Why I abandoned this book…
I don’t usually give up on a book.
But after reading two chapters of 12 Rules For Life by Jordan Peterson, I decided not to continue.
You can read more about that in my Notes.
The caveat here being that this review is based on just the first two chapters of the book, and because I am unwilling to invest any more time with this text, I have no idea how accurate this review is as applied to the rest of the book.
12 Rules For Life Review – Arguments
The best argumentation presented in 12 Rules For Life (up to the second chapter) was in the Overture, where Peterson discuss the short and long versions of the book’s history.
His logic for determining the subject material and framework for the book was solid, and it set my expectations for the articulation of arguments through the book pretty high.
The Overture was not graded by The Rubric, but it would have scored well in argumentation had it been.
Then Rule 1 (the chapters are called rules) came about, and the tone became less explanatory, and more pompous and entitled.
The primary problem with the arguments moving into the 1st and then 2nd chapter was the presentation of citations as premises.
Rather than doing the work that is expected of an author in explaining themselves and their views, Peterson strung together claims held together by a bibliography.
That Peterson is capable of explanation and story telling (even boring as the Overture was), the lack of it in the first two chapters of the book suggests hubris.
The absence of any assertion of the reasoning behind his subscription to his own claims beyond citing sources, creates an impossible opportunity cost for the reader in understanding the author fully.
By The Rubric, and through the second chapter, 12 Rules For Life scored “It’s A Start” on average for argumentation.
12 Rules For Life Review – Practicality
When titling a book “12 Rules For Life,” it is reasonable to assume that the rules will be practical advice.
The names of the chapters themselves, Rules 1 and 2, are practical tidbits of advice.
It’s reasonable to assume the text within the chapters will go on to add to the practical implementation of the rules in one’s life.
Rules 1 and 2 do not offer practical advice beyond their titles.
Instead, the chapters are treatments of why Peterson thinks it is difficult for people to follow the advice offered.
As mentioned in the Arguments section above, the logic for these explanations was faulty, and therefore less persuasive and more normative.
By The Rubric, and through the second chapter, 12 Rules For Life scored “It’s A Start” on average for practicality.
12 Rules For Life Review – Readability
The only fault of this text’s readability was its elevated reading level.
A sample of a few hundred words from the middle of the book shows a reading level at grade eight, with some sentences rating as high as grade 14.
Aside from the reading level, however, the writing, lack of errors, organization, and presentation, were all on point.
By The Rubric, and through the second chapter, 12 Rules For Life scored “Excellent” on average for readability.
12 Rules For Life Review – Enjoyability
The biggest problems 12 Rules faced in enjoyability are related to its lack of inspiring action, and its broad targeting.
The argumentation and practicality sections above discuss part of why the text lacks actionable inspiration.
Generally, the approach of telling a reader they have a problem, and they should just get over it already, is not inspirational. If anything it’s demoralizing.
And yet, as organized as the chapters were, that’s essentially the pattern of the first two.
Also, because the book is broadly targeted, the content often misses the mark of applicability, and the reader is left to hang in there waiting for it to come back around to them specifically.
By The Rubric, and through the second chapter, 12 Rules For Life scored “It’s A Start” on average for enjoyability.
12 Rules For Life Review – External Resources
If you’re willing to overlook the excessive citations used in place of premises, the book does not require any external resources through the second chapter.
There are no references to websites or other resources to take advantage of what is presented in the book. (Again, through the second chapter – as the rest went unread for the purposes of this review.)
By The Rubric, and through the second chapter, 12 Rules For Life scored “Excellent” for external resources.
12 Rules For Life Review – Rhetoric
As far as the first two chapters are concerned, the only thing being sold in this book are the ideas of Jordan Peterson around his 12 Rules For Life.
The only points lost were because defining for whom the book was written is made difficult by its broad targeting.
By The Rubric, and through the second chapter, 12 Rules For Life scored “Excellent” for rhetoric.
12 Rules For Life Review – In Total
I suppose I’ll go into first person for this section.
Because a score of 77% begs the question (at least as far as I’m concerned) as to why I won’t finish the book.
The answer is the execution of producing a book can be qualitatively decent, while it’s value to the reader is still approaching nil.
I do not wish to mislead my readers that there isn’t anything to appreciate about this book. Thousands upon thousands of people do appreciate it.
And I think if you buy the argument that Jordan Peterson is above explaining himself, then the book is probably valuable. You can shortcut verification by deciding to trust in the author himself. He certainly has credentials many people would use to rationalize that approach.
But I have different standards, as I’ve tried making explicit with The Rubric, and the book is not valuable enough to me to warrant spending any more of my time on its consumption.
I have too much reading to do that will inspire me more than 12 Rules has or will.
By The Rubric, and through the second chapter, 12 Rules For Life scored “Decent” in total.
Cut to the chase. Chapter insights from the top business books sent straight to your inbox every day, along with updates and special offers. Sign up to keep up.
*Bonus* Receive a free PDF of Entreprising's Guide to Crucial Conversations when you sign up today.