What’s Four Minute Books?

Welcome to Four Minute Books, where we make a big promise to our readers: We’ll make you smarter in four minutes or less!

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My name is Niklas Göke and I believe that everyone should be able to learn from the world’s best books for free.

During daylight hours, I’m a full-time writer, but in the wee hours of the day I’m a book-devouring, information-compressing, knowledge-sucking machine – so you can get smarter in four minutes or less.

I created Four Minute Books to share my love of books and book summaries, accelerate my own learning and yours right with it. Here’s what Four Minute Books is all about:

  1. Me and my team read a combination of the world’s best non-fiction books and book summaries using the app Blinkist.
  2. We write down three major lessons along with a short review of who the book is for.
  3. You get to digest the key points of an entire book in four minutes or less.

That’s it! Plain and simple. In 2016 alone, I wrote 365 book summaries. That’s right, one book summary, every single day, for a year. From 2017-2019, we published 1-3 times a week.

As of Jan 1, 2020, we’re back to publishing one summary every single day. Each new post will appear on the site at 2 PM Central European Time.

That’s right. Free, daily book summaries, just for you.

If you want to receive our free, weekly roundup with short previews and links to all seven summaries, sign up here. You can also choose to get each new summary right in your inbox as soon as it goes live on the site (find that option in the welcome email).

All of our summaries are original. They contain the wisdom from some of the world’s best books, but we also add our own unique takeaways, our own examples, and stories to carry those lessons to you. Who’s “we?”

Meet managing editor Luke, who runs Goal Engineering, writes summaries for us, helps with the tech on the back end, and edits new submissions. Next to writing, Luke is a husband, father, engineer, and avid reader. He enjoys hiking and spending time with his wife and kids in his spare time.

Why Summarize Book Summaries?

Since we don’t read all the books we summarize cover to cover, you might ask: What’s the point of further distilling existing book summaries? I’m glad you asked.

I bet you find it hard to make time for reading. Well, so do I. Especially when I want to read many books, a lot of which are the size of a small child, like Money – Master the Game by Tony Robbins:

What is Four Minute Books?

Maybe, you too have heard of speed reading techniques, where you jump around and just read selected chapters of a book. I gave those a shot, and they work – but only to an extent. Here are two major flaws with speed reading:

  1. It’s not really faster. Cherry-picking is all fine and well, but my actual speed of reading X words per minute stays roughly the same. There are techniques to help with that too, but I found it impossible to, say, double my reading speed.
  2. When I buy a book, I want ALL the lessons from it. If I’m gonna shell out $20 for a book, I want everything that’s good in there, not just a few bits and pieces.

As I was struggling with this, my roommate sent me this (expired) Stack Social deal in 2015. Blinkist gave away 3 months for free. Blinkist is a subscription service providing summaries of non-fiction books. I started reading their 15-minute summaries in the morning. Like, lots of them:

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Eventually, however, life happened, and I found myself too busy to even spare 15 minutes every day to read. If you’re bouncing around between work, groceries, doing laundry, trying to eat well and stay fit, all while making time for family and your wonderful girlfriend or boyfriend, you’ll know what I’m talking about.

On a lot of days, I just didn’t make it. Making reading a proper habit seemed impossible. Until…

Our Mission

Consider this great story about Gandhi, written by one of my favorite authors, James Altucher:

One time Gandhi said to a group of his backers, “I need to set aside one hour a day to do meditation.”

One of the backers said, “oh no, you can’t do that! You are too busy, Gandhi!”

Gandhi said, “Well, then, I now need to set aside two hours a day to do meditation.”

I feel the same way about reading. I love it, and it’s good for me in many ways. It gets my creativity flowing, gives me energy, inspires me, and makes me smarter – all at the same time. So, when I read that story, thinking I didn’t have enough time to read, I realized: If I can’t take the time to read for 15 minutes, maybe I need to take 30 minutes instead.

That’s exactly what I did – and to make sure I stick to it, I made it my mission to write something that helps you each time I read. This way, I wasn’t only making sure I worked on myself each day, but I would help others do the same in the process.

That’s how Four Minute Books started. For the first 365 days, I published a book summary every day. Now, this site has grown way beyond me and my habits, but our mission is still the same.

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We’ll Make You Smarter in Four Minutes or Less

Our summaries are short and to the point and won’t take you more than 4 minutes to read. They’re not a replacement for other, longer book summaries, additional materials, or full books, of course, but they’re a fantastic starting point for your learning journey.

You can use our summaries and recommendations to answer two crucial questions about each non-fiction book you come in touch with:

  1. Do I want to learn more about this topic from other sources?
  2. Do I want to read the actual book?

Most importantly, you can use them to learn something new every day, even on the days when you’re already running late when your alarm goes off. And that’s really it.

Should you ever decide to get a Blinkist subscription or buy a book because of something you read on here, I’d love for you to use the link we have at the end of each summary. Doing so means we’ll get a small affiliate commission at no extra cost to you.

If that’s not your thing, we’re also working on our own line of products. So far, we’ve published The Complete Guide to Remembering What You Read and a set of 300 Four Minute Audiobooks.

Of course, you don’t have to do anything at all. No big deal. We’re still friends =)

How Can You Get Started on Four Minute Books?

If you don’t know what Blinkist is and how it works, you can learn all about the app here. In case you already know the gist of it and want to read my honest review, you can find that here. Four Minute Books readers also get an exclusive 20% off. You can access and redeem our Blinkist discount code here.

If you’re feeling extra funky, you can also check out the (rather boring) formalities, like our privacy policy or the affiliate stuff (I actually made that one fun). Of course, you can also suggest a book for us to summarize.

Before you do any of that, however, I urge you to do what Four Minute Books is made for: Read some book summaries! Here are my personal favorites for each year the site has existed:

What are you waiting for? Let’s go!

Read our book summaries »

I hope this website will help you become smarter, fitter, better and everything you aspire to be. Thank you for being here.

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Niklas Göke