Let's talk about the book: "Free by 40 in Switzerland"

Since quite a few of us are probably starting to dig into the newly released book, I wanted to start a discussion on it.

I was very excited when I got the book, since I had been following the blog for a while and had gotten tons of useful information from the blog and forums. Regardless of the quality or usefulness of the book, I was happy to be support MP by buying it. I’ll add that I was reading the English version, maybe there are significant differences between the different language editions.

After finishing the first chapter… I have to admit that I’m very disappointed. I’m not sure what happened but the book reads as a first draft, not as a released book. The structure of the text is all over the place: Lists within lists and no clear division of topics. Sometimes MP begins a paragraph on a new topic and provides us with examples to clarify… but then never actually defines the topic before moving on to the next topic! Grammar mistakes aplenty. I’ve noticed missing spaces in multiple places, words that someone forgot to translate, a few different contradictions. Finally, the very common awkward English making me read the same sentence over and over to try to understand what is meant. This is an example from the first chapter:

“What MPs? But you’re a liar who advises doing what he says but not what he does, or what?”
Well, no, I’m sorry I won’t disappoint you. Actually, I had some money that I didn’t care to lose […], and so I put these CHF 1,000 in to see how it would turn out.

And this is all just from reading the first chapter.

I won’t comment much on the long winded, whimsical writing style with emoticons in the text. Although I don’t like it, this is a matter of taste and it makes sense to use roughly the same style as the blog.

Was there an editor or proof-reader involved in the process of writing this book? If there wasn’t, MP should have hired one. If there was, MP should have hired someone better.

It was a real struggle for me to finish chapter 1 and I don’t think I’ll continue with chapter 2. I’m sure there’s good information in the book (as is the case on the blog) but slogging through this book just isn’t worth it.

I’m sorry to be this harsh on the book, but it really is honest feedback from a fan of the blog. It’s a shame to put all of this effort into writing this book and then have it be plagued by errors that should have been caught. I was expecting to recommend this book to all my friends who would like to be a bit more savvy with their money, but I’m not sure I can. I certainly can’t justify them spending 39/49 CHF on it. Maybe at some point we’ll have a v.2.0 with many of these errors fixed.

I’d be curious to hear from people who are reading it in different languages if they agree.

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What is the problem with your quoted text? Maybe it’s not clear that it’s a conversation between two persons? It seems OK to me, but I’m not an native english speaker.

I didn’t read the book so I can’t comment on the rest.

“What MPs? But you’re a liar who advises doing what he says but not what he does, or what?”
Well, no, I’m sorry I won’t disappoint you. Actually, I had some money that I didn’t care to lose […], and so I put these CHF 1,000 in to see how it would turn out.

This is not terrible but reads very much as something directly translated from another language. We can pull it apart to point out the oddities:

  • What MPs?” - Exclamation (“What”) followed by a “name” is not really something that’s done in English to my knowledge and reads strangely.
  • MPs” indicates that this is plural. The next words (“But you’re”) implies singular. Which is it?
  • You’re a liar […], or what?” - Statement followed by a question mark is not how you ask a question in English.
  • Well, no, I’m sorry I won’t disappoint you” - Not incorrect, but reads strangely since apologizing for not disappointing is something people generally don’t do.
  • Actually, I had some money that I didn’t care to lose.” - The phrase “I don’t care to” can mean different things depending on where you’re located and to me actually reads as “I had some money I didn’t want to lose”, opposite of the intended meaning. Considering this is a text for international readers, it’s probably best to avoid it. More on this: https://www.phrases.org.uk/bulletin_board/53/messages/1097.html

A better version of the same sentence possibly be:

What? MP, are you a liar who advises doing what he says but not what he does?
Well, no. I had some money that I was fine with losing […] so I invested CHF 1000 in Bitcoin to see how it would turn out.

Finally, the idea that he doesn’t care about CHF 1,000 because it was windfall while he advocates for using less toothpaste and shampoo a few pages earlier is just strange.

In the end, this is just a small example. The text is full of similar sentences.

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Despite the subject of this thread, and as I’m learning english now in order to pass a test in January, I find this post really helpfull and quite interesting, so thank you for your contribution.

