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71R Book Review: 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos

Should you read Mr. Peterson’s new book?

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By Mason Mohon | UNITED STATES

Jordan Peterson is academia’s rockstar, or at least the closest it has ever had to one. I don’t know who said that first, it certainly was not me, but I agree with them wholeheartedly.

Just as I spend months anticipating an album release from my favorite rockstars, I spent months anticipating the release of 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote for Chaos. As soon as I saw it on Amazon, I pre-ordered it instantly, and for a teenage fella such as I, a few months is a large portion of my lifetime.

I received the book in the mail the day of release and jumped right in, hoping to get as much as I could from it, ready for every last Petersonian rabbit trail. I was not disappointed, but love of Jordan aside, would I recommend this book? Yes, I would. But why? Well, that is what this review is about.

What You Get

12 Rules is a good size book, and I mean that in a physical sense. It is a hardcover with what I would call an aesthetic cover design, very simple, and straight to the point. Its covered in arrows, which seems to symbolize the chaos of life – we are always looking where each arrow points, and we need to sort it out. For a hardcover its size, it seems to be a bargain considering its Amazon price.

The book is nicely formatted, with each chapter having a noticeable barrier in between and each line justified to the edge of the page (yes, I have read books that didn’t have that). Chapters range in size, with the longest in my estimation being the eleventh (Don’t Bother Skateboarding Children), amounting to about fifty pages.

Content-wise, it is perfect for anyone who enjoys Peterson Lectures. If you watch JBP’s content on a regular basis, there are very few foreign concepts within the book. It does not have very much on the political battle he faces against bill C-16, nor does it go very deep into the topics he covers in his Biblical lectures, but I saw it as a wrapping of pretty much all of his more mainstream-known views.

The Content of the Book

When reading the book, I expected it to go ankle deep on each of the topics. For example, I expected most of the chapters to focus mostly on the scientific benefits of each rule, but boy was I wrong. Mr. Peterson enjoys speaking of archetypes so I do not know why I expected nothing less.

The topics flow very well, too. All of the chapters will jump from personal anecdote to ancient literature to psychological fact pretty much seamlessly. At some points, I thought that there was no way whatever archetype being discussed was going to relate back to the rule, but to my surprise it did. Every time. It would quite literally leave me laughing.

Each chapter is applicable to your own life and is very engaging. The first half or so is very lighthearted, but I began to pick up on some much heavier and much more important points later in the book, especially when things like Soviet death camps or the Columbine shooters are brought up.

It is a relentless book, constantly reminding the reader that life is suffering, but not to lose hope, for meaning can be found in this life, and nihilism is never the answer.

Readability

I have been asked a few times how it compares to his other book, Maps of Meaning. Admittedly, I have not read Maps of Meaning in its entirety, but I have read a fair amount. 12 Rules is much much less academically geared. MoM seems to be ready for a scholarly psychology audience, while 12 Rules is ready for anyone to pick up and read. It is easier, and it can connect to your own life, to a greater degree than his other book does.

Many concepts are brought up but may need a little bit of prior knowledge, particularly when it comes to psychology. Freud, Jung, general psychoanalysis, and a bit of behaviorism is brought up with little explanation, but it is a psychological text, and any Peterson follower should already be familiar with such concepts. For a non-Peterson follower, this is not a deal breaker. They are simple concepts that can easily be inferred about, and a quick Google search is always available as an option.

Should You Read It?

If you like to watch Jordan Peterson’s lectures, no doubt.

If you are completely unfamiliar with Dr. Peterson, you should still read it. It is not a hard book to read, and it can introduce a lay audience to many in-depth and complicated concepts easily.

The text is affordable, so I see no reason why you would not add this to your library. Peterson’s book is a trove of knowledge and wisdom, so it is perfect for any individual seeking to sort themselves out.

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