12 Rules for Life

12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos by Jordan B. Peterson

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is a tricky one to review.

I have listened to some of Jordan Peterson’s lectures and while I dont necessarily agree with him in everything, I thought he talked enough sense for me to give his book a try.

12 Rules for Life turned out to be something quite different compared to what I thought it would be. This isn’t your standard book with life advice. Some chapters are either introduced as or end up as wildly off topic. This happens in almost every chapter and can get quite tedious to read. I noted at least a few instances where his speech was so imprecise that it couldn’t be redeemed by linking it back to the title of the chapter by the time the chapter had finished. I find it quite ironic that one of the headings of a chapter in this book is an advice to “Be Precise in Your Speech”.

On the other hand, Peterson’s experience as a Psychologist has allowed him to study human nature and observe the crevices of the human mind quite intimately. This really shows when he discusses the thought processes people may have when they believe their lives to be a certain way. He rationalises how even mass murderers come to their nihilistic principles based on their experiences and beliefs (not that he supports this, but as a contrast to his main point).

Within a lot of the seemingly off topic talk, there is a lot of truth and wisdom to be found in this book. This is the main reason I persevered and continued reading it. There are definitely lots of things to learn. Some chapters are definitely better than others, but I suppose this depends on how relevant the advice is to you at the time, however I found overall that the way the book was written seemed very psuedo-intellectual. Knowing Peterson from his lectures however, I know this isnt the case.

If you’re looking for a book that is on par with lectures you may have heard online from Jordan Peterson, I honestly cannot say this book will meet your expectation in this regard. He clearly is a better speaker than writer in my opinion. This isnt to say he is a bad writer, but that his thought processes are easier to follow when he communicates them verbally. This could, to be fair, be a limitation of my understanding rather than his explaining.

There is a final, shorter chapter at the end of the book (after his 12th Rule) which in my opinion, bought this book up from 3 to 4 stars. In this brief chapter you will find much briefer answers to some of the more interesting questions he has been asked over the years. I found myself highlighting much more in this section that I had in some whole chapters. This definitely redeemed a star from me, its just a shame the whole book wasn’t like that.

All in all, a book where something useful is learnt is still a great net benefit. So what of a book where there are many great tidbits scattered throughout? In conclusion, I would say that this is a beneficial read. Dont spent too long on it though.

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