Wednesday, January 23, 2019

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

Title: 12 Rules for Life:  An Antidote to Chaos
Author: Jordan B. Peterson
Read by:  Overture read by Norman Doidge, Book read by the Author
Publisher: Random House
Length: Approximately 15 hours and 40 minutes
Source: Purchased from (and hard cover copy from the library)

12 Rules for Life is apparently a very popular book, but it was a “did not complete” book for me.  I tried reading the book itself first and then switched to audiobook.  It read so much like a textbook to me that I had to force myself to read. The audiobook was better with it coming across more as a lecture delivered by the author. This was a January selection for the Kewaunee Library Book Club. It prompted a good discussion at book club. 

The 12 Rules for Life were as follows.

Rule 1.  Stand up straight with your shoulders back.
Rule 2.  Treat yourself like someone you are responsible for helping.
Rule 3.  Make friends with people who want the best for you.
Rule 4.  Compare yourself to who you were yesterday, not to who someone else is today.
Rule 5.  Do not let your children do anything that makes you dislike them.
Rule 6.  Set your house in perfect order before you criticize the world.
Rule 7.  Pursue what is meaningful (not what is expedient).
Rule 8.  Tell the truth – or at least, don’t lie.
Rule 9.  Assume that the person you are listening to might know something you don’t.
Rule 10. Be precise in your speech.
Rule 11.  Do not bother children when they are skateboarding.
Rule 12.  Pet a cat when you encounter one on the street.

I made it through the first six rules before book club and chose not to complete it after book club.  The rules themselves are good common-sense rules, but the author has a lot of filler and can’t get to the point.  The author also seems to dislike women and it seemed like it was because he had a hard time getting a girlfriend as a teen.  Therefore, women are “too picky” and only looking for the biggest, strongest man.  That was too simplified for the complications of human relationships.  I was surprised to find out he was married.

Self-help is admittedly not my favorite genre.  I never took psychology in high school or college.  I have no interest in it, I am a hard science type of person.

I did notice at book club that those that watched the YouTube videos of the author seemed to like them and have a more favorable view.  I had not watched the videos myself.    A few people did read the entire book, but it appeared that the majority did not.  I felt bad as I usually always read an entire book for book club in order to have a good discussion, but this one did not work for me.

I did think it was ironic that one rule was about not judging people, but in the rule before about raising children, the author was very judgmental about other parents.  He had some good advice, but also a lot of weirdness about his thoughts on child rearing. This led book club to criticize “parents these days.” Sad sigh.  I am the youngest person currently in book club with everyone a generation ahead of me.  I pointed about that George Eliot had a section about how terrible “kids these days are” in Silas Mariner one hundred and fifty years ago.  Luckily that got book club off of that topic.

Favorite Quotes:
“The things you can see, with even a single open eye.  It’s no wonder that people want to stay blind.”

“A child who pays attention, instead of drifting, and can play, and does not whine, and is comical, but not annoying, and is trustworthy – that child will have friends wherever he goes.”

Overall, I am not sure why The 12 Rules for Life is such a popular book.  It needs an editor to have the arguments for the Rules much more concise and readable.


  1. Great review. I've heard the good and the bad. I have no desire to read this one but thank you for your review and insight so I really don't have to!

  2. Thank you, Laura, for your honest review of this book. I enjoyed reading your "take" on this book, and learning that book club members watched the author's You Tube videos.