A small disclaimer first to let you know that this book was not on my original reading list. Instead, this book was gifted to me in order to produce a review for it. But that does not guarantee the book a positive review and all reviews remain 100% my own honest opinion.
You may have noticed that this book review doesn’t have a score.
(…or you may not have noticed depending on how often you visit my blog.)
Usually, I score all the books I review on three sets of criteria; design and layout, readability, and quality of information.
I give each one a score out of 10, and then an overall score out of 10 is calculated.
If I did score this book, the overall score would be approximately 3/10 – making it my lowest scoring book to date. (!?)
But I feel as though the book doesn’t deserve that score, so I’m not giving one.
What is Before I Won about?
This book is someone’s life story up until the grand old age of 25. (I say ‘someone’ because I’m not sure if this a true story or not as I discuss later in this post.)
It’s what I like to call an ‘X-Factor story’.
So, you’ve probably seen X-Factor on TV, and if not, don’t worry, I’m sure you understand the general gist of the program.
Anyway, you may have noticed that they always seem to feature those with a depressing back story. Contestants that have struggles/excuses for why they’ve not ‘made it’ and/or why their life is so terrible.
I believe that we all have an X-Factor story, myself included.
If you stop anyone on the street and ask them about a difficult time in their life, everyone has got a story to tell.
Admittedly, some X-Factor stories are a lot worse and more troublesome than others, and this book is a particularly painful one.
But in essence, that is what this book is about – an X-Factor story of someone going through hardship (some of it they caused themselves) and how they turned their lives around and became a successful person.
Book review scores
As mentioned above, I’m not going to give this book an ‘official’ score, but I thought it would still be a good idea to share my thoughts around the criteria that I usually use to review the books I read.
Design and layout
As you can see from the book cover in the featured image of this post, the design isn’t great.
I do like the idea that it appears to have someone climbing up a hill, but it’s not going to win any awards. (There’s another book in the series called ‘Before I Failed‘ which has the same cover in reverse – so they are going down the hill – which I think is clever.)
Sadly, no thought has been given to the interior of the book. There are no chapters, the spacing is all over the place, and the text looks as though it’s been left in Microsoft Word’s standard Times New Roman font.
I have very poor English skills in all three aspects; reading, writing, and speaking. It was my worst subject in school and as you may notice from my posts, I make a lot of mistakes, but this book takes it to a whole new level.
Even with my lack of skills in this area, even I can notice spelling and grammatical mistakes – there are at least a few on every page.
If you gave this book to a professional editor, I’m sure they would have a field day with it.
…in a way, this adds to the book!
The lack of editing and the huge amount of mistakes make the book feel very raw. As though the words came out of his head, onto the screen, and then into your hands, without going through a constant stream of editing and refining.
Quality of information
To put this bluntly, it’s no different from every other personal development book.
Yes, you can learn from other people’s life stories and I love reading autobiographies of successful people and finding out how they ‘made it’, but you don’t start learning anything until the second half of the book (the first half details his struggles) and even then, it’s nothing that you can’t get from a decent blog post.
Is this a true story?
Honestly, I don’t know.
At first, I thought it was the true-life story of the author, but the book did raise a few red flags.
Firstly, the author’s name on the cover is Tomas Veres. The character in the book is Tom Seed. I was expecting the character’s last name to change at some point throughout the book, but that never happened.
Secondly, the book mentioned that Tom Seed set up an architectural firm. After a bit of Googling, I was unable to find the company.
Thirdly, part-way through the book, there was mention of an article in the LA Times about Tom Seed being a street artist. Again, after some internet research, I couldn’t find the article.
These points don’t mean that the story isn’t true. It is possible that the architectural company and the LA Times article do exist but I just couldn’t find them. But they just left me with more questions with regards to the authenticity of the book.
Would I recommend this book?
If I am honest (and I always try to be) then no, I wouldn’t recommend this book.
It’s been poorly put together and there are far too many mistakes in it.
Yes, there are some good personal development lessons that you can take from this book, but if personal development is what you are after, there are plenty of other books out there that will provide you much better teaching and in an ‘easier to digest and follow’ manner.
However, I do believe that this book has been self-published via Amazon’s print on demand. In which case, hats off to the author because publishing a book yourself without the expertise of a publishing team is a very hard thing to do.
Also, if this book is a true story (as mentioned earlier, it’s particularly painful) then extra credit needs to go to the author for having the nouse, drive, and determination to pull himself out of a hole and to create a better life for himself.
Have you read this book?
If you have read Before I Won, let me know what you thought about it in the comments section.