What does everyone in the modern world need to know? Renowned psychologist Jordan B. Peterson's answer to this most difficult of questions uniquely combines the hard-won truths of ancient tradition with the stunning revelations of cutting-edge scientific research.
Humorous, surprising and informative, Dr. Peterson tells us why skateboarding boys and girls must be left alone, what terrible fate awaits those who criticize too easily, and why you should always pet a cat when you meet one on the street. What does the nervous system of the lowly lobster have to tell us about standing up straight (with our shoulders back) and about success in life? Why did ancient Egyptians worship the capacity to pay careful attention as the highest of gods? What dreadful paths do people tread when they become resentful, arrogant and vengeful? Dr. Peterson journeys broadly, discussing discipline, freedom, adventure and responsibility, distilling the world's wisdom into 12 practical and profound rules for life. 12 Rules for Life shatters the modern commonplaces of science, faith and human nature, while transforming and ennobling the mind and spirit of its readers.
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Walking around B&N I noticed this book and thought I'd check it out from the library and give it a read. The “12 Rules” have a much different tone than books I usually read which got me interested. Things like “Don't bother kids when they're skateboarding” and “pet a cat when you encounter one”. What I didn't realize was just how religious it was! In every chapter somehow the story is turned back to The Bible. It was during this book that I realized that using Libby I could skip chapters. That worked great for this book where skipping would just fast forward to the next rule.
I downloaded this audiobook after it came up on one of my favorite podcasts, Malcom Gladwell's Revisionist History. Gladwell spoke to the concept of developing one's own “12 Rules for Life,” which apparently became highly popular as a result of Peterson's lectures/this book.
Being an unabashed lover of rules, self-help books, and academics lauded by Gladwell, I thought this would be right up my alley. And on the face of it, the rules are inviting – from “Stand up straight with your shoulders back” to “Be precise in your speech,” to the less conventional “Pet a cat when you encounter one on the street.” But I struggled from the outset: firstly, this book is all over the GD place. I had such a hard time following; if I stopped paying attention for a few moments (as I often do, typically because I'm listening while doing something else, like driving or cross-training) then I would get super confused. For example, how did we go from talking about taking care of yourself like you would a dear friend to how the cultural narrative of Adam and Eve explains our shame of nakedness? Where's the connection I missed?
This book is a pejorative and wholly overwrought polemic. Though some points of his made sense to me, they were completely lost in a mixture of his own personal experience, the work of other psychologists, scientific literature, summaries of books and historical figures, and long explanations of cultural narratives (often within the same sub-heading, and often fairly unrelated). But it REALLY lost me in Chapter 11 when he went on a neo-patriarchal rant, trying to get the reader to feel bad for poor privileged white boys now they they are underrepresented in college (among a slew of other stupid reasons)? Fuck that, dude.
I still like the idea of having 12 rules for life, but not in the way this book presents. I'd recommend listening to the episode of Revision History instead.