Game Development from Abertay University in Scotland. Prakhar is the founder of Design Epic Life, where he helps people grow into the best versions of themselves with his coaching and awesome writing, such as his book, Soul Scribbles.* He’s published 5 book summaries with us, and he regularly reviews various tools and learning apps for us. Read his summaries or connect with him on LinkedIn if you like.

Adam Del Duca Profile

Adam Del Duca: Also known as Betterment Boss on Youtube, Adam is responsible for the awesome animations of every single Four Minute Books Youtube video to date. I’ve worked with him on a weekly basis since late 2020, and he’s one of the most professional people I’ve ever known. By day, Adam, a proud CPA and CIA with Master’s Degree in Accounting from Carleton University, is an Internal Auditor for NAV Canada. By night, he runs Betterment Boss and freelances for other Youtubers, like us. If he’s not working, he enjoys traveling, working out, and listening to podcasts. You can view his work on our channel or get in touch with him on LinkedIn.

Our Story

I still remember sitting on the floor in my parents’ living room. It was mid-December, 2015, and I was thinking about my New Year’s Resolutions. What project I could start to write more, publish more, and build an asset that might help me achieve financial freedom. I was barely scraping by as a new freelancer, and I decided I wasn’t gonna walk the hard path of entrepreneurship just to do someone else’s bidding.


One day, it all came together. I had always loved books and reading. I had read a book summary almost every day of my 90-day extended Blinkist trial (a now-expired Stack Social deal). And I had even already made some money as an affiliate by recommending Blinkist to my friends, readers, and coaching clients that year ($363, to be exact).

Lightning struck: “I will make an affiliate website, publish daily, free book summaries, and make money by promoting Blinkist!” My goal was to publish 365 book summaries in the first year to really give this experiment a proper try. Only after one year would I conclude whether to continue or not.

Given my other freelancing obligations, I of course had neither the time nor the money to buy and read a book every single day. Instead, I decided to make do with what I had: I would read my daily summary on Blinkist as usual, then summarize that as best as I could. Every day, I would not start my other work until I had published.

The next day, I woke up at 5 AM and got to work. The first book I summarized was The End of Jobs by Taylor Pearson. It took more than 3 hours.

Over the next few months, I painfully learned how much hard work it was to publish a decent article every day. My 5 AM wake-up habit went out the door when I got sick. On some days, I had to write 3 summaries to catch up to my schedule. It was hard. But I also found our now-famous 3-lesson format. I learned how to do research faster, pick highlights to focus on, and I came up with efficient, repeatable processes for everything, from writing the summary to promoting it to pitching Blinkist to readers.

Long story short, I did it! In 2016, I published 365 book summaries. The site attracted just over 100,000 users in its first year, and we were off to the races! In 2017, I published only once a week, but the site kept growing. While I worked on other projects, I eventually hired new writers in 2019, we crossed the 1,000-summary mark, and for a few months in 2021, Luke was running the show completely.

It was only in late 2022 that I looked at my work and income and realized: “Damn! Out of everything I’ve done, Four Minute Books is the only thing that’s been growing and working consistently.” I decided to now really, fully take the reins and give this project everything I’ve got.

Four Minute Books is already a wonderful small business, and I can’t wait to see how amazing it can truly become. Over the last 8 years, we’ve helped more than 16 million readers learn more in less time. I’m excited to help build a world where everyone can read more and then use the sparks of imagination, inspiration, and connection they get from books to make their own contribution.

Simply by being here, you are now part of that mission. Thank you for choosing to read.

AI Policy

AI Policy No Robots Icon

Since the meteoric rise of OpenAI’s ChatGPT to 100 million users in just two months in early 2023, there’s now an elephant in the room wherever written words appear: “Did these come out of a human or a robot?”

At Four Minute Books, our current stance on AI-written content is simple: We will not publish a single AI-generated word on this website, nor have we ever done so in the past.

Here is our reasoning:

  • Right now, AI-generated writing is bland, generic, and rarely original — at least not if you only use simple prompts.
  • If you do continuously nudge AI to generate better writing with ever more complex prompts, the process becomes so long and tedious, you might as well write your own piece from scratch.
  • As a writer with 9 years of experience who’s published thousands of articles, 2 books, and writing in every format imaginable, I can come up with better, more creative, more inspired work faster than AI — at least until now.
  • There’s something personal, beautiful, and unique about knowing a real human took time and care, made a real sacrifice, to compose the words you are reading. AI can never replace that feeling.

Most people are bad at writing. We — me and everyone else who’s contributed to Four Minute Books — are not. That’s why, for the time being, we won’t rely on AI to do any writing whatsoever.

That said, we realize AI is here to stay and will only get better — and not just for writing. For example, we were able to use Eleven Labs‘ brilliant AI voice tools to create the narration for our video summaries of Hidden Potential, Same as Ever, and Feel-Good Productivity. Going forward, we’ll occasionally use AI voice technology to bring you…

  1. Video summaries of new bestsellers faster
  2. New types of video content we just wouldn’t have time to record the voiceover for otherwise

So far, voice cloning hasn’t worked well enough for me yet, but I hope at some point, we can use this technology so I can “narrate” more of our summaries “myself.”

This policy might change in the future. If it does, we’ll update it right here and on our AI Policy page. Until then, we’ll be happily typing away, bringing you writing by humans for humans — just intelligence without artificiality.  

Start Learning

The single-best way to get started with reading and learning on Four Minute Books is to visit our Start Here page. It’s a dedicated section created for the sole purpose of helping you find exactly what you need right when you need it.

Since you took some of your precious time to learn more about me, Four Minute Books, and our mission, however, I wouldn’t want to leave you without a special treat. I’d like to share with you my personal, single-favorite summary that we’ve published for every year Four Minute Books has existed. They’ll not only tell you even more about me and our philosophy, they also make for some great first reads! Here they are:

I hope this website will help you learn more in less time, make as much time for reading in your life as you’d like there to be, and accomplish everything you’ve ever dreamed of. Thank you for being here.

Nik Signature 2023


Last Updated on March 28, 2024