Bit Better Book Club 🎉

Weeks 27 and 28: 12 Rules for Life 🦞

Welcome to weeks 27 and 28!

Time to read:

12 Rules for Life by Jordan B. Peterson

The book focuses on the universal values that we can follow. The author takes the inspiration from different fields of culture and science to come up with the detailed answers. Is the result something we can agree with?

Fun fact: the book is a result of author’s activity answering questions on Quora.

Just 30 pages (or 1 hour and 8 minutes for an audiobook) a day to finish it in 2 weeks :raised_hands:

So, I’m going over it and I finished chapter 4 (out of 12++). I’m thinking if I should drop it, but I’ll withold full opinion until I either finish or give up :smiley:

Here are my notes:

  • Jordan B. Peterson believes using physical and psychological violence against kids is justified
  • Tolstoy wanted his guns taken away and stayed away from ropes to avoid suicide temptations
  • The author expresses the fallacy presented in Homo Deus that animals only act on instinct and can’t plan for the future
  • A lot of the books seems to be either author’s autobiography or comments on the Bible
  • The Bible commentaries don’t necessarily prove the rules, just give the author the ability to share his interpretation and worldview
  • Some of the observations remind me of “Non-Violent Communication
  • Sometimes the author uses simple examples, at other times uses deep philosophical stories
  • I was pleased to see that parkour is mentioned several times
  • In one of the chapters, the author mentions that children should not be bother while skating. This has to do with mastery. But the topic of mastery is almost as soon forgotten as it has been mentioned. Instead, we get a lot of preaching on topics that are almost unrelated.
  • One of the subchapters is titled “Compassion as a Vice” and the author suggests that avoiding conflict is equal to allowing others walk on you which are hardly the same thing.
  • The book is a mix of science, personal anecdotes, personal world-view of an author, and some wisdom. This reminds me of “Antifragile”. While I disliked the brutal and barbaric style of Nassim Nicholas Taleb, I very much liked the content and I can recommend the book wholeheartadly. At the same time, the style presented by Jordan B. Peterson is much more pleasant and in almost all means better but at the same time, it just feels filled with fluff. Taleb comes straight to the point and the anecdotes make the point stronger, Peterson, from my perspective, dilutes the topic instead and most of the text is not meant to support the rules presented in the book.

Whew. If not for a friend who likes this book, I couldn’t finish it. I didn’t like it, but I will try to be semi objective.

First of all, I think this should be “12 seromons for life”. The author is, I think, believer and uses Bible very often as a solution/example of problem with solution/the best guidance. At one point I simply started to skim his bible’ishing because it was often not related (for me) to the topic, boring or imho wrong. At the same time, it’s fun to see how he is trying to manipulate the reader into belief (ha!) that you should check/recheck your faith. For example, I liked his subtle ways of exlplaining that atheist are not really non-believers, they just don’t know what they believe. Or another example, he mentiones that our ancestors figured out ways of society and we should follow their advice, and you shouldn’t argue with it because you don’t have generations of generations of the advice, who are you to challenge the collected wisdom? Oh and a best rememeber compilation of such advice is… the Bible :slight_smile:

As for writing, I also found it a bit too seromon’ish. The way he writes in absolute truth, then switches to short sentences, really reminds me of a priest talking. That also makes the chapters very long, while I feel they could benefit from some cutting of the bloat.

Ok, as for the rules. I cannot say that the book is full of wrong advice, it’s just… I think the summary I’m getting is that he wants the reader to be strong character who follows his own voice, but is also a considerate person, can defend his own opinion and stand by his beliefs. Then the chapters are description of the above, together with his pros and cons of not following it. It’ all very fluid and repetetive.

I think if I read this book before reading others, more heavy books, or if I read it when I was much younger, I might found his advice (and an easy way of writing) interesting and engaging. Right now it was… too slow and obvious?

At the same time, that makes the book very easy to read, and being split into 12 chapters that are (in theory) unrelated, a good weekend read (over many weekends that is :d)

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I’m curious. What other books about values and character would you recommend rather than this one?

I liked “A Job to Love”, despite the title it’s not only about jobs, I felt it was equaly (sometimes brutally) honest like the 12 rules, but being much smaller and coherent. It contained a more direct approach to you taking a look at yourself and your values.

Never heard of that before, thanks for sharing it!