Twelve Rules for Life was the first book I read on this list, at the very early stages of the pandemic. This is a book that has sold millions of copies and has influenced many people all over the world. In terms of reading difficulty, I would rate it to be fairly easy to read unlike some of the later books on my list. Jordan Peterson successfully conveys complex ideas with simple language.
On first glance through the index, one may think that the rules he has written are quite simple and ordinary. Anyone could have come across some of these rules in magazines and articles that they have read. The physical interpretation of the rules is simple. What sets the book apart is that each rule has a corresponding spiritual rule. Take the example of the first rule, ‘Stand up Straight with your shoulders back’. This rule has a simple explanation, which is to stand straight and not slouch. The spirit of the rule is deeper. It means that each person should stand up and confront their challenges and not cower in face of adversity. It means that we must not only follow the physical aspect of the rule but also follow the spirit of the rule. Each spiritual rule is expanded upon by personal experiences and with deeds and thoughts from history and mythology. The physical aspect of the rule is the culmination of the spiritual rule. Stand up straight with your shoulders back is the indication of behavior that faces each obstacle with courage and resilience.
The next aspect of the book that makes it powerful is that the writing is authentic. The author draws from his psychological expertise and experience of dealing with patients throughout his life. He narrates specific instances and provides interpretations that tie into the rule he is advocating. He also writes about his personal experiences and struggles. He expands upon how him and his family coped with struggles and overcame them. This shows that he has drawn these rules from extensive experience. In my opinion, facts don’t care about feelings but people are influenced more by personal triumphs over tragedy rather than statistics about best practices. Jordan Peterson’s life has had more than its fair share of suffering and his inferences drawn from that suffering are worth learning from.
In conclusion, I would definitely recommend that you read this book even if you are not looking for a self help book. It offers a fresh perspective and a compelling approach to living life and dealing with its suffering.