To not being out of the subject, I’ve only read the chapter 8 of MP’s book before purchased it and it seems not to have this kind of problem in French. However, I would keep you in touch when I end it in the next days or weeks.

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Hi,

Me neither and I don’t plan too. Although interesting, the table of contents reminded me all the articles we can find on his blog and/or with in various discussions here.

The marketing behind the book is good:

  • distribution of the book/chapters in advance to some people
  • various packages (not cheap even for the E-book)

From my point of view, by buying the book, we help MP to reach FIRE more than he is helping us to reach it.

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I happily finished it and am going to read it a second time right away !
Enjoyed it a lot. Congrats to MP for it !

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Great to hear that you enjoyed it. What language did you read it in?

Mustachian French of course.

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How much cash flow does Bitcoin generate each year? Because if it is not generating any cash flow it is not investing but speculating.

Good point. Invested is not the proper term here but that’s a bit off-topic.

:laughing:
That’s how you can tell whether you are a true frugalian or not (spoiler: I am not).

I guess he wanted to say that he could afford to lose 1000, had his experience gone terribly wrong. But I admit there is definitely some contrast.

Let us put aside weird grammar or informal writing style, have you found interesting ideas in this book?

I also think that 39 CHF is not exactly cheap for an EBook. For that price, I’d expect more than just a summarization of generic tips and common sense. I mean, If you don’t mind a bit of googling, the general guidelines for saving money have been extensively covered and freely accessible for years. Typical tips usually revolve around reducing your Internet/TV bills, avoiding over-insurance / luxury goods, buying ETFs and… riding a bicycle (if your routine allows it).

Does the book cover more than just the basic stuff?

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If anyone had asked me about my expectations for the book, I would have expected nothing more or less than this: a couple of years worth of blog posts compiled, enriched and nicely repackaged into a more accessible format. Certainly not the first buyable product and E-book originating from a blog, is it?

And it’s not as if there was anything wrong with that. As such though, I would hardly be surprised if the book is a bit lacking (or making compromies) in terms of coherent structure. Its author probably didn’t set out to create a book when he started blogging.

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That sounds like the popular (Swiss?) german ending of questions with “… oder was?” which should never ever translated like this to English. I read @thepoorswiss summary blogpost which was linked in the other thread and concluded that it’s not a book I will read.

I always thought it translated to English quite closely (though not literally):

“You’re a liar who advises doing what he says but not what he does, aren’t you?

Cambridge dictionary does indicate that “or what” is sometimes used for emphasis at the end of a phrase.

Why don’t you just think of it as a Swiss price? :wink:

Being (supposedly) Swiss-specific, the audience is limited. For French, for instance just about 2 million speakers in Switzerland. English speakers probably even less (that don’t prefer German and/or French, that is).

I read one of the chapters pre publication, never provided feedback though. Sorry MP.

Based on that chapter I concluded that I wasn’t the target audience. Basically the book provides nothing new to people who participate in this forum.

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What you describe is kind of what I wanted. Maybe my expectation were too high but what I had hoped for was simply the contents of the blog, reorganized, refined, expanded upon and finally edited and proof-read. The final product is definitely not this, for all the reasons listed in my original post.

I’m happy to support MP with some CHF in exchange for all the info I’ve gotten from the blog and forums. But I’m also saddened by the fact that when someone asks me about financial advice or points at this book on my bookshelf, I can’t recommend it.

I honestly don’t know, I couldn’t make it past the first chapter. The contents of the later chapters doesn’t really concern me since I can’t even get myself to read more than the first chapter. You can see the table of contents here: Page 1, Page 2, Page 3
It seems to be a lot of the same information as on this blog. Maybe it’s expanded upon. :man_shrugging:

I’d say it looks like a direct translation from the same French sentence. I’d expect more from a book release in English.

Maybe we can get an updated pdf version :wink:

This book is here to make profit. That’s what it is. Sorry do not take this as an attack.

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I think that we all know this, or at least I hope everyone who has purchased the book known it, especially if you’re taking the other expensive option :slight_smile:

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