BOOK REVIEW: Life to the Limit: My Autobiography by Jenson Button

Format: Hardback, Christmas present
Links: Goodreads | Amazon UK
Blurb: Jenson Button is one of the greatest racing drivers of his generation. His seventeen years in Formula 1 have seen him experience everything the sport has to offer, from nursing underpowered cars around the track to winning World Championships and everything in between.

Here, Jenson tells his full story for the first time in his own honest, intelligent and eloquent style. From growing up as part of a motor-racing-mad family under the guidance of his father, John, to arriving at Williams as a fresh-faced 20 year-old, to being written off by some as a playboy and his fight back to the very pinnacle of his sport. Jenson’s World Championship victory for the unsponsored and unfancied Brawn GP team is one of the most extraordinary against-the-odds sports stories of the century.

Jenson’s book lifts the lid on the gilded and often hidden world of Formula 1. He reveals his relationships with some of the biggest names in Formula 1- Lewis Hamilton, Michael Schumacher, Fernando Alonso as well some of the most colourful characters like Flavio Briatore, Ron Dennis, Frank Williams and serial winner Ross Brawn. Above all, he puts you right inside the cockpit, in the driving seat, travelling at over 200 miles per hour, battling the fear of death, showing you what happens when it goes wrong at high speed and allowing you to experience the euphoria of crossing the line first.


Review: If you know me at all, you will know that there’s two things I absolutely adore. Books and Formula 1. Books and reading have been a life-long love of mine, ever since I was too young to remember. Formula 1 is a relatively new crush, having only been introduced to it really within the last 3 years but 3 years could easily be 33 because I have enveloped myself in Formula 1 ever since my boyfriend introduced me to it and I’ve wanted to watch and learn and read everything I can about it. Now, I never miss a race, I could tell you the World Champion each year for the last 50 years more or less and I love a good Formula 1 documentary. But a Formula 1 book? That’s what I’m here for.

I’ve recently read and reviewed Mark Webber‘s autobiography and Damon Hill‘s and I loved both of them. So when I heard that Jenson’s was coming out, it went straight to the top of my Christmas list. And as it happens, Santa popped it under my tree and before the Boxing Day turkey curry had even been cooked, I’d already started it. I’ve always liked Jenson, he’s very intelligent and great to listen to. He’s fun and likable and I was certainly a bit sad to see him leave Formula 1. But this book captures JB in the most literal sense. It’s so very “Jenson”.

I’ve always loved Jenson’s sarcastic, British sense of humor and that oozes out of this book. On multiple occasions, my boyfriend and I found ourselves laughing hysterically at something he’d said, the way he describes things (and sometimes himself!) and the way he also takes the mick out of things too. Again, mostly himself. Above everything, Jenson came across as a real, genuine bloke in his book – despite the money, the fame, the swanky boats and houses and cars – if you met him in a pub for a curry on a Tuesday night, you’d have a right laugh.

As with all the Formula 1 books I’ve read, this one was also as eye-opening. The stuff you don’t hear about at the time all comes to light in autobiographies when enough time has passed that nobody will care anymore (hopefully) and I learnt a lot about what went on within his teams, with his teammates and especially with his team managers. Naming no names, some of them were complete arseholes, to a young man who was working hard and just trying to make his dream a reality, for God’s sake.

There was an emotional chapter in which Jenson talks about his dad’s death and what happened the night he died. Although very hard-hitting, it was also an exceptionally eye-opening chapter on the basis that I firmly believed his dad had died of a heart attack. My boyfriend did too. But he didn’t – not even close. I don’t know where I might have got that piece of information from, probably some form of social media? Or maybe it was ignorant assumption because I knew from seeing it on TV and what I had read throughout the rest of this book that his dad liked a drink and a cigarette. Whatever the case, it really showed me that despite how famous the person you’re reading about is, the media and what’s portrayed on TV and online can really get in your head and warp your judgement.

My only niggle is that it needed a little more editing. I noticed numerous grammar mistakes and the occasional missing word which I’m not going to mark the book down on because obviously it’s not Jenson’s fault. Apart from that, an absolute must read for any Formula 1 or Jenson Button fan. Despite it being about 350 pages long, it’s a quick and easy read. The chapters are short and snappy – which I LOVE – it’s straight to the point, funny, sad and refreshing. A wonderful read that’ll grab you from the very first page.

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20 thoughts on “BOOK REVIEW: Life to the Limit: My Autobiography by Jenson Button

  1. I got this for my brother for Xmas and am going to steal it from him! I read the Adrian Newey book which is part memoirs part history of F1 engineering, definitely recommend! We are a big F1 family

  2. I have to be honest, F1 is not my genre and neither are autobiographies. But… your review might just change my mind for this book. Plus, Jenson is a local boy, Frome is literally down the road from us. Hmm, am thinking seriously about this one now! Xx

    Lisa | http://www.lisasnotebook.com

  3. It Is definitely obvious that you enjoyed this book – you write about it wish such passion, and I really appreciate that. Whilst I know that I will probably never read it (F1 really bores me – sorry!) I can imagine that you are right in saying any fan of F1 or Jenson Button would love it!

  4. Autobiographies are one of my favourite book genres; I feel like even if you don’t know much about the person to begin with there will be something that grabs you. In my case, I know basically nothing about F1 but I have always been attracted to JB’s personality, he seems so funny and much more likeable than people like Hamilton. I also just love reading about people trying to achieve their dream so I would definitely pick this up if I see it!
    Beth x Adventure & Anxiety

